The bridges are the most interesting part of the Atlanta BeltLine. The undersides are an open canvas for street artists and sometimes, to the detriment of existing art, anyone with a can of paint.
Who paints under these bridges? Some murals are courtesy of Art on the Atlanta BeltLine, an organized effort by the Atlanta BeltLine each year to showcase art installations for a period of time on the trail. Some are uninvited, though not unwelcome. And much of it is fluid. A mural under the John Lewis Freedom Parkway bridge one week is replaced by something else the next week. Social issues find their way into art or writings on the BeltLine, such as the Black Lives Matter movement or the COVID pandemic.
Here is a guide to the BeltLine bridges, on and below the BeltLine, along the Eastside Trail from Piedmont Park to Dekalb Ave. (subject to change, of course).
Title: A New Light Shines Beyond the Darkness
Artist: Brandon Sadler, aka Rising Red Lotus
Commentary: This mural explores the BeltLine's role in connection, community and culture sharing. The inclusion of fish continues the metaphor of the people of Atlanta living within the same water where life is possible through the energetic sum of those present, according to Art on the Atlanta BeltLine.
On the artist's Instagram, he explains it this way: "I painted this during the recent solar eclipse and the experience inspired the concept behind this mural a great deal. Often, there are times of darkness that confuse us and cause misdirection. However, these moments bring great value to the things that we aim to be, create, and share on this planet. Eclipses in life teach us to be better at honoring the light, and to be willing to respect the offering of growth from the darkness, however difficult."
Above, on BeltLine
Title: That's My Traffic Jam
Artist: Lotus Eaters Club
Commentary: Lotus Eaters Club is not one artist, but a collective based in Atlanta, who create murals, commercial work and other designs. This looks like silly cartoons upon first glance, but take a closer look at the details. The figures reportedly move when you download the Lotus Eaters Club app and point your camera at the wall. "This projects seeks to explore the ways in which augmented reality technology can expand the avenues in which we experience art," according to Art on the Atlanta BeltLine.
Under the bridge
Title: Abhaya Brings Teachings of Love
Artist: Brandon Sadler, aka Rising Red Lotus
Commentary: Another mural by Brandon Sadler, this one on North Avenue is a little worse for wear, and it appears that new artwork is currently going up, although it's not apparent if this beautiful mural will remain. It is worth seeing in case it is covered over soon. Brandon is influenced by Asian calligraphy and culture, after living in South Korea. He painted a mural seen in the film "Black Panther," is sought after by corporate brands, and his work has been collected by the High Museum of Art.
Ralph McGill Blvd.
Artist: Ricardo Moody
Commentary: This mural, part of Art on the Atlanta BeltLine, is under construction but was paused after several setbacks, including rain and vandalism. Learn more.
John Lewis Freedom Parkway
The underside of John Lewis Freedom Parkway is an ever changing art gallery, as street artists cover this open canvas, and then vandals cover it up. While no piece of art lasts long here, the slide show above gives a sampling of works from the past year or so.
North Highland Ave.
Artist: JD Koth
Commentary: With multiple sets of eyes and mouths, this sculpture could be found in an ancient temple, or an Indiana Jones movie. According to Art on the Atlanta BeltLine, the artist's work "explores different interactions between humanity and nature. Koth utilizes installations as well as sculptural objects to address issues ranging from growth and decay to how we perceive reality according to one’s scale."
Title: Faces and Friends
Artist: Kyle Brooks aka Black Cat Tips
Commentary: You may have seen Kyle Brooks' art pop up on telephone poles and signs across the city. Dubbing himself a "street folk artist," he is known for his pastel characters and faces. When he painted this work in 2012, the Eastside trail was still under construction. He said at the time on his blog, "Under the bridge there are pigeons and dirt. There is dust and debris. But now there is also color and happiness. There are friends with big eyes and interesting faces. Under the bridge you will now smile. Keep walking and rolling and jogging and biking but when you return on your BeltLine journey you will see the friendly faces smiling at you again."
Title: Somos Boricanos
Artist: Lisette Correa aka ArrrtAddict
Commentary: This mural, going up across from Cold Beer, is part of the artist's Taino series, which documents an all-female Taino tribe in Boriken (the original name for Puerto Rico before colonization), according to Art on the Atlanta BeltLine. It is a dedication to the artist's grandmother. She and her team also painted the leopard design around the bridge.
February is Black History Month. Read, learn or contribute in some way. Here are some ideas.
An Atlanta native, Nicole Gustin is the Founder & CEO of BiteLines, which offers walking food tours on the Atlanta BeltLine. She considers the BeltLine her backyard, and is excited to see how Atlanta is reinventing itself. The BiteLines blog features art, restaurants, happenings and weirdness on the Atlanta BeltLine. Share story ideas and pics at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Or follow on Instagram @bitelinesatl.
Note: We have paused our tours during the pandemic, but will ramp up again as soon as it’s safe.