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Atlanta Discovers the Value of Street Art

Atlanta MURAL-1-articleLargeThe New York Times reports that Atlanta has discovered the value of street art by commissioning street artists to create art around the city. Atlanta now joins a legion of other sities doing the exact same thing. Please check through my blog to see all the various examples.

 

Here is a short excerpt of the NYT article =

...A project called Living Walls commissions artists to spruce up recession-hit neighborhoods. While traditional graffiti may often be seen as a sign of urban decay, these murals — sprawling, brightly colored portraits and designs — aim to instill some optimism.

The Atlanta-based project, which began last week and ends Sunday, gives 28 artists their own spaces: sides of buildings, foreclosed houses and subway underpasses. All paintings are done with owners’ permission and city permits, in neighborhoods like the crumbling Edgewood district, not far from where the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. grew up.

“Painting a mural is not just saving money for the wall owner,” said Monica Campana, who helped found the project in 2010. “It’s giving a new look to a block, and it may be helping the neighborhood economically.”

This year, its third, Living Walls has invited only female muralists. The goal is to showcase the creations, in aerosol and latex paint, of women from around the world, including Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Italy and Spain. The project, which includes lectures and parties celebrating street art, is also meant as an alternative to larger conferences, like Art Basel Miami or the Congress for the New Urbanism.

As Living Walls has grown in scope and recognition, its sponsorship has expanded to include a prominent law firm, the Museum of Design Atlanta and the W Hotel, where the artists receive free lodging. And there are other signs of Atlanta’s embracing street art. A 22-mile loop of jogging trails and public parks under construction around the city now features an array of commissioned works. “We’re not New York, we’re not L.A., we’re not Miami, with the history of street art,” Ms. Campana said. “But in a sense, that’s what’s appealing: you can bring street art to a new city.”

The city has also redoubled efforts to rub out a different form of street art: illegal graffiti. Two years ago, the mayor created a graffiti task force and the Atlanta police dedicated a full-time officer to track down the most prolific offenders. Last October, the city arrested seven men between 19 and 29 who they said were responsible for 800 acts of graffiti vandalism. They received fines and probation.

One of those arrested, Josh Feigert, 28, sees a double standard in the city’s embrace of projects like Living Walls, while it cracks down on graffiti. “It seems hypocritical,” he said. “I would hope people would learn a little more about graffiti, and that it is an art form, as well.”

 

I am not complaining about this move towards sanctioned street art. I support it. Of course street art adds to a city! I've been saying that for years. My feeling is that it needn't always be "sanctioned". Let it sprout all over town. I guess no politician is ready to embrace that.

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