Eli Cheathem is the director of Matrons & Mistresses, a digital publication that centers the work of women who have and continue to shape the arts world. She’s also the founder of EMC Spaces, an art consulting and interior design service. Through her writing, interviews and action, Eli is pushing the envelope to put women in power in the arts world while building a community that supports women in the arts. Whether it’s internationally recognized artists, people starting their art collection for the first time, or those figuring out how to make art their full-time job, her work centers the women who make the art world go ‘round.
Thanks for talking to The Evergrey! Can you start by telling us what you do?
For as long as I can remember, I have adored hats. Perhaps it was foreshadowing the many symbolic hats I would have the privilege of wearing. On some days, I am a treasure hunter digging through consignment stores and antique shops. Other days, I step into my role of director of Matrons & Mistresses using my pen and my love of beauty to champion women in the arts. Just recently, I spent two weeks diving into gliding arc plasma technology and regenerative farming as I worked to create content for our farming and AgTech companies, breathing life into topics that often seem obtuse or overly cerebral.
What brings you most alive about this city?
There are so many interesting and open people here. While I was warned of the Seattle Freeze, that has not been the case at all for me. Instead, people want to connect, to hear what I am passionate about, and to share with me what moves them. As things continue to open up and the warmer weather rolls in, I look forward to continuing to get to know the city and the people who make Seattle what it is.
What’s your favorite Seattle memory?
After returning from a trip that had not gone as planned, my cute husband whisked me away for a day date. The weather was lovely, so we visited a little beach in our neighborhood and soaked up some rays and did some great people-watching. From there we headed to Capitol Hill for Molly Moons, and, the biggest surprise of all, an appointment at Black Sparrow Tattoo. Lastly, we ended up at How to Cook a Wolf in Madison Park, which has been our go-to date spot since our first week in Seattle.
How does Seattle inspire your work?
The city has inspired me to write a new love story with my husband, to be more present and intentional with my children, and to show up more fully for myself and my passions. It also introduced me to Santa Fe, which has served as the spot I run to whenever Seattle’s weather and I start to bicker.
If you could eat only one meal from a local restaurant for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Outside of the obvious stop above, share your other top three destinations for where you’d go on your perfect Seattle day?
What advice would you give to locals?
When I came to Seattle, I planned only to stay five weeks and was delightfully emboldened by the short timeline and the anonymity of a new city. When we decided to stay, I made a commitment to myself that I would create a life that never required me to travel somewhere else to feel like I was able to be myself. Freeing yourself from the cage of “what will people think” is something I would suggest to anyone.
What is an unpopular opinion you have about the city?
While people here seem to love them, I find bicycles absolutely impossible. I’ve tried — really I have. I even got a “cool” adult tricycle a few years back which was not very cool. So, at 40, I have accepted that the only riding I’m meant to do is on a horse—that, I will do gladly.
What are you looking forward to this year?
One of the things I have enjoyed the most about living here is attending the Seattle Symphony. This fall I was moved by Amy Beach’s “Gaelic Symphony” and am really hoping that Nathalie Stutzmann, the music director of The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, will reschedule her visit. I trust they will continue to share the many important voices and faces of classical music, and I look forward to becoming more involved in Seattle’s rich performing arts scene.
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