Art, Architecture and a Freakin’ Chicken!

If you’ve ever thought to yourself, “The only thing that would make friend-of-DM Chadwick Stogner’s building behind The Marlay any more awesome is if it was filled with art, had a DJ, offered cheap PBR, and featured a sealed room exhibit complete with a live chicken (or rooster or something),” then you’re in luck. Because that’s exactly what’s going on.

Beginning last night and continuing through this evening, the “Gate Called Beautiful” building is serving as a most righteous gallery space for “Blood Brother,” a really groovy show by artist Cooper Sanchez.

I didn’t know a whole lot about Sanchez going in, but I really enjoyed his work. And for good reason, it turns out, because my positive, first impressions were later confirmed, thanks to this quote from him on

“There are so many negative connotations that go along with ‘artist’ — I guess from my family and growing up and I knew so many self-centered artists that rubbed me the wrong way — it never seemed cool to me. I wish there was another term. I just do creative projects. I guess I am an artist, I just think artists can be obnoxious.”

A shy, creative artist who produces absorbing work and who abhors pretension! What could be better? Not a whole lot, as far as I’m concerned. Do yourself a favor and drop by the Beautiful building Friday night between 7 and 11. Park at the Post Office, you’ll thank me. And make time to walk down the spooky hidden path along the east side of the building. It presents outstanding opportunities to pretend you’ve traveled to another time. Or fool around with your date.

More pictures after the jump.

Continue reading “Art, Architecture and a Freakin’ Chicken!”

Tree-Cycling at the Marlay, Lumberjack Style!

The property owner of The Marlay, Chad, writes in with this great account…

The Historic Pecan Tree was given it’s proper respect yesterday when Frank the “Lumber Jock” slabbed-up the 2 largest trunk pieces. Using an “Alaska Jig”, we were able to get 9 slabs of beautiful Pecan wood – all over 10 feet long. This should yield 5 or more beautiful banquet tables. There was also enough left over to allow several Decatur wood-workers material to use for furniture projects.

We will also have some benches that we made from the outside cuts.on site just in time for the St. Patrick’s Day Festivities.

Continue reading “Tree-Cycling at the Marlay, Lumberjack Style!”

Large Pecan Tree Next to The Marlay Being Taken Down Today

Chadwick, The Marlay property’s owner and longtime DM reader, writes in…

It is with great sadness that I must remove the pecan tree in the grass area next to The Marlay tomorrow. I love the tree, and have rebuffed development of the grass area specifically to preserve it; in the past Bruster’s and Starbucks wanted to develop the lot among others. There is an adolescent Oak tree in it’s shadow, that we will nurture to regain the canopy that will be lost.

Why are we having to do this? … The tree was struck by lightening in 1996, leaving a large bare scar which we have been monitoring over the years. A creature has now taken up in the tree, where a large hollow has developed, and a new crack has appeared. According to the arborist who has been trimming the tree over the last couple of years, it is just a matter of time before the canopy cracks off.

Also, I would like to let the community know that I will be “Tree Cycling” the tree to give it a new life as furniture ( see below ), and will have an “Alaska Jig” on site next week to cut the trunk into 4″ slabs to be processed after drying. All the limbs will be cut up and given to a non-profit that helps out-of-work men by selling donated wood as firewood – this pecan will be sold by this organization to BBQ resturants in the area because it’s smoke it similar to Hickory – to help support their outreach programs.

Organic Bike Parking Continues on West Ponce

After I noticed a lot of – what I called – “organic bike parking” in front of Farm Burger on West Ponce back in May 2010, the Marlay and its property owner were gracious enough to install a bike rack at the corner of their property. I excitedly deemed it the city’s first “crowd-sourced bike rack”.

Now I’ve walked by that rack many times in the past 8 months and am always cheerful when I see a bike chained to it.  But sometimes the organic bike parking continues around Farm Burger in spite of the rack, as Al captured in the pic above.

What’s the cause?  Is it a visibility thing?  If so, perhaps someone – they city? – could make off-street bike parking more obvious to cyclists by painting some sort of symbol on the sidewalk or street?  Or maybe organic bike parking will persist regardless of racks?  Will a sign post closer to a business entrance always get more use than a rack slightly further away?

For Lease Fantasies

One of the most interesting buildings in Decatur – the stone “Beautiful” building behind the Marlay – is up for lease!  The owner, gave this history of the property in a comment a couple years back…

The land that the Grange and the other 2 buildings ( Stone house, and warehouse behind BEAUTIFUL gate ) sit on was developed by an elderly stone mason in the 1940′s. The house and warehouse were built first. This was his house and studio/warehouse. He built the granite building where the Grange is located later hoping to rent it out. His first tenant was a Hudson car dealership. A Studebaker dealership was across the street, and Oldsmobile dealership was where the CVS is now.

All 3 buildings used to be connected, but a fire in the early 80′s partially destroyed the roof over the nexus of the buildings – creating the interesting space behind the gate. In the late 90′s I commissioned local artist Robert Witherspoon to make a gate to secure the courtyard area for my sculpture studio. The “Beautiful” comes from a fabled gate in Jerusalem; the Gate Called Beautiful.

The building where the Grange is underwent extensive renovation in 2001. The renovation of the rest of the property has been hampered by the Federal Government declaring the property within the 100 year flood plain since that renovation. I am in the process of clearing hurdles to renovate the rest of the property to honor the historic structure, and I may need the support of the Decatur Metro community in the future.

All that said, what would you like to see open up in this unique structure?

Meet Decatur’s First Crowdsourced Bike Rack

Isn’t it beautiful?

OK, a little background.  Back in May of last year, I posted a picture of at least six different bicycles chained to light-posts and trees in front of Farm Burger on a Saturday afternoon.  The need for a bike rack in the area obvious and the pic led to a great conversation about city bike ordinances and how much we should rely on the city’s government to supply or require such things.

The owner of the neighboring Marlay property, Chadwick, quickly let us know that he was open to installing a bike rack on his property.  After being tipped off by commenters, I followed up with a second post about SOPO’s bike rack installation program, and DM readers continued to provide guidance on the most affordable and practical options for bike rack purchase and installation.

And now today, I’m happy to report that I just received this pic from Darren at The Marlay showing that the bike rack has been installed and is ready for use!  I’m not sure who paid for it, but we should certainly be appreciative to Chadwick and The Marlay folks for being receptive to installing a rack that should be a great resource for both The Marlay and its neighbors.

That’s community folks.  And that’s also a primitive sort of crowd-sourcing.  All it takes is a bunch of people with a diverse enough knowledge base and a willing property owner and you might just begin to accomplish some of the smaller things in your town that were once only possible as a result of the more traditional models of government.


SOPO Bike Rack Option

So, SOPO Bicycle Co-op will install this two-bike rack for $95 a pop.  ($85 each additional)

Is this what people were thinking about installing down between The Marlay and Farm Burger?  If so, how many?  Do we want to look into the custom racks or “recycled bicycle frame” racks or just stick with the cheapest option?

If there’s general consensus, we’ll just need to get clarification from Chadwick about where we can install them on The Marlay property and I’ll contact some of the businesses in the area (and perhaps the Bike Decatur folks) about donating to cover the cost.