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FEBRUARY 2017

VOLUME 1

IRON CITY

ISSUE 9

PUSHING BCRI’S

INK potential X

Civil Rights Institute’s Andrea Taylor using momentum to shape center’s future. 24 INSIDE

BUSINESS

The secret (work) life of pets Downtown businesses making 4-legged friends part of company cultures. 8

SIPS & BITES

HAPPENINGS

FACES

Standing up in the South The Change Project seeks to reflect culture shift for Southern LGBTQ community. 20


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IRON CITY INK

IRONCITY.INK

ABOUT

BUSINESS

SIPS & BITES

HAPPENINGS

SIGHTS

FEBRUARY 2017

FACES

B’HAM BIZARRE

NECK OF THE WOODS

DISCOVER

8 THE SECRET (WORK) LIFE OF PETS: Businesses making 4-legged friends part of company cultures.

BUSINESS

HAPPENINGS

MARKING A HOMECOMING: Artist and Birmingham native Sara Garden Armstrong back with new installations. 22

ASO: OUT ON THE EDGE — AGAIN: Orchestra taking on unexpected roles at some of city’s hottest clubs. 16

B’HAM BIZARRE

SIGHTS

ROLLER GIRLS:

MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. DAY MARCH: Photos from MLK

Day activities across downtown. 18

FACES EXPANDING HORIZONS: Avondale’s Sanctum Tattoos and Comics bringing art forms together. 6 REAL ESTATE MARKET: Recap of monthly transactions and

development. 12

SIPS & BITES SPEAKING EASY: Cocktails and glamour celebrated at hidden Avondale watering hole The Marble Ring. 13

IRON CITY

INK

NECK OF THE WOODS

STANDING UP IN THE SOUTH: Seeking to

SOUTHSIDE: Architect hopes 15th Street loft project will spark more neighborhood investment. 28

make Birmingham a safe and comfortable place for all types of people, The Change Project seeks to reflect culture shift for Southern LGBTQ community. 20

Publisher: Managing Editor: Contributing Editor: Design Editor: Director of Digital Media: Director of Photography: Copy Editor: Digital Editor:

Dan Starnes Sydney Cromwell Jesse Chambers Kristin Williams Heather VacLav-Hooper Sarah Finnegan Louisa Jeffries Alyx Chandler

Tragic City Rollers isn’t your typical 1970s roller derby league. 26

DISCOVER FEBRUARY’S BEST BETS: Your quick guide to metro Birmingham music and events scheduled this month. 32

Community Reporters: Erica Techo Lexi Coon Emily Featherston Contributing Writers: Rachel Hellwig Michael Huebner

Published by: Starnes Publishing LLC

Contact Information: Iron City Ink PO Box 530341 Birmingham, AL 35253 (205) 313-1780 dan@ starnespublishing.com

Please submit all articles, information and photos to: sydney@ starnespublishing.com P.O. Box 530341 Birmingham, AL 35253

Legals: Iron City Ink is published monthly. Reproduction or use of editorial or graphic content without prior permission is prohibited. Information in Iron City Ink is gathered from sources considered reliable, but the accuracy cannot be guaranteed. All articles/photos submitted become the property of Iron City Ink. We reserve the right to edit articles/photos as deemed necessary and are under no obligation to publish or return photos submitted. Inaccuracies or errors should be brought to the attention of the publisher at (205) 313-1780 or by email.

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Advertising inquiries: matthew@starnes publishing.com


FEBRUARY 2017

IRON CITY INK

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IRONCITY.INK

ABOUT

EDITOR’S NOTE

V

alentine’s Day has never topped the list of important holidays for me, but I think this year that’s going to have to change. After nearly seven years together, my fiancé and I have decided to get married on Feb. 11, 2017. When you choose your wedding date about five weeks before it happens, you’re going to get some surprised responses from friends and family. And it’s true — my wedding won’t have a lot of the traditional elements that are expected. But it has touched me to see the people in my life offer an outpouring of support without hesitation. In the past few weeks, I’ve been the recipient of advice from friends who have already tied the knot, dress shopping suggestions and simple reassurances when I start wondering whether five weeks is enough time to plan anything. These things are like wedding gifts to me: given from the heart from people who care about my fiancé and me.

A wedding is about celebrating two people, but behind them there is always a community of support and love that helped bring the couple to their wedding day. I don’t believe I could have made it to Feb. 11 in one piece without that community. With so much going on in work and in life, I’m often guilty of not appreciating people enough. So I’m taking this moment to say it in writing. Thank you, to my friends and my family and my coworkers and the many wonderful strangers I have met through this job. Thank you for your love and kindness and patience, for laughter and long nights together and good memories. I’m a very lucky person, indeed.

COMMUNITY PARTNERS 20 Midtown (2) 24e Fitness (11) 30 A Realty (17) Alabama Symphony Orchestra (5) ARC Realty (36) Bedzzz Express (23) Birmingham City Council (19) Birmingham Museum of Art (15)

Charlie Thigpen’s Garden Gallery (11) Children’s of Alabama (33) Hanna’s Antiques (34) Hutchinson Automotive (30) Ingram New Homes (25) Iron City Realty (34) LAH Real Estate (7) Opera Birmingham (12) Pies and Pints (14) Prideline Transportation (6)

RealtySouth (3) Seasick Records (7) The Altamont School (31) The Highlands Community (29) The Maids (1, 16) The Welch Group (9) UAB Health System (35) Urban Suburban (31) Watts Realty (30) Whale of a Sale (16) Zoe’s Forest Park (25)

FIND US Pick up Iron City Ink at the following locations or scan the QR code for a complete list of our rack locations: ► Five Points Market ► Starbucks, 20 Midtown ► Birmingham Public Library - Central Branch ► Birmingham Public

Library - Avondale Branch ► Crestwood Coffee Co. ► Woodlawn Cycle Cafe ► East 59 Vintage and Cafe

Want to join this list or get Iron City Ink mailed to your home? Contact Matthew Allen at matthew @starnespublishing.com.


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BUSINESS

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FEBRUARY 2017

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DISCOVER

Avondale tattoo, comic shop bringing art forms together

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By SYDNEY CROMWELL

Wess Gregg and Aaron Hamilton opened Sanctum Tattoos and Comics in November at 4410B Fourth Ave. S. in Avondale. Photos by Sydney Cromwell.

wo types of ink come together at Sanctum Tattoos and Comics, one illustrating pages and the other illustrating skin. Sanctum opened in November under the guiding hands of Wess Gregg and Aaron Hamilton. The South Avondale shop is intended to be a hangout space as well as a store. Their intention is to defy the stereotypes of comic book fans and tattoo artists and show that Sanctum is a place for everyone. “People have ideas about comic shops and tattoo shops … Comic shops and tattoo shops are not what people think they are anyway, and we want to be more inviting,” Hamilton said. “Maybe expand people’s horizons a little bit. You know,

there’s a comic book for everybody.” Both grew up reading comic books and met about 10 years ago when Hamilton was running Cave 9, a nonprofit, all-ages music venue. After they came up with the idea for Sanctum last summer, Gregg said the process to open their business has been “surprisingly smooth.” Hamilton has a background as a tattoo artist, and Gregg said he’s excited that his lifelong love of comics has become his full-time job. While you will see Superman and Wonder Woman on the shelves at Sanctum, Gregg said they are focusing more on alternative and independent publishers, like Radiator Comics and the “For Beginners” graphic novel series, whose products are less widely carried in Alabama. A few, Gregg said, are carried nowhere else in the state, giving Sanctum a chance to expose readers to something brand new.


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BUSINESS “We definitely are offering things that may not be around,” Gregg said. Their other unique offerings include some older, collectible comics and zines, which are small self-published magazines. Gregg said they have been in touch with Birmingham nonprofit Desert Island Supply Co. (DISCO) about carrying some of the zines DISCO students will make in an upcoming workshop. Hamilton said a lot of the comics they choose to carry are based on their personal interests, but they try to have a selection that both longtime comic lovers and newcomers who are not as familiar with the medium can enjoy. Gregg said he always enjoys the chance to recommend a comic to a customer and see them come back raving about it. “I like looking at comics every day. It’s great. I like talking to people who come in,” he said. Though they’re still pretty new, Gregg said the customers have responded more positively than he expected to Sanctum’s blend of alternative comics and tattoo artistry. “I thought people were only going to be interested in superhero stuff,” Gregg said. “And so far, everyone is really going for the independent, alternative comics. That’s

what people are excited about, which makes me happy.” Mainstream comics are also taking on a new face as publishers such as DC and Marvel explore racial, gender and sexuality diversity even in established characters. “I think that’s a pretty responsible thing for a publisher to do,” Gregg said. “They’re mixing it up and they’re taking those superhero mantels and passing them to characters that are relatable to a wider variety of readers.” Hamilton said regular book clubs are already beginning to meet at Sanctum, and the pair would like to exhibit local art regularly. With his background at Cave 9, Hamilton said it’s likely they’ll do occasional live music nights. Tattoos and comics may not seem like a natural pairing at first, but he said both mediums are about figuring out what people enjoy and finding a way to share that with them. “I don’t necessarily think we’re trying to be set apart, but we want to keep doing what we’re doing, make good art,” Hamilton said. Sanctum Comics is at 4410B Fourth Ave. S. and is open noon to 8 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. For more information, go to sanctumtattoosandcomics.com.

Sanctum Tattoos and Comics carries comics by major publishers and alternative companies, as well as zines, which are small self-published magazines.


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BUSINESS

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HAPPENINGS

SIGHTS

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FEBRUARY 2017

B’HAM BIZARRE

NECK OF THE WOODS

DISCOVER

Gene Paul and his 5-year-old Great Dane, Pearl, at his Forest Park shop, Delta Pawn. “It’s the closest thing to unconditional love,” Paul said about his relationships with his pets. Photos by Sydney Cromwell.

The secret (work) life of pets Downtown businesses making 4-legged friends part of company cultures

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By SYDNEY CROMWELL fter leaving the corporate world to start Delta Pawn about 13 years ago, Gene Paul decided he needed a new approach to his career. “The rest of my life is about being happy,” Paul said. And part of that happiness comes in the shape of the four-legged companions that are fixtures in the store: Great Danes Gunther and Pearl and shop cat Dash. All three have been spending their days behind — or on — the counter at Delta Pawn for most

of their lives. Across downtown Birmingham, businesses in a variety of fields are opening their doors to office pets. Even if there’s a little more hair and occasional barking than the average workplace, most pet owners and their coworkers seem happy with the trade-off.

DELTA PAWN

The 6-week-old stray kitten that showed up at Delta Pawn about 13 years ago bears little resemblance to the slightly fat, undisputed boss of the store that Dash has become. Paul likes to joke that Dash sleeps on mink fur, drinks out of crystal and eats

off of a sterling platter — all items brought into the store. “Everything in here is his in his mind,” Paul said. Customers mostly fall in love with Dash, and, Paul said, some will come in daily just to say hello. Eleven-year-old Gunther and 5-year-old Pearl are newer additions to the Forest Park pawn store, but Paul said they adjusted pretty easily to life at work. Since he was “lucky enough to have a choice” to bring his pets to work with him, Paul said he’s never regretted it. While the physically intimidating size of the two dogs does give Delta Pawn an

extra security measure, on an average day Gunther and Pearl are simply there to nap and be petted. “They definitely keep me calmer. They keep me safer. [It’s] the closest thing to unconditional love,” Paul said.

DR. JOE’S BIKE MD AND LAWNMOWER REPAIR SHOP

Across town in West End, another Great Dane patrols the bicycle and lawnmower repair shop at Dr. Joe’s. But 6-year-old King is no guard dog. In fact, as one employee joked, the large dog is so friendly to strangers that he’d be more likely to help a thief


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BUSINESS Joe Jones and King at Dr. Joe’s Bike MD and Lawnmower Repair. “The whole neighborhood knows him,” Jones said of King. “They call him by name.”

than scare them off. Joe Jones has run his repair shop for 30 years and had yard dogs in the past to play that protective role. King originally belonged to Jones’ son, but he grew too big to keep while in school at Auburn, and Jones took over his care. He had to teach the dog not to walk into the street, but the rest of life in the repair shop came naturally. “Day 1: He wasn’t scared of nothing or no one,” Jones said. King can now wander the shop as he pleases and doesn’t wear a collar, as he responds immediately to Jones’ voice commands. He makes friends with new

Ed Smith and his collie Merlin at MAC Uniforms. “I have my own business; I have my own building. I’m not going to leave a dog home alone all day,” Smith said.

customers, employees and children alike, though the dog may have some delusions of his own size. When Jones is sitting down, King often attempts to become a lap dog, but only half of his body can fit on Jones’ lap at a time. Jones said repair shop employees, regulars and neighbors all enjoy having King around every day. “The whole neighborhood knows him. They call him by name,” Jones said.

MAC UNIFORMS

Every morning, a shaggy, bearded collie named Merlin hops in the passenger seat of

Ed Smith’s car. Whether he’s making the morning commute or greeting a customer at MAC Uniforms, Merlin almost always gets a positive reaction. “Everybody who sees him smiles,” Smith said. Smith began to work for McCain Uniforms in 1973 and bought and renamed the company, now on Third Avenue North, in 1985. Merlin has come to work since he was just a puppy, as did his predecessor, Gandalf. “I have my own business; I have my own building. I’m not going to leave a dog home alone all day,” Smith said.

Like Jones and Paul, Smith said he didn’t have to do much training for Merlin to become accustomed to life at MAC Uniforms. Having a dog in the store “makes everybody feel better,” he added. The 7-year-old collie’s eyes are almost always obscured behind his long hair, but Smith said he’s always on the watch. In May 2016, Smith recalled that Merlin suddenly began barking and growling. Then, the staff heard a gunshot. Across the street, a man was attempting a carjacking. Scared

See PETS | page 10


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Right: Will Sheppard and Declan at Sheppard’s Pet Supply. Below: Dan Monroe and Jack at Cayenne Creative. “Dogs are good for your soul,” Monroe said. “For our people, I think it’s just healthy.”

Moxy staff with their dogs, from left: Sarah McClendon and Mac; Jake Ingram and Murdock; Megan Missildine and Dany; Kelly Knudsen and Rocket; Stewart Terry and Heidi Jane; and Brandy Herschbach and Tucker.

“Being able to bring my baby with me is awesome. I’m definitely much happier. Your dog is like your partner.”

PETS

CONTINUED from page 9 by the barking dog, the man drove off and ended up wrecking the car only a few miles away. When Merlin growls, “you better pay attention,” Smith said. Most days, however, there’s no reason for Merlin to growl, and his job is simply to play fetch and be the recipient of customers’ affection. “He helps keep your blood pressure down,” Smith said.

SHEPPARD’S PET SUPPLY

After he opened Sheppard’s Pet Supply in October 2015, Will Sheppard decided that it only made sense to have a shop cat. He said he got lucky that the cat, Declan, was full of personality. “He’s a funny one,” Sheppard said. “He’s always been very interested in anything that walks in.” Now about 9 months old, Declan came to Sheppard’s in late 2016. The little gray cat immediately picked his favorite chair to sleep in and decided that every customer who comes to the Avondale store owes him a scratch behind the ears.

“If you don’t come to him, he’ll come up to you,” Sheppard said. Sheppard originally wanted a shop cat for companionship and to be a calming presence during the day. Declan has developed a following both in person and on social media, and Sheppard said it has been unexpectedly good for business when pet owners come in just to see the cat. “He’s been a good addition,” he said. Sheppard said he’s going to have to add more cat products to the store because of the number of cat owners coming in to visit Declan. He also wants to build a “trail” on the walls of the shop for Declan to climb and explore above the shelves. Though the cat lives in the shop 24/7, Sheppard said he doesn’t think Declan ever gets bored of the combination of new people and toys. “He’s got a pretty cool life,” Sheppard said. “If he opens up a toy, it’s his.”

CAYENNE CREATIVE At Cayenne Creative, the canine faces in the office change every day. It’s an office full of pet lovers, employee Dana McGough said, and employees are invited to bring their dogs to work with them. “The dogs are so keenly a part of how

MARCUS FETCH, REDEMPTIVE CYCLES

we operate as an office,” McGough said. “It would be really odd to come in and not see at least one dog.” Cayenne owner Dan Monroe said it’s “hugely meaningful” that he’s able to bring his 14-year-old dog Jack to work each day. He said the policy has practical benefits for Cayenne staff, because they don’t have to worry about rushing home to let their dog out if it comes with them to the office instead. And since employees with high-energy pups tend to leave them at home, Monroe said, having pets in the office hasn’t been a distraction so far. “Dogs are good for your soul,” Monroe said. ‘For our people, I think it’s just healthy.” In the high-stress environment of advertising and branding, Monroe said having dogs as part of their corporate culture can be “psychologically soothing.” They’ve even created a #dogsofcayenne hashtag on Instagram to share photos taken in their Lakeview office. “It’s like communal dogs. It’s fantastic,” said McGough, who does not have a dog of her own. “I benefit from other people’s dogs.” Though one designer has allergies that they have to work around, Monroe and McGough said there are few downsides. “There does tend to be a bit of begging in the kitchen,” McGough admitted.

MOXY

Dogs aren’t as frequent a sight at the

Moxy office, but co-owners Kelly Knudsen and Brandy Herschbach also love the corporate culture they create. “It’s very homey. You have a dog lying beside you while you bust out 50 calls,” Herschbach said. At the five-year-old staffing and creative agency, bringing pets to their office on First Avenue South started out as an occasional necessity if employees couldn’t leave their dog at home all day. Moxy encourages a laid-back, family-like culture, Knudsen said, and having dogs in the office only adds to that feeling. “It makes it fun,” Herschbach said. Now, a dog or two can be found in the Moxy office a couple times a week, including Knudsen’s dachshund Rocket and Herschbach’s Lab Tucker. The dogs tend not to be a distraction, and Knudsen said sometimes they forget a dog is even there. When employees feel like their dogs are welcome and they don’t have to worry about leaving a pet home alone, Knudsen said, it adds to their career’s quality of life. “We want to create a culture where people love to come to work,” Knudsen said.

ZOE’S IN FOREST PARK

Shoppers at Zoe’s in Forest Park might notice a shadow at their heels as they browse. That’s Jade, one of two cats that live at the consignment store.


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BUSINESS Lucy Mann, who has worked at Zoe’s for a year and was a regular shopper about 12 years, said Jade and her counterpart, Boy, have been at the shop as long as she’s been coming there. Jade and Boy were preceded as the official store felines by a cat named Willow, and Mann joked that they keep cats in the shop because owner Deborah Fulton “is a crazy cat lady.” Boy spends most of his time outdoors, but Jade prefers to stay inside to greet customers, get petted and sometimes follow them around. Mann said most customers enjoy seeing the cats. “When they ring up, they’ll come sit on everyone’s clothes, which I’m sure everyone thoroughly appreciates,” Mann said. Though a dog person herself, Mann said she’s generally happy having any animals around during the workday. Her previous job allowed her to take her dogs to work as well. “It’s a lot more free and friendly, as well, and it makes you more at home,” Mann said. “Working somewhere without pets is no fun.”

REDEMPTIVE CYCLES

While customers come in to

Redemptive Cycles to look for a new bike or skateboard, founder Marcus Fetch said his rottweiler, Bear, tends to steal their hearts. “He’s kind of like a celebrity around here,” Fetch said. “He makes the customer experience so much better.” Redemptive Cycles opened in 2012, and Fetch began bringing his dog with him to work about two years ago. He said having a dog in the Second Avenue North shop makes a tangible difference in the atmosphere. “Everybody’s just so happy to see him,” Fetch said. In the midst of bike sales, repairs and Earn-a-Bike programs going on each day, Fetch said Bear tends to stay “really chill.” He accepts being petted but generally ignores customers — unless, of course, he thinks he might get food out of it. Fetch said that has prompted some regular visitors to bring treats along with them. Fetch said he enjoys that Bear can bring smiles to him and his customers each day. “Being able to bring my baby with me is awesome,” Fetch said. “I’m definitely much happier. Your dog is like your partner.”

Top: Boy, one of two cats that live at Zoe’s in Forest Park. “It’s a lot more free and friendly, as well, and it makes you more at home,” Lucy Mann said. “Working somewhere without pets is no fun.” Bottom: Marcus Fetch and Bear, Redemptive Cycles.


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Shannon Waltchack and Ladd Real Estate have partnered to bring the Parisian Building back to life after more than 20 years of vacancy. The construction phase for Action Resources, which will relocate from the neighboring

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Paramount Building to occupy the top two floors of the building, is nearing completion. The first floor of the remodeled Parisian will be leased to a bar or restaurant.

Openings/Closures The Publix at 20 Midtown, at the intersection of 20th Street South and 3rd Avenue South, has set an opening date at 7 a.m. on Feb. 8.

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Coming Soon An as-yet-unnamed Asian/sushi style restaurant is coming to Five Points, according to Michael Watts of Watts Realty. The restaurant will be located next to Golden Temple at 11th Ave. S. and 19th St., and is in the hands of an experienced restaurateur. Watts said opening is projected for spring or summer 2017 after remodeling.

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SPEAKING easy

BUSINESS

SIPS & BITES

HAPPENINGS

Cocktails and glamour celebrated at hidden Avondale watering hole The Marble Ring

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B’HAM BIZARRE

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By EMILY FEATHERSTON

t’s the worst kept secret in Birmingham. Through a secret door in a casual hot dog joint is The Marble Ring, a 1920s speakeasy that, in true speak-lightly fashion, opened in the fall of 2016 with zero fanfare. Since its clandestine start, the who’s-who and in-the-know have been gushing about the atmosphere, scandalous wallpaper and overall mystique of the small bar in Avondale. Owner Paget Pizitz, who also owns Melt and Fancy’s on Fifth, said she and her business partners knew they wanted to open a speakeasy because they felt the unique nature was just Birmingham’s style. The Marble Ring isn’t just a speakeasy, though; it’s centered around one of the most iconic figures of the time: Zelda Fitzgerald. Zelda and her literary husband, F. Scott Fitzgerald, were the undeniable center of attention in the 1920s, Pizitz said, and their legendary decadence and style were exactly what she wanted for her new drinking spot. “Everyone wanted to be them; everyone wanted to be near them,” she said. And it’s their stories that not only inspired the name — “The Marble Ring” being part of a famous quote by Zelda — but the majority of the drink menu as well. Steven Bradford, or “Birmingham Bradford” as Pizitz referred to the lead bartender, said each cocktail is tied to a story, and it was those stories he would ruminate on while coming up with the menu. “With the stories, I basically went on how I felt,” Bradford said. For example, with the “A Girl Named Alabama,” Bradford said he thought about what he would want to drink on a hot, muggy night while watching fireflies somewhere near Montgomery. “At the end of the day, that’s the feeling you get when you’re drinking it,” he said of the gin-based cocktail. Other drinks are variations on Prohibition cocktails, such as “The Hit & Run,” which not only harkens to the climax of F. Scott’s most famous novel, but is a riff on

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a “12 Mile Limit.” During Prohibition, Bradford said the government increased the offshore restriction for alcohol sales from three miles to 12. The drink is basically a mix of all the different spirits that would have been available, and the combination leads to a dangerous mix that hides the taste of alcohol. “Everything goes together so well, you can’t really taste the spirits,” he said. It’s the establishment’s namesake, though, that he said was probably his personal favorite. “The Marble Ring” is a whiskey cocktail that makes use of Marsala wine instead of vermouth, which Bradford said causes the drink to taste better as it warms, bringing out the pecan and molasses notes. Bradford said he recognizes that a cocktail bar is something many Birmingham residents may not be used to, but The Marble Ring’s goal is to make specialty cocktails as approachable as possible. “One of our biggest things when we opened was zero pretension,” he said, adding that even if the menu seems daunting, the bartenders are happy to create something based on the customer’s taste. While Bradford said he has always viewed Birmingham as a “food town,” he thinks the cocktail scene is just now moving up into that sphere. “We’re working with that, and we’re also trying to get people to try new things,” he said. The goal, he said, is to both foster relationships with regulars, but to also turn The Marble Ring into a destination spot that people travel to Birmingham specifically to visit. “The concept is different and new, like going on a trip,” he said, and encouraged those who decide to pay the visit to try something new. The Marble Ring, in true speakeasy fashion, doesn’t take reservations and can only seat up to 84 people at one time, and it opens at 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

The Marble Ring, the namesake cocktail of the Avondale speakeasy, refers to the famous Zelda Fitzgerald quote, “I hope you die in the marble ring.” There is speculation, but most think this refers to the marble rotunda in the Alabama state Capitol, and is commemorated both in the cocktail as well as the marble bar. Photo by Emily Featherston.


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Tucker cues onstage magic for Alabama Ballet By RACHEL HELLWIG

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Courtesy artsBHAM

he magic of the stage can’t happen without a stage manager. From cueing imaginary moonlight to blizzards of paper snow, Joelle Tucker oversees the enchantment of live theater for Alabama Ballet. “Basically I’m like a play caller and bring together all the moving pieces of the show,” she said. “I call for lights, sound to go, for scenery to move and the curtain to open. I literally talk the whole show – it’s kind of like my own little performance.” As a teenager, the Birmingham native knew she wanted to be involved in theater arts. But when she didn’t get the role she wanted in a production at her high school, she decided to try out a new skill: stage managing. “I took right to it,” she said. “I found it a lot like math … just kind of breaking down the factors that go into balancing the equation of the show.” Tucker thrived on it and went on to earn a

theater degree at UAB. It was there that she first got plugged into Alabama Ballet. Her professors, Kelly Allison and Ed Zuckerman, worked for the company as production director and technical director. “The company production manager position became available, and I moved into it with their help and guidance,” she said. “It was kind of a lot of responsibility for a 22-year-old … so I really credit them and their amazing leadership and patience in helping my transition be a successful one.” Before any production hits the stage, there are hours, days, months of preparation and rehearsals. Now company stage manager, Tucker is there for it all. Her position at Alabama Ballet also encompasses the day-to-day duties of company management at Alabama Ballet’s studios in downtown Birmingham. She posts casting and rehearsal schedules on the call-board and takes roll call for company ballet class. She checks the studio floors for slick or sticky spots. She observes rehearsals, documents choreography and takes notes about the lights, props and sounds that will be used in performances. And she

checks in with the dancers, the costumes, prop and sound departments and with Artistic Director Tracey Alvey and Associate Artistic Director Roger Van Fleteren. When the magic brewing in the studio comes to stage, the show becomes Tucker’s sole focus. “I am set against all odds to keep the show moving seamlessly, no matter what else is happening backstage or, for that matter, the world around us,” she said. “The only world that matters is the world of the show. It must go on.” Tucker’s next work is in the Alabama Ballet’s Feb. 17-19 production of “Giselle” at Samford University’s Wright Center. In this classic love story-meets-ghost story, a German peasant girl’s life is animated by her love of dancing and her love of a mysterious new suitor. Her world is shattered by the revelation that her beloved, Albrecht, is actually an engaged nobleman in disguise. The shock proves too much for Giselle. After she dies, she is swept into the realm of the vengeful Wilis, the phantoms of women who died before their weddings who haunt the woodlands at night. The

Joelle Tucker. Photo courtesy of Melissa Dooley.

grieving Albrecht falls into their hands, but the spirit of Giselle, still moved by love, tries to save him.

Editor’s note: This article was produced in partnership with artsBHAM. To learn more about them, visit artsbham.com.


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out on the edge — again Orchestra taking on unexpected roles at some of city’s hottest clubs By MICHAEL HUEBNER

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Courtesy artsBHAM

A still image from “Koyaanisqatsi,” a film by Godfrey Reggio with music by Philip Glass. Photo courtesy of the Alabama Symphony Orchestra/Sound Edge Festival.

he genre-bending Alabama Symphony Orchestra will again break new ground this month when it hosts an ambitious festival of avant-garde music, film, dance and opera. Venturing beyond the orchestra’s home base at the Alys Stephens Center, ASO musicians will be hanging out at some of Birmingham’s hottest clubs between Feb. 10 and 18, taking on unexpected roles. The Sound Edge Festival is one of the most adventurous projects in its 96-year history, and ASO will spotlight a cross-pollination of musical styles at venues such as Saturn, Iron City and WorkPlay. Other musical and nonmusical events will be at Seasick

Let us help spread the news! Email sydney@starnespublishing.com to submit your announcement.


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HAPPENINGS Records, the Birmingham Museum of Art, Syndicate Lounge and the shops and cafés of Woodlawn. “It’s a way to open up the orchestra’s radar and focalize it toward a younger demographic and for those who are more curious,” said Carlos Izcaray, ASO’s music director. “There will be different sounds you may not expect from a traditional orchestra, but there’s also a balance with tradition — Beethoven, who is the most visionary and futuristic composer ever, and a recomposed ‘The Four Seasons,’ looking back to Vivaldi and giving it a contemporary flavor.” Few American orchestras have committed so fully to new music programming. Over the past decade, ASO has shown the nation’s classical world what the future looks like. The winner of four awards for adventurous programming from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, the organization took ASCAP’s highest honor in 2011, topping the likes of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Minnesota Orchestra for the “strongest commitment to American music.” The festival is an outgrowth of ASO’s Classical Edge Series, which ran from 2008 to 2016. Izcaray is looking to continue the same experimental format but in a festival mode that takes the music to new public venues. “In a contemporary city like Birmingham, there’s so much going on that one cannot expect the subscription model for a series like Classical Edge to work out like it used to,” Izcaray said. “Once I floated the festival idea to the orchestra, there was acceptance and enthusiasm from all the collaborating organizations.” This season’s resident scribe is Susan Botti, a New York-based composer who will play a big role at the festival. A recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, Rome Prize and numerous other grants and awards, Botti also performs in many of her works, a rare practice among composers. “My background is theater first,” said Botti, a soprano, from her home north of New York. “That sense of training in theater, going from classics to contemporary work, is something I love.” Botti will sing at SEF Feb. 14 at WorkPlay in her “Telaio: Desdemona,” a work for soprano, string quartet, harp, percussion and piano inspired by the character from Shakespeare’s “Othello.” Commissioned by the New York Philharmonic, Botti’s “EchoTempo” will be played by the full orchestra Feb. 16 at the Alys Stephens Center, also featuring Botti as soloist.

Editor’s note: This article was produced in partnership with artsBHAM. To learn more about them, visit artsbham.com.

Susan Botti. Photo courtesy of Roland Vazquez.

Sound Edge Festival • Feb. 10, 7:30 p.m.: ASO Amplified: NYCO at Iron City. • Feb. 11, 7 p.m.: Excursions in Recorded Sound: DJs, Flaming Lips at Seasick Records. • Feb. 12, 6 p.m.: Artikulation: Graphic Scores of the Avant Garde at Saturn. • Feb. 13, 6 p.m.: Lecture by Carlos Izcaray, screening of “Koyaanisqatsi” at Birmingham Museum of Art. • Feb. 14, 7:30 p.m.: Contemporary Visions: Inspired by Shakespeare at WorkPlay. • Feb. 15, 8 p.m.: Future Elevators; also featuring AROVA Contemporary Ballet and Opera Birmingham at Syndicate Lounge. • Feb. 16, 7:30 p.m.: ASO Presents EchoTempo at Alys Stephens Center. • Feb. 17, 7:30 p.m.: Waves of Woodlawn at 55th Place North and First Avenue. • Feb. 18, 7:30 p.m.: The Four Seasons Recomposed at Alys Stephens Center. • MORE INFO: alabamasymphony. org.


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Clockwise, from above: City and civil officials hold hands as they march downtown during the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Parade on Jan. 16. A parade participant sings while marching. The parade concluded at the 16th Street Baptist Church, a National Historic Landmark that was the site of a raciallymotivated bombing in which four girls were killed in 1963 during the civil rights movement. Photos by Sarah Finnegan.


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David, in Birmingham. Photos courtesy of The Change Project.

Prechard, in Orlando.

Claire, in Birmingham.

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STANDING UP in the South

Project seeks to reflect culture shift for Southern LGBTQ community

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By ALYX CHANDLER

f anyone five years ago had told artist Steven Romeo, the founder and executive director of The Change Project, that he would be honored at the White House for something he’s not even trained in, he would have told them, “That’s impossible.” Now he knows better. He expects better. He expects change. When he officially started The Change Project in 2012, its goal was the same as it is today: to operate as a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating dialogue around LGBTQ identities and offering support, visibility and greater awareness about understanding intersectionality and how to accept each person regardless of their gender identity and sexual orientation. His vision began with the locals in downtown Birmingham but continues to physically expand in more than 11 states across the South and Midwest, in addition to an active internet and social media campaign. “In the past, we’ve never seen a social movement happen without seeing a shift in the culture,” he said, and a shift is exactly what he’s aiming for. A huge component of The Change Project is Our Bodies. Our Lives. (OBOL) which acts as an ongoing LGBTQ campaign combining powder paint, photography portraits and personal stories. Romeo said it strives to humanize queer people and create a conversation that addresses intersectional components in the movement for LGBTQ equality. In November 2015, Romeo’s work for OBOL was honored at the White House, and he was awarded the LGBT Artist Champion of Change.

HOMEGROWN CHANGE

Even almost a year later, he hopes this is just the beginning of OBOL.

What really drives me is how much something like [The Change Project] would have helped me when I was in high school and figuring out my sexuality because there wasn’t a lot of smaller or local queer access.

WILL HAMILTON

“It all kind of boils down to the fact that in Birmingham there’s all sorts of different communities, but the only place we come together is at the bars,” Romeo said. “There’s a lack of communities coming together, and we’re finally changing that.” Romeo identifies as queer, which is an umbrella term referring to not sexually heterosexual, and non-binary, which means not identifying as specifically feminine or masculine, as do the majority of the people who work under his organization. This is an important part of the organization to him, as well as making Birmingham a safe and comfortable place for all types of people. For example, on some nights, Romeo wants to wear heels. On other nights, he wants to wear sneakers. It depends on where he’s headed. But on both nights, he said he wants to feel the same amount of comfort and respect from his community. “There’s this standard for what our bodies should look like. I had culture shock in undergrad coming from a large

urban city,” he said. OBOL originated from his undergraduate art installation at the University of Alabama called Embody Progress, where Romeo used his interest in photography and took pictures of LGBTQ people with the word #Change painted on their bodies, representing how their bodies and stories deviated from the “societal norm” of gender identity and sexuality. When he moved to Birmingham for graduate school, he continued to network, grow the project and offer open photo shoots in Birmingham and other nearby cities. Then he would share them online. “We [The Change Project] really believe that in the South, we have to create relationships for change,” he said. In the summer of 2016, Orlando, Florida, was already on the schedule for a photo shoot before the shooting that killed 49 people at a gay nightclub June 12. Romeo said it was all the more important to go and show support to the Orlando LGBTQ community. “If we don’t engage in conversations and change hearts and minds, we are going to continue to have people that think negatively in our community and then act on it,” Romeo said. “People are dying every day.”

REFLECTING THE COMMUNITY

He also often hosted nearly hourlong private shoots, Romeo said, which provided a more intimate storytelling setting and really allowed him to get to know LGBTQ people in the downtown community. But given The Change Project has grown from a $10,000 operating budget to making $285,000 in gross revenue, Romeo does a lot less photography and a lot more managing these days. That’s why he has more photographers on board. Photographer Will Hamilton, who’s been involved with OBOL since last April, was named the fine arts coordinator.


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FACES Although his initial interest in photography didn’t begin with purposeful intentions, his eye for composition has led him to OBOL into what he refers to as the more inevitably “psychological aspects of photography.” “One thing that has kept me with photography is I’m much better at conveying emotion physically than in words,” Hamilton said. The physicality involved with each portrait of OBOL is crucial, after all. A photo shoot can be an intimate setting, with several minutes spent carefully putting powdered paint on the model and developing the look with them that they want. If people are uncomfortable in their portraits, it shows, Hamilton said. There remains an open call for anyone to sign up online who wants to have a free portrait taken for OBOL in a private shoot. If it’s for a pride festival or other event, the setting is more public and timed, with about 25 people signing up for spots throughout the day. In 2017, Romeo plans for OBOL to shoot at least 15 pride festivals. Romeo said when some LGBTQ or transgender people see their finished portraits, it’s the first time they’ve seen a portrait of themselves identified in a way that they feel actually represents them. Hamilton said he has friends who fully support the work he does with the Change Project but would never model because they felt like it was too much of a statement about themselves. Come Monday morning, he said many of the people he knows “put their straight face back on,” and cooperate with the social norms or risk being ostracized or even terminated in a job. Romeo said he feels this exists in the Birmingham bar scene, with LGBTQ people only gathering in the same three to four bars they feel accepted or comfortable in. Even though the city of Birmingham has been presented with three separate nondiscriminatory ordinances, the city hasn’t passed anything to help LBGTQ people feel safer and supported, he said. “Something I’ve noticed about professional young queer people in this area, there’s not a lot of politics involved in it, or not as much as there should be because these people are already just trying to exist as themselves in these very straight spaces,” Hamilton said. Even though Hamilton has been aware of other bisexual co-workers at his jobs, he admits he’s never felt comfortable openly expressing himself in that way in case some of his more conservative co-workers would think about him differently. He is happy now to have an organization where he can talk to people about LGBTQ issues. “What really drives me is how much something like [The Change Project] would have helped me when I was in high school and figuring out my sexuality because there wasn’t a lot of smaller or local queer access,” Hamilton said. As a queer youth in the South, he said, there can be a sense of isolation and serious need of belonging. For some people, it can make the difference between life and death. Since he first began doing portraits, Hamilton found that he’s been sharing his own story and opening up more to people because he’s felt a greater sense of the queer community, he said. Hamilton is driven to be part of the organization mostly by the opportunity for stories to be shared that arises. It gives people that chance to express themselves in a way Hamilton admits he’s still not

comfortable enough to always act on. “[It’s] not always anything earth-shattering, but sometimes the words people choose to represent themselves already carry a heavy connotation,” Hamilton said. “For the sake of that, I never try to step on anyone’s toes.” Romeo said he hasn’t seen any communication problems involving the models so far, but he said he has had multiple people come up and personally thank him and often cry about how much the various exhibitions of OBOL made them feel part of the community they’re living in.

SHARING THE JOURNEY

In general, Romeo aims for The Change Project to continue to fund the statistically underfunded LGBTQ awareness organizations of the South. “I was told I was not accepted or not worth people’s time. I struggled through it a lot, been sexually assaulted twice,” Romeo said, going on to explain that there was a lot of processing that happened as he began to grow The Change Project. “The pink powder represents the violence that society puts on our bodies.” In Birmingham alone, Romeo said they’ve had more than 400 people buy their Shop Progress tank tops and shirts as of fall 2016. Romeo said each portrait that is shared online has a viral reach of about 40,000 viewers over a two-year life cycle, not counting the additional Facebook-driven clicks. In addition, they also have a brand ambassador program. The Shop Progress shirts feature both serious sayings like “Be Fearlessly Authentic” and “I am a Voice for Change” and then more playful sayings like “Throw glitter not shade,” “Yaas Queen” and “Keep Calm and Kiss Boys [Girls].” “Honestly, there isn’t a day on the street where people don’t ask about my shirt or say, ‘Hey, that’s awesome,’” Romeo said. “It at least passively engages Birmingham in a conversation about authenticity where LGBTQ people are identified.” Even though Sam Landis, a former Change Project intern and model, is much more of an activist than he ever intended to be, he said he doesn’t mind because it’s more important to be available to the people in his community who feel alone. Plus, being part of The Change Project has brought some defining moments, especially the 20 minutes of stripping down to his underwear and letting Romeo put powder paint on him for his portrait. He laughed thinking about the memory, wishing he could retake it with the confidence he has today. But he said he would rather keep the original portrait since it positively affected so many people and reminded him of a time in his life when he finally got the support he needed. “It was definitely a really cool experience and definitely a part of figuring out who I was in my journey,” Landis said. Romeo, Hamilton and Landis all agreed they didn’t know anyone else in the South doing the sort of work OBOL is doing. “It’s very heavy-handed but kind of delicately in your face, all these bright colors, with very visually interesting people posing in different ways,” Hamilton said. “It’s honestly the story on what it’s like to be queer in the South.” For more information about getting involved in The Change Project or OBOL, go to embodyprogress.org/.

Marisa, in Birmingham.

Rose, in Orlando.


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homecoming SARA GARDEN ARMSTRONG MARKS A

A

By JESSE CHAMBERS

rtist and Birmingham native Sara Garden Armstrong has lived in New York 35 years, making drawings, artist books and sculptures. And the city’s been good for her, she said by phone from her Queens studio. “It has a huge amount of energy, an amazing amount of art to see, wonderful conversations,” she said. “I love this place.” Armstrong certainly doesn’t regret moving to New York from Birmingham in 1982 but, she said, “Now it’s time for another change.” She’s got a plan to move back to the Magic City full time in 2017. “I want to do some things in Birmingham,” she said, and she’ll get started with two exhibitions, running concurrently Feb. 2-March 4. Her multimedia installation, Breath and Shadow, will be at the Vulcan Materials Gallery at the Alabama School of Fine Arts. Echo, an exhibition of 20 large-scale drawings, will be at the 21st Street Gallery. Armstrong has exhibited nationally and internationally for almost 40 years, and her pieces are found in such collections as the Museum of Modern Art. And her work has one overarching theme. “It’s always organic,” she said. Breath and Shadow is no exception. It mixes Armstrong’s work from different periods, including early drawings and hanging sculptures that look like natural shapes, such as leaves and seed pods. Some of the sculptures will move, cast shadows and appear to breathe, creating a living environment of air, light and sound. “Breath and breathing have been in my work for a long time,” Armstrong said. The Echo drawings, from the 1980s and 1990s, explore the same sculptural forms used in the ASFA installation. “Some of these have never been shown,” she said. Armstrong’s excited about returning to Birmingham, where she’s often visited and made work — including an atrium sculpture at UAB’s Civitan building. One reason is affordability, given the Big Apple’s high costs. “I have a gorgeous [work] space that I can’t have in New York,” she said.

Sara Garden Armstrong will show her installation at 5 p.m. Feb. 2 at the Alabama School of Fine Arts, while her drawings will be displayed from 6-9 p.m. Feb. 2 at 21st Street Gallery. Photo by Jesse Chambers.

It helps that Armstrong is moving back to her own three-story building downtown, the 21st Street Studios, which she bought in 1979 and has rented out. The building contains artist spaces, as well as the 21st Street Gallery, the recently opened Ground Floor Contemporary gallery and the American Institute of Architects chapter.

Birmingham also has changed for the better, according to Armstrong. “It’s much more open and has more going on,” she said. And Armstrong sees positive signs in the visual arts community. “There’s a younger group [of artists] that are doing some really interesting things,” she said. “I would like to help contribute to

that energy that’s here.” Echo is curated by Cumbee Tyndal, ASFA visual arts instructor. The Vulcan Materials Gallery at ASFA will host an opening for Breath and Shadow Feb. 2 at 5 p.m. The Echo opening at 21st Street Gallery, 111 Richard Arrington Jr. Blvd. S., will be Feb. 2, 6-9 p.m.


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COVER STORY: BCRI’s Andrea Taylor using momentum to shape center’s future.

PUSHING CIVIL RIGHTS’

potential A By JESSE CHAMBERS

ndrea Taylor, CEO and president of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, didn’t grow up in Birmingham, but the Massachusetts native has vivid memories of the momentous events of the civil rights movement that occurred here in the 1960s. “I was certainly inspired by what was happening here, by the efforts of young people around the county to effect change,” she said. So in September 2015, Taylor happily accepted the challenge of leading the BCRI, set to celebrate its 25th anniversary in 2017. “To have a part in imagining what BCRI 5.0 might look like and what the next 25 years of this institution might be, what it needed to be, where we are as a society and a culture, and to think about how one might shape that and develop the momentum and the support to carry that forward, that is an exciting challenge,” she said. After all, the BCRI has attracted two million visitors — from scholars to schoolkids — to view its exhibits. And it’s “the absolute best place to gauge a comprehensive understanding of the civil rights struggles of the 1950s and 1960s,” BCRI board member Martha Emmett said. But Taylor received what she calls an “added bonus” in March 2016 when U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Birmingham, introduced a bill to make the six-block Civil Rights District — including the BCRI, 16th Street Baptist Church and Kelly Ingram Park — a national park. Taylor said the idea of a federal designation is “very exciting” and holds the promise of permanently preserving the district, which she called “an iconic place of inspiration in the human and civil rights movement around the nation and around the world.” And though Sewell’s bill stalled in committee, President Barack Obama proclaimed the district a national monument just days before leaving the White House, giving it virtually the same status. Local leaders, including Mayor William Bell, said the designation will open up new sources of funding to help preserve key sites, including the long-decaying Gaston Motel; reinvigorate the Fourth Avenue Business District; and help draw more tourist dollars. And the designation will benefit the BCRI as it enters its second quarter-century, according to Taylor. A federal designation will help draw more visitors and more

Andrea Taylor in September 2015 accepted the challenge of replacing Lawrence Pijeaux as CEO and president of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. Photo and cover photo by Sarah Finnegan.


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FACES donor support, according to Taylor, giving the BCRI “an opportunity to take its potential and what has already been achieved and take it to the next level.” The BCRI is already a success, according to David Fleming, CEO of REV Birmingham. “It draws thousands of people to our city and downtown, communicates an important part of both Birmingham and the nation’s history, and it’s an institution that works for a better future for all people,” he said. But Taylor, who succeeded longtime BCRI president Lawrence Pijeaux, had ambitious plans to reboot the institute even before word came of a possible federal designation. Taylor, formerly director of citizenship and public affairs for Microsoft and a veteran of large nonprofits, seeks to spruce up the exhibits, boost membership and increase average annual visitors from 150,000 to 250,000. With the designation, the BCRI has “the opportunity to grow in ways and in a time frame that might be more accelerated than we could have imagined,” she said. The BCRI will be part of a parks system with its own marketing that draws about 300 million visitors annually at about 400 sites, according to Taylor. “We’ve been told that … we can expect a doubling or tripling of visitors over, say,

a three- to five-year period,” Taylor said. “We can imagine expanding membership, sales in the gift shop and concessions, if we develop them.” The designation raises the organization’s profile, Emmett added. It will “increase both national and global awareness of the institute, and renew interest among our local citizens,” she said. “I think we’ve only scratched the surface of what the BCRI can mean for the Magic City,” Fleming said. But there are challenges in accommodating more visitors, especially those accustomed to national parks, according to Taylor. “People will expect the best.” Taylor said the BCRI — already affiliated with the Smithsonian Museum System — will look to improve staffing, programming and the visitor experience. “We’re set up as a self-guided museum,” she said. “Maybe we want to do more with tours and more with technology in our exhibits.” Since coming to the BCRI, Taylor has also expressed a desire to attract a more diverse array of visitors, including young people. Emmett, a University of Alabama graduate and director of strategic programs for BancorpSouth Insurance Services, stressed the importance of engaging young people, like those at local colleges, in discussing

human rights and in taking advantage of their “direct access” to the BCRI’s resources, including programming and events that stimulate “productive dialogue regarding civil and human rights,” she said. “This access will provide for them a strong bedrock of history necessary to work towards solutions to injustice and inequality in our society,” said Emmett, whose late father was a civil rights activist in Mobile. Board member Isaac Cooper, a Samford graduate and managing partner of IMC Financial, as well as a millennial, is excited about Taylor’s plans for a greater use of technology in the exhibits. “One of the great questions for millennials is how do you make history relevant? How do you make it fun?” he said. The improvements will aid visitors in processing the history of “something that was monumental, but had a lot of pain associated with it,” he said. However, BCRI improvements will take money, according to Taylor. “We will need more members,” she said. “We will need more donors.” The federal designation should allow the BCRI to reach national donors, including those who tend to support national parks, according to Taylor. But the institute will still need its local and state support. “It’s

not a zero-sum game,” Taylor said, noting this local support will pay off in increased economic activity, including tourism. The Birmingham City Council recently voted to increase Birmingham’s annual contribution to the BCRI by $225,000 to $1 million. “This will help us make this transition to what we hope will be a national park and address some of the maintenance issues in a 60,000-square-foot building that is almost 25 years old,” Taylor said. The city, which owns the building, is also doing some other physical upgrades, according to Taylor, who explained the BCRI board operates the facility and presents programming. The BCRI also receives funding from the Alabama Tourism Department, from philanthropy and its own earned income. In any case, given human nature and the conflict in the world, it is important for the BCRI to continue its mission, according to Taylor. “We make progress all the while, but it’s still just beyond our grasp,” she said. The BCRI is “going to continue to educate and inform and promote and encourage human and civil rights, and we want to be here to continue to do that for many generations to come, and the national park is an important legacy opportunity to do that,” she said.


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ROLLER GIRLS Tragic City Rollers: Not your typical 1970s roller derby league

D

By SYDNEY CROMWELL

Above: Diana Bostick and Lauren Barranger are downtown residents and two of the 20 to 30 members of the Tragic City Rollers roller derby team. Right: Members of the Tragic City Rollers practice drills before their first bout of the season. Photos by Sydney Cromwell.

iana Bostick has an alter ego. When she laces up her roller skates, she becomes “Lana del Slay.” Bostick, a cosmetologist who lives in the Highlands area of downtown, is the president of the Tragic City Rollers, Birmingham’s roller derby team. She’s one of 20 to 30 women from across the area who make up the team. “They’re massively talented and completely fearless,” Bostick said. Being at a roller-derby practice is a lot like other sports, as the players sweat through drills and cheer each other on. But before meeting the Tragic City Rollers, I’d never known a group of people so blasé about the possibility of falling or getting hit with an accidental elbow to the face. As fellow Roller and Five Points South resident Lauren “Mad Villain” Barranger puts it, that’s just part of the game. “There’s a difference between going around a skating rink and learning how to skate derby, primarily learning how to stop,” Barranger said. “Our biggest thing is teaching people how to stop correctly, how to fall safely, just how to not get hurt.” I also quickly found out that derby nicknames are the only names that matter when the Rollers are together. Asking for “Diana” or “Hannah” earned me confused looks as players tried to recall which names belong to which woman. But any of them could immediately point out “Slay” or “Lattitude Problem.” “Being around all these women — and men, because we have some cool refs, cool dudes — has been absolutely incredible. I’m super honored to be part of this league,” Bostick said. In roller derby, also known as flat-track derby, two teams of five can be in the rink at any time. The teams are made up of a jammer, who scores points, and four blockers, who try to keep the opposing team’s jammer from scoring as they make their way around the rink. “The object when the whistle blows [is] the jammers have to get through the pack, come around and on their second pass, they


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What’s going on? Know about something in Birmingham you consider bizarre, eclectic or utterly original? Let us know! Email information to sydney@starnespublishing.com.

The Rollers’ first bout of the season is on Feb. 18 against the Chattanooga Roller Girls. A full schedule for the season is at tragiccityrollers.com.

score one point for each opposing blocker that they pass,” said Barranger, who started skating derby in 2012 in New Jersey and joined TCR about four years ago. “I like that you really have to work as a unit. So it’s not just about you. You have to listen and feel the energy of your teammates and know where they are headed,” Bostick said, who mostly plays as a blocker. The TCR team was established in 2005. It’s a physical sport. While intentional elbow throws, clotheslines and hits to the spine aren’t allowed, players can still use their hips and shoulders to check each other and keep their opponents from scoring points. “I like to hit people,” Barranger said. “You can take out a lot of aggression in one practice.” “I’m scrappy. It’s kind of a joke. I will go for it — I’m probably going to fall, but I’ll figure it out,” Bostick said. It’s also a sport that’s evolved a lot from the notoriety it gained in the 1970s, Barranger said. It’s less dangerous and less theatrical, more focused on the athleticism than its appearance. As president of TCR, Bostick said it’s a lot more like a business — with sponsorships and fundraisers — than “some cute little thing that we show up

and put on outfits and put on a show.” “There’s a lot of old stigmas attached to roller derby. They don’t realize how far the sport has evolved, and they think it’s a lot of WWE wrestling tricks and whatnot. And that’s just not at all what this is about,” Bostick said. “It’s not a big circus show. It’s more than hot babes in fishnets. I mean, we got plenty of hot babes, and we got some fishnets, but they’re serious athletes, and they will fight to the end.” It’s a blast for spectators who come to the Rollers’ home bouts at the Zamora Shrine Temple. “We’re very family friendly. Little kids love it. I think it’s really great because you look at role models that young girls have, it’s sort of like the princess image. They don’t realize you can do all those things, but you can really empower yourself, and you can be really strong,” Barranger said. The Rollers’ first bout of the season is on Feb. 18 against the Chattanooga Roller Girls. A full schedule for the season is at tragiccityrollers.com. “We’re playing Chattanooga and we have a score to settle with them. We lost to them three times last year so we’re out for blood,” Barranger said.

While every bout is thrilling, Bostick said she’ll never forget her first All-Star match in Atlanta. “It was like this glorious high. I couldn’t wait to get back out there,” she said. But being part of the rollers isn’t just about competition. They’re a group of extremely close women who spend time together and support each other off the track. That’s part of why Barranger is always looking to recruit people to watch a bout or try out for the team, even if they’ve never put on roller skates in their lives. Through her job at Whole Foods, Barranger said she has recruited coworkers or their friends or girlfriends.

“Eventually I just pick everyone out from Whole Foods,” Barranger said. “I talk about derby to everybody just because I love it so much.” The women who make up the Tragic City Rollers have a variety of personalities, backgrounds and careers, but they’re brought together by their willingness to try something new and stick with it as they learn the rules of the sport. “A lot of people think you have to be this crazy tough person and know how to skate, but you really don’t. Most of the people we get have never skated a day in their life. It’s probably actually better that way because then they’re a raw canvas,” Barranger said.


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LAKEVIEW

Pepper Place presents its 1st Winter Farmers Market By JESSE CHAMBERS The Market at Pepper Place bills itself as the largest weekly farmers market in the state, with up to 10,000 people coming to Lakeview on spring and summer weekends to shop for products made or grown in Alabama, especially fresh vegetables. But now lovers of the market don’t have to wait until spring. The first Winter Farmers Market at Pepper Place — featuring a dozen Alabama growers and producers — will be inside the Pepper Place

Pop-Up each Saturday from Jan. 28 to April 1, 8 a.m. to noon, according to a news release. A wide variety of fresh produce, herbs, flowers, eggs, cheese, bread, meat, poultry, honey and nuts — plus Hero Doughnuts and Domestique Coffee — will be available each Saturday, rain or shine. There will be live music and seating inside and out. The Winter Market is made possible because Alabama farmers can produce crops even in cold months, thanks to the use of high tunnels, greenhouses and other technology,

the release said. Opening day will feature products such as fresh produce from Belle Meadow Farm, Owl’s Hollow Farm and Silver Lane Farm; meats, poultry and eggs from Marble Creek Farmstead and Rora Valley Farms; breads and pastries from Hinkel’s on Main; and honey from Eastaboga Bee Company. For weekly updates, go to pepperplacemarket.com or find Pepper Place Market on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The Pepper Place Pop-Up is at 2825 Second Ave. S.

SOUTHSIDE

CENTRAL CITY

Architect hopes 15th Street loft project will spark more Southside investment By JESSE CHAMBERS Architect Chris Reebals, one of the creators of a distinctive new apartment complex on Southside, said he hopes the project will spark further investment on Southside and drive “a greater belief in the value” of that community. Reebals said he also hopes 15th Street Lofts, which he says was designed to fit nicely in the historic neighborhood, will encourage other builders to do attractive, quality projects that enhance communities. His firm, Christopher Architecture & Interiors, did the architecture and interior design for the $2 million project, expected to open in February near Phelan Park, and Reebals is part of the development team, WSR1. The 11-unit development near UAB and Dreamland BBQ includes two-, three- and four-bedroom apartments. The lofts have a warehouse or industrial feel with durable polished concrete floors, block and wood walls, steel windows and floor joists, according to Reebals. This style not only appealed to the design team but should appeal to millennial tenants, according to Reebals. “We thought it would resonate,” he said. The building’s architecture also is meant to harmonize with Southside. “We felt like it fit more appropriately than the typical suburban, regurgitated,

A panettone from Hinkel’s on Main. Photo courtesy of Pepper Place Market.

Art contest gives students chance to depict visions of civil rights movement By JESSE CHAMBERS

The 11-unit development near UAB and Dreamland BBQ includes two-, three- and fourbedroom apartments. Rendering courtesy of Chris Reebals.

multifamily designs permeating the scene,” Reebals said. The designers incorporated such materials as brick from an old cotton mill to give their building a historical context and allow it to complement Southside’s vintage buildings, Reebals said. “The design speaks to the beauty of these old structures,” he said.

Reebals said he hopes this attention to quality will influence other builders. “My hope is that others will see what can be done and will buy into the notion that good design is good business,” he said. Developers who cut corners or save money should realize that good design affects not only the user but also the community as a whole, Reebals said.

McDonald’s of Central Alabama is celebrating Black History Month by co-sponsoring the Celebration of Creativity Art Contest for the fifth year. Students in grades K-12 can compete for cash prizes by submitting drawings, paintings or mixed-media pieces depicting the civil rights movement and the country’s progression. And if the entries meet the standard set in previous contests, they’ll demonstrate both surprising artistic ability and some powerful insights into a momentous period in American history, said Debbie Kiker, marketing director for Angels Advertising. The overall artistic quality of the work submitted has been “simply amazing,” she said. “There was one picture in particular of Rosa Parks the first year that really stood out to me and was so impressive,” Kiker said. “The quality, breadth and depth of talent among these participants are always astounding to me,” said Larry Thornton, an artist, contest judge and McDonald’s owner-operator. “It’s clear to me that many of these young artists are tremendously moved by their own renditions.”

See CONTEST | page 29


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CONTINUED from page 28 “It’s quite moving to see how they show their viewpoints,” Kiker said. The students are not shy about depicting challenging or difficult subject matter, according to Thornton, who said he’s been impressed by the “emphasis on some of the atrocious scenes/circumstances depicting the civil rights movement — police dogs, freedom riders, marches, boycotts, etc. — as opposed to civil rights icons, which I thought to be quite telling.” Today’s kids were born long after the original events, of course, he said. “My sense is that to many of them, the civil rights movement occurred far more than 50 years ago,” Thornton said. Despite that gap, many “participants were able to find a point of connection and identity” with the struggle, he said. Thornton said he believes the contest “provides a unique opportunity to contrast current circumstances and opportunities to those experiences during the civil rights movement for African-Americans.” The contest judges are Thornton, anchorman Steve Crocker of co-sponsor WBRC-TV and representatives from the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute and co-sponsor 95.7 JAMZ. Entries must be submitted by Feb. 2. Winners will be announced Feb. 23 at the BCRI. For contest guidelines, go to 957jamz.com.

United Way again offering free tax-preparation help By JESSE CHAMBERS In 2006, when the United Way of Central Alabama offered its free tax-preparation service for the first time, only 38 returns were filed, according to UWCA officials. But in 2016, UWCA’s IRS-certified volunteers helped prepare more than 3,200 tax returns for low- to moderate-income families, resulting in $2.5 million in refunds. This gives the community an economic boost and puts more money in the hands of hardworking people, United Way officials said. And the service is back this year, with more than 60 preparers offering help to individuals and families earning less than $54,000 for tax year 2016, according to a UWCA news release Not only do filers avoid tax preparation fees — about $200 per person

Two hearing-impaired women sign “thank you” after receiving United Way tax preparation help. Photo courtesy of United Way of Central Alabama.

— but they get all the tax credits available to them. This includes the Earned Income

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Tax Credit, ranging from $2,600 to $4,600. Most returns are ready in seven days, and UWCA’s drop-off service helps people get their taxes prepared around their work schedules. Through its Financial Stability Partnership, UWCA not only offers tax help but links people to such services as financial education, disability resources and credit counseling. Many clients return for free tax preparation year after year, often bringing family members as new clients, and the volunteers enjoy working with a wide variety of people, according to UWCA officials. To make an appointment or get more information — including a list of the documents needed — call 211 or 888421-1266 or go to uwca.org/taxes. United Way also offers free tax preparation online at myfreetaxes.com.


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Gymnastics coach following her ‘destiny’

Couples from metro area to celebrate Valentine’s Day nuptials under Vulcan By SYDNEY CROMWELL

By JESSE CHAMBERS Ingrid Pfau is the owner of two gyms: Ingrid’s Gymnastics in East Lake and Trussville Gymnastics. The native of Santiago, Chile, who has been a coach for 35 years and is a former rhythmic gymnast, said gymnastics is her passion. “I love it, and it’s my life,” Pfau said. “I think it was my destiny to do this.” Her passion was rewarded by her teams’ stellar performances at the Alabama USA Gymnastics state meet in Tuscaloosa in December. Ingrid’s Gymnastics finished first in the Level 2 Large Team category and third in the Level 1 Large Team category. Trussville Gymnastics finished first in both Level 1 Large Team and Level 2 Small Team. And it’s not just about winning but about helping gymnasts build strong character and learn important values, according to Pfau, a 29-year Birmingham resident. “The gymnasts get significantly stronger, and as they get stronger they become more confident in

FEBRUARY 2017

Members of the competition team at Ingrid’s Gymnastics in East Lake. Photo courtesy of Maurice Mille.

themselves,” Pfau said. “Nothing is instant gratification, and that’s a good lesson to learn.” They realize other benefits, as well, she said. “They learn how to manage their time, to take care of their bodies and to be responsible for themselves.” It’s also fun to build a community of gymnasts, coaches and parents, Pfau said. “It’s a journey to teach not only our gymnasts, but the parents, about the world of gymnastics,” she said. The age range at both gyms is 2 to 18. Pfau offers only girls classes at Ingrid’s Gymnastics but teaches girls and boys in Trussville. Visit ingridsgymnastics. com.

This Valentine’s Day, several local couples will tie the knot in the shadow of Birmingham’s most iconic statue. I Do With a View is an annual event for Vulcan Park, offering a series of wedding packages on Feb. 14 for couples who want a special ceremony but don’t want to deal with all the planning. This will be the event’s 10th year. Twelve participating couples will have a 30-minute ceremony at the park with up to 20 friends, a reception, bouquet and boutonnière, professional photographs, hors d’oeuvres and Champagne and cake for the bride and groom. The one sunset package, which Vulcan director of public relations

and marketing Morgan Berney said already has been claimed, is more expensive and includes more seats and photographs, wedding cake for all guests, a honeymoon hotel stay and other extras. Each couple works with Vulcan Park’s chosen vendors to make small personal changes to their ceremonies, but the appeal of I Do With a View is that most of the planning is done before the couples get involved. Berney said I Do With a View is a good way to have a stressfree wedding that is still complete. This year’s vendors include Allison R. Banks Stationery, Cakes by Audrey, GoPro Event Solutions, Jennifer Woodbery Photography, RD Designs and Savoie Catering. For more information, go to visitvulcan.com/event/i-do-2017.


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AVONDALE

Birmingham-loving couple find, renovate ‘perfect home’

By JESSE CHAMBERS Jeremy Harper, a co-founder of Birmingham Mountain Radio, and his wife, Mabry, a travel agent, said they love the Magic City. “Birmingham has so many wonderful things to offer, and we’re proud to call it our home,” Jeremy Harper said. “One of the things that’s excited us is watching Birmingham go through its revitalization and make so much progress,” Mabry Harper said. These passions came into play when they went house hunting last year. “Living downtown was our core requirement … and we’re happy to have found the perfect home in the perfect location,” Jeremy Harper said. That perfect home is in Avondale — a Craftsman-style house built in 1910 with a wide porch, round columns, high ceilings and a grand entrance. And the Harpers are investing sweat equity, not just money, in the 1,800-squarefoot home that they purchased in mid-December. They’re doing most of the massive renovation themselves. Despite the work ahead, they said they are happy with the

Jeremy and Mabry Harper are renovating the home they purchased in Avondale. Photos courtesy of Mabry Harper.

house and their new neighborhood. “I come from a family of carpenters and DIY’ers, and Mabry has incredible vision for making the space beautiful and functional, while at the same time preserving the charm and history of the home,” Jeremy Harper said, adding that they’ve gotten a lot of help from

family and friends. “We love the style and size of the home, the charm that it brings and the potential that it has to share with us in the future,” Jeremy Harper said. “We call her our ‘grand dame.’ She's like a Southern grandmother — as delicate as a flower yet steadfast as a battleship.”

“I think when we first walked in, it has a great hallway that makes it so inviting,” Mabry Harper said. “It’s how we both pictured our house to be.” The couple moved in and started work immediately. They had the roof replaced and the hardwood floors refinished. They gutted and redesigned the kitchen. They updated the trim work to match the home’s original style. And there has been, Jeremy Harper said, “lots of caulking, sanding, and painting.” After the kitchen is complete, the couple will focus on the exterior, including landscaping, a patio and improvements to the front and back porches. The couple looked at several neighborhoods, but they said Avondale was perfect for them. “We can walk pretty much anywhere, and there’s a great appeal in that,” Mabry Harper said, adding that they enjoy being so close to Avondale Park, as well as bars, restaurants and the ZYP bike station. “The neighborhood is lovely, and the area is continuously improving,” Jeremy Harper said.


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PUT THESE IN FEBRUARY’S BEST BETS

DANCING WITH THE STARS LIVE Feb. 3, BJCC Concert Hall, 2100 Richard Arrington Jr. Blvd. N.

America’s favorite dance TV show is going back on the road this winter, giving fans the chance to see the best dancers in the business. 8 p.m. Tickets range from $49.50-$75. Ages: 2+ must have a ticket. No professional cameras and no video. Call 800-745-3000 or go to bjcc.org.

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BIRMINGHAM WINTER BEER FESTIVAL

Feb. 4, BJCC Exhibition Hall, 2100 Richard Arrington Jr. Blvd. N.

Shake off your winter blues and enjoy some craft brews at Birmingham’s first Winter Beer Festival! The event will allow attendees to try more than 150 world-class craft beers. Activities include a cornhole tournament, silent disco, cooking with beer, karaoke and a mixology garden. 7 p.m. General admission tickets $45 (through Feb. 3); $50 day of show. For details, call 800-745-3000 or go to bhambeerfest.com.

MERCEDES MARATHON Feb. 10-12, Boutwell Municipal Auditorium, 1930 Eighth Ave. N.

Now in its 16th year, the MercedesBenz Marathon Weekend of events has become a Birmingham tradition that has helped raise millions of dollars for local charities throughout its 15 year history. Events include a half-marathon, marathon relay and 5K. Friday, noon-7 p.m.; Saturday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m; Sunday, 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more details, call 870-7771 or go to mercedesmarathon.com.

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MUST SEE

See this? It means we think you ought to go!

THIRD FRIDAY IN FOREST PARK AND TOUR DE LOO Feb. 17, Forest Park Village, Clairmont Avenue and 39th Street South

On Third Fridays, restaurants offer specials, shops and galleries are open late, and merchants’ bathrooms are transformed into art installations by local artists. Best installation awarded with a $200 prize, compliments of Marco Morosini, owner of neighborhood restaurant Silvertron Café. 5-8 p.m. Free. For information, call 595-3553 or find the Forest Park South Avondale Business Association on Facebook.

OFFICIAL BIRMINGHAM CITY COUNCIL

third floor, Conference Rooms D and E.

Feb. 6: Birmingham City Council Public Safety, Transportation Committee. 4:30 p.m. Birmingham City Hall, third floor, council chambers.

Feb. 14: Birmingham City Council. 9:30 a.m. City Hall, third floor.

Feb. 7: Birmingham City Council. 9:30 a.m. City Hall, third floor. Feb. 13: Birmingham City Council Economic Development, Budget and Finance Committee. 4 p.m. Birmingham City Hall, third floor, Conference Rooms D and E. Feb. 13: Birmingham City Council Governmental Affairs Committee. 2 p.m. Birmingham City Hall,

Feb. 14: Birmingham City Council Public Improvements and Beautification Committee. 2 p.m. Birmingham City Hall, Conference Room A. Feb. 20: Birmingham City Council Public Safety, Transportation Committee. 4:30 p.m. Birmingham City Hall, third floor, council chambers. Feb. 20: Birmingham City Council Planning and Zoning Committee. 4:30 p.m. Birmingham City Hall, Conference Room A.

Feb. 20: Citizen Advisory Board. 7 p.m. City Council Chambers, Birmingham City Hall, third floor. The Citizen Participation Program is designed to achieve improved communication, understanding, and cooperation between Birmingham citizens and city officials through increased personal contact between City Hall and neighborhoods and communities throughout the city. The public is welcome to attend. Feb. 21: Birmingham City Council. 9:30 a.m. City Hall, third floor. Feb. 22: Birmingham City Council Committee of the Whole. 4 p.m. Birmingham City Hall, third

floor, Conference Rooms D and E. Feb. 24: Birmingham City Council Administration/ Technology Committee. 1 p.m. Birmingham City Hall, third floor, Conference Rooms D and E. Feb. 28: Birmingham City Council. 9:30 a.m. City Hall, third floor. Feb. 28: Birmingham City Council Education Committee. 2 p.m. Birmingham City Hall, third floor, Conference Rooms D and E. Feb. 28: Birmingham City Council Utilities Committee. 4 p.m. Birmingham City Hall, third floor, Conference Rooms D and E.


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DISCOVER NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION MEETINGS

COMMUNITY

Feb. 7: Forest Park/South Avondale Neighborhood Association meeting. 6:30 p.m. Avondale Library, 509 40th St. S. Visit forestparksouthavondale.com for more information.

Feb. 11: Alabama Wildlife Center’s Wild About Chocolate. The Harbert MUST Center, 2019 Fourth Ave. SEE N. This 13th annual Valentine gala benefits the AWC. Enjoy chocolate and savory creations and beverages from Birmingham’s best restaurants and caterers, as well as live music and live and silent auctions. 7 p,m. Tickets $75 in advance; $100 at the door. For information, call 663-7930, Ext. 8, or go to awrc.org.

Feb. 9: Roebuck Springs Neighborhood Association meeting. 7 p.m. South Roebuck Baptist/Community Church. Call President Frank Hamby at 222-2319 for more information. Feb. 13: Woodlawn Neighborhood Association meeting. 5709 1st Ave N. Call President Brenda Pettaway at 593-4487 for more information. Feb. 14: Highland Park Neighborhood Association meeting. 7 p.m. Upstairs meeting room of the Highland Park Golf Course clubhouse. Meeting notices are sent out to recipients of the Highland Park email list. If you wish to be included on this list, email President Alison Glascock at alisonglascock@ gmail.com. Feb. 21: Central City Neighborhood Association meeting: 6-7 p.m. Linn-Henley Library, Richard Arrington, Jr. Auditorium. Neighborhood social to follow at Tavern on 1st, 2320 1st Ave. N. Feb. 27: Crestwood South Neighborhood Association meeting. 6:30 p.m. 1220 50th St. S. Feb. 27: Crestwood North Neighborhood Association meeting. 6:30 p.m. Girls Inc. of Alabama. Feb. 27: Huffman Neighborhood Association meeting. 7 p.m. Cornerstone School, 959 Huffman Road. Feb. 27: Five Points South Neighborhood Association meeting. 6-7:15 p.m. Southside Library, 1814 11th Ave. S. Visit fivepointsbham. com for more information. Feb. 28: Bush Hills Neighborhood Association meeting. 6:30 p.m. Bush Hills Academy School, 901 16th St. S.W. Call President Walladean Streeter at 602-4237 for more information.

Did we miss something? If you would like to have your neighborhood association meeting mentioned in next month’s calendar, email the meeting info to kwilliams@starnespublishing.com.

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Feb. 14: I Do with a View. Vulcan Park and Museum,1701 Valley View Drive. Couples are given the chance to marry or renew their vows on Valentine’s Day with Vulcan as their witness. Reservations are first-come, first-served. Daytime wedding packages are available for $500. For information, call 933-1409 or go to visitvulcan.com. Feb. 16: The Abbey’s Sinners And Saints Ball. 6-8 p.m. Avondale Brewery. We will be celebrating The Abbey’s second anniversary, raising money to grow our ministry in Avondale and enjoying our friends and community. Tickets on sale through Eventbrite or at Saint Thomas Episcopal Church. Feb. 24-26: Birmingham RV Super Show. BJCC Exhibition Hall. The show features enough RVs to fill several football fields, including luxury motor coaches, pull-behinds, fifth wheels, campers, vendors, motorhomes and toy haulers. Feb. 24, noon-8 p.m.; Feb. 25, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; Feb 26, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Adults $10; children ages 2 and younger admitted free. For information, call 256-509-3574 or go to bkproductions.biz.

MUSIC Feb. 3-4: Alabama Symphony Orchestra EBSCO Masterworks Series. Alys Stephens Center, 1200 10th Ave. S. The ASO will present Gershwin’s “An American in Paris,” as well as several other works. Tickets range from $25-$74. For tickets, call 975-2787 or go to alabamasymphony.org. Feb. 10-18: Alabama Symphony Orchestra Sound Edge Festival. Iron City Birmingham, 513 22nd St. S. The new Sound Edge Festival

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brings together creative talents for intense collaborations with the ASO and conductor Carlos Izcaray. Call 975-2787 or go to alabamasymphony.org. Feb. 14: Alabama Symphony Orchestra Concertmaster & Friends Series. WorkPlay, 500 23rd St. S. Conductor Carlos Izcaray will lead the ASO in performances of a series of works inspired by Shakespeare, including Nino Rota’s Love Theme from “Romeo and Juliet.” 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $16. Call 9752787 or go to alabamasymphony.org. Feb. 23: Yellowjackets. Alys Stephens Center, 1200 10th Ave. S. Over a 35-year career, this jazz band has made 23 albums and earned 17 Grammy nominations, winning two. 7 p.m. Tickets $42.50. Call 975-2787 or go to alysstephens.org. Feb. 25: Alabama Symphony Orchestra Red Diamond SuperPops! Series. Leslie S. Wright Fine Arts Center, Samford University, 800 Lakeshore Drive. The ASO will perform with film and Broadway star Bernadette Peters. 8 p.m. Tickets range from $23-$48. Call 9752787 or go to alabamasymphony.org.

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ARTS Feb. 2: Birmingham Art Crawl. Downtown Birmingham. Every first Thursday, the Art Crawl turns downtown Birmingham into a walking art gallery full of food, artists and performers. 5-9 p.m., rain or shine. Admission free. For information, call 530-5483 or go to birminghamartcrawl.com. Feb. 2-5: Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill. RMTC Cabaret Theatre, 301 19th St. N. In this play, jazz legend and singer Billie Holiday gives one of her last performances in 1959. More than a dozen musical numbers are interlaced with salty, often humorous, reminiscences. Thursday-Saturday, 7:30 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 2 p.m. Ticket prices start at $19. Call 324-2424 or go to redmountaintheatre.org. Feb. 9: Vocalosity. Alys Stephens Center, 1200 10th Ave. S. Vocalosity is the all-new live concert from producer Deke Sharon (Pitch Perfect, The Sing-Off) that takes a cappella to a new level. 7 p.m. Tickets $28-48. Call 975-2787 or go to alysstephens.org.

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Through Feb. 11: The Miss Firecracker Contest. Theatre Downtown, 2410 Fifth Ave. S. Thursday-Saturday, 8 p.m. Adults $18; students $12. Call 565-8838 or go to theatredowntown.org. Through Feb.12: Ring of Fire. Virginia Samford Theatre, 1116 26th St. S. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, 7:30 p.m.; Sundays, 2:30 p.m. Tickets range from $15-$35. Call 251-1206 or go to virginiasamfordtheatre.org. Feb. 14-15: Shen Yun 2017 World Tour with Live Orchestra. BJCC Concert Hall. 7:30 p.m. Tickets range from $70-$150, Call 888-9743698 or go to bjcc.org. Feb. 16-19: The Green Book. RMTC Cabaret Theatre, 301 19th St. N., Thursday-Saturday, 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, 2 p.m. Call 324-2424 or go to redmountaintheatre.org. Feb. 22-26: The Real Inspector Hound. Theatre UAB, Alys Stephens Center, 1200 10th Ave. S. Adults $12 and $15; students $6; employees and senior citizens, $10. Wednesday-Saturday, 7:30 p.m,; Sunday, 2 p.m.

DISCOVER

Feb. 26: Justin Roberts and the Not Ready for Naptime Players. Alys Stephens Center, 1200 10th Ave. S. 7 p.m. $8-$13. Call 975-2787 or go to alysstephens.org.

SPORTS Feb. 3-5: Davis Cup tennis. BJCC Legacy Arena. A best-of-five match series. Friday-Sunday, 8 a.m-2 p.m. Tickets start at $30. Call 967.4745 or go to usta.com/pro-tennis/davis_cup.

UAB BLAZERS MEN’S BASKETBALL

(Home games at Bartow Arena; tickets $17 and $22; call 975-8221 or go to uabsports.com)

Feb. 9: UNC Charlotte, 7 p.m. Feb. 11: Old Dominion, 7 p.m. Feb. 26: Middle Tennessee, noon.

UAB BLAZERS WOMEN’S BASKETBALL

(Home games at Bartow Arena; tickets $3 and $5; call 975-8221 or go to uabsports.com)

Feb. 2: UTEP, 7 p.m. Feb 4: UTSA, 2 p.m. Feb. 16: Marshall, 7 p.m. Feb.18: Western Kentucky, 2 p.m.


Pre-Sort Standard U.S. Postage PAID Tupelo, MS Permit #54

Iron City Ink February 2017  
Iron City Ink February 2017