Talk of the Town - Maxed-out pad December 04 2002

Garden apartment cum studio

Hyperbole is difficult
when it comes to talking about artist Eric Mack's apartment — like when your mom would screech, "It looks like a tornado hit this place!"

Well, that doesn't seem so far-fetched when you see Mack's front room. The two-bedroom garden-style apartment near the intersection of Briarcliff and North Druid Hills roads wouldn't have too much character (beige carpet, white walls, modular furniture) if it weren't for the black plastic covered in gesso that lines his living room/studio floor, the collaged doors painted in wild highways of color stacked in every corner, and walls covered in canvases, doodles and prints. Music typically plays from one of his many deteriorating stereos, and incense infuses the air.

Right now, things are boxed up. Mack is getting ready to move.

Creative Loafing: How long did it take you to get the place looking like this?

Eric Mack: You've never seen a place converted like this? I moved here, let's see, in '98. I had another apartment down from here, but I needed more space. My sister lived here; she's an artist too. So, I guess it's been over three years.

And you don't mind living with it ... like this?

I don't know how it ended up like this. I clean up, push all the things into the corners — [it] looks OK. But the average chick ... Well, let's say I've scared off certain people. They think, "Eric Mack — he's sold a couple of paintings. He'll have some nice components, nice furniture, leather." Then they're like, "Yeah, I'll call you."

How is the bedroom?

It's not so bad. Most times, they're spooked by the front. They never make it to the back.

How many stereos do you have in here?

You gotta have components; it's all about the electronic components. My tape player broke in this one this morning, so I had to break out ol' trusty [he points to a children's plastic tape player with a missing cover]. Well, let's see. How many components? Three Walkmans, then those over there. Nine? Some are questionable. And then I have the big one in the bedroom.

That computer looks pretty old.

I don't even have Internet; I have to go to Kinko's. It's a parallel with my work. I deal with technical progression, the patterns, microchips, circuits. But I don't apply it to my own life. It's like a fantasy.

It's not going to be fun to move all this stuff.

It'll only take me 20, 30 minutes to get all the art stuff together. I'm donating all this other stuff: the sofa, desk, jazz like that [he fingers a wobbly plastic shelf]. I'm boxing up books, records, clothes — everything else goes. The place I'm moving to is much smaller.

So it looks like you won't be getting your deposit back.

This is not conventional; it's a work/living arrangement. Work comes first. I'm trying to get a studio, but work must go on. Whatever. The deposit is a small amount to pay for the amount of work that can go on. But hopefully the woman in charge doesn't find out about this. She might not let me move.

Yeah, it's definitely nothing like I've ever seen.

The [maintenance man] says it's the only apartment he's seen like this. I guess I've maxed out the spot — pushed it to its limit.