Book Trailer for "My Father's Guitar"

I met novelist Joseph Skibell a few years ago as he was organizing an Ellmann Lecture Series at Emory featuring Paul Simon. Together we produced about 15 short videos ( involving faculty, staff and students talking about their favorite Paul Simon songs. It was a bonding experience. In addition to being a fine novelist, Joseph is also a fine guitarist himself and enjoys the film editing process as much as I do. So I grew to appreciate Simon more and began reading Joseph's novels -- and was blown away, particularly by "A Blessing on the Moon."

So now Joseph has a new book -- a collection of short, personal essays -- that are as illuminating as they are laugh-out-loud funny. And it was a simple matter to gather a few insightful readers from the metro Atlanta area to sit down and talk about the book, and later sit down with Joseph to stitch everything together, as well as record him playing the guitar for our little music track.

staibdance's attic

Joe Boris and I filmed staibdance's performance of "attic" back in January, and with George Staib's collaboration we finally have a trailer to show for it. Staibdance is a joy to work with, mostly because the choreography is all about joy and drama that has a tendency to erupt into a free-for-all before coalescing into something quiet and profound. The trailer is all about finding those little moments.

On Metaphors, Politics, and Common Good

How valuable is a liberal arts program that takes place in Georgia prisons?

The following story gives you some idea of what can happen when we give people the confidence to open up and express themselves.

State Senator Nan Orrock and Quang, who was recently released after serving 17 years in prison, share the story of their chance meeting at an Atlanta tire store late one evening in fall 2014. Their conversation took a surprising turn when Quang mentioned the use of metaphors and his reading of Milton's "Paradise Lost." 

While Quang worked hard to learn a trade in prison, he also benefited from liberal arts courses that gave him new tools to express himself.

Common Good Atlanta is a college-in-prison program that offers liberal arts courses at a men’s prison outside Atlanta. Nearly 100 men have completed a full program in the liberal arts since 2008.

Sen. Orrock's legislative expertise encompasses health policy, women’s issues, civil rights and civil liberties, workforce issues, and the environment.

She's working hard to help guys who are working hard to improve their lives.

9-1-16 UPDATE: The Georgia Department of Corrections is featuring the video on their website at

Taking a Peek in Staibdance's "Attic"

I met George Staib, a choreographer and instructor in Emory's Dance Department, a few years ago while filming one of his Staibdance performances. Since then I've been struck by the energy, drama, humor, sensuality, music, emotion -- did I mention energy? -- he works into every performance. For the last two or three years, my collaborator/photographer Joe Boris and I have greatly enjoyed being positioned on the side of the stage with a camera.

Here's a peek at his latest work... And you can see some earlier performances on my vimeo page as well.

And a few stills below from Saturday's matinee performance.

Building a Tower of Bones

Imagine collecting bones all of your life -- your first fox skull as a kid -- saving them up -- and then arranging them so that they form a 10-foot tower. That's what artist Michael Murrell was doing this fall when I was fortunate to meet him at the Hambidge Center in Rabun Gap, Ga. (Check out the final image of the bone tower at the end of the video.) I'm not sure how many skulls and bones he's picked up during his nine residencies at the Hambidge Center and over its 600 acres of woods and streams. But he gives Hambidge credit for providing the inspiration, peace and quiet to get things done.

You can see his work from January 16 - March 6, 2015, at the Chastain Gallery in Atlanta.

A Cappella's "A Cozy Infinity"

Proud to be associated with Frank Reiss and his amazingly resilient bookstore A Cappella, as well as being included in this collection of short essays about books and bookstores.

On Friday, December 5th, at 6PM, A Cappella Books will celebrate its 25th anniversary at the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library, where the newly published book will be released.

See a little highlight video... or the whole shebang (writers talking about books, bookstores, and Frank).

Finding Music in Sculpture

I've been wanting to do a video about the artwork of my friend John Leon for a long time. We met in 1985 at a Greek festival in Atlanta. He was a sculptor from Cincinnati driving around to festivals with his wife, Sarah. My wife and I were at the festival soaking up Greek culture because we were planning to quit our jobs at a graphic design shop, sell everything and move to Greece. It turns out that the place we had picked out to live from our "Lonely Planet" guidebook, the Greek "Gilbraltar" of Monemvasia, was only a few hours by car from the village of John's family, where they intended to visit around the same time. Flash forward about nine months and several postcards later. An all-night wine drinking session outside our spartan little house in a village down the road from Monemvasia. Then a few days of driving around in their rental car. We've been friends ever since.


Work in Progress

This fall I've started production on a documentary (with the help of photographer Joe Boris) about a woman who was way ahead of her time in many respects, especially as a homesteading entrepreneur. Mary Crovatt Hambidge, born in Brunswick, Ga., in 1885, went to New York to become a performing artist in her 20s and became part of a close-knit artists' circle in the 1920s led by art theorist and illustrator Jay Hambidge (whose name she took). In the 1930s and '40s she gained a national reputation as a designer/weaver/entrepreneur responsible for the Weavers of Rabun (Rabun County, Georgia) and Rabun Studios (New York). Towards the end of her life, she was a tireless proponent of a back-to-nature utopian artist community in the north Georgia mountains that would follow the principles of ancient Greece and dynamic symmetry. After her death in 1973, an artist residency program was born from her vision--and her 600 acres--that is now the excellent Hambidge Center for the Creative Arts and Sciences.

During our last visit to Hambidge, we were fortunate to meet a contemporary weaver, Jessica Green, who's running her own weaving operation outside of Asheville. While doing a fellowship at Hambidge, Jessica put Mary's old loom back to work. It's amazing when things fall into place like that.

Check back for more details as things unfold.

Mary at the loom in her cabin in the north Georgia mountains.

Mary at the loom in her cabin in the north Georgia mountains.

Jessica Green at Mary's loom in October 2014.

Jessica Green at Mary's loom in October 2014.