Street art in Atlanta isn't lacking fandom, that's for sure. Because of organizations like Living Walls, an acclaimed annual public arts conference, plus Art on the Atlanta BeltLine, Elevate Atlanta, Flux Projects and so many more, both local and global artists have been commissioned to energize the city with jaw-dropping, large-scale works. The city supports a lot of these efforts, and there are amazing art events to keep an eye on throughout the year.
Public art is so beloved by Atlantans that it feels intrinsic to the very essence of being an Atlantan. There's even a DIY movement, Free Art Friday Atlanta (#fafatl), that's like a citywide hide-and-seek between artists and fans. Displays of creative expression are everywhere, from the building-size murals to statements in sculpture to landmarks known for their competitive stretches of concrete canvas.
Some works are permanent, some temporary, but the popularity of certain areas among artists and events organizers remains constant. Below, we've compiled the top seven spots to peep Atlanta's public art scene into a pedestrian and cyclist friendly 13-mile route. Make a day of your art hunt by following the whole list, or pick up anywhere along the way -- every locale is a guaranteed stunner for fans of public art. You also can choose to take advantage of several tour companies that offer guided trips to the area.
1. Atlanta BeltLine under Virginia Avenue
Hop onto the Eastside Trail at Monroe Drive and head south toward Virginia Avenue, where you'll find a continuing BeltLine exhibit created by one of the city's most celebrated street artists. Alex Brewer -- better known as HENSE -- showcases his masterful meshing of abstract painting methods with layering techniques in a colorful combo of energetic pastel brights with touches of more subdued, muted hues.
Across from the HENSE mural, there's another impressive large-scale work, this one courtesy of Atlanta native and Savannah College of Art and Design alum Brandon Sadler. With its dozens of striking goldfish communicating in an idiosyncratic language that Sadler created based on the Chinese character system, "How Are You?" aims to inspire unity and togetherness in an age of separation by technology -- much like the BeltLine's ultimate plan to connect 45 in-town neighborhoods fosters real-life community.
2. Old Fourth Ward Skatepark
At North Avenue along the Eastside Trail, a flurry of public art peppers the area in and around the Historic Fourth Ward Skatepark. Just before its entrance, "Ordinary Guy" by Charlie Brouwer is perched atop an elegant column. The aptly named “Kaleidoscope” by Hannah Betzel covers a stretch beneath the avenue proper, not far from Mr. Saidi's metal spider-shaped bench, a functional sculpture with clean, modern lines. Within the skatepark itself, there's Mr. Never Satisfied's “Could Be Better” realistic brown owl, poised and stoic at the forefront of a dynamic graffiti-leaning backdrop.
3. Little Five Points
Return to the Eastside Trail, following it onto Freedom Park Trail through to North Highland Avenue. From there, hit Colquitt Avenue from a short .2 miles to Euclid Avenue. You're now in Little Five Points, one of Atlanta's most eclectic neighborhoods. Creativity and artistic expression are the lifeblood of this hub for alternative and underground culture, so it's no surprise that one of Atlanta's oldest murals remains proudly intact on the side of 7 Stages.
"Singing in the Dark Times," David Fichter's depiction of historically heralded playwrights and performers across multiple cultures, has decorated a 50-foot-long outside wall of the nonprofit theater since 1992. Ultra-cool consignment clothing shop Rag-O-Rama Art also makes use of its public walls, most recently courtesy of Patreece Lewis' “Fashion Through the Ages,” making the wall a popular spot for Instagram-ready photo shoots with Twiggy, TLC's Left Eye, Prince, James Dean and other style icons.
From the massive skull entrance of the Vortex Bar and Grill to the freaky head-trip of a mural that adorns the Junkman's Daughter storefront to Jason Johnson's mosaic of famed blues musician Blind Willie McTell in Findley Plaza, art envelops the entirety of Little Five Points.
4. Krog Street Tunnel
The Krog Street Tunnel is an ever-changing display created by local artists. (Lisa Panero, flickr)
Just under a mile-and-a-half away is the Krog Street Tunnel, an ever-changing canvas for local street artists. (Connect to Edgewood Avenue from Euclid Avenue and you'll run right into it.) The famed locale, where everyone from amateurs to award-winners showcase work, is a favorite for photo shoots and various film projects. Competition for space means few pieces stay up for very long, though, so check back often for new surprises. Take note of painted promo for shows and cultural events, too -- the space above the entrance to the tunnel from Dekalb Avenue typically advertises an upcoming shindig.
One of the many murals in the Cabbagetown section of the city. (Lisa Panero, flickr)
Venture out of the Krog Tunnel and into Cabbagetown, where acclaimed local artist Peter Ferrari held his nomadic Forward Warrior live painting event this year. The neighborhood was emblazoned with a fresh set of murals by artists like Fabian Williams, Marcy Starz, Lucha Rodriguez, Sam Parker, Sanithna Phansavanh and more along Wylie Street, running from Estoria Street all the way to Esther Peachy Lefevre Park at Powell Street.
6. Edgewood Avenue
Edgewood Avenue features a number of buildings with an ever-changing landscape of artwork. (Lisa Panero, flickr)
Head back under the Krog Street tunnel and go straight to Edgewood Avenue until it meets Boulevard. The Sound Table, a noteworthy Atlanta venue for electronic music, lends its west-facing exterior wall regularly to top-notch muralists. Currently, it bears a Spiderman-themed work by Austrian artist Nychos that was organized as part of the 2017 edition of OuterSpace Project, a relatively new annual arts and culture event curated by Greg Mike, a prolific local artist and owner of nearby ABV Gallery. Head up Edgewood Avenue for more, like John Tindel's striking bird, seemingly launching off the brick on the outside wall of BQE Restaurant.
7. East Atlanta Village
It's a bit of a feat on foot, but it's doable: From Edgewood, go all the way to East Atlanta. The shortest route is through Cabbagetown and Reynoldstown: Go down Wylie to Stovall until you hit Flat Shoals Avenue, then from there, take Memorial Drive briefly until you get to Moreland Avenue -- take a right, then keep straight for .3 miles until you hit Flat Shoals.
It's a lengthier trek, sure, but Atlanta embraces art so fully that you'll see works sporadically throughout the trip -- and the grand finale is inarguably worth the effort. In East Atlanta Village, there are few bare walls in this cluster of bars, music venues and restaurants. It almost feels like every inch of wall space is covered in incredible works, many of them organized through Living Walls, some during one of the area's many annual festivals, plus plenty of smaller displays independently contracted by local businesses. It’s a great way to end the day and see how much Atlanta has embraced the concept of public art.
Originally written by RootsRated for Atlanta CVB.