Murals like those found in the Lascaux caves were among the first works of art. Of course, the practice continues today and some of Atlanta’s most exciting and controversial art is still painted right on the walls. There are many types of murals, but the battlefront is on building exteriors where the politics of street art meet the scrutiny of high culture.
“An Allegory of the Human City” by Pierre Roti
University Ave. S.W.
Atlanta, GA 30310
No Atlanta mural is more internationally famous or infamous as Pierre Roti’s piece commissioned by The Living Walls organization. This classically excellent example of craftsmanship includes various creatures, including a partially anthropomorphic alligator man. Sometimes labeled “trippy” or “weird,” the more conservative members of the community have labeled it “satanic.” Over the course of its short life, Roti’s work has been protested, petitioned for saving, controversially defaced with gray paint and then cleaned and restored. French national Roti is already onto new and acclaimed projects, but his “An Allegory on the Human City” has become an ongoing symbol of Atlanta’s internal struggle with its own artistic identity.
“Rising Red Lotus’ Beltline Mural” by Brandon Sadler
10th St. and Monroe Drive (Eastside Trail)
Atlanta, GA 30306
The Beltline is a physical location that uses defunct rail lines as a type of art park. Its ongoing program of public artwork is a safe-haven for artists, who can make pieces free from the fear of angry locals. Among the permanent pieces on display is Brandon Sadler’s work. Going by the artistic title of “Rising Red Lotus’ Beltline Mural,” Sadler’s Japanese heritage is present in his mural. The local artist mixes traditional Asian line work (and characters) with street-graffiti tropes.
“Float” by Hense
Atlanta, GA 30307
Another local artist who goes by the name of “Hense” displays his work proudly in Atlanta. His piece “Float” is located on Arizona Avenue, not far from where he grew up. He has several high-profile pieces sponsored by various art galleries, some of which are more cerebral and conceptual in design. This particular mural is a pure exploration of color, with little or no representational imagery or use of text. Hense is acknowledged by Juxtapose Magazine, which provides some indication of his style.
Related: Most Iconic Works Of Art In Atlanta
“Doors” by Art Rosenbaum
Richard B. Russell Library
300 S. Hull St.
Athens, GA 30605
Located in Athens, GA, “Doors” is a large interior painting that depicts scenes from Georgia’s history. The artist named Art Rosenbaum is an expert muralist and master painter who retired as a painting teacher from The University of Georgia. His mural is a virtuoso technical accomplishment which boasts 46 likenesses including a life-sized rendition of Senator Russell.
“Rising Up: The Amistad Murals” by Hale Woodruff
High Museum of Art
1280 Peachtree St. N.E.
Atlanta, GA 30309
The Amistad Murals are also interior pieces, this time on a series of three panels depicting six events of blacks overcoming slavery. The High Museum of Art has teamed with Alabama’s Talladega College to bring the murals to restoration and for a traveling exhibition. The panels are known as “The Revolt,” “The Court Scene” and “Back to Africa.” After leaving Atlanta, these panels will be visiting 80 WSE Gallery at NYU Steinhardt, The New Orleans Museum of Art, National Museum of African American History & Culture, The Smithsonian Institution and The Birmingham Museum of Art.
Related: Best Art Museums In Atlanta
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With a BFA in Digital Media, Sean Mills has worked for design firms with clients across the United States. He has worked as an illustrator and visual designer, and has shown paintings in juried exhibitions. He currently works as a studio artist and writer in Atlanta, Georgia. His work can be found at Examiner.com.