An Office Decorated in Homage to Southern Art

Life in a midtown high-rise

In August, we moved several blocks to 1180 Peachtree, which we refer to as the midtown market area, between downtown Atlanta and Buckhead. There are a number of law firms and professional services firms around us. I’m on the 31st floor. From my desk I can see One Atlantic Center, also known as the IBM Tower. I’m fond of it because a team of us placed a large tenant in that building 30 years ago.

We’ve moved about four times in the 40 years I’ve been with this commercial real estate company. My last office was around 300 square feet; my current one is about 100.

Art appreciation

One of my favorite photos is “Outskirts of Morton, Mississippi, Halloween 1971,” by William Eggleston. It was a gift from a friend who doesn’t collect photography.

When I had it appraised, I learned it was worth a couple thousand dollars and sent my friend a nice case of Bordeaux as a thank you. I’ve never bought anything with the thought that it would appreciate, but this photo, like almost all Eggleston photos, has significantly increased in value.

Another friend sent me Ernie Mickler’s “White Trash Cooking” cookbook. I was particularly drawn to the photographs illustrating it.

Devil in the details

The red painted board, a devil trapped inside a bottle, is folk art by T. Brown. I love the quotes on it: “You have to give the devil his dues” and “The devil make a firery drink.” It kind of fit with the photographs.

Southern comfort

Brumby Rockers have been made in Marietta, Ga., since 1875. They’re on the front porch of many Southern houses and hotels and were once found on the Truman balcony of the White House.

The bowl on my desk, which was turned on a lathe from a single piece of wood, is by Ed Moulthrop. Back in the day, we’d have leasing offices in new buildings. We were responsible for leasing the Georgia-Pacific Center in Atlanta, and when we decorated our leasing office there, we bought the bowl. After the entire building was leased and we moved on, it followed me.

Canine greeter

The bulldog statue near my door is in honor of my alma mater, the University of Georgia. It’s our mascot. I was the head manager on Vince Dooley’s first football team in 1964.

Daily necessity

I used to carry English leather briefcases, but when laptops became more prevalent, it was difficult to carry one in them. This briefcase is a Filson. I used to travel a lot on business, so it has a lot of miles on it.

For tobacco users

Under my desk I have a spittoon, continuing the Southern rural genre. I don’t smoke, dip or chew tobacco, but I once did.

I’d chew it along with most of the coaches on the Georgia football team. When a new coach came, he gave me a box of chewing gum and told me to give some to the assistant coaches and tell them to spit out their plug of tobacco, it was a nasty habit, and that I could spit mine out, too. I stopped then.

Content originally published on https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/27/business/ghertner-cushman-wakefield-atlanta.html by As told to PATRICIA R. OLSEN