Atlanta is a city that embraces street art. Bridge underpasses and the sides of buildings are open canvases for up-and-coming artists, as well as those who have made a name for themselves. And organizations like Living Walls and Elevate Atlanta bring artists from around the world to decorate blank walls around our city.
While you can find some of the best art on the Atlanta BeltLine, it is worth exploring other parts of the city too.
A few weeks ago, I went to an art exhibit downtown with a friend and before we even entered the gallery, we stopped to look at beautiful murals on the sides of neighboring buildings.
If you go to Atlanta Street Art Map, you can find about 100 works downtown by various artists. Of course the nature of street art is fluid, and what is here today may be gone tomorrow.
My favorite was this alligator on his back by an artist called ROA. Look at how his tail follows the fire escape. And I love the room rates above the gator - only 50-75 cents for the Star Hotel. Clearly an ad from this building's early days when it was part of Hotel Row, a block of hotels built in the early 1900s to accommodate travelers arriving to the Terminal train station nearby. These buildings remain from Atlanta's original business district.
The mural isn't as old as the buildings, but it has clearly been there a while, as evidenced by the peeling paint. It went up in 2011 during a Living Walls Conference. You can find it at the corner of Mitchell and Forsyth streets.
The artist, ROA, keeps his identity anonymous. He is Belgian, and tends to paint rodents, birds and animals - usually in black and white. To preserve his identity, he is not on social media, but the Art Archive has created an Instagram account dedicated to his art.
Around the corner on Broad Street, this painting of two kids hugging was created by New Orleans artist Brandan "BMike" Odums. Called "Love and Protection," it was part of Off The Wall: Atlanta's Civil Rights & Social Justice Journey, which went up downtown for Super Bowl 53 in 2019. The goal of the project was to create conversation about social justice.
BMike's street art frequently highlights African Americans. "His murals pay homage to many Black people who inspire him, from icons like Martin Luther King Jr. to people from the community, like a group of former Black Panthers or a little girl he met who has a vibrant spirit," according to Red Bull.
His art works have a candor to them, as though you are looking at a family photograph, like this sketch at the Newcomb Art Museum in New Orleans.
In the same sight line, on Broad Street, is an American flag created out of names of people the artist met as he worked. Created by French graffiti artist Tilt, it went up in 2012 as part of Elevate Atlanta, hosted each year by the Atlanta Mayor's Office of Cultural Affairs.
Another one in the same location, called "Together, We" was painted in 2018 by artist Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya, who goes by the artist name @alonglastname. A native of Atlanta, she now lives in New York and is creating meaningful connections between art and science.
"Born in Atlanta to Thai and Indonesian immigrants, Amanda studied neuroscience at Columbia and worked at an Alzheimer’s research lab before becoming a full-time artist, educator, and STEM advocate based in Brooklyn, NY," according to her website.
She is also the creator of Beyond Curie, a design project that highlights women in science and math. And after the spa shootings in Atlanta last March, she designed the cover of TIME Magazine to show the strength of Asian-American women.
Lastly, you can still see the remnants of this Yoyo Ferro mural on a building that appears to be under renovation. You can find another mural by Yoyo promoting Stella Artois beer on the Atlanta BeltLine near Piedmont Park.
Yoyo draws without looking at the paper, without lifting his hand, creating loops. His street art is influenced by this method.
Here is a photo of a mural when it went up on Broad Street, from Yoyo's website.
And the one I took the other week.
Like I said, here today, gone tomorrow. It's as true of the businesses in Atlanta as of the art. We don't have the Phoenix in our city seal for nothing. We just keep rising.
Book a BiteLines tour on the Atlanta BeltLine to see some of Atlanta's best street art.
An Atlanta native, Nicole Gustin is the Founder & CEO of BiteLines, which offers walking food & art tours on the Atlanta BeltLine. She considers the BeltLine her backyard, and is excited to see how Atlanta is reinventing itself. The BiteLines blog features art, restaurants, happenings and weirdness on the Atlanta BeltLine. Share story ideas and pics at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Or follow on Instagram @bitelinesatl.