Friday, February 10, 2012

Urban Nirvana

The amazing Urban Nirvana was the studio, gallery, and gardens of artist Christine Sibley. This technicolor oasis was located at the corner of DeKalb Avenue and Waddell Street during the 1990s. Sibley was known primarily for her pottery and also designed the decor for several Fellini's Pizza and La Fonda restaurants. These photos were taken in August 1992.


These first 8 photos were taken on the side of the building that faced DeKalb Avenue. Waddell Street is to the left.




The telephone pole in front of the building was decorated as a palm tree!


This fountain is below what must have originally been the front door of the building.




This is part of the garden behind the building. In the pens to the right were peacocks, goats and chickens.

Sunflowers were painted across the back side of the building.

Urban Nirvana was a magnet for artists and musicians and appeared on album covers and in several music videos. "Blue Garden Party" was a Super8 film that I shot there in 1992.



Atlanta band Ultrababyfat shot much of the video for their song "Twist" in the garden behind the building.



Urban Nirvana appears on the cover of Shawn's 1994 album Big Blue Sky.


All good things must come to an end. Miss Sibley was seriously injured in a near-fatal auto accident in 1998 and, after months of difficult recovery, sold the Urban Nirvana property in September 1999. Sadly, she passed away a few months later at age 51.

Urban Nirvana was my favorite place in Atlanta during the 1990s. Revisiting the site nearly two decades later was truly depressing. So what is there now? Altogether now: just what we need... MORE CONDOS! Here is the former site of the garden:
 
I try to keep an open mind when it comes to the recent rash of condominiums in Atlanta. After all, people have to live somewhere and this location is hard to beat. Maybe I'm too idealistic and critical when assessing current architectural trends, but in this case, even the owners seem to be sheepishly trying to hide this building from public view.

The telephone pole that had once been decorated as a palm tree is apparently all that remains.

The view on Waddell Street in January 2012:



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24 comments:

  1. Wow -- I had totally forgotten about this space. Thanks for the memory! Beautiful pics. There was a somewhat similar space in the early 90s (though much smaller in scope and scale) behind what is now One Eared Stag at the corner of Edgewood and Elizabeth Streets, near the Reynoldstown/Inman Park MARTA station. It was an art/performance space called Sylvia's Art of This Century and she put together a really cool area in the alley behind the building for outdoor performances.

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  2. Sylvia's was great! I saw many bizarre performances there.

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  3. Is that related to the same Sylvia's that was in Candler Park? It was a few doors down from the original Flying Biscuit if I remember correctly.

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  4. Yeah, it was called Sylvia's Atomic Cafe.

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  5. I hate that Urban Nirvana is gone. Was just thinking about her place this weekend when I was lovin on my gargoyle from there.

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  6. Wow, I didn't even realize it WAS gone, or that Christine Sibley had died. I don't get out much, obviously. And how was she related to Celestine Sibley, exactly?

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  7. For all of the poorly designed condo buildings in Atlanta-- this is actually one of the better ones-- go no further that up th estreet (DeKalb) to the 'Pencil Factory' to find a true abomination--

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  8. As a 6-year resident of this building, I can tell you that we are not sheepishly trying to hide it from public view. We are a vibrant and proud group of neighbors. I also grew up in Atlanta and remember Christine's building. I remember lots of things from my childhood that have changed. Inman Park is an evolving neighborhood that takes pride in its past while looking to the future. That is the meaning behind the neighborhood butterfly emblem: past, present, future. I appreciate the trip down memory lane but could do without the snarky remarks that insinuate our new community on this corner is less than what existed there before us.

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    1. It certainly isn't as artistic on the outside, but then, gosh, WHAT IS?! Nothing. Things do give way to "progress," don't they?

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  9. I am still so sad about Chris. We were good friends in the 70's. She was so tiny but did amazing works of art. I covet my all too few objects.

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  10. I too lived in Atlanta from 1989-1995 - surly these were the BEST years of Atlanta - the creativity was magnificent, and shared in the subtle Southern way. Viva Atlanta cir 1990's - I still have several pieces of Christine Sibley's Pottery. If you are a collector, you need to contact me, I need to give them a good home. I can't believe she is gone, I heard nothing of it...

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    1. FYI - SocialSweetSpot is my business name, I am Karen Ellis socialsweetspot@gmail.com

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    2. UIf you want to donate your pieces to a wonderful non-profit auction for the 75th birthday celebration for Linda Fuller, founder with her late husband, Millard, of Habitat for Humanity and later, The Fuller Center for Housing, I'd love to talk with you! 404-966-9220

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  11. I lived near urban nirvana back in 92. At the time they had a 15 foot tall pink flamingo. My wife and I had discussed buying it when we were moving to a traditional Atlanta brick ranch out in Smyrna. It would have truly made our house stand out from the rest of the neighborhood. I'm sad to hear she died and that urban nirvana is no more. It was truly a special place.

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  12. Chris was a wonderful artist. So sad she died so young. I have about 25 pieces of her handmade pottery from the early 70's...before Urban Nirvana...all one of a kind....bowls, candlesticks, wine goblets, mugs, wall decorations, etc. many with the angel faces from the Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah. I am interested in selling the collection if her family, friends or collectors are interested

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    1. Hi, James. I am interested. Please email me at chadbcarlson101[at]gmail.com. Thanks.

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    2. Hi, James. I am interested. Please email me at chadbcarlson101[at]gmail.com. Thanks.

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    3. Hi, Chad. I just saw this today, 9/15/15. Will email you today. thanks.

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    4. Hi, Chad. I just saw this today, 9/15/15. Will email you today. thanks.

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    5. Hi, Chad. You did not answer our email. Still interested in Chris Sibley collection? thanks. Jim

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    6. Hi, James. Sorry, for some reason I didn't get your email. Please try again at chadcarlson101@gmail.com and message me on FaceBook--Chad Carlson. Thanks!

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    7. Chad...I just saw this note from you. 3/22/17....We still have the Sibley collection if you are interested, contact us at jgrif@ellijay.com It is a beautiful all one of a kind by Chris from the 70's. Faye Griffin

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