This mural of an alligator at 209 Mitchell St. SW was created by Belgian artist ROA in 2011.
Photo: Wally Gobetz
Photo: Wally Gobetz

Street art in Atlanta: How to take a self-guided tour

Atlanta is home to a thriving street art scene. From 2010-2014, the city played host to the Living Walls conference, an annual public convention of street artists and muralists exhibiting their work on the walls of the city. Though the conference was cancelled for 2015, and there is not yet word if it will return in 2016 or the future, much of the art created for the annual event remains throughout the neighborhoods of Atlanta.

This interactive map highlights the works created for Living Walls. But these aren’t the only works coloring Atlanta's communities; many local street artists continue to turn the Beltline and unused spaces into ad-hock vehicles for self-expression. 

Want to take a biking tour of Atlanta's street art? Here's an 11-mile route that cover much of the city's most noteworthy public art. Or, if it’s the highlights you’re after, here are a few incredible street art destinations worth the visit:

Fintan Magee

750 Ralph McGill Boulevard. NE
Known for his massive and often levitating characters, Magee chose two walls that work together as a single work. The work was named among 2014’s Best Murals by www.complex.com.

ROA

209 Mitchell Street SW
Street artist ROA has retained his anonymity throughout his career. His work is largely focused on larger-than-life animals and rodents. In 2011, he graced Living Walls with the enormous and iconic “Upside Down Alligator.”

Axel Void

345 Peters Street SW
In Castleberry Hill stop to enjoy the thriving art scene throughout the community, but make time for Axel Void’s “Nobody,” a Living Walls creation of a young boy wearing glasses.

Shark Toof

968 Memorial Drive SE
Shark Toof is an LA-based artist who creates murals of, well, sharks. His hope is that “the shark icon is a voice of rebellion, a conduit for the unheard, and an homage to graffiti art and its purpose.” We have one all our own on Memorial Drive.

Krog Street Tunel

Dekalb Avenue and Krog Street

No street art list about Atlanta would be complete without our most vibrant living wall, the tunnel at Dekalb Avenue and Krog Street. Artists from all over the city provide their take on street art in Atlanta on this ever changing canvass of expression and rebellion.

It’s the rebellion part that longtime Atlanta street artist Evereman thinks plays an important role in society.

"Publicly voicing opinions without permission is a radical approach to getting your message out there. By surprising people, sparking an idea, by creating an 'aha' moment that isn't commercial, that isn't a money thing ... I think that is socially important," he said.

Atlanta street artist Kyle Brooks -- better known as Black Cat Tips -- is proud of the fact that city workers remove the other unapproved signage from telephone poles, but leave his work. He thinks street installations are a good thing, because "when we're putting good things out there, and we're seeing where things are abandoned and won't hurt anybody; why not? I'm a happy painting good ol' fella -- I ain't some nighttime villain."

But for all the growth and publicly sanctioned opportunity, there is some sense among the street artists of Atlanta that ours is a city that by and large lacks meaning. Globally, street art icons like Banksy and Shepard Fairey have elevated intelligent, beautiful and socially relevant art into mainstream consciousness.

"A lot of what we see is sanctioned murals painted on city walls -- and artists getting paid and working is a great thing -- but there is no dissent in that, and there is no going against the grain," said Evereman.

Perhaps the next generation of Atlanta artists who want their voices heard will take note. Matt Haffner, the artist responsible for some of Atlanta's most notable installations, thinks they just need to come back outside. "The game has changed a little bit," he said. "There used to be amazing pieces popping up that you hoped would last a week; it was a battleground. But now its mostly homogenized murals. To do a really great piece takes a lot of time. Today, it seems like lots of the up-and-coming artists are working indoors at places like Pullman Rail Yard, the Atlanta Prison Farm and the Parmalat Building."

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