Along with a very personal desire to capture the stories of various special possessions, some of which have been in my family for generations, a number of people inspired the questions that got the ETChster platform underway.
If you visit my house in Ormewood Park, Atlanta, you’ll find the work of my wife and professional photographer, Erin Jones Davis, known professionally by her initials prior to our wedding: EMJ. You can see a sampling of her work on Instagram.
In addition to her keen eye, she excels at organizing her digital work using a combination of meta data and Apple’s tools so that even though she owns terabytes of external drives, she can easily locate photos of our trip around Lake Arenal, Costa Rica in 2013, as an example. What if I could have that level of context attached to my favorite material objects?
At both my house and my parents’ home, we also have original photos from famous Atlantans from my father’s days as an attorney based in what is now known as Poncey-Highland. One in particular that sticks in my mind is called “Woman on Ponce de Leon” by George Mitchell, who would later teach me dark room-based photography in high school. The piece was taken long before I was born, but the building is extremely familiar. My dad’s law practice has been in that location (across from Fellini’s and La Fonda) since 1985. I saw my family’s framed version of the the piece literally hundreds of times while it was on display in that office, so that particular piece has its own stories related to my experience being a kid around a criminal defense firm in 1980’s Atlanta. What if I could create a record of this piece and send both my father and George himself a story request?
Another piece that comes to mind is a photograph in my family’s Oraien Catledge collection taken during his documentation of Cabbage Town after the Cotton Mill closed. Keep in mind that as a teenager, most of my friends did not come from houses that had original artwork around the house. When they would ask who was depicted in the photo on the wall, I had trained my parents to respond that it was a picture of my grandparents. What if I could attach the stories of my childhood antics to these pieces?
My paternal line contains a number of painters; none of them famous (yet).
My father paints under the moniker Marcus (and occasionally Marcello). My aunt Caryn paints and creates complex collages using found materials.
I have pieces in my man attic from both of my grandparents. My grandmother painted acrylics and watercolors in the 70s. My grandfather painted acrylics and watercolors from the 70s through the 2000s.
A nude watercolor of my grandmother has a place of honor in the gallery wall behind our dinner table. What if I could have collected the stories of these pieces before my grandparents passed?
While we don’t have any Dutch Masters in our collection, my wife and I do have a small but growing collection of contemporary work.
We are also lucky enough to be surrounded by murals. Though we could take the connector or Moreland when we head to Midtown or places north, we often wind through Estoria, Wylie and the Krog St. Tunnel so we can see the recent works. When we want to go for a walk, we’ll often bring one of my wife’s cameras along and capture the murals of East Atlanta Village or Old 4th Ward. What if those murals were linked to the artist and on to their other works?
Unlike my family members, I’m not much of a painter,but I do have a number of sculptures from my childhood, one of which is completely absurd and also my favorite. One day, when she’s old enough to not find it terrifying, I hope to give it to my daughter, who is on the way. What if I could attach a story to this piece now and only share it with my daughter when she’s old enough?
I also fondly remember a local treasure that we lost too soon. Christine Sibley was a family friend whose penchant for man swapping found her in frequent need of legal services (6 divorces), much of which she paid for in barter with her unique ceramics. As a child I had the opportunity to visit her headquarters at the corner of Waddell and DeKalb Avenue: Urban Nirvana. Chris’s pieces can still be found around Atlanta (such as the fountain at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens) but I’m afraid her story is quickly disappearing. What if the Botanical Gardens could somehow tie that fountain to her story and other pieces on public display in a way that wouldn’t disappear?
Etchster is still very much a work in progress. We’re extremely grateful to the eclectic group of individuals answering similar questions and recording interesting stories. With their candid feedback along the way, the platform is getting better all the time. The community already has a number of pieces from Christine, Marcus, Michelle Everett and other local artists on display.
Users can already build profiles, track personal and commercial items, and start recording the history of the objects that matter to them.
We plan to announce a collaboration shortly that we hope will help contemporary creators better connect with their fans in a more permanent way.