And the murals had to mean something to the community. The phoenix, a symbol of rebirth, covers one wall entirely and “speaks to what the community is going through,” he said. “The idea was to raise it to the iconic level of all of the symbols that represent the city, the state and some iconic architectural structures in the community that are parallel with that.”
Blank, who owns the Atlanta Falcons, joined volunteers in painting a great white live oak tree.
“We’re thrilled to do it,” he said. “This is typical. We have six core values that drive all of our activities, and all of our businesses, day in and day out; and one of the big ones is giving back and making a difference in people’s lives. Today is symbolic of doing that. It’s important to do it in these communities because we’re building the finest sports entertainment facility in the United States if not the world just a stone’s throw from here.”
The murals now adorn buildings owned by Georgia Power and Antioch Baptist Church North and are park of the growing landscape of public art in Atlanta. Earlier this year, the city's Office of Cultural Affairs announced that Atlanta is one of several cities in the running for up to $1 million from Bloomberg Philanthropies for public art that addresses civic topics. The Atlanta Beltline is dotted with public art and Mayor Kasim Reed is a big backer.
The Georgia Power wall features more than two dozen images of historical significance to the neighborhood, the city and the state. One panel features the modest, red brick home of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King. A subtle image of King’s face is painted in the shrubs. Another panel shows the historic West Hunter Street Baptist Church.
Rosario Hernandez owns two houses in the English Avenue neighborhood that she and others neighbors are trying to reclaim from drug dealers and prostitutes.
Hernandez painted alongside other volunteers in the hot sun, transforming the drab walls into an oasis of color and community history.
“This is beautiful,” she said. “This was an eyesore before.”