Kool Kat of the Week: Salon Red’s Jessica Soler and the Art Institute of Atlanta Get Avant-garde and Decked Out in Decatur This Holiday Season

Posted on: Dec 3rd, 2014 By:

by Alexis Owens & High Pulp Heart
Art-Loving Atlanta MavensKKJSoler4
Contributing Writers

This year ATLRetro is giving you a heads up on some amazing holiday eye candy provided by our Kool Kat of the Week, Jessica Soler!  Jessica, owner of Salon Red,  and Dr. Courtney Hammonds , Visual Merchandising instructor at the Art Institute of Atlanta – Decatur, put their heads together and envisioned a co-op project that can be enjoyed the entire holiday season in downtown Decatur. The indie-inspired town is already decked to the halls, but now with even more edge and retro flare thanks to these two amazing artists!

Local businesswoman, hair stylist, artist and Jill-of-all-trades, Jessica Soler, is the creative mastermind behind the insanely inspiring wigs and dresses featured in this year’s holiday window display at the Art Institute of Atlanta’s downtown Decatur branch. In addition to being the owner of Salon Red, a local chain of retro-esque, upscale hair salons with locations in Decatur, Candler Park and Brookhaven, Jessica is also an artist, a nature lover, a dancer, a mother of four and heavily involved in the local community.

It’s her love of arts and community that led to her involvement with the Art Institute. When she started making dresses out of unconventional materials like foam rollers and hair color boxes, she thought she was simply creating something interesting for a salon photo shoot. But her ties within Atlanta transformed that creative urge into something that the larger community now has the opportunity to enjoy.

KKJSoler3Jessica is dripping of modern-meets-retro in every facet. ATLRetro was thrilled to get the chance to see her in action. Along with Art Institute students, she created a display that is reminiscent of the early Macy’s Christmas window displays that awed so many of us as we grew up. While witnessing the magic in action, we took the opportunity to not only snap some fun photos but also ask this nifty lady a few questions.

ATLRetro: How long have you been doing hair?

Jessica Soler: In total 18 years, but I have owned my own salon for 16 of those years.

That is pretty early on in your career to own your own salon. Why own your own salon?

Do you want the lie or the truth?

Both if you don’t mind?

Well the lie is I thought it would be fun, but that is what any young entrepreneur believes.  In all honesty, though, the truth is I couldn’t work anywhere else. I have an immensely strong work ethic, and I always want to upgrade systems from the front end of business to the back end. Creative problem solving is what I am best at and what I prefer to work around, and that isn’t just found in any business. But I knew I could incorporate it into mine. Truly though, once diving into having my own business, I learned there is no other way.KKJSoler5

The project with Art Institute’s holiday windows is dripping with community relations and art.  Would you say that that encompasses you as an individual, your business and various locations?

I thrive off of any and all creative avenues. Every single member of my staff is creative in so many different ways and that is one of the many reasons why we continue to thrive as a business, a family and a community. Art is our core, and community is everything wrapped around it. Working with the various Atlanta communities is something we pride ourselves on. Not to mention, it is just such fun to involve community and family in all that you do. Community and art fuel the salons and are a huge part of why I own my own business. It brings out the best in all aspects. We all love to be inspired and want to inspire others. Art and community provide that in ample supply.

You also do a lot of education with your staff, correct?

Education has always been an initiative of mine from the get-go, be it with staff or community.

So tell us about these window displays you created and put together with the Art Institute students? What was your inspiration?

Christmas, Pinterest, The Grinch and Laurent Philippon of Bumble and bumble and his book HAIR: FASHION AND FANTASY, which not so oddly is an inspiration for me and the fabulous Art Institute instructor Dr. Courtney Hammonds, who was gracious enough to host this co-op.

KKJSoler6Laurent is rather avant-garde as is these beautiful window pieces you have created. Has that always been a part of your vision?

Being avant-garde isn’t my main focus point all of the time, but it sure is fun and adds an extra flare to a lot of my projects.

What kind of products do you use to make such amazing avant-garde pieces?

So much hairspray! I have to stay true to the best products that I know, though. I used a ton of Bumble & bumble as well as Oribe products.

The windows truly are a beautiful reflection of art meets community meets retro roots; is there anything coming up after this that we can keep an eye out for?

Spring. We have a show coming up in the spring that I can’t talk a whole lot about, but this is just a taste of that and I am very excited about it.

Be sure to check out the retro whimsical window display for yourself. It’s just a hop, skip and a jump from some of Decatur’s GREAT local shops to help fill those stockings this year. The Art Institute’s gallery windows can be found on downtown Decatur’s main drag, Ponce de Leon Avenue.


Photo’s provided courtesy of Farmer Dude & High Pulp Heart







Category: Kool Kat of the Week | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Just a Jump to the Left of The Plaza, Let’s Do Beer and Burgers at The Righteous Room Again

Posted on: Jan 16th, 2013 By:

Photo credit: Rachel Marshall

By Rachel Marshall
Contributing Writer

“We don’t really have a manager,” Rebecca the bartender said, offering a silly, sly, unapologetic grin. See, I had asked if I could speak to a manager about their experiences within a bar called The Righteous Room.  That moment when it becomes clear that the inmates run the asylum is the moment you realize, as someone who just wants a good drink and a good bite to eat, you’ve come to the right place.

The Righteous Room is located on Ponce De Leon Ave., right next to the glorious gloom and clattering 35mm projectors of The Plaza Theatre, which to me has never been crowned just by a glorious marquis, but by the parted lips of an old ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW poster. So, let that be your landmark. Just a jump to the left of a theatre in a perpetual state of doing the Time Warp again, The Righteous Room has been intriguing newcomers and keeping regulars hooked for about 17 years.

You are, essentially, entering a dive bar. Rugged brick and exposed vents bathe in the mingling hues of electric yellow chandeliers and blue Christmas lights that framework dusty chalkboards displaying the latest beer specials. Purchasable works of local artists adorn the walls, and the bathrooms need no decoration, only the whims of drunken occupants armed with Sharpies and wits hopped up on shots. Similar whims will often pump quarters and dollars into a nearby jukebox in a bid to hear that one perfect song before they either wander off into the Atlanta night, or trudge into The Plaza (a step to the right).

Photo credit: Rachel Marshall

So, I settled in for a drink and a meal. What’s great about the service at The Righteous Room is there is very little pomp or circumstance when it comes to service, and frankly, in a dive, that’s all I want. I want someone with metal piercing their faces and ink intricacy staining their arms to hand me a frosty beverage and a juicy burger. No flourish, no stage-show, just a grin that says: “This will mess you up. See you on the other side!”

I enjoyed a Mamma’s Lil Yella Pils and a New Belgium “Snow Day” under the gaze of a local artist’s portrait of Mardi Gras. In time, a pulled pork sandwich arrived between two gargantuan slices of grilled bread. With house-made horseradish sauce at my side, I tore into my meal without hesitation.

That’s right. House-made. With a couple of exceptions here and there, everything is made within The Righteous Room. Not only that, but if you’re not as carnivorous as me and prefer the leafier side of things, The Righteous Room has a menu that flatters the herbivores out there. The peppery whisper of dandelion greens within a fresh salad, the cool, creamy indulgence of hummus and a fire-good veggie chili are just a few things on the menu that will cater to those of you that aren’t meat-feeders like me.

Photo credit: Rachel Marshall

So, sure, these dishes may help keep you on your feet after that third or fourth shot, but before those kick in, it dawns on you; this is not your typical dive. Rebecca approaches to see how the meal is going, and soon we’re talking about the heart of the bar. Behind the scenes, the owners work close with the staff. Everyone is interested in each other’s goals, and seeing what everyone can bring to the table. Literally! The owners love meeting with their staff for open forums on the industry and what shapes not only their company, but their own experiences. This approach doesn’t just mean a restaurant or a bar does well, it resonates.

Yes, even if it’s just a small bar next to a movie theater.

Photo credit: Rachel Marshall

Overall, The Righteous Room is an excellent meet-up before and after Plaza viewings. Frankly, it’s a good hang-out even if you aren’t taking in a movie. Now, if you’re looking for a fast bite and some quick table turnover, The Righteous Room may not be for you. No, this is where you go to hang-out, unwind, get messed up and really touch base with friends and regulars before moving on with the rest of your evening plans. The chefs take their time with your meal, devoting a lot of attention and care to the plating and the flavor. Don’t get restless, just order yourself a drink! The bartenders and servers are attentive, quick and efficient with potent, cool drinks. Stick around long enough, come back enough and before you know it, you’ll feel like a regular on CHEERS where everybody knows your name.

Check out The Righteous Room on 1051 Ponce De Leon Ave., N.E., Atlanta, GA 30306. 

Category: Wednesday Happy Hour & Supper Club | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Ho Ho Howdy! Really Big Big Santa Throws a Seasonal Shindig for All Ages and Conquers the Martians at the Plaza Theatre on Saturday Dec. 3!

Posted on: Dec 2nd, 2011 By:

When Really Big Santa dropped a personal invitation to  ATLRetro readers or all ages.  He’s making a list and checking it twice, and if you really want that vintage Red Ryder, we’d recommend you not be naughty and miss SANTA’S SUPER SATURDAY SHOW this Sat. Dec. 3 at the Plaza Theatre. Here’s an exact transcript from the big guy at the North Pole…

Ho Ho Howdy!

There’s a new tradition in Atlanta Christmas events, and it’s happening at the historic Plaza Theatre on Ponce de Leon! Really Big Santa and his fine friends from Blast Off Burlesque are throwing Santa’s Super Saturday Show on Saturday, December 3rd. There is a Kiddie’s Matinee at 1pm and a “Grown-ups” show at 10 that night!

There will be vintage Christmas shorts, commercials and cartoons before the show starts! Then a live holiday show performed on The Plaza stage, with some of your favorite Christmas tunes performed by some of your favorite performers in a way never before seen! It’s a chance to sing and dance with Santa Claus in person!

After the show, it’s movie time! Stick around because there’s a screening of the [1964] B-Movie Christmas Classic, SANTA CLAUS CONQUERS THE MARTIANS!

Tickets for the 1pm show are just $5. The 10pm tickets are $10. For each new, unwrapped toy for Toys for Tots you bring you’ll get $2 off one ticket! There will be pictures with Santa in his big chair  before the show! $10 gets you a 5×7 print and a high resolution digital copy sent to your email!

A portion of the proceeds goes to help support The Plaza Theatre, and your toy donations go to help our brave Men and Women of the United States Marine Corps in their drive to provide gifts for families in need. If there’s one thing you can do for Santa this Holiday season it’s this: Help local businesses by supporting your neighborhood merchants and help those in your community that are less fortunate!

Yours Truly,

Santa Claus
Coming to you Directly
From the North Pole
Top O’ The World at True Magnetic North

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