See Cruise – RAD Studio Cruise draws thousandsPhoto: Jonathan Phillips Allen Bush (right) teaches Allison Hawkins how to make glass art during a demonstration at Atlanta Hot Glass during the Rail Arts District's Art Cruise on Saturday, March 15, 2014.
By Jill Nolin
Jim Yontz had developed a curiosity for glass blowing. Saturday’s Rail Arts District (RAD) Studio Cruise gave him a chance to give it a shot.
“Don’t burn yourself,” Yontz’s wife Tammy offered from her seat.
Atlanta Hot Glass instructor Allen Bush was there to walk him through it. “Blow and you’ll see this expand,” he said as held a glass-blowing rod for Yontz. “But when I say ‘stop,’ you stop.” Too much pressure could stretch the glass beyond his limits, rendering it too fragile and sprinkling the floor with glass shards, Bush explained.
The Loganville residents, whose Christmas ornament appeared to turn out just fine, were among the thousands of people who attended the 7th annual RAD Studio Cruise. This year’s rendition of the event offered a new experience: the addition of Root City Market and a trolley that connected four areas in Avondale Estates, Decatur and Scottdale.
“It helps everyone if more people come to this area,” said Deanna Ranlett, co-owner of Mudfire Clayworks. “And the more people that come to the area, the greater benefit to the people who are coming, as far as what we can offer in programming and space.”
Mudfire was one of six anchor studios that participated in this year’s RAD Studio Cruise. As the name implies, the studios are all located along the CSX rail line, and they are part of an arts district that formed many years ago. The trolley stops stretched out more than two miles and included places like Paradise Studios, Paper Trail Art Center, Decatur Glassblowing, Little Tree Art Studios and Tap Mania. The turnout appeared to be the strongest in the event’s history, according to organizers.
The event also gave Avondale Estates Mayor Ed Rieker an audience for the unveiling of the plans for Tudor Square, which – for the first time – served as a venue for the annual arts event.
Rieker told Decaturish.com that he planned to have signed leases with tenants soon for the high-profile Avondale Estates property, which has been caught up in bankruptcy proceedings for nearly two years.
The big news Saturday was that Rieker planned to lease space for a whiskey distillery and malt vinegary, the latter being the only of its kind in the United States, according to Rieker.
Rieker purchased the property last June, and renovations on the buildings just wrapped up last week. He also plans to recruit a grocer, a restaurant, a coffee roaster, artists, jewelry makers and other tenants for the large space.
“We’re close to a lot of deals,” he said Saturday. “Nothing’s signed, but we’re getting there.”
The Towne Cinema, owned by Oakhurst Realty Partners, was also opened for the first time in years for Saturday’s festivities. The Dekalb School of the Arts performed on the stage.
The cinema will also be the site for the city’s state of the city speech on Monday, March 24, Rieker said Saturday. It will mark the first time the speech has been given outside of City Hall, Rieker said.
“We want people getting used to going in that building,” he said.
Oakhurst Realty closed on the Tudor Village in 2012 for $1.1 million, Decaturish.com reported earlier. The cinema was built in 1925 and has served many roles over of the years, including post office, city hall, private residence and recording studio.
More photos from the RAD Cruise …