Grant Henry

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Grant Henry aka Sister Louisa

Grant Henry aka Sister Louisa is an American former divinity student, artist and businessman based in Atlanta, Georgia, best known for his artwork and installations created under the auspice of his alter ego "Sister Louisa" and for being the proprietor of the popular Atlanta bar, Sister Louisa's Church of the Living Room and Ping Pong Emporium. He is also one of the main characters in a series of best-selling memoirs by Atlanta author and syndicated humor columnist Hollis Gillespie.[1] Grant Henry first appeared in Gillespie's column in 1996, after they met at a coffee house in East Atlanta. At the time, Henry owned a vintage furniture store in East Atlanta called Resurrection Antiques.[2] Grant Henry's conception of Sister Louisa is documented in Gillespie's columns titled Selling Ourselves[3] and in The Side of the Road,[4] which describes how she accompanied Henry—a prolific Southern picker along the lines of the History Channel's American Pickers—as he rummaged through an abandoned trailer in the backstreets of Tuscaloosa. Also present was Daniel Troppy, another friend often featured in Gillespie's writings. Henry was frightened by a homeless man he'd awakened inside, and an ensuing frantic escape found the three outside the house of a frail elderly lady asleep in a chair on her porch.

A passage reads:

"Look at her," [Grant] kept saying. "Just look at her." I followed his gaze, which rested on a tiny, ancient woman sleeping in a chair on the other side of a screen door, her dark skin withered like pressed autumn leaves, her body comfortably sunk into itself like a stack of warming dough. Her hands were folded in her lap like two tiny pet cats. We sat silently looking at the lovely little mummy for a few moments as the weak light from her shack illuminated her silhouette. "She is Jesus," Grant gasped, and we all agreed. This is exactly how Grant Henry found Sister Louisa, sitting there sleeping on the side of the road.",[4]

Grant Henry with Atlanta columnist Hollis Gillespie at the Kingsized Elvis Royale Show in 2008

The work of Sister Louisa debuted soon afterward in November of 1996 in an art show at The Telephone Factory, an art deco loft complex in downtown Atlanta where Gillespie lived at the time. Sister Louisa's bio described her as "a disgraced nun from Baton Rouge who ran off with a janitor and now lives in an Airstream trailer making folk art from trash."[5]

In 2001, Henry opened an Atlanta gallery on St. Charles Ave. in Atlanta called Sister Louisa's Church of the Living Room; Come on in, Precious.[5] The gallery closed after six months. At the time, Henry was bartending at a bar called The Local, where he often manifested Sister Louisa by wearing his long hair in a large beehive. His catch phrase was "The higher the hair, the closer to God.".[6] He was voted "Best Bartender" in the city for 2006 and 2007 by the readership of Atlanta's popular alternative publication, Creative Loafing.[7]

Grant Henry at Pacific Grove, Hollywood

In 2010, Henry opened a bar called "Sister Louisa's Church of the Living Room and Ping Pong Emporium" in Atlanta's Old Fourth Ward district, the neighborhood of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s boyhood home. The New York Times described the bar by writing, "Opened in December 2010 by Grant Henry, a former divinity school student, this bar plays with, and spoofs, church culture. Karaoke is performed in choir robes, and walls are decorated with faux-religious pop art."[8] The bar quickly became a favorite in the national media, with favorable reviews in The Wall Street Journal,[9] People Magazine,[10] and Urban Daddy.[11]

Earlier life and career[edit]

Grant Henry was born in Panama City, Florida, on July 1, 1956. He moved to Acworth, Georgia, in 1972 and graduated from North Cobb High School in 1974. He attended Berry College in Rome, Georgia, Florida State University, Florida International University, where he earned a BS degree in Hotel, Restaurant and Travel, Georgia State University, where he earned a M.Ed in Education, Columbia Theological Seminary and Princeton Theological Seminary, where he pursued a Master's in Divinity but never finished because, according to Henry, he refused to proclaim that Jesus Christ was the sole path to salvation.[12]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Fleming, Mike (2011-01-19). "Grant Henry opens ‘Sister Louisa’s Church’ bar — Project Q Atlanta". Projectqatlanta.com. Retrieved 2013-10-08. 
  2. ^ "Henry finds magic in Sister Louisa’s Church - Atlanta Business Chronicle". Bizjournals.com. 2012-12-21. Retrieved 2013-10-08. 
  3. ^ Blankenship, Jessica (2001-07-11). "Selling ourselves | Moodswing | Creative Loafing Atlanta". Clatl.com. Retrieved 2013-10-08. 
  4. ^ a b Gillespie, Hollis (2004-05-27). "The side of the road: Finding Jesus and Sister Louisa". Creative Loafing Atlanta. Retrieved 2013-04-05. 
  5. ^ a b Gillespie, Hollis (2001-08-01). "The search for meaning: It's all in how you look at it". Creative Loafing Atlanta. Retrieved 2013-04-05. 
  6. ^ Blankenship, Jessica (2003-11-06). "Trashy bartenders with beehives | Moodswing | Creative Loafing Atlanta". Clatl.com. Retrieved 2013-10-08. 
  7. ^ "Best of Atlanta 2007 - After Dark: Best Bartender". Clatl.com. Retrieved 2013-10-08. 
  8. ^ "Sister Louisa’s Church of the Living Room and Ping-Pong Emporium". The New York Times. Retrieved 2013-10-08. 
  9. ^ "Atlanta in Springtime - WSJ.com". Online.wsj.com. Retrieved 2013-10-08. 
  10. ^ "Lady Gaga Tours the Bar Scene in Atlanta - Atlanta, Lady Gaga, Bar / Club / Lounge, Stadium / Arena". People.com. 2011-09-30. Retrieved 2013-10-08. 
  11. ^ "Sister Louisa's Church of the Living Room and Ping Pong Emporium | A Church-Themed Bar in the O4W | Atlanta | ATL | Butler Street | Bar". Urbandaddy.com. Retrieved 2013-10-08. 
  12. ^ "Grant Henry comes to Jesus". Thegavoice.com. 2013-02-15. Retrieved 2013-10-08.