ATLANTA — This summer marks the fifth anniversary of Living Walls, The City Speaks, conference, an event and organization dedicated to bringing public art and conversation to downtown Atlanta. Each year Living Walls, which has grown significantly since its start in 2010, commissions new murals for the city; this edition brought 18 more artworks to Atlanta, by international artists like Ernest Zacharevic as well as local painters such as HENSE. The mid-August companion conference featured, among other events, a conversation with Juxtapoz magazine and Vandalog, a lecture by Meres One on curating the now-defunct 5Pointz, and a blowout event at The Goat Farm.
After the weekend of festivities, I hopped in my car to visit each of the 2014 walls in the middle of a Georgia summer storm. As I struggled to unglue my sweaty legs from the sticky car seat at each stop, I realized how palpable the impact of Living Walls has been on Atlanta’s landscape. On my way to new walls I passed pieces from years past, murals by artists I’d interviewed, and bikers admirably ditching fossil fuels for the Living Walls bike route.
In a city known for its sprawl, rush, and abandonment of the interpersonal interactions that seem to characterize other southern cities, Living Walls offers invaluable moments to stop and appreciate public art in some of Atlanta’s most vibrant neighborhoods.