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Living Walls 

Street artists are descending on the city for a weekend of mural-painting and trouble-making. Will Atlanta even notice?

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Even when public art is legally permitted, there are still territorial clashes between the graffiti artists whose pieces first graced a wall and the sanctioned artists whose works were commissioned to cover them. Seminal Atlanta graf writer BORN learned this firsthand when his nine-year-old piece near Ponce de Leon Avenue was recently painted over to make way for the Beltline's Global Garden Project. Many were incensed by the casual dismissal of this long-standing piece, throwing accusations at Beltline officials of snobbery and ignorance of the city's public art subculture.


SERIOUS DOODLING: Acclaimed street artist Doodles' mural on a 3,500-square-foot wall in West End is the first of several public art installations tied to Atlanta's Living Walls conference. - JOEFF DAVIS
  • Joeff Davis
  • SERIOUS DOODLING: Acclaimed street artist Doodles' mural on a 3,500-square-foot wall in West End is the first of several public art installations tied to Atlanta's Living Walls conference.

Moving forward, there are many questions to ask, the answers to which will likely play a strong role in the shaping the Living Walls legacy, not to mention the eventual identity of public art in Atlanta. What is the best use of public space? Whose taste gets priority when it comes to filling the public arena with images? Why should graffiti be banned when just as many people find an overabundance of advertisements unsightly? And would the quality of street art be better if it were legal?

Most of all, do Atlantans even give a shit about public art, or will they be content to stay in their cars and ignore the world around them?

Migliozzi and Campana really just wanted to have a kick-ass art show — but they aren't blind to what this conference could signify to a city still struggling with its cultural identity.

"Taking back public space from advertisers is a huge part of graffiti mentality," says Campana. "In Atlanta, there's no real dialogue. The guys with money to buy the ads do all the talking. So street art engages people in a dialogue. It gives them something else to look at."

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