Posts tagged “profiles of Atlantans

Mark Basehore and James McConnell

Mark Basehore and James McConnell

Location: Beep Beep Gallery

Date taken: January 26, 2013

In 2006, Mark Basehore and James McConnell put together their first art show with a few friends. The show, which doubled as an open house party for their friend’s new Oakhurst home, featured art of people they knew hung on the empty walls of the house.

“I remember receiving lots of feedback about that event,” said Mark. “But people didn’t tell us to host another party. They said ‘You guys should host another art show.”

Mark and James followed their advice. After a few more arts shows at the Oakhurst home and one at a restaurant, the two friends, who met while working together at Aurora Coffee, opened Beep Beep gallery in its present location on Charles Allen Drive in August 2006.

From the beginning, Mark’s and James’ vision for Beep Beep has been to focus not on the desire of customers, but on the needs and creativity of artists, specifically emerging artists.

“Beep Beep’s purpose has to do with providing a place for artists who might not be established to show fresh art,” said Mark., a native of Danielson, Conn., who moved to Atlanta in 2001 to attend graduate school. “Our shows give artists an opportunity to learn some of the basics of a show, what things look like on a wall or what sells.”

Their partnership has expanded from Beep Beep’s monthly art shows to Artlantis, an annual arts festival held the first weekend in June, and now, to opening a bar on Edgewood Avenue. Mark and James both recently resigned from their full-time jobs to focus on Beep Beep and opening the yet to be named bar this year.

“Our partnership works because we avoid talking about the stuff we aren’t actually going to do. We focus on the ideas that we want to see to completion,” said James, at native of Atlanta. “And, I think we balance each other well. The things one of us is good at … the other might not be.”

While both Mark and James grew up with an appreciation for art, Mark has spent a good deal of his adult life making art in some form and searching out new forums for creative expression, including hanging shows at Beep Beep. And, James talks passionately about the value of creating and managing their own projects and visions.

“There is something about being your own boss and creating something people like and respect,” said James. “We’ve created opportunities for ourselves because we could create them for ourselves. And now, with the bar, we are trying to add to it.”

Atlantan Josh Woiderski

Josh Woiderski

Location: Edgewood Avenue

Date taken: December 15, 2012

Socks. Josh Woiderski recommends always having a pair of extra socks at your office. That’s the one thing that’s usually forgotten when packing for a long trip or in Josh’s case … a trip to work. Josh is a run commuter. He runs approximately five miles every morning (then again every evening) from his home in Kirkwood to his job downtown at the Department of Justice. The commute takes him about 40 minutes.

“It’s a lot of fun,” said Josh, a Michigan native who has lived in Atlanta since 2004. “Being able to get to work without having to rely on an automobile or public transportation gives you a sense of accomplishment. At first, that’s the mental hurdle to overcome, knowing that you can do it. For me, it’s a way to exercise daily without sacrificing family time. And, running is the best way to explore Atlanta. You can stop and check things out, have conversations with people and stumble upon interesting things.”

Josh, who has two young sons, started running regularly while he was in the Army. Previously, a bike commuter, Josh saw run commuting as an opportunity to get a great cardio workout doing something he was going to do every day anyway — commute. “For awhile, my co-workers did think I was weird for doing this, but now they are used to it,” said Josh.

So how does the practical part of run commuting work? Josh irons and folds his clothes and packs them in the backpack he runs with. He recommends leaving shoes and belts at the office for less weight to carry. Once arriving at his office, Josh changes clothes and washes off (using a combination of soap, water and baby wipes) and starts his work day.

Josh estimates that there are around a dozen run commuters in Atlanta — people who might use some form of transportation (car, bike, MARTA, etc.) but make running a part of their way to get to work each day. Washington D.C., with it’s flat landscape and great public transportation, is the nation’s top city for run commuting. In Atlanta, Josh is working to help others figure out how to run commute effectively and easily. He started The Run Commuter blog, where 10 contributors from across North America offer tips, advice and stories. For example, listing the best waterproof backpacks and reminding people to pack socks.

Check out Josh’s The Run Commuter blog for tips and ideas on run commuting.

Atlantan Bee Nguyen

Location: My Favorite Mechanic on Dekalb Ave.

Date taken: November 13, 2012

Flipping through a Marie Claire magazine one day, Bee Nguyen read an article about local organizations providing prom dresses to high school girls from disadvantaged families. Bee, whose mother made her long black and blue prom dress many years ago, thought to herself, “Atlanta needs an organization like that,” and then she went on to start one.

Athena’s Warehouse, which Bee started in 2009, not only provides prom dresses to high school girls in Atlanta (dresses are donated by Atlantans, and the girls complete three hours of community service before receiving a dress), the organization also provides programs focused on empowerment and building self-esteem.

“Women are inundated with the idea of being a princess and that someone – a prince – will come save them,” said Bee, who grew up in Augusta with four sisters. “It’s important for women, especially young women, to feel that they have personal power – to believe that they have the power to achieve and change things on their own.”

Athena’s Warehouse workshops are taught at Cross Keys High School, a Dekalb County School, where faculty sponsor Diane Gluck has been an important part of the organization’s work with students. Led by professionals who dontate their time, workshops focus on topics such as exercise and confidence, healthy eating, sex education and careers. Many of the girls are second generation immigrants, who face unique challenges of being a minority and often struggle to envision further education or a career for themselves.

“I don’t feel like I grew up wanting, but I was aware of the struggle my parents went through. They immigrated to the United States in 1979 and sacrificed so that their kids could succeed,” said Bee, a graduate of Georgia State University, who works full-time in public relations for the Georgia Budget Policy Institute. “I relate to many of the girls whose families have immigrated here. I can relate to some of the issues they struggle with and have a soft spot for the challenges they face.”

Athena’s Warehouse is currently collecting gently worn formal and cocktail dresses, including bridesmaids’ dresses, through Dec. 21. Like Athena’s Warehouse on Facebook to learn about upcoming events or contact the organization to find out about opportunities to volunteer or provide financial support.