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Talk of the Town - Lofty dwellers September 07 2005

Artists Ben Fain and Megan Lillie love their historic loft

Although Atlanta lofts are as ubiquitous as Starbucks, with seemingly one on every block, they are not necessarily a derivative living space. So believe local artists Ben Fain and Megan Lillie, who live in the converted Mattress Factory Lofts off Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.

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Their loft features a main room with 30-foot ceilings, cement floors, and two fully windowed walls — all preserved facets of its days as a factory. Two rooms branch off, creating a bedroom and a studio, giving the two plenty of space for creativity and fun.

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Creative Loafing: What attracted you to these lofts?

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Fain: We came to Atlanta over a year ago knowing what great art opportunities exist here.

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Lillie: We love being in old places. There are things we put up with here that kind of suck, but they are all factors of being in an old building, so we put up with them. The windows leak every time it rains and it's really dusty in here because the walls release this ancient crap over everything. But the building is alive with so much history.

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Fain: Loft living presents a double-edged sword as an opportunity to preserve a unique space in history, but moving people into this place puts the whole area into upheaval.

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What is it like to live in this area?

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Fain: Eyedrum, the most amazing arts and music venue in the city, is right next door. And the city's best park, Oakland Cemetery, is in our back yard. There's also the most beautiful — or active — crack spot on the corner, but since we've lived here, it's already possible to see the area changing.

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Lillie: We have a sauce factory next door. I don't know what they make, but you can definitely smell the ranch and vinaigrette dressing during the day. Oh, and the trains: There are six tracks behind the building that are great to watch.

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What are some of your prized possessions in this main room?

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Lillie: The Mac computer. It's worth more than our car! We don't have a lot of valuable stuff — everything is from a hand-me-down or an estate sale.

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What about those great bookshelves?

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Lillie: Those are crates my parents bought in Indiana from a guy who had thousands of them and was selling them for a nickel each. They held missile engines from Vietnam.

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Fain: Is it irony to have cookbooks in them now?

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Who are your birdy pets?

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Lillie: Finchy and Double-Finchy. They were hand-me-downs, too.

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Tell me about your artwork.

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Fain: I'm a fine artist and sculptor of the experimental mode.

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Lillie: And I'm a painter and textile artist. We're both part of the art collective Dos Pestaneos, which is based out of Atlanta. Our last show was in a barn, rather than a commercial gallery. In Atlanta, we've been able to do what we want with our work and have met with great reception.

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cityhomes@creativeloafing.com



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