Our Town: Castleberry HillArtist community invites guests on a monthly stroll
By H.M. Cauley
Some neighborhoods might be overwhelmed by having as many as 3,000 people show up on their sidewalks once a month, but that’s the kind of crowd residents of Castleberry Hill relish. On the second Friday of the month, the community’s Art Stroll attracts hundreds of visitors who meander from gallery to gallery, stopping along the way to have a drink, dinner, a slice of dessert or a chat with the artists and shop owners who act as hosts.
“The strolls have been going on easily for seven years,” said Carrie Sagel Burns, the spokesperson for the neighborhood association. “Five years ago, we decided on one day of the month that won’t change, and it’s religiously been the second Friday. It’s also the night most of the galleries here plan to hold their openings.”
Castleberry, an industrial-turned-residential quadrant west of downtown, has long been popular with artists and intowners who have refurbished old warehouses and loft buildings into live-work spaces. The area is home to several noted galleries, including The Granite Room, Emerging Art Scene and Marcia Wood. But it’s not just galleries that open their doors for the evening event. The Wine Shoe wine store and the local grocery also participate, showcasing works by area artists among the merchandise.
“Everybody gets in on it, and it can get really busy,” said Burns. “In the fall, people will come out, sit on a restaurant patio and have dinner then walk around.”
The neighborhood prints a map of the area and on the night of the stroll, mans an information booth to distribute it.
“As people are strolling around, they can get a map, talk to someone about where to go and just find their way around,” said Max Shirley, the Art Stroll chair who has been in the neighborhood for almost four years. “It’s important to us that people feel welcome because the stroll is an important part of the neighborhood. It’s a great way for someone to see the neighborhood and what we have here.”
Along with a thriving arts scene, Castleberry boasts a close proximity to downtown and a range of unusual living spaces. Shirley, an engineer who dabbles in photography as a hobby, has what he terms a “soft loft” - a condo unit in a building with a parking deck and a pool. Burns moved there 11 years ago when the area was still undergoing a transformation.
“This was always an artsy neighborhood, with iron workers, wood workers, sculptors and painters who gravitated here for the real lofts,” Burns said. “These aren’t manufactured; you can get as rough as you want or something very modern that’s finished off. But it’s still an area that’s reinvigorating. I still have people ask me, ‘You live where?’ So having something like the art stroll is one of the best things we can do to raise awareness.”
In late 2008, the approximately 600 residents succeeded in having the neighborhood named a city landmark district, to ensure that the buildings housing the lofts and galleries keep their character, said Burns.
“It gives us the peace of mind that no one could easily come in and tear down these 100-year-old buildings and put in a highrise,” she said. “It keeps the looks, the feel of the area that we love.”
The next Castleberry Art Stroll will be held 7 to 10 p.m. Friday. Info: www.castleberryhill.org.
Each Saturday, we shine a spotlight on a local neighborhood, city or community. To suggest a place for us to visit, e-mail H.M. Cauley at email@example.com or call 404-514-6162.
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