There’s a lot of history living in these streets. Atlanta is no stranger to being the main set or backdrop for some major societal happenings, from the Civil War to RoboCop 3. In recent years, the city became home to a booming film and TV industry, lassoing in millions of dollars (and also inspiring our weekly ATLWood column). Photog enthusiast Christopher Moloney, community organization weloveatl, and Atlanta History Center teamed up to host a Historic Photo Scavenger Hunt, giving Atlantans the opportunity to artistically capture both the old and new.
Christopher Moloney, a Toronto native, had only visited Atlanta a few times before he moved here in 2014. He was surprised by what he found. “The funniest thing is before I moved here, I didn’t really know what to expect,” he says. “People would say there’s not a lot to do in Atlanta and tell me all these horror stories but then when I got here I was amazed.” Moloney is the man behind FILMography, a photographic project focused on linking scenes from famous movies with their present-day locations. He’s captured images everywhere from New York to Thailand, but he’s got a soft spot for the A, a place where over a dozen films — such as Insurgent and Identity Thief — were shot in the past few years.
Moloney’s process is simple: he takes screenshots of movie scenes on his laptop, prints the screenshot, goes to the real-life location of that scene with the print in tow, and snaps the moment with his iPod touch — like matching the fictional baby store featured in 2012’s What to Expect When You’re Expecting with one of his favorite restaurants, Inman Park's Folk Art.
"I think that we finished  feeling really happy and thankful for the projects that we did," says Living Walls Executive Director Monica Campana. "The Boulevard [Tunnel] project was great. It probably showed the most community engagement and had the biggest impact. ... [When] the issues we're seeing with the city council and public art ordinance being talked about [came up] is when we started to talk about our our goals and impact. We wanted to make sure that whatever projects we did really had a plan from beginning to end and that we knew what we were trying to accomplish. We weren't going to figure that out by 2015. It was a reoccurring problem. Gathering all that [information] in six months is just not enough time."
Since its inaugural conference in 2010, Living Walls has created more than 100 murals throughout Atlanta, including work by high-profile international artists such as JR and locals such as HENSE. In 2014, Living Walls announced a partnership with Google to preserve street art through documentation.
But the organization has its detractors. There are many in Atlanta that think the organization should focus more heavily on local artists. A handful of the murals have sparked heated debates in local neighborhoods and raised the question of whether or not Living Walls actually serves the communities in which it works. The mural nonprofit has also repeatedly butted heads with the Atlanta City Council and the city's Office of Cultural Affairs over the process for installing public art on private property.
A committee is currently being formed to help rewrite the ordinance over the next few months. A Living Walls board member has been nominated for the committee. All nominees must be approved by City Council.
"The new [public art] ordinance will probably be written by July. We see a lot of hope for 2016," Campana says. "I think we just needed a break for a minute. In terms of people saying there's not enough Atlanta artists, we think we're doing the right thing and people are not seeing it that way. … Maybe our mission statement should be different. Maybe people are not getting it cause we're not presenting ourselves properly or we're not being clear."
"I'm really excited to really learn about their process. They're an organization that has been doing it for 30 years," Campana says. "They've managed to create jobs for [people] to do public art. [They're] working with kids and in prisons and actually creating change and being an economic force as well."
Campana says she has every intention to bring back Living Walls in 2016 and points to local contemporary art programming organization Flux, saying "it's a great example of taking a break and coming back full force with great programming."
"[We're] really happy but we need to do it better."Editor's note: This article has been updated to include information on the the city council's committee nomination process.
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