The East Atlanta Strut, an annual one-day festival held in the East Atlanta Village, will be celebrating its 15th anniversary with this year’s event.
The annual event is filled with attractions and activities for attendees, including five stages for music by local performers, a comedy stage, an artists’ market, carnival stalls, community booths, and a section for kids.
One of the day’s highlights every year is the Strut Parade. This year, the parade is highlighted by its Grand Marshal, the one and only Sister Louisa.
Sister Louisa – also known as Grant Henry – is known throughout the Atlanta community for her art, which takes previously-made items and creates a new piece of art with messages on religion, sexuality and politics.
Being named Grand Marshal of the 2012 Strut Parade is something Henry acknowledges as both “a great honor and surprise.” His ties to East Atlanta Village go back to his time as part of the East Atlanta Business Association in its formative years in the mid-90s.
Henry’s alter ego was created approximately 15 years ago as an outlet for his artistic expression. “I collected and sold primitive furniture and all things Jesus and kitsch,” says Henry. “I loved paint by number paintings and decided to write the sayings that I would say across the images, which struck a chord with the process I had been going through to transition into a more genuine, authentic life than I had been living.”
“I was raised to be a good boy, and Sister Louisa helped me say the things that I, Grant Henry, couldn’t say at the time.”
For years, Henry’s home included an art gallery. After years of bartending, Henry decided to open his own bar that could also double as a new art gallery.
“I loved having friends over at home to play ping pong and look at the art, but didn’t like the fact that I had to clean up their shit after playing, picking up beer bottles,” explains Henry. “It was costing me money and my happiness with my home!”
The result is Church (or more specifically, Sister Louisa’s CHURCH of the Living Room & Ping Pong Emporium…Come On In Precious!).
“I wanted to build a place to go that all people were accepted, where I could ban smoking, ban televisions, ban assholes, and show my art,” says Grant.
“Sister Louisa Art is an asshole filter. People who don’t like her art, or what it means to them, don’t come in, which leaves inside the free, creative, non-judgmental people that we now call Parishioners!”
That push for creative, non-judgmental people makes Sister Louisa a perfect fit for the East Atlanta Strut, with the wide range of creative talent being exhibited at the festival.
The 15th annual East Atlanta Strut is on Saturday, Sept. 15, beginning at 10am. The parade begins at 2pm. The event is free to the public. For more information, please visit eastatlantastrut.com.