Sometimes I Can't Get Into Studio No. 7

We've had a whirlwind few months at the space. (I'm clearly using this to excuse my disappearance. Please go with it.) There were quite a few conferences in town in April and May so we were slammed with corporate stuff. Then Prince passed away and we had a tribute party that 817 people came to. (Yes, that's ridiculous. Yes, I'm still recovering.) Then a few weeks ago Lalah Hathaway dj'd at the space. It was an amazing night and one of the few times that I was actually able to just hang out with a few friends.

I like that we're able to have a wide range of things. We can do a corporate event one night and have a really cool eclectic event another night and we've avoided the trap of falling into the nightclub category. (I detest the idea of being a nightclub. Please reference the parking story to understand the lengths I'll go through to avoid it.) The reality is that I'm just not built to be a nightclub owner. I realize it every time we have a late night event and I can't get in. Yes, you read that correctly. Sometimes I can't get in. The first time it happened it was incredibly awkward. 

Scene: Late night event with a DJ. I get a call from a friend that is a frequent visitor to the space wondering what's happening. I let him know it's a really cool party and I'll come out to get him. (Who did I think I was?) I go outside to meet him. We're walking inside and the person at the door stops us and says something about a cover.

I politely say, "Oh no sir. It's okay, he's with me."

To which he replies, "Well, I don't know who you are, so you can't come in either."

Hmmm...awkward.

At this point I was really unsure of how to respond to this. I find it incredibly weird to yell," Oh, you don't know who I am?!? I own all of this. Get outta my way." Maybe I could have a cool alter ego to pull something like that off, but not normal me. I don't live my life like I'm in a Scorsese movie. Instead, I just had to wait for someone to come and get me.

So yeah, I can't do the nightclub thing. I like art and culture and serving as an outlet for creative people that might want to hang out with a crowd at night with like minded people and would feel just as comfortable coming back for their friend's wedding or a company mixer. It's a delicate balance that's why I'm super particular about everything that I allow to happen here. 

In the two years that we've been open (crazy right?!?!), one of the things that people have constantly asked for is live music. I've had many people come by the space wanting to do a live music event weekly or monthly, but I just couldn't stand behind what they were doing. Finally, we've found the perfect fit. Every Wednesday from 7pm-10pm (yup, you can now make this your thing to do on Wednesdays), Milk and Sizz, a two-time Grammy award winning songwriter and producer duo (that was a mouthful) curate an event titled Soundboard.

It kinda reminds me of MTV Unplugged and I'm extremely proud of what they've created. We talked about it for weeks and it's been really great to see it come to life because it's everything that it was supposed to be and I can't wait to see what it will grow into. One day we'll have Andre 3000 perform. (This is just me putting it into the universe.)

There is a cover for this one and clearly I can't help you sidestep it. We'll both be outside the door looking silly. Plus, it supports the band and they completely deserve it. See you Wednesday?

I'm Going to Start Kicking People that Leave Bad Reviews

I know it's been forever since I've written. Every week, I go...ah, next week. (I was minutes away from doing that this week, but finally told myself to cut the crap.) I've been stuck somewhere between having nothing to say, being cold and just overall overwhelmed with the space.

I'm not sure I have much to write yet, but here are the things I thought about writing over the last few weeks:

1. Reviews: I'm an avid yelper and all around research junkie. I can't go anywhere without reading reviews. Most of the time this works in my favor. However, now that we're on the receiving end of reviews, I'm starting to question the entire system. Completely selfish, I know. While we have really good reviews, occasionally someone writes something that truly baffles me. I know this doesn't just happen to us. The other day I read a review for a cupcake place and someone gave them 1 star because they were closed on Mondays. Please keep in mind that the business has always been closed on Mondays. This person didn't even have the cupcakes! Not ever! Madness.

I came across this article the other day and every time I read it (I'm up to 4 reads now) I erupt into laughter. I feel like it offers a certain amount of justice for those on the receiving end of arbitrary reviews. Here's a snippet: 

First off, a lot of you said that you felt uncomfortable reading “Creative-Writing Beatdown,” because it was, in your words, “clearly autobiographical.” This could not be further from the truth. Yes, the main character and I have the same name, and, yes, both he and I are in a creative-writing class, and, YES, we both have received some very harsh criticism from our creative-writing classmates. But that’s where the parallels end. “Creative-Writing Beatdown” is purely a work of fiction, and not at all based on the events of my life. It is a simple redemption tale, featuring a classic anti-hero.

I suppose that I should address the fact that the protagonist’s classmates in “Creative-Writing Beatdown” all have the same names as you. A lot of you were upset by that, but I assure you that it was entirely coincidental. I guess when I was coming up with names for the people in the fictional creative-writing class, I subconsciously drew from my experience in this creative-writing class.

2. Pisces Support Group: If you're reading this and you're a Pisces, this makes complete sense to you. If you're reading this and you're not a Pisces, you probably think I'm being facetious (this might not be the right word, but I didn't think cynical or sarcastic worked either), but I assure you I am not. I've had this idea for over a year now. Every time I meet another Pisces, this starts to make more and more sense. Let me know if anyone out there is interested. As my fellow Pisceans knows, this has a good chance of being really awesome, but yet only happening once as I drift off to some new exciting project.

3. Bottomless Mimosas are the Devil: I've loved brunch since I can remember. It's the perfect combination of laziness, day drinking, food and friends. Bottomless mimosas were endless cherries being tossed in the air like confetti. That was all a pleasant memory until I decided to open a space. I'm now forever jaded by this evil construct designed to kill the souls of hospitality professionals. Ok, maybe not all of that, but you get my point. However, I understand why you still love it and who am I to steal your joy? My compromise for brunch is punch bowls. Besides being rhythmically cool (Brunch Punch), this allows you to get excess and quality while we stay sane. 

4. Studio No. 7 Should Feel Like a Studio: I've recently hired a new manager. She's doing an awesome job. I finally have the time to spend time coming up with wacky ideas and carrying them out in the space. More details coming soon.

When you say fire...what exactly does that mean?

I've been reading these brilliant pieces on the New York Magazine website. The series is entitled Beginnings: The Breakthrough Moment and it features famous people across various disciplines and their creative epiphanies. It made me recall what I would consider my breakthrough moment.

I'm not sure how many of you know, but we had a fire before we opened. I remember it vividly (I mean it's a fire, who would forget that?). What I also remember are the few hours before the fire. We had a really really soft launch and opened for our first art exhibit. I didn't want to go through with it. The space wasn't ready. There was no liquor on the shelves. The kitchen wasn't completely together.  There were still a million and one things to do and I just didn't want people to see the space that way. I was't ready. This was my first time opening anything (and it had so many moving parts). I had no business opening something like this.

Up until the minute it happened, I wanted to cancel. Earl forced me to go through with it and make the best of it and we did. People showed up, the artists were happy and we sold a piece of art. It felt amazing to see this thing that I'd worked on for months come together. We stayed around in the space for a few hours later drinking bottles of leftover wine and chatting with the team. At that moment, I felt like wow, this is actually happening. This is actually real and it's awesome. I'm right where I'm supposed to be.

I went home that night elated and ready for the future. I got a call about four hours later saying that there had been a fire and the building had burned down. I was devastated. I crawled back into bed and closed my eyes and just tried to pretend like it didn't happen. After that didn't work out so well, I called Earl and told him what happened. He asked me if I was headed to the space. Up until that point it hadn't crossed my mind that I should even go. I got dressed and drove the 40 minute drive to the space in disbelief. 

When I got there, I noticed the building was still standing and it gave me so much hope because it hadn't actually burned down like I was told. There was a huge hole in the ceiling, furniture covered in soot and the overpowering smell of...smoke, but there was still a building that could be fixed. (I felt like Jim Carrey's character in Dumb and Dumber where he was pestering that girl to go out with him.} The gallery space was still intact. The paintings were undamaged. 

It took two years to get the space back up and running again and every time I tell people this story they always remark that they're not sure they would have stuck with it. For me, I was able to hold onto that moment of our first exhibit and remember everything just feeling right. I held onto that moment and chased that feeling. Now that we're open, I realize that the fire is what helped prepare me for what it would take to run this thing.

On February 12th we're opening our first exhibit of the year and like every show, I'm extremely proud to be able to serve as a conduit for these incredibly creative people. This new exhibit is by self-taught artist Johnny Miller. The show is called HOMAGE in dedication of all the creativity that surrounded him in his younger years. For example, old cartoons such as Felix the Cat, Gigantic, Astro Boy, etc. Please save the date on your calendar and RSVP here. I'll remind you again as we get a little closer. 

How to Park for Free

On Saturday, we wrapped up by 10pm. We recently changed our hours from 11am-8pm which means we get to go home a lot sooner. As I was driving away with Will I saw a couple of parking scammers in the car wash next to the building. I made a comment about how terrible these parking scammers are.

Then Will replies, "You know they have Studio No. 7 on their sign?"

"You're kidding right," I asked him. All sense of early leaving freedom gone out the window.

I immediately turn around and pull into the lot of the car wash. Sure enough, under Club Parking, Studio No. 7 is listed. I park and get out of my car.

"Excuse me sir," I said to the eager parking scammer. "I'm the owner of  Studio No. 7 and I'd like to know why it's listed on this sign." 

"Oh Studio No. 7, it's right down there," he says. "Parking will be $10."

"Er, no that's not what I said," I respond quite nicely. "I'd like to know why we're listed on your sign. We pay for our own parking so that our customers can park for free (unless there is a game at the Geogia Dome). AND we're not a club. We're not even open right now."

After a series of back and forth with him as he incredulously asks questions about where our parking is, I ask him to remove us from the sign. He insists he can't because his boss decides who goes on the sign. I ask for that guy's number. Somehow he doesn't know it. 

I walk back to my car in a fit of anger and tell him I'll remove it myself. He ignores me and goes back to attending to the people coming into the lot (car wash). I have no real plan as I try and find a sharpie or something close. As I'm searching around, Will mischievously and bright-eyed says to me, "Get in and pop your trunk, we'll just take the sign."

Brilliant! I hop in the car. Pop the trunk. And I don't even think about whether this is a good idea or not. About 30 seconds later I turn around to figure out why this clever deed hasn't been completed and I see Will struggling to fit this huge sign into my trunk. 

"It won't fit he says," and then he suddenly remembers that the back seats go down.

He pushes the sign through the back seat and scurries back into the passenger's seat. This all takes about a minute. We're obviously terrible at this. But we would have gotten away if it wasn't for that pesky parking attendant opening my front door as I tried to drive away. He nabbed us because as I was slowly creeping out the lot, I peered to my left and saw another sign! 

The whole debacle ends with him calling his boss (Yup, the one he didn't have the number to). I explain to the head scammer in charge why I took umbrage (this is my favorite word and I use it whenever I get a chance) with this as I meticiulously put duct tape over Studio No. 7 on the sign. He agrees to remove us from the sign.

As I drive away with Will, I come to my senses and realize how absurd the whole thing was. However, I don't have kids and Studio No. 7 is the closest thing to it for me. In that moment, it felt like like someone had written my two-year old's name under a heading that said: Milk Stealing Descendants of Hester Prynne.

Please don't bring cocaine...we now have coffee.

I'm a little weird around drugs. It's not that I have anything morally significant against them. (I have my own vices: rum, bread and overthinking). Drugs just freak me out. Maybe it's the whole possibly getting arrested thing or watching entirely too many mob movies. Either way, they make me even more awkward than I naturally am.

One day, I was giving someone a tour of the space for an event rental. I thought it went well, most people generally like the space.

But then, at the end of the tour, the lady pulls me to the side and leans in to whisper, "I think there is a bag of cocaine over there."

"Huh?!," I gasped and clutched my invisible pearls. "I don't think that's possible." (Because I'm extremely naive about such things.)

"I'm pretty sure," she responded without giving my shock any attention at all.

She left and this is where my freakout started. I walked to the loft area and picked up the bag. I immediately second guessed that move. Should I be touching "cocaine"? Can I get in trouble for this? Should I call the cops? Would they think it was really mine? Do I taste it like in the movies? What am I supposed to do with this?!?

After a serious intense battle and an offer by someone else in the building to take it, the contents were finally flushed down the toilet. I washed my hands for about 20 minutes and finally calmed down.

So please don't bring drugs. I'm just no good around them. Instead come drink some coffee. ( I know they're not really the same, but close, no?) Starting Thursday we'll be french pressing locally delicious Octane coffee and loose leaf teas from Just Add Honey. We also have tons of alcohol. studio

Someone Tried to Steal Our Coffee Table

Hey Friends,

I was working on sending out our newsletter for the new year and decided that I really hate trying to figure out newsletters to send. So, instead I decided to just write a letter. Then I realized that maybe this could become a thing. Not because there are so many people that want to hear what I have to say, but because I'd rather write something real. Besides, I think the behind the scenes stuff that happens at the space is far more interesting than a thrown together newsletter.

For example, take the title of this current letter "Someone Tried to Steal Our Coffee Table." That actually happened one day during a party. I was in the gallery when I overheard this guy talking to two girls. One of the girls says, "Just put your coat over it." I continued paying attention because I couldn't figure out exactly what the hell they were talking about. Then I see this guy take off his coat and throw it over one of our coffee tables.

At this point I thought to myself, "Nah, he's definitely not going to try and take the table because that would be crazy." With his jacket securing it (not really because it's a coat over a not so small table) he picks up the table and heads to the door.

Again, I think to myself, "Nope. There's no way he's trying to take this table. Because that would just be ABSURD."

He reaches the door. Opens it.

At this point, I grab his arm and ask, "Sir, are you trying to steal our table?!?!"

He replies, "Ughh. No. I...I...I." (Please keep in mind that the table is still in his hand, with a coat covering it and the door is ajar.)

I grab the table and push him out the door. The End.