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 N