Whether you consider street art to be an artistic masterpiece or a form of vandalism, there are examples around the world that you just have to step back and appreciate for the pure quality of the work. I have done quite a bit of research recently on the argument of street art versus graffiti but I honestly think this is a subjective argument. Everywhere we travel, we appear to stumble across fine examples of artistic beauty and this was certainly the case when we explored the Atlanta street art scene.
I have never been a huge proponent of urban artwork and honestly never paid much attention to it. I certainly never had an appreciation which I feel like I am starting to have now. Why has this changed? Simply because of the amount of exposure we have received while visiting a variety of cities and locations around the world. It’s everywhere, whether you approve of it or not. While checking out the best photo spots in Atlanta, we couldn’t help but notice a plethora of amazing street art. We immediately wanted to find out more!
We have previously spent quite a lot of time exploring street art in Memphis, our local city, and honestly, we haven’t looked back since. It was an eye-opening experience but one that we feel changed our opinion on this topic.
Atlanta Street Art
Let’s face it, street art is everywhere! I agree that there are plenty of examples out there that simply destroy the overall aesthetic look of a city, especially when done in a way that lacks creativity, thought and just appears ‘trashy’ (sorry for the urban lingo but I felt it was appropriate here).
But what about all those amazing works of art that clearly took the local artist time and effort to create. While visiting Atlanta, we decided to check out some of the best examples of street art and we want to share why you should too!
I think it’s interesting to note that Atlanta has been a prime target for the street art vs. graffiti argument. In 2011, a special Graffiti Task Force was established by the city to abolish a large amount of the graffiti. However, they emphasized that this was focused solely on exactly this, graffiti and NOT street art.
If someone spray-paints on a piece of property that doesn’t belong to them, without permission, that is a crime
When a police spokesman, Carlos Campos, spoke the above words, he focused his attention on not drawing the line between street art and graffiti. Instead, he suggested that anything painted on a building or object without permission was illegal.
Throughout recent years, Atlanta has created several initiatives including the ‘Living Walls’ project in 2012 which attracted artists from all over the world to leave their mark ‘legally’ on a variety of dilapidated facades around the city. This is the type of street art Atlanta is now famous for and we headed out in search of examples during our recent visit to the Georgia capital.
Old Fourth Ward
The historic Fourth Ward district of Atlanta is yet another hub for artists to display their amazing work. This is one of the main neighborhoods where the Living Walls project focused their attention on highlighting the artist creativity.
After exploring the Historic Fourth Ward Park, we stumbled across several examples of another inspiring project throughout Atlanta. The Tiny Doors Atlanta (#TinyDoorsATL) project is focused on “bringing big wonder to tiny spaces”.
What was once a wall or the column of a bridge becomes an entrance to collective creativity and an invitation to whimsy.
The idea is that through the inclusion of a door on a space that was once left derelict, it is ‘opening’ your eyes to a whole feeling of curiosity. It allows local artists the opportunity to express their freedom and visitors can simply ‘look through the door’ and appreciate the beauty within the artwork.
There are currently nine official doors located throughout the city at the following locations, so be sure to take some time to find these if you are inquisitive about the history behind this project. Here are the current locations:
- Krog Street Tunnel
- Old Fourth Ward Skatepark on the Belt Line
- Inman Park Pet Works
- Little Shop of Stories
- The Tree Door (Located on the PATH Trail near the Carter Center – this door actually opens, unlike the others!)
- Paris on Ponce
- Charis Books & More
- Milltown Arms Tavern
- King of Pops
Krog Street Tunnel
If you are looking for the ultimate Atlanta street art experience, look no further than the infamous Krog Street Tunnel. Connecting the East Atlanta neighborhoods of Inman Park and Cabbagetown, Krog Street Tunnel is an iconic location that is frequently used by local cyclists and pedestrians.
At first glance, Krog Street Tunnel doesn’t appear to be the safest of spots to explore. However, you will soon notice that this is just a popular spot for locals to move between the two neighborhoods and it’s feasible that you will see an aspiring artist creating their next work of art in the tunnel.
But what makes this tunnel so unique is the eclectic mixture of images, words, and ideas that cover every nook and cranny throughout the length of the passage.
Local artists continue to keep Krog Street Tunnel alive and distinctive with a vibrant, colorful blend of artwork that offers a creative reflection on their skills and feelings. It’s interesting to note that the aforementioned Graffiti Task Force turned a blind-eye to Krog Street Tunnel and continue to do so.
Whether the street art inside the tunnel is all completely legal is unlikely but Krog Street’s position as the iconic street art destination in Atlanta ensures this remains a popular spot.
Local artists, intrigued visitors, and budding photographers can all be found here on a frequent basis because of the opportunities to experience something so unique and different to anything else in Atlanta.
***We apologize if there are any words, images or language that may cause offense.***
Wylie Street – Cabbagetown
An extension of the Krog Street Tunnel artistry can be found along Wylie Street in the Cabbagetown neighborhood. A walk along the Hulsey railyard wall offers a myriad of vibrant street artwork from a number of local artists.
The quality of murals along Wylie Street is certainly an impressive feature and perhaps offers an eclectic mixture of all street art examples represented throughout the city.
The Living Walls project has frequently participated in expanding the colorful artwork on Wylie Street.
I was particularly moved by the story of a former programming director of Living Walls, Laura Calle, who passed away in November 2015 and the organization partnered with another non-profit company to memorialize her life through an event and a mural that can be found on Wylie Street.
her hard work and immeasurable passion for equality of all people and the manifestation of diverse cultural expression in our public spaces. (Living Walls)
It’s only when you hear stories like this that you can appreciate the power of street art and help gain a better understanding of the meaning of all the murals that you can see here. Every image has an underlying story, it’s just a matter of trying to figure out what the artist is trying to convey.
Every city around the world is accustomed to displaying a variety of street art examples that range from the creative ingenuity to the disgraceful graffiti that portrays a city negatively. Atlanta is no different and although we didn’t explore this city necessarily in search of street art, it is a city that you can’t help but stumble across it.
As we continue to travel around the world, our appreciation of local cultures is certainly enhanced as we appreciate street art. It is understandably a way for local artists to not only show their creative side but also to display their feelings, not necessarily always in a good way but perhaps in a way that will help them be heard.
Street art shouldn’t have a negative association with it and instead, we should embrace this as part of our society and realize that it can not only improve the aesthetic appearance but also create a community feel within an area.