Popular artist fighting DeKalb over ‘illegal’ yard art

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Popular artist fighting DeKalb over ‘illegal’ yard art

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Courtesy of Kyle "BlackCatTips" Brooks
Kyle "BlackCatTips" Brooks in his yard outside Lithonia.

Kyle “BlackCatTips” Brooks, a DeKalb County artist whose work is displayed across Atlanta, is in a disagreement with code enforcers about art at his home.

After a complaint, Brooks was cited for art installations on his Klondike Road lawn outside Lithonia, which he feels could be motivated by distaste in the art.

Brooks, who’s done pieces for Sweetwater Brewing, local restaurants and painted murals around Atlanta, claims a DeKalb code enforcement officer said some of the works on his lawn weren’t “art.” 

“That’d be like going to an architect and saying, that’s not a building,” Brooks told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Tuesday. “(But) I’m respectful of his office. I don’t have anything bad against him.”

Mostly, Brooks said he’s upset to be cited without a warning.

County officials didn’t respond to an email about Brooks’ claim on the employee’s statement on art. But they made it clear his citations aren’t for the content of the pieces; instead, the works don’t fit DeKalb’s sign ordinances.

Brooks’ signs wouldn’t be seen to have questionable content anyway: One says “big happy,” another says “over under, below above,” and the third changes as he gets new ideas.

But on residential property, the county said the code prohibits putting up a sign without a permit. Signs also must be no greater than 24 square feet and no more than four feet above the ground.

Brooks is headed to court on May 23.

“His court date is not punitive,” the county’s statement said. “Rather, a decision will be made by the judge whether the pieces on his property fit the definition of a sign or not.”

Brooks, whose family has been in south DeKalb for some 150 years, said he’d rather not have to go to court to sort it out.

Had he known he had to get a permit and meet county rules, Brooks said he would’ve done it. 

“I was unaware this would be such an issue,” he said. “I would rather be at peace out here.” 

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How the whimsical street art of Kyle Brooks made him a darling of corporate Atlanta (Video by Curtis Compton/AJC; edit by Armani Martin/AJC)
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