Graffiti artists paint over their work in Krog Street tunnel protest

It was much like erasing a part of themselves for some graffiti artists but they did it anyway. They whitewashed the work they had done in Atlanta’s iconic Krog Street tunnel in protest of a Halloween ball a promoter plans there Saturday.

“They want to use our art as backdrop for the Krog Street Masquerade for a tourist party,” said a graffiti artist who goes by the name Ate.Bit. “They know nothing about the culture. They know nothing about what we do as artists. They just wanted cool scenery to overcharge and block the tunnel for a Halloween party.”

By Thursday morning, the walls that once were adorned with colorful murals were grey.

“We whitewashed our own work. Ate.Bit said. “In graffiti work to whitewash something is the ultimate form of disrespect. So to whitewash your own work really stands out.”

Promoter Randall Fox, who runs The Atlanta Foundation for Public Spaces, said the party will showcase Cabbagetown.

Fox said he has artists at the ready to re-tag the walls and by Thursday morning some were already there.

“Scratchers,” Ate.Bit said. “In the graffiti world scratchers are below politicians.”

Ate.Bit, a musician by trade, asked friends to scrape off his mosaic tiles. He couldn’t get off work Wednesday night for the group cleansing of the otherwise dark and dank passage that links the Cabbagetown neighborhood with the Old Fourth Ward.

Many in the neighborhood and graffiti artists are upset about the “European-style” masquerade party. The street will be closed to traffic from 10 a.m. Saturday until the tunnel is cleaned up after the party ends at 1 a.m. Sunday, though pedestrians and bike riders will be allowed through until the party starts at 8 p.m. Saturday.

Only those who pay to eat and drink in the tunnel will be allowed during the party.

“They’re out-of-towners. They’re not local. They’re not supporting the local community,” Ate.Bit said after checking to see that his artwork was gone.

Bryan Brunson, head of the Cabbagetown Neighborhood Improvement Association, which opposed the event, has raised concerns about the city may start issuing permits for filmmakers and other party-organizers to close off the tunnel.

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.