Part of the Living Wall initiative in Atlanta. (Artist: Blief) thegrio.com
Part of the Living Wall initiative in Atlanta. (Artist: Blief)

For nearly three decades, Atlanta, Georgia, has been a mecca of music culture. Artists of all genres and creeds have come to Atlanta to find their way.

Now, a fairly new trend is on the rise in the A.T.L. The underground art scene is making its presence felt in a big way. Artists who once looked to LA and New York to hone their craft are now finding their own voice in this burgeoning melting pot.

It’s not hard to find evidence of this phenomenon all over the city of Atlanta. A quick drive through downtown, midtown, Inman Park or Little Five Points and you’ll find yourself surrounded by creative energy. Walls, viaducts, and storefronts are covered in murals and portraits, and these aren’t your typical vandalistic spray-can doodles. These pieces are gallery-worthy works of art tattooed on Atlanta’s landscape. Many of these murals have been commissioned by an organization called “Living Walls,” which since 2010 has sought to promote educate, and change perspectives about public space in Atlanta communities via street art (livingwallsatl.com). A combined total of nearly of 100 artists have worked on these walls.

Atlanta is welcoming the contributions of these artists with open arms. Local and national street art has become a part of one of the largest infrastructure redevelopment programs ever undertaken by the city. The Atlanta BeltLine is a 22-mile long network of public parks, trails and transit circling downtown and connecting some of the city’s most popular neighborhoods. One of the core components of the BeltLine is public art. Sculptures and murals are incorporated into the parks and BeltLine design. Every year, Art On The Atlanta BeltLine public art initiative selects new and returning artists to showcase dynamic installations and performances.

Lean Fish by Brandon Sadler thegrio.com
Lean Fish by Brandon Sadler (risingredlotus.com)

The avant-garde art community evolving in Atlanta has been called a “visual art renaissance” by some. With so many people from diverse places making their way to Atlanta, a number of different influences are always pouring in. Unlike the saturated scene of New York City, Atlanta still has room to grow. Artists like Miya Bailey, Paper Frank and Brandon Sadler are part of a tight-knit community of creators who work in friendly competition to grow their ideas and feed a population still hungry for the arts.

A sketch by artist, Miya Bently thegrio.com
A sketch by artist, Miya Bailey (miyabailey.com)

Art on a different canvas is also emerging. Tattooing has become big business in A.T.L. New styles are being birthed through the thriving art scene. Artists are taking body art to new levels. City of Ink Tattoo Shop is one of the premiere body art shops in Atlanta. Owner Miya Bailey is considered one of the forefathers of the urban tattoo movement. His shop has become a hub for artists of all kinds. Not only can you get your next tattoo at City of Ink but you can also attend art shows and buy pieces while mingling with fellow artists and art connoisseurs. Nestled in the Castleberry Hill neighborhood, City Of Ink is like a slice of New York’s East Village with a sprinkle of Southern hospitality.

Paintings by artist Paper Frank Thegrio.com
Paintings by artist Paper Frank (paperfrank.com)

Atlanta is the cultural nest of the south and it’s in the midst of an artistic awakening. Those in search of something new and raw need only explore the heart of Atlanta. The community is constantly evolving. Here are a few places to begin your journey: The Krog Street Tunnel, Old Fourth Ward, Atlanta BeltLine and Youngblood Gallery.