ELIZABETH MARTIN

Elizabeth Martin, a Brookstone graduate, moved from Atlanta, Georgia to Manhattan in the Summer of 2013 with the hopes of starting her own lighting line. New York proved to welcome new designers with open arms. She was continually encouraged to keep moving forward and today she is the proud owner of Sullivan + Phenix.  By Anna Logan. Photos by Nathan Leduc.

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Elizabeth Martin packed her bags and headed to New York City when she was 29. Interested in starting a new career and adventurous life in the city, Elizabeth went to work at a high-end home store in the heart of Soho. The Brookstone grad's position at Calypso St. Barth Home allowed her to explore her passion for interior design and work personally with top designers. During her time there, Elizabeth was able to work on multiple projects within New York City and out in the Hamptons. She fell in love with lighting and was determined to learn more about chandeliers. She made another career move, this time to an international lighting showroom in Upper Manhattan. She was able to work with world famous hotel chains like W Hotels and The Ritz-Carlton. Yet, she still was not satisfied. Admittedly stubborn, Elizabeth didn't like the idea of working for anyone else. So, she struck out on her own and started her line of handmade, high-end chandeliers, Sullivan + Phenix. Elizabeth spoke to SVM about creating her own line, her inspirations and even offers some tips on how to decorate your home.
 

Even though you offered interior design assistance to clients at a high-end home store in downtown New York City, you transitioned into designing chandeliers. Why did you focus on them over anything else? Moving to New York was a bold move for me. I was 29, and indecisive about what direction I wanted to go career wise. The most exciting part of it all for me was that the world was my oyster. In New York, everything is about who you know when it comes to getting a job. Somehow, with the help of some friends, I landed interviews with a few of the top companies in New York City. As much as I tried to get excited about a position in the ritzy Upper East Side of Manhattan, at the end of the day it wasn’t my passion. Still searching for the niche that fit me best, I decided to take a job in Soho at a fabulous high-end home store there.
I fell in love with all of the beautiful chandeliers that we had hanging in the store. I started to brainstorm and realized that handmade chandeliers were somewhat of an untapped market. I have always wanted to work for myself, so it was there that my idea was born and I became determined to make my dream a reality.

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How have you liked transitioning from working for other people in other jobs to creating your own line? Most everyone with a brain that is creative would tell you that we think and operate differently than most people. Truthfully, I can be a little stubborn and I have never really liked anyone to telling me what to do. Obviously this doesn’t work very well in the workplace; so being fortunate enough to work for myself was like a weight being lifted off of my shoulders.
I am constantly coming up with ideas and dreaming of new designs for my chandeliers. I definitely have found my passion, and I think a creative outlet in life is one of the best things you can have in my opinion.

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Sullivan + Phenix is such an interesting name, how did you come up with it? I really thought long and hard about what I wanted to name my company. I started making chandeliers in my Soho apartment in New York on Sullivan St, which is where the first part of the name comes from. Moving back home to Georgia after my time there was mostly to continue to pursue and grow my business. When I first moved back, I was making my chandeliers out of my apartment at the Eagle & Phenix Mills in Columbus. So the name is a combination of the start of my company in New York, and then the continuation of it when I moved.

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What style would you say your chandelier line represents? I would say the line represents a traditional style with a touch of glam. I definitely have a girly side, so I think the pieces are very feminine as well. I have always loved gold, and I think that aspect also adds elegance to spaces where the chandeliers are hung. I like the idea of a timeless look, where clients will always love their pieces and they won’t become a fad that eventually goes out of style.

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Who do you consider your greatest creative influences? I love designers who aren’t afraid to take risks. My favorite thing when I go into someone’s home are those “wow” pieces that almost make you gasp at how fabulous they are. This could be anything from a unique piece of art, to a pop of color in an unexpected place. I also love mixing different textures in a room. That said, I would have to say that Kelly Wearstler is definitely one of my greatest creative influences. Another would be my sister, Lulie Wallace! I cannot say enough about how much I admire her, and her work, and how far she has come in her career. She is definitely an inspiration to me, and I can only hope that one day I will flourish as much as she has over the years.

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What’s the most important piece of advice for someone buying a chandelier for the first time? Well there are the basics, which are measuring and making sure that the chandelier is the right height and size for the room. Most of the larger chandeliers hang over your dining room table, and the smaller ones can go in bedrooms, powder rooms, and foyers. To me, a chandelier is a piece that people overlook when decorating a room. Most of the focus goes to furniture, curtains, and paint colors. I try to make chandeliers that make a statement. It is
like a piece of jewelry that is hanging in your home.


Your travels have taken you all over the world. Do you recommend any one destination over the others as a great place to buy home goods? I think that choosing a place to travel is specific to what exactly you are looking for. If you are more into traditional pieces, the
flea market in Paris is a mecca of amazing antiques and all kinds of accessories for your home. This is on my bucket list for sure to spend as
much time as possible scouring the market for one of a kind treasures. Two of my most recent trips were beyond amazing. The first one being to Morocco. I can’t even put into words the sensory overload that you experience in this North African country. I was beyond excited
at the opportunity to get to explore everything that this place had to offer. The rugs there were unreal. I didn’t consider myself much of a rug person until I was able to flip through all of the handmade ones in the medina in Fez. Plus, the rugs are much less expensive than they are in the US. I have to admit, I smuggled 5 back home with me that were stuffed in a suitcase.


Last month, I traveled to Tulum, Mexico. This is an up and coming travel destination for young folks. Again, I was in awe at the market there, drooling mainly over the embroidered pillows, and the hand woven blankets. The next places on my list to travel would be India and Thailand.

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Finally, which Sullivan + Phenix chandelier do you consider a must buy? I am a little biased because I am the designer, and I want
my clients to love them all! The most popular pieces so far are the Laney, and the Riley chandeliers. Please stay tuned because there are
some new pieces I am designing at the moment and more fun colors and shapes to come! svm

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RED HAT'S JIM WHITEHURST

Columbus native and former Brookstone graduate, Jim Whitehurst, is the Chief Executive Officer
and President of Red Hat, Inc. the world’s first billion dollar open source software company.

By Roberto Caligaris

 Jim Whitehurst, the President and CEO of Red Hat has had an interesting career to date. He was a consultant for a number of years, joined Delta Air Lines right around September 11, 2001, and played a big role in securing the future of that company as its Chief Operating Officer, and now is the President and CEO of Red Hat (NYSE: RHT), the world’s first billion dollar open source company.     You graduated from Brookstone in 1985. When did you first think, “I want to be an entrepreneur? ”  I started playing with computers early on. I got my first one, a KayPro II, when I was a sophomore in high school. I thought I would go to college, get a degree in computer science, and then start a business. In the end, I took a more traditional career track working first for a management consulting company, and then a major airline. I joined Red Hat about eight years ago. It’s a bit eerie that back in high school I aspired to run a cool software company someday. And now, after being well laid in traditional businesses for almost 20 years, here I am.    You’re a practitioner of “Open Organization”, and you actually wrote a book about it. Why is this concept so important to you  ? I think I’m so passionate about this way of running a business because I’m truly a convert. Before I joined Red Hat, I had the opportunity to attend a prestigious business school, work at a top-tier consulting firm, and lead a large, well-know public company. I thought I knew how to lead and manage. Then I came to Red Hat and learned that there is a better way – at least if you want to have an engaged, inspired workforce capable of true innovation.

Jim Whitehurst, the President and CEO of Red Hat has had an interesting career to date. He was a consultant for a number of years, joined Delta Air Lines right around September 11, 2001, and played a big role in securing the future of that company as its Chief Operating
Officer, and now is the President and CEO of Red Hat (NYSE: RHT), the world’s first billion dollar open source company.


You graduated from Brookstone in 1985. When did you first think, “I want to be an entrepreneur? I started playing with computers early on. I got my first one, a KayPro II, when I was a sophomore in high school. I thought I would go to college, get a degree in computer science, and then start a business. In the end, I took a more traditional career track working
first for a management consulting company, and then a major airline. I joined Red Hat about eight years ago. It’s a bit eerie that back in high school I aspired to run a cool software company someday. And now, after being well laid in traditional businesses for almost 20 years, here I am.

You’re a practitioner of “Open Organization”, and you actually wrote a book about it. Why is this concept so important to you? I think I’m so passionate about this way of running a business because I’m truly a convert. Before I joined Red Hat, I had the opportunity to attend a prestigious business school, work at a top-tier consulting firm, and lead a large, well-know public company. I thought I knew how to lead and manage. Then I came to Red Hat and learned that there is a better way – at least if you want to have an engaged, inspired workforce capable of true innovation.

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You were one of the youngest COOs at Delta Air Lines, how was that experience for you? Looking back on it, I’m amazed they let me do it. I was 35 years old and the company was heading toward bankruptcy. However, working through that crisis has proven to be one of the most rewarding professional experiences I’ve ever had.
I had the opportunity to learn what it takes to be a leader, to really guide and influence a company in a difficult time. But more than that, to watch people ban together during such a trying time to save an important institution in the South, to be a part of that, was something I’ll never forget. We refused to let Delta fail on our watch. Even today, I’m so proud of how all of us handled that situation. It really showed me what’s possible when people rally behind a common purpose and goal.


You are currently the President and CEO of Red Hat, the world’s first billion-dollar open source company. How did you start up the company, and who are some of the companies who use your product? Bob Young and Marc Ewing originally founded Red Hat in 1993. When I
joined in 2008, annual revenue was around $400 million. And if all goes according to plan, we will surpass the two billion dollar mark next year. Not everyone has heard of Red Hat, but you’re most likely using our technology every day. Our products power airline systems, banking networks, and underlie the majority of stock market equity trades. We count more than 90 percent of the Fortune 500 as customers as well as influential organizations such as Dream-
Works, Sprint, and the New York Stock Exchange. We’re apart of the S&P 500, have close to 8,000 associates world, and were named one of the most innovative companies in the world by Forbes in 2015.

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You have given many talks, including a TED talk, about the tech future and economic side. How important is this issue for those working in building new technology or investing? It’s hard to predict exactly how technology will impact business and society. But those that figure it out have an opportunity to build extraordinary businesses. For me, I already lead an extraordinary business. I am interested in this issue because I think technology has the potential to make the world a much better place. But that requires that leaders in many areas like business, government, and academia to carefully consider its impacts and steward their own organizations appropriately.
My interest is more about making the world a better place for my kids and those who come after us. It’s a great privilege to be in a position to have at least a tiny bit of influence over that.

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Is America still the land of opportunity? Absolutely. I have an opportunity to travel around the world every year. And while many other countries are building their own economic structures that create opportunities, I still believe the combination of the best legal system in the world, the strongest capital markets, fantastic universities, and a culture that tolerates – and even celebrates – risk-taking still makes America the best place for anyone to get ahead. That said, I do worry that too much money in politics, a tax system full of loopholes, and poor performing CEOs getting paid millions makes many people think the system is “rigged.” In some ways it is. That’s a major issue we need to address.

What’s something you miss about the South the most? Since I live in North Carolina, I think I still live in the South! It’s a little different. The North Carolina BBQ can’t compare, and the accent is a little off. Seriously, I think I benefited greatly from growing up in a town the size of
Columbus. I think, or at least I hope, that I’m still a grounded person with strong values that I came from growing up in a community like Columbus. Durham, NC, where my family and I now live, is a bit bigger, but not much. And I am very happy to be able to raise my kids in a small city like that. svm

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Kenny Gray

A film with a social conscience, Romeo will be submitted to next year’s Way Down Film Festival in October 2018. The short film is based on true events from the life of Kenny Gray, a photographer and visual artist, and touches on important themes that are relevant today.

By KALEIGH BLESSARD  Photos by S. SAXON

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Many Columbus natives recognize the name Kenny Gray for his astounding commercial and fine art photography career (which was recently archived by Columbus State University), but few are familiar with his budding film career. What began with an underground film entry at last year’s Way Down Film Festival has blossomed into a new passion for Gray. Kenny sat down with us at SVM to talk art, film, and his upcoming project Romeo.

Tell us about the movie in general. Where did you get the idea? What inspired you to tell this story? Well, all of my work is autobiographical in nature, and when I say all my work I mean basically forty years of fine art photography. It comes directly from my life. Sometimes it’s really obvious, like a self-portrait, sometimes it’s not, but my best ideas are things that I know and experience. So the idea for Romeo—I don’t want to go into a lot of detail about it, because it’s kind of personal—but it came directly from something that happened within my immediate family. And that grew into Romeo over a period of a year, just the idea gestating and forming into something that started to become a story.

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Your cast and crew are pretty much all from Columbus. Was that your intention from the beginning? Why did you make that decision? Yes, it was my intention. I’m not sure when I made that conscious decision. I knew at CSU’s Riverside Theatre there were a lot of really talented people there, and I had several roles that I needed young people for. So that was in the back of my mind, that that was a resource for me, a pool of talent that I could draw on. Of course, I’ve known about the Springer—so I think it was really just knowing that we had the resources here, knowing that I had no budget whatsoever—so that was really it. I didn’t want to go out of Columbus. Just about the time I was thinking that I might want to make [Romeo], the Columbus State Magazine was in my mailbox, and I opened it up and there was an article on the Georgia Film Academy and Ginger Steele [Romeo's assistant director] was prominently featured in the article, and I read about her and what she was doing and was like, she could really help me do this, she could really be helpful. So once she said yes, things snowballed, and she had just been working on the Bo Bartlett film, and she started contacting other people that had worked on it. The core of our crew came directly from Bo Bartlett’s film.

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There was a good bit of local support in terms of location shooting and things like that. How did that feel, to have the community support you in that way? It felt great. Because I needed all the help I could get, first of all. I wrote the film knowing there were going to be two locations: we wanted to have the first few scenes at Country’s on Broad. It was so important to me, to be able to shoot at Country’s. I started asking people if they knew Jim Morpeth, and finally I just sent him a message and he said sure! The other location had to be an impressive Victorian home, and I’ve got a friend, Gloria Sampson, a very notable local artist, and she and her husband restored the Bullard-Hart-Sampson House on Third Avenue. It occurred to me that she had this incredible house—and I’d never even seen the house except just driving by—so I asked her if she would be willing to let us shoot a short film in her home and she said sure! It was just perfect for what we needed.

We got support from property owners, business owners—I needed a Classic Alpha Romeo, and Stan Murray, a local musician, got in touch with me and he ended up lending us his car for two shoots. So quite a bit of support and encouragement from the community.

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You have a very extensive and impressive career in photography and visual arts. What made you take this venture into film?  [Film] is something that’s always kind of been in the back of my mind. The reason that I ended up writing was really the Way Down Film Festival. When they announced Way Down in early 2016, I thought, “I’m gonna try this.” I had just reached an agreement with the CSU Archives: they were going to take basically all my fine art work and archive it, so that was kind of a capstone on my career. It was like, whoa, it’s going to be saved somewhere, and I’ve been doing it for a real long time, and why don’t I go ahead and try this other thing? I love narrative, I’m fascinated with narrative and stories; it’s always been a part of my work.

For my 2016 Way Down Film Festival entry, I shot video on my iPhone, I used some of my recent work, I used some of my wife Brenda’s watercolors, and just did this kind of kinetic multimedia thing. Very personal, very autobiographical, with some really evocative music. I had a lot of fun, and just kind of got the bug. It was such a great experience and I got so much encouragement that I decided that I was going to make some kind of film for this year’s Way Down. I started working on a documentary and got pretty far into it…and realized that it was too big. I wasn’t going to be able to get it done for this year’s Festival. So that’s when I started writing screenplays early in 2017, thinking “I need something really short that I can write and shoot in a weekend and get in this year’s Festival.” And so I immediately took this germ of an idea that I mentioned previously—something that had happened in my family—and that’s when I wrote Romeo.

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Do you have any plans to release Romeo to a larger audience? I want to see Romeo. I’m waiting now to meet Romeo. Until I see at least a rough cut and see what we’ve got, I’m not making any plans for it. I’m hoping it’s going to be really, really good…there are indications that it will be, but I just don’t know! If it’s not great, it won’t be because of my cast and crew! It’ll be because I didn’t do my job, or because we really didn’t have enough time to get it ready to shoot. I’d like for anything I do that’s worthwhile to reach a wide audience, that’s what film festivals are for, that’s what online platforms are for, is to get it out there so a lot of people can see it. Romeo has a social conscience. It’s about some important things, and it deserves a wider audience. Not just because it’s a good film—there’s a message there. Because of the times we’re living in, I think the message is especially relevant. So we’ll see!

What kind of challenges or unexpected hardships did you find in the process? There were a lot of challenges. I didn’t know very much. I knew I had a good script because so many people told me I had a good script, so I had that going for me. My background is visual arts, so I haven’t had a lot of experience collaborating with other people, so that was both a challenge for me and a great pleasure. I knew that I had to do it, I knew that it was healthy, I knew it was going to give me a better film if I invited all these people to have creative input and to help me and that was a challenge. But it worked out really well. I’d never worked with actors before, I found that to be challenging, exhilarating, frustrating…because I had such great help, such a great cast and crew, the biggest challenge we all faced was a lack of rehearsal time.

The biggest challenge was trying to get the actors rehearsed so that I was comfortable going into filming. If we’d had six months to rehearse it, I would’ve felt more comfortable going in to the one weekend we had for shooting.

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What else would you like to say to the audience of Romeo? There are two things that I want to emphasize. One is that we’ve got a lot of talent in Columbus, from the CSU theatre, to the Springer, to the Georgia Film Academy, just a lot of talent. We’ve got so many resources that somebody like me can draw on, and when you add in the Way Down Film Festival and all the excitement about that…without Way Down, none of this would have happened. SVM


Romeo needs an executive producer. If you are interested or want to make a tax deductible donation, contact Kenny at kenny@kennygray.com, for more information. Learn more about Romeo on its Facebook page: Romeo: A Film by Kenny Gray.

Pace Halter

New COO of W.C. Bradley Co., Pace Halter, takes the lead on the Riverfront Place complex in downtown Columbus. With the 4-phase project underway, he is determined in creating the ultimate luxury living concept located right on the Chattahoochee.

Downtown is one of the fastest growing regions in Columbus, and with new local shops and restaurants emerging, it’s clear why. Not only is it the best place to grab a bite, downtown is home to one of the largest river walks in the south, right alongside the Chattahoochee River. With this fairly new amenity, there has become a greater demand for riverfront living.

The success of downtown’s expansion can be largely credited to the W.C. Bradley Co. With experienced staff, including their new COO, Pace Halter, W.C. Bradley CO. is undertaking the largest building project in downtown’s history. Riverfront Place will be a large, 4-phase complex complete with apartments, various amenities, and a public park. The best part? The whole complex overlooks Columbus’s greatest resource, the Chattahoochee Riverwalk. SVM sat down with Pace Halter to discuss the new complex and the appeal of downtown living.

Interview by JULIANA CALIGARIS

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You’re the new President and COO of WC Bradley CO. You have a lot of real estate experience. What is your background in this field? I started doing real estate finances and construction lending for about 7 years. In 2001, I started my own company that I’ve run for the last 16 years. We did residential and commercial developments all around the southeast. We’ve done single family residential, multi family, mixed use retail offices, and pretty much everything besides high rise offices. I have had a huge amount of experience between the last 20 years.

You’ll be replacing Matt Swift on the Riverfront Project, can you explain what the project is and when it is expected to be completed? I was hired about a year and a half ago as a consultant to help specifically with the Eagle and Phoenix project. They had 13 unsold units, and I was brought in to help them revamp the sales and marketing strategy. Over an 18-month period, that relationship grew, ultimately leading to what is now Riverfront Place and creating a master plan for the Rapids. Matt called and announced that he planned to retire. They started the search for someone to fill his place, and I was interested.

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Can you explain what the project is and when is it expected to be completed? For us, it’s a multi-phase, multi-year project. If you step back and look at the project as a whole, it will include two multifamily projects, the Rapids being the first of those. There will be an office component, ideally a hotel component and then a significant amount of retail--from small clothing stores and restaurants to a grocery store.

The Rapids itself will have both a restaurant and shop space. It is the first component of the project; containing 226 residences with restaurant properties overlooking the river walk. The beauty of the master plan is that all four of our buildings center around what we call Legacy Park. The public park will center around the components and directly connect to the Riverwalk. It is essentially a green space that is opened for the public. Our goal is to tie Uptown, Front Avenue, and Broadway to the Riverwalk.

What kinds of shops and restaurants can people expect to enjoy when the project is completed? We don’t have any tenants signed up yet. But ideally, it’ll be a healthy mix of national and local retailers and restaurateurs. Columbus has a young but growing restaurant scene that can be tapped into. My preference for the grocery store wouldn’t be a huge chain, because they wouldn’t fit in the space we have. It would be more ideal to have a smaller grocery store that has a boutique, market style.

How will the new Riverfront estate effect downtown Columbus? The short answer is that we hope it effects Columbus significantly. We at W.C. Bradley are in a fortunate position because we own a lot of real estate downtown. We don’t expect to be and know we can’t be the sole driver of the growth of downtown. Our hope is that our projects foster the development of that growth. Even in my short time here, I’ve seen a ton of movement in the properties downtown. We’re seeing more national retailers, such as Barberitos and Kilwins. Our hope is that our belief and commitment to downtown gives other companies the confidence to also invest in the area.

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What other perks and amenities will residents get to enjoy when living in the Rapids apartment complex? There are two components to that question. I’ve mentioned Legacy Park, which is more of a public benefit but it benefits the project as a whole because it offers a gathering place, green space, and a place for fun activities. Whether you stop on your way to the river to get a drink, come for a movie in the park, or want to spend a day with your family in the park and get lunch, the park benefits the whole community and our local retailers. The Rapids will be very unique and exciting, because it’s a building whose design is unlike any other in Columbus.

The project will incorporate a significant outdoor component, with three elevated outdoor courtyards that sit in the center of the building. There will be a pool, outdoor fire pit, seating area, TVs, grilling areas, and much more. Overlooking that space, the inside club room will feature game tables, a computer center, and a fitness center.

Why do you think people are so drawn to the Riverwalk? What is unique about this location along the river walk is that, to my knowledge, it is the only undeveloped place in Uptown where you have the availability to go from Front Avenue to the river walk on the same elevation. We’ve designed the site to play off of that. You’ll be able to walk straight from Legacy Park onto the river walk. We’ve worked hard to enhance that, like adding a ton of outdoor seating to our restaurant that will overlook the water.

The Riverwalk is the biggest amenity in town. It has so many activities there, like the zip line and splash pad, where people are drawn to. We’re just trying to play off of that. 

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When will people be able to tour your apartments and where can someone with interest in purchasing an apartment in Riverfront get more information? Hopefully we’ll have our discovery center opened in a year. We’re about 20 months away from being able to move people into the apartments. Ideally, we will open about a year from now, but you can visit the website to see sample floor plans and look at the amenities we offer. In addition, we have a Facebook page that we update daily and you can register on our website to receive more information.

Finish this sentence. The best thing about Columbus is: Its future. I really believe this town is really well positioned for what I would call explosive growth. There is a lot that’s happening right now, from hotel developments to new restaurants and shops. It’s going to be fun to watch Columbus’s growth in the next 5 to 10 years. SVM

Bo Bartlett

Nationally acclaimed painter and Columbus local Bo Bartlett is venturing into a new form of expression, film. In his new film Things Don’t Stay Fixed, Bo draws inspiration from his childhood in Columbus and the charm of our small city.

Interview by HELEN SANDERS  Photos by S.Saxon

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For Bo Bartlett, Columbus has always been home. Throughout his career as a painter, Bo has been inspired by his upbringing in Columbus. Bo found himself painting the things he knew: his town and his family. He dreamed that his paintings had movement, which inspired him to pursue film. In 1986, he followed his passion and began attending the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. In the late 80s, films were produced with celluloid film and scotch tape. Today, Bo Bartlett uses high tech equipment, but his passion for moving art has not changed. SVM got a chance to sit down with Bo to discuss his latest project, the film Things Don’t Stay Fixed, the challenges of film making, and how he draws inspiration from his hometown.

Things Don’t Stay Fixed isn’t your first film; what is your background in filmmaking and how did your previous films help you prepare for this one? I went to film school at NYU in 1986. I was five years out of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and I had been dreaming about my paintings moving and I thought “how cool would it be if I could make that happen.” Then it dawned on me that there was already such a thing as “moving pictures”... the movies, film. So, I went to film school. It was a very analog process back then, very hands on. We cut real celluloid film with razor blades and edited with scotch tape. I had the idea for Things Don’t Stay Fixed back then. My screenwrite teacher inspired me to go hunt down a good playwright to help craft my dream. Sandra Deer had just finished a short-lived run on Broadway of her play, So Long on Lonely Street.

It was shut down before TIME Magazine had a chance to review it, writing that it was the best new play of the decade. Sandra and I hit it off right away. It took five years to write Things Don’t Stay Fixed. After we finished, it was optioned in Hollywood for a while. Meanwhile, I worked with Betsy Wyeth making Snowhill the official documentary on the life and art of Andrew Wyeth. It was an award-winning documentary that played on many PBS stations for years. I’ve made many shorts, documentary shorts and documentaries over the years, most recently SEE - an art road trip made with my wife Betsy Eby. Each project is different. I balance filmmaking with my art practice, painting all the while as I film and edit.

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One well known quote from you is “the purpose of art is to wake us up.” How are you achieving this through the film?  Things Don’t Stay Fixed is about waking up. It is about what it feels like to evolve and expand beyond our comfort zone. Although the title is a Southern play on the William Butler Yeats line, “things fall apart,” it suggests the human attempt to fix things, mend things, our constant struggle in our life to have control, and the growth that happens when we surrender. The initial set up for the film is a world-renowned photojournalist returns to the Deep South to try to stop his daughter’s wedding, to save her future, but discovers that it is he who has been stuck in the past. It is a midlife coming of age film.

How does the creative process with your paintings deviate or compare to your creative process when you’re making a film?  They play off each other. Painting and filmmaking are very interconnected for me. Most of my films have to do with art, my own or others. It is a way to explore in words, sound music, and movement, which is an extension of the ideas I explore in painting. I know how to paint; it is second nature to me. Filmmaking is much more challenging. One must really have their wits about them, all cylinders have to be driving at once. There is no time to sit back and contemplate your next move. Filmmaking is a collaborative art. It is extremely difficult. It is miracle when a film comes together and is finished and sees the light of day.

 Actors on set.

Actors on set.

What or who inspires and influences you in both mediums of art? My favorite films and favorite paintings have a lot in common. I like the classics. In painting, I like darker serious paintings which explore human psychology- Titian, Hammershoi, Eakins, Homer, Hopper. In film, I like Ingmar Bergman and Tarkovsky. But, I also like big films with magic like It’s a Wonderful Life and Wizard of Oz. I love the wide open films about a character’s inner-outer world such as Stuart Rosenberg’s Cool Hand Luke.

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You chose to direct and produce your film in Columbus, GA, along with choosing local actors to star in it. Why did you make these decisions to stay local and what impact has Columbus had in your life? I grew up in Columbus. I love Columbus. Most of my paintings are set in Columbus or inspired by events from my childhood in Columbus. The rule of thumb for a creative project is to write what you know. Write about your own backyard. Your experiences are yours alone, but if you write about them in a truthful way, they will strike a universal chord. Others will be able to relate because of the veracity of the experience. Sandra Deer and I co-wrote the screenplay setting it in Columbus. We could have made it a mythical Southern town, but I wanted to honor Columbus, to give back. I hope that people will appreciate the film and see it that way. I hope that it’ll shine a favorable light on this little corner of the world.

What familiar locations can people expect to recognize in your upcoming film? Was transferring your vibrant images from paintings to film an easy process?  The people of Columbus were amazing during our filming. We couldn’t have made this film anywhere else, starting with Columbus State and their Georgia Film Academy students who served as interns. They weren’t just learning the tricks of the trade on our set, they were hands on crew members. We are a low budget feature and the people of Columbus appreciated that and at every turn went out of their way to accommodate and help us get locations and services for free or the lowest possible rate. St. Elmo Home, The Illges House, Dinglewood Pharmacy, AJ McClung Stadium, Goethcious House, the Historic District, the Park District, The River, The River Walk, River Road, Broadway, Frank Romeo’s in St. Elmo Plaza, Victory Drive, Linwood Cemetery, Oakhurst Farms, and Bartlett’s Ferry Dam, among many other locations will be easily recognizable for a local audience. Each location is itself, not doubling for someplace else.

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Tell us about the characters in your upcoming film. Tell us about the main actors. Any recognizable faces? The actors and crew are all Georgia born or bred, with only a couple of exceptions. Stacy Cunningham is the Producer. She put together a stellar team. She spent time in Columbus prior to her career in Hollywood. She has returned to make films in Georgia. She co-founded the Way Down Film Festival, a great “shorts” festival that I encourage all to attend. Our actors are from Columbus and Atlanta. Some had to travel from LA but have heritage in Columbus. A few of the principals are William Gregory Lee (Zena, Warrior Princess), Tara Ochs and David Marshall Silverman (both featured in the film Selma), veteran Atlanta stage actress, Brenda Bynum, Melissa St. Amand, and Lucy Sheftall. Local actors include Lorenzo Battle, Yolanda Sewell, Desi Owens, and Jonah Miller. Paul Pierce and the Springer were very helpful with casting. SVM

Dinglewood Pharmacy Turns 100

In an era dominated by CVS, Walgreen’s and Rite-Aid, it’s increasingly rare to find a locally-owned Mom-and-Pop-style pharmacy. But this year marks the 100th anniversary of Dinglewood Pharmacy: an independently-owned Columbus establishment where owner Terry Hurley says everybody knows your name. SVM swings by to learn more about Dinglewood, their world-famous scramble dogs and hear how the pharmacy business has transformed over the past century.

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What can you tell us about the history of Dinglewood Pharmacy?
In the late 1890s and early 1900s, the Wheat brothers had a pharmacy in the Swift Building on Broad St in Columbus.  As the town grew Eastward they decided to expand by putting another pharmacy out the trolley line toward the Wynnton Academy.  The roads out here were sttill unpaved and homes were large but few and far between.  The new location was placed at what is now the intersection of Wynnton and B. Vista roads and opened for business on Nov 13th, 1918. It was typical setup with soda fount dry goods, health needs and a prescription room.  Almost all rxs were compounded in that era as the drug companies had yet to start making drugs to be dispensed.  note;  the first prescription filled at the new location was for newborn baby girl Richards whose home was near pharmacy.  Rx was for "Baby Richards" for paregoric from Dr Mercer Blanchard, Sr.   Baby was Marguerite Richards (Tom's Foods) later to become Mrs Wm Feighner. 

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After 2 years, Eli Wheat the store to r Shackleford, who in turn later sold to Mr Shanks, who sold about 1926 to Mr Alan Hill upon whose death around 1950, the family sold the store to Mr Bill Wall.  Mr Wall operated the store and in 1963 moved from its origional location one block up the street to Mr Kings new shopping center (Dinglewood Shopping Center).   During the next 10 years the pharmacy outgrew its location and Mr  Wall purchased the present location from Gene Woolfolk and build the existing building and moved into it in May of 1973.   I purchased the store from Mr Wall in 1975.


Why do you thinks the Pharmacy has been so successful all these years?
I think the business has been successful because, through the different owners, Dinglewood has always considered itself to be a part of the community.  We do our best to serve and to serve well, but we do our dead level best to put back as well.  Like any other small business (especially in the past) you had to enrich that which enriches you.  Our customers have always been considered and I hope treated as friends and neighbors.  Their grandchildren are friends with our grandchildren etc.  

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Could you tell us a little about your career as a pharmacist and when you became a pharmacy owner?
I was born in LaGrange, Ga but raised in my parent's hometown of Wedowee,  When I was 12, Mr Everett Mullican asked me if I would like to wash dishes on the fountain of Wedowee Drug Co. I of course jumped at the chance.  I stood on Coca Cola crates to reach the sink to keep dishes, pots and pans ready.  As I grew taller, I could scoop ice cream, make shakes, sodas, 'naner splits etc.  I worked there until I graduated in 1959.  When I learned that I might be able to go to college, the only job I had ever know and loved dictated my path at Auburn (Alabama Polytechnic Institute at that time and  because Auburn University in January of 1960.)  To work my way through school, I worked on the soda fountain at the Union Building and commuted to Columbus to work in the pharmacy for Carl Jacobs, owner olf Jacobs Pharmacy on Wynnton Road.  Mr Jake and Clanton Chandler were opening a new store near St Francis so when I graduated, I went to Chandlers at Rosemont in 1964.   After Kathy and I married in 1968, I began to do "relief" work for other pharmacies in the area for the extra money and the experience.   Later in the mid 70's, I learned of Mr Wall's intent to sell Dinglewood and with the help of Jim Yancey and lots of support from friends and relatives,as they say, here we are.  To date, the most fulfilling almost half-century anyone could have asked for.

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What would you say is the biggest challenge facing independent pharmacy owners in our nation or in Columbus in particular?
The vast changes in the health care system and the ramification that has had on business as usual had made this a brand new ball game.   Patients can no longer decide for themselves how they are treated, who can treat them or where they are to be treated.    Big businesses and Corps that used to have the "We" attitude about employees and community are now so driven by the bottom line that they totally  disregard everything we have always known.   The independent pharmacies are shut out and have their hands tied even though they are still the most logical, accesible, safest and in many cases, the most cost effective answer to many of the problems. Don't get me started. When the drug companies that are our competition own the insurance companies that control my business, what does that say about the present system.  But still, we are here and will be for years to come.

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What sorts of things are you doing at Dinglewood Pharmacy that are unique and not necessarily available at other pharmacies in Columbus?  
We are serving 5th and one 6th generation families here in the pharmacy and on the soda fountain.  It is a proud day when a family brings its offspring in for his or her first scrambled dog.  Rambling   During the depression and wars for meat shortage the franks were split length-wise and a "half-a-dog" and a coke was 6 cents.  The "scrambled Dog" was first served by Mr Firm Roberts (sp) out on benning road I believe in the late forties for a short time.   When mr Roberts business closed, Sport Brown put his touch on the prep and continued using the name.  I am sure there are several versions of this story, but this is the only one I know.   

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What is the best thing about living in Columbus?
I love living in Columbus for so many reasons.  It has become home to me and is home to my children, grandchildren and soon to be great grandchild.  We have continue to evolve.

 

MKP Waxing Salon *Video interview

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What background do you have in the waxing and beauty business? I graduated from the Rivertown School of Beauty in Columbus with a license in esthetics. Since graduating, I have continued my education through additional master classes in waxing, skin care, and leadership. Our other esthetician, Stephanie, received her esthetics license from Columbus Technical College and is also licensed as a medical skin care specialist. Stephanie strives to continue her education as well, most recently attending a beauty conference in Florida. Between us, we have a combined 16 years of experience in waxing the body and face. Though we are both qualified to perform other skin care services, we have decided to focus on, and specialize in, waxing.

What are the benefits of waxing? Waxing offers several benefits for both your skin and your hair. Clients who stick to a regular wax schedule will experience smoother skin, thinner hair, and the confidence that comes with feeling clean and smooth.

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What would you tell someone who wants to get waxed, but is afraid it will hurt?
Waxing is an uncomfortable experience, however the benefits greatly outweigh any discomfort. As long as you maintain a regular waxing schedule and do not shave the area in between waxes, the service will become less and less uncomfortable over time. Furthermore, the discomfort is short lived. If you want to get the service done, we recommend just going for it! We have been open for nearly 3 years and have yet to have someone feel the need to stop their service before it was completed.

How is MKP different from other waxing salons in our area? What sets MKP apart from our competitors is that we are the only salon in the area that focuses entirely on waxing. This focus allows us to offer a broader range of waxing services at a very competitive rate.

What waxing options do you offer and how much do you charge for each one? If there is hair growing on an area of your body, we will wax it! Some of our most popular services include the women’s Brazilian wax, $49.00, eyebrow waxing, $13.00, under arm waxing, $10.00-$15.00, facial waxing, $35.00, men’s back waxing, $52.00, and the men’s Bro-zilian wax, $64.00. Prices are set based on the amount of time, product, and skill needed to complete the service. For a full list of services, please visit our website, www.MKPbody.com!

What do you hope people will feel when they’re leaving your salon? We hope people leave our salon feeling beautiful, clean, and confident. We also strive to make sure our clients leave feeling educated about their waxing service and their skin care. Our service doesn’t stop when a client walks out the door. We offer a list of skin care tips to all of our clients and are always happy to answer any specific skin care questions over the phone. We want our clients to receive the best result possible, and this is achieved through a combination of a great service at the salon and continued home care until they return.

 

Dakota Johnson

She is the daughter of Hollywood-Stars DonJohnson and Melanie Griffith. But this year will catapult 24 year old Dakota Johnson to her own stardom due to the highly talk about release of “Fifty Shades Darker” - the sequel to the “50 Shades of Grey”- in which she plays Anastasia Steel. In this interview, Dakota reveals how she deals with the pressure of having to be an instant
success and what she really thinks about making the controversial movie.

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Dakota Mayi Johnson was born on October 4, 1989 in Austin, Texas. Growing up, Johnson was surrounded by celebrity. Her parents, Don Johnson and Melanie Griffith, were one of Hollywood’s most recognizable stars of the ‘80s, and her maternal grandmother is actress Tippi Hedren. Johnson was also Antonio Banderas’ stepdaughter from her mother’s longtime marriage to the Spanish actor (the couple divorced in 2015).

Johnson grew up in Colorado but later attended schools in Monterey and Santa Monica, California. An avid dancer as a child, Johnson eventually pursued modeling before transitioning into acting. Her big screen debut was alongside her mom in Crazy in Alabama (1999). Post high school, Johnson appeared in a string of films including The Social Network (2010) and 21 Jump Street (2012) before landing her most pivotal role yet: playing Anastasia Steele in the film adaptation of Fifty Shades of Grey (2015).

It was “Fifty Shades of Grey” that catapulted her to fame. When she was asked about the pressure on being on that film she responded: “Not really. I always want to deliver good work. No matter what. It’s not any different with this project. But of course l understand the added spice with “50 Shades of Grey”. It was a worldwide bestseller after all. But I can assure you that the fans of the books won’t be disappointed. I think both movies (50 Shades of Grey and Fifty Shades Darker) will fulfill all the expectations.”

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“Once I found out that the movie was going to be made, I called my manager right away and tried to get an audition. At this point I hadn’t even read the books.” She stated after she was asked if she was the one actually pursuing this role.
When Dakota was asked that there were some wild rumors floating around that his father, Don Johnson, supposedly said that he won’t watch both movies because his daughter had some kinky scenes in the movie she answered: “I heard the same thing. I thought it was funny. My father and my mother are professionals. They’ve been in this business for ages. They support me in every possible way, and in all my professional decisions. I know that my mother read the books before I did and before this project was even in the planning. And I am almost certain both of my parents are very proud of my work and can’t wait to see the movies. Besides, in all honesty, the scenes weren’t that sexy while we were shooting them. It’s not a real romantic situation. There is a lot of technology involved on the set. And it’s extremely important to be able to trust the crew, your partner. Jamie (Dornan) was amazing. He’s just a great and wonderful person.”

In Fifty Shades Darker, we see Dakota and Jamie leading separate lives having called it a day, before being drawn back together through those shared interests. But not without a fight – and it isn’t your average tiff. Strong words, loud noises, and being restrained in handcuffs is all in a normal weekend for Ana and Christian.
Ana really explores herself, and this whole other world, in the first book. In the second book, Ana becomes a woman and that was a really interesting thing to play, Johnson added. She also thought that the movie was an incredible story. “It was such different content, so I wanted to be a part of it. The sort of woman she becomes; the strength, the grace and the honor she carries with her the whole time. I think she is an extraordinary woman and incredibly strong.”

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Her chemistry with co-star Jamie Dornan was palpable throughout the movie. When asked about working with Dornan she replied: “Yes, it was so great working with him. It was the first time I had come back to a character and a cast. It was so special. You create a family and it was great to be back together. We had so much fun.” This time around Johnson was more relaxed, more at ease with her character and the pressure of making the sequel more attractive. “There was a bit of pressure removed, yes. We knew what we were getting into, so were definitely more comfortable. In some ways it was a longer haul, there was more work and a lot more to do, but it seemed like we were in capable hands and we knew what was going on more than the first time” she added.

Dakota received lots of critics after 50 Shades of Grey. The film scored a dismal 8 percent rating from critics surveyed by Rotten Tomatoes film site. On the other hand, audiences seem OK with it. The movie got a 70 percent rating from movie-goers. When she was asked if that bothered her she responded: “I don’t have Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook, I don’t have too many friends, period! I am not the kind of person who can read bad things that people who don’t know me say, and have it like water off my back. It hurts my feelings. I’m not good at not letting it matter. For a while, I didn’t like to be involved with what people thought of me. But now the film is actually something that they can have an opinion about. It’s interesting to be involved with something that is controversial.” She also stated that she did not discuss the role with her parents. “No. But both my mother and grandmother (actress Tippi Hedren) are two women who have had shocking female roles, and I find it interesting that my mother has done similar work. They support me completely. They understand it’s acting and I’m not going to do this all the time. My father is supportive, although he’s not going to see it. In fact, none of them are.”

Dakota added that she got into acting because of her family. “I wanted to be involved in films because of their influence. As I grew up on set, I was surrounded by filmmakers and storytellers. So I feel like it is all because of them. They guided my taste and exposed me to different kinds of films and their favorite movies and introduced me to outlets in this industry. It’s all their fault!” SVM

Sheila Slavich

Columbus author Sheila Slavich masterfully intertwines real-life historical events with fast paced fictional narrative in her new young adult novel Jumpin’ the Rails! The history of her antebellum home and the social politics of the Southern Civil War era provide inspiration for her latest project.

By Roberto Caligaris

Author Sheila Slavich currently lives in the historic Griggs Home which sits below Fort Tyler, a reconstructed Confederate Civil War Fort, just a mile west of the Chattahoochee River. Living in such a historic home made Slavich curious about the historical events that her home was witness to. With her background in journalism and writing, she began researching the history surrounding the region and asking acquaintances and friends questions concerning these sensitive issues about race and slavery. After 7 years of research and writing, Sheila Slavich is proud to announce Jumpin’ the Rails! is the recipient of the Literary Classics Seal of Approval. Slavich draws inspiration from her own life for the book. Her home is the touchpoint for the book’s historical setting, and her son is her inspiration for the main character of the novel.  Her experience of moving from Wisconsin to small-town Alabama and experiencing racial issues firsthand led her to explore historical racism in a modern context. SVM recently sat down with the author to find out more about what she learned during this process. 

Tell us the story behind the story. How did Jumpin’ the Rails come to be? It was a few days before my son’s Firs tGrade Brookstone class came on a field trip to tour our home and the Civil War fort that sits behind it.  I sat in the sunroom, looking at the cannon scars in the wall and paging through a folder filled with historic documents about the Battle of West Point. That was the beginning ofJumpin’ the Rails! – it began to take shape as I attempted to relate the events of long ago to my children, their friends and school groups who toured our home during the next several years.

The historical context of your book is during the Civil War; what message do you want readers to take away from your book? Fiction is excellent for teaching a time and a place or situations that a reader would otherwise never experience. My hope is that the reader will leave not only entertained but with a better understanding of why the war was fought, what it was like for individuals on both sides of the battle as well as from the perspective of people from a different race and of a different time.

What was the most challenging aspect of writing Jumpin’ the Rails? Historical research was the most challenging aspect of writing Jumpin’ the Rails! because some of the places, events and people I wrote in-depth about were unfamiliar to me. To have my characters interact in unfamiliar territory 150 years in the past meant I spent entire days and months researching maps of Gettysburg and the three-day Battle; its smell, its sounds, its weather conditions, and troop positions. I mapped out a route for my characters to travel through Pennsylvania and Virginia; first on foot and then on horseback. I’ve never ridden a horse in Virginia or anywhere else and so I researched that as well.

What difficulties are associated with mixing history and fiction together? Writing historical fiction is writing a fictional story with preset boundaries and requires detailed research. The fictional characters are able to live and act within the history but they are not allowed to change the greater historical outcome because then the novel moves to the genre of alternate history. My novel does have some minor elements of alternate history within the story, but it only involves the fictional characters. It does not affect or change the historical facts surrounding the Civil War.

How important is research and how do you approach researching for your novel? Research for a historical fiction novel is essential for the credibility of the novel and its success. It presents a challenge for the writer to maintain the history and yet allow the fictional characters to interact and develop their own unique perspective. My research began with an audio course on the Civil War from the University of Virginia. I managed to cover most of the war in the car during my children’s school commute from Lanett to Columbus. Reading books in the genre I was writing was also a part of my research and during that time I reread two of my favorite books, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and Gone with The Wind. In addition, some of the Historical nonfiction I read was Killing Lincoln, and Confederates in the Attic. Also, the documentary on the Civil War by Ken Burns was insightful as were local historians who generously shared their knowledge of the war and our local involvement.

What have you learned from this experience? As a writer and now a published author, my appreciation for authors has deepened as has my understanding of the publishing process. Editing is the most grueling stage when done properly and the initial release is the most unsettling. Beyond my concern that the final draft sent to the printer would certainly have errors; I was most concerned that the sensitive issues of slavery and race would be hurtful to my readers. In addition, I learned a great deal about the Civil War. I have many favorite findings from this experience. One of them is Abraham Lincoln’s perspective on the war. He believed that the lives lost on both sides of the conflict were necessary to heal our country; that neither side was blameless.

This book received the Literary Classics Seal of Approval, what does that mean to you as a writer? As a writer, it is the reassurance that I created a piece of literature that is not only worth reading but more importantly educates and promotes positive values. The Literary Classics Seal of Approval means that the review committee, comprised of writers and publishing professionals, reviewed my novel and then recommended it for school and home libraries. I was thrilled to receive this honor and excited to think that my book will now rest on more library shelves and on the nightstand of young readers. The Literary Classics review of Jumpin’ the Rails! is available at the Literary Classics website as well as with my novel’s reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.

Your current residence has a historical connection to the Civil War, tell us about it. My home, The Griggs House, was caught in the cross-fire of the last fort to fall in the Civil War. The Union took over the house during the battle; seeking shelter within its 18-inch limestone walls. At the end of the day-long battle, the house had withstood direct cannon fire from the Confederate Fort and the wounded and dying from both sides were brought there as it served as a field hospital. My 1858 Greek Revival home is on the Alabama Register of Landmarks & Heritage. The cannon marks on the sunroom wall, the stories of the events surrounding the Battle of West Point, and some artifacts from that day 152 years ago, still remain. On the anniversary of the battle, the Fort Tyler Association hosts reenactments at the reconstructed Fort Tyler. From our backyard, we hear the laughter and chatter of the tours interacting with the re-enactors and an occasional musket fire throughout the day.

What books are on your nightstand? What are you currently reading? My bible and my iPad are on my nightstand. I became a fan of e-books during my research which sometimes involved reading late at night when my husband was asleep. One of my favorite reads in the last year was Go Set a Watchman, by Harper Lee. To Kill a Mockingbird was one of my favorites from college and to have more to read from Lee was a treasure to hold. I am currently reading Our Man in Charleston by Christopher Dickey. It’s a novel about a British secret agent in the Civil War South.