Photo Essay | Urban Outfitters Grand Opening

Last Thursday, Urban Outfitters held its grand opening party, benefitting Nuci’s Space, at Creature Comforts for new downtown store. There were complimentary drinks, local vendors, artists from within the community, food trucks, and local band Mothers, playing along side Unknown Mortal Orchestra. Our photographer, Courtney Johnson, was there to document the brand’s first step toward trying to establish itself as a good Athens citizen, amid complaints from the local fashion community that the national chain will be bad for business. Can Urban be a good neighbor and partner to the Athens business community? Tell us what you think in the comments.

Photos by Courtney Johnson














Premiere: Georgia Theater Video

Georgia Theater Video

The Georgia Theater has stood in the center of the city since 1989. It is one of the premiere music venues in town, boasting everything from vast standing room on the first level, balcony seating above, to a unique rooftop bar that’s become a favorite watering hole and warm-weather concert venue in its own right. With a new tour bus rolling up alongside the venue nearly every day — bringing in everyone from local favorites like The Darnell Boys to national acts like My Morning Jacket and Widespread Panic — the beats booming out of the GATH help the heart of Athens keep time.

With GATH’s deep history of contributing to Athens in mind, we’re thrilled to present this video celebrating the venue’s long life in Athens, produced by local videographer Russell Oliver. Check it out, relive your favorite shows and check out their calendar to see what’s on the horizon this fall. When you’re done, check out My Athens photography director Austin Steele‘s interview with Oliver about his work and creative process, and see more of Oliver’s videos here.

Georgia Theatre from Russell Oliver on Vimeo.

Athens Videographer Russell Oliver

Russell Oliver video

Russell Oliver videoIf you’ve lived in Athens long, you’ve probably noticed Russell Oliver‘s work kicking around your Facebook feed in the form of his time-lapse of downtown. Created over the course of a year, the video is a portrait of the city that would make any Athenian proud to live here. At My Athens, we’ve been fans of his work for a while now, so when we heard that he was creating a video for the Georgia Theater, we were thrilled to premiere it (you can watch that one right over here).

In honor of the release of yet another piece that captures the spirit of the city, photo director Austin Steele sat down with Oliver to discuss his work and how these videos came to be.

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Photo Essay | Monirah Hashemi

Monirah Hashemi Sitahara

Monirah Hashemi is an international writer and performing artist who spent most of her life in Iran and Afghanistan, experiencing war and social injustice firsthand. She produces plays and films that seek to “exchange, instead of charity, culture and art as a tool for citizenship and democracy,” and she has performed her current project, “Sitaraha – The Stars,” in Kabul, India, Germany and Turkey.

Tonight, Hashemi brings “Sitahara — The Stars” to Athica, with support from the Athens Area Arts Council. The play “is the story of three women who have experienced war throughout their lives in three historical periods in Afghanistan. Although under the oppression of religion and power, they keep their stories alive in song and dance.”

Earlier this week, My Athens photographer David Choe spent some time photographing Hashemi around Athens as she acted out some scenes from “Sitahara.” Check them out below, and catch her performance tonight at Athica at 7 p.m. Tickets are $5 at the door, and following the performance, Dr. Nance Daniels will lead a discussion of the performance with the audience.

Photo Essay | Selma to Washington March

Amidst students returning to Athens for school, another group of people passed through Athens this week on an 860-mile journey to the Capitol.

The group, the NAACP’s America’s Journey for Justice, is marching from Selma, Alabama, to Washington, D.C., with the goal of advancing a national policy that protects the right of every American to a fair criminal justice system, uncorrupted and unfettered access to the ballot box, sustainable jobs with a living wage, and equitable public education. Along the way, the group plans to hold demonstrations and teach-ins.

Our contributing photographer, John Buckley (@obuachalla), caught up with the marchers during their short stay in Athens at the Ebenezer Baptist Church. To complete their march the following morning, they rode out at 7 a.m. to where they stopped walking the day before, where different groups take turns marching.

The man pictured in the gallery below, who is about to board the bus, has already walked 300 miles and plans to complete every step of the 860-mile journey.

You can find more info on the walk here.



Marchers exiting the bus.
Marchers exiting the bus.

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Sneak Peek: My Athens Photography Services

Five and Ten Corn Soup with Blueberries

Athens is a community that understands the value of telling our own stories through photography. And that’s what we’ve been doing for the last three years through our Instagram, inviting people throughout the city to help us tell its story. Lately, our neighbors in the arts, food and business communities have been asking us for help telling stories of their own. Our answer, of course, is yes.

We’re so excited to use everything we’ve learned to help our neighbors’ businesses thrive. We’ll have lots more to tell you about all the things we have in the works — like commercial product photography and styled shoots — soon. Meanwhile, if you’re interested in letting us help you get the images you need to tell your story exactly the way to want it told, drop us a line. My Athens Photography is ready to start helping you show your stuff today.

Five and Ten restaurant
Image by Rachel Bailey for Five and Ten

Taco Takedown Ticket Giveaway Contest

Athens Taco Takedown
Illustration by @_tommykeough_

Comedian Patton Oswalt once famously said that Athens is a magical place where, when you’re hungry and have no money, you can simply sing someone a song for a sandwich.

We’re not sure if that’s quite true, but we do know that you can win two tickets to our Taco Takedown with Terrapin on October 11 for drawing us a taco.

We’re hosting a friendly competition to see who can create the best taco-themed art. Make it silly! Make it palindrome-inspired! See if you can best this riff on the Nyan Cat! Show us your stuff (and your taco stuffing)!

The winner, to be selected in mid-September by The Grit manager Lawson Grice and art director Matt Blanks, will be given two tickets to our taco shindig, where we’ll have food from Tlaloc, Seabear, Heirloom, South Kitchen + Bar, Pulaski Heights BBQ, The Pine, Catch 22, Streets Cafe, Taqueria del Sol and more, as well as live music and a festive photo booth. We’ll also be printing a selection of our favorite entries for a gallery of taco art, to be displayed at the brewery in the month leading up to the event, as well as featuring those entries in a digital gallery online and on our Instagram. We want to show you off!

The submission deadline is September 11. Here’s how to enter:

1. Make your taco art! Paint it, collage it, draw it, render it in Photoshop — whatever your medium, we’ll take it.

2. Post your taco art to Instagram. Tag @my_athens, @terrapinbeerco and #athenstacotakedown.

3. We’ll select finalists in mid-September and contact you for a high-res file. A few days later, we’ll announce the winner!




Hannah Betzel’s 100 Paintings Project

Hannah Betzel fine art

Local artist Hannah Betzel had gotten away from her craft. Or maybe her craft got away from her. A wife and a mother of two young boys, she looked up at the end of 2014 and realized she wanted to start painting again. So she challenged herself to complete ten paintings by the end of this year. As of the beginning of this month, she’d done 100.

This was thanks in part to the #100daysproject, a movement that sprung up from Instagram to encourage creative people to develop a practice by making a new piece every day for 100 days. The project was created by The Great Discontent, who say it’s “not about fetishizing finished products — it’s about the process.”

My Athens recently caught up with Betzel to discuss her #100daysofabandon, how it’s changed her as an artist and what painting from her home studio has meant for her as a mother.

Hannah Betzel fine art
Hannah Betzel in her home studio. Photo by @dominiquepaye

My Athens: You worked with lots of different media in this project — watercolor, acrylic, collage and more. Did one emerge as a favorite?

Hannah Betzel: I like collage a lot and mixing that with acrylics, mostly. I found I like watercolors more than I thought I would. I always thought my work would be real stiff, working with it. Once you put it down, it’s there, you can’t really erase it. But I went at it with a playful attitude and mixed it with other things like colored pencils and pastels, and that took away from the harshness.

You say you got back into painting with this project. What drew you away from it in the first place?

I think the fear of not being able to make it as an artist. I think that’s what held me back for a long time, thinking there’s no way I can make any money with that.

Has your feeling about that changed over the course of this project?

I think so, yeah. It’s showed me that you can make it if you really put work into it. That’s really what it comes down to.

Hannah Betzel fine art
Hannah’s workspace. Photo by @dominquepaye, courtesy of @bmaathome

You’re holding a reception and viewing of work from this process at BMA at Home this Thursday night from 6-9. How did your relationship with BMA start?

I had never been in the store. I have no idea why it took me so long to get in there. I was posting my 100 Days Project on Instagram and eventually Breckyn [Alexander, the owner of BMA at Home] got in touch and said she really liked my work and she wanted to see something in person.

What’s next for you?

Next, I think is I want to do a couple of series that go together. I wanted to focus on one style and do maybe ten paintings in that particular style.

I’m a seamstress as well, so I do a lot of sewing, and I’m inspired by runway stuff in my paintings.

I reconstruct old clothes, and make some of the boys’ clothes and make some stuff for myself. I was in the Olives and Wax Vintage [Repurposing Project fashion] show this summer. I had an outfit in that. I’ve sold some kimono tops at a local shop and Community wants me to put some stuff in there.

Sounds like you’ve had a really fruitful year!

It’s been busy! I’ve gotten a lot of work done.

What were you up to before all this?

I’ve been really busy with my sons and not really focusing a lot on trying to get stuff out to sell. I want them to see me succeed as an artist. I think it’s important for them to grow up knowing not to be afraid of their dreams, and even if it feels impossible, they should go for it.

Hannah Betzel fine art #100daysofabandon
Hannah’s first painting in her #100daysofabandon project

The home studio must be good for that.

It’s been fun! I used to have an easel in here for them. I have it in their playroom now. They’ll see me do stuff, especially Bruno [my oldest], he’ll see me do these different styles and want to try them. He’s working on a collage now. Treehouse has been a really great resource for us.

Hannah Betzel fine art
Hannah’s 100th painting. Photo by @dominiquepaye

How has finding this practice changed your relationship with yourself?

I’m learning how to be more efficient with my time. I’ve never been one to be much for a calendar. I go with the flow. So I am learning the importance of having a schedule and a routine.

Hannah Betzel’s paintings will be on display Thursday, August 13, at BMA at Home in Five Points, from 6-9 p.m.


Jade O’Connor | Stories by Design

People love their stories, and in many ways, most of us spend our lives finding ways to tell our own. It’s important to us. How else to explain everything from memoirs to the identities we patch together through snapshots on Instagram?

For most of us, stories are things we create and share with the world. But a home can be a story, too, a living document of where we come from — a grandmother’s rocking chair in the corner of the living room — and how we’d like to see ourselves — a piece of fine art, or sofa we buy to finally replace our college-era futon.

Jade O’Connor, an Athens interior designer, understands that spaces can be stories. For clients from here to Budapest, she helps people see themselves in the homes they live in. My Athens recently teamed up with Dwelling in Athens’s Kristin Karch to get a glimpse inside one of O’Connor’s recently completed projects and speak with her about her design philosophy and how she brought it to life in this space.
jade o'connor design

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#my_athens Photos | July

Downtown Athens Georgia cloudy

My Athens was started out of a desire to celebrate the Classic City, but there’s too much thriving, struggling, learning, failing, bouncing back and trying again happening here for us to truly celebrate our city without the help of the community itself. That’s why we started the #my_athens tag — to create a visual conversation about the city as it lives and grows around us.

Every Sunday, we host a couple of our favorite #my_athens photos from the community, turning our platform back over to the people to say what’s been happening in their Athens this week. Here’s our collection of community photos from July.