Doraville’s first mural aims to capture what makes Buford Highway unique

This is the finished mural in Doraville.

Credit: City of Doraville

Combined ShapeCaption
This is the finished mural in Doraville.

Credit: City of Doraville

A new public art piece in Doraville acts as a love letter to the immigrant communities who call Buford Highway home.

A mural of the titular road surrounded by various foods, desserts and drinks from different cultures was recently finished in the city, and it represents Doraville’s first major investment in public art. The mural was painted by Atlanta-based artist Leah Abucayan, who grew up in a Filipino-American household along Buford Highway.

Buford Highway is known as metro Atlanta’s hub for immigrant families, and the eight-mile stretch of road is famous for its international cuisine and restaurants. Abucayan said the primary inspiration for the mural was kamayan, a type of Filipino meal eaten without utensils.

“This meal serves as the foundation of the mural’s design,” a Doraville news release on the mural’s unveiling said. “But instead of being topped with only Filipino foods the mural reflects the diverse offerings of the area with foods like tamales, empanadas, naan, gyros, bao, and ramen.”

Murals were not allowed in Doraville until 2020, when the City Council passed a public art ordinance, adopted an art master plan and created the Doraville Art Commission. The Buford Highway mural was the first piece of public art created since those changes went into effect.

“In communities such as ours, public art transcends the language and cultural barriers that can sometimes divide us,” Councilwoman Stephe Koontz said in the release. “The goal here is to create a more inclusive community through public art.”

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The mural is a partnership between the city and Halpern Enterprises, a commercial real estate firm in Sandy Springs. The company hired Abucayan, a digital artist working with CNN who is affiliated with the nonprofits Living Walls and We Love Buford Highway, to paint the mural and helped find it a home at Pinetree Plaza, a strip mall located at 5289 Buford Highway.

“Whether it be people identifying their favorite foods along Buford Highway, to others reflecting on the role these dishes and this corridor played in their family’s journey as immigrants to this country, this mural represents so much of what makes this community a special place,” Matthew Oppenheimer, director of acquisitions at Helpern Enterprises, said in the release.

Halpern Enterprises will hold an event July 9 from 10:30 a.m. to noon at Pinetree Plaza to officially unveil the mural. The event will feature food, music and free art supplies. For more information on the event, visit halpernent.com/pinetree-plaza-mural.

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