Tour Atlanta’s Famous Street Art
This article originally appeared in the April issue of Where Atlanta.
An army of color invaded Atlanta’s most neglected neighborhoods six years ago. Living Walls was born from a desire to add vibrancy and beauty to areas of the city falling into disrepair. Local and visiting artists gather in Atlanta for the week-long conference, which also includes learning opportunities for artists and special events. A creative and entrepreneurial city since its inception, Atlanta is the perfect place for Living Walls to cause a wide ripple with just a single drop of inspiration.
A movement was born almost immediately after the first Living Walls conference in 2010. This movement aims to magnify, in both scale and reach, the daring and thoughtful works of local, regional and international artists. Today, massive street art adorns Atlanta’s formerly blank walls, encompassing a range of styles and messages as diverse as the city itself. Use this feature to take a self-guided tour of the city’s most muraled streets.
John Lewis, Old Fourth Ward
Some of Atlanta’s largest murals find a home for themselves in Old Fourth Ward. Perhaps most recognizable is Sean Schwab’s towering mural of civil rights leader and congressman John Lewis at the corner of Auburn Avenue and Jesse Hill Jr. Drive. The breathtaking depiction of Lewis, who was one of 10 speakers at the 1963 March on Washington and led Freedom Rides in his early 20s, is so enormous that it can be seen from the highway. The word “Hero” crowns Lewis, who is passionately mid-speech.
One of the most striking murals in Atlanta was painted in 2011 by Belgian artist ROA as part of that year’s Living Walls conference. ROA is known for his enormous and whimsical paintings of animals, which are predominantly grayscale. Such is the case with ROA’s Atlantan masterpiece on the corner of Mitchell and Forsyth Streets downtown. The work occupies the entire width of a building and depicts an alligator on its back with its tail curving upward, following the path of the building’s fire escape.
Various, Krog Street
Krog Street in Atlanta’s Inman Park neighborhood packs a colorful punch in a short distance. The seven-block stretch showcases works by some of Atlanta’s best-known street artists, including Peter Ferrari (Forward Warrior), Greg Mike (The Outerspace Project) and Ricky Watts. The greatest concentration of murals sits inside Atlanta’s famous Krog Street Tunnel and along a wall adjacent to the tunnel, at the intersection of Wylie and Estoria Streets.
Various, Irwin Street
Running perpendicular to Krog Street, Irwin Street is also a colorful display of artisanship. You’ll find olive47’s bold and charming elephant mural at the corner of Irwin and Howell Streets. Rising Red Lotus’ 110-foot-by-10-foot display of koi fish encircled by shimmering waves is a breathtaking sight. The stunning gold-painted masterpiece remains one of the Atlantan artist’s largest works to date. Where Irwin meets Randolph Street, you’ll happen upon Sam Parker’s ode to geometry with a display of symmetrical and intertwining shapes.
Various, Atlanta BeltLine
Near the intersection of Irwin and Krog Streets, you’ll find an access point to the Atlanta BeltLine. One of the most beloved components of the BetlLine’s master plan is the annual Art on the Atlanta BeltLine program. This local showcase has become the city’s largest temporary art installation. Each year, the program kicks off with a massive Lantern Parade in which the community is invited to craft wild, creative and large-scale lanterns to parade along the Eastside Trail at night. The work of about 100 artists is showcased from September through November, and ranges from performance art to sculpture. In addition to temporary installations, 50 works pepper the BeltLine permanently, including larger-than-life murals by Jane Garver, Rising Red Lotus, and Mr. Never Satisfied.
Various, East Atlanta
East Atlanta is home to more Living Walls murals than any other neighborhood in Atlanta. On just a short stroll along Flat Shoals Avenue, you can view more than 10 works covering the sides of local businesses or abandoned buildings. From Interesni Kazki’s bright, abstract and playful piece to Andrzej Urbanski’s heartwarming portraits of smiling children, the works along Flat Shoals capture East Atlanta’s multifaceted personality.