It seems like a new mural goes up somewhere around the city every week. Whether they’re commissioned by local conferences, like Living Walls or OuterSpace Project, or random pop-ups by a local artist, these displays of public art are sprouting faster than we can keep up with (not that this is a bad problem to have).
Local art enthusiast Arthur Rudick has taken the time to catalog these often-temporary works of art through his site, Atlanta Street Art Map. With a collection of more than 200 murals on his database, Rudick wants to help the city’s residents get to know their neighborhoods — and the artists who help make them beautiful.
“[I want to] get Atlantans up off their couches and out into the neighborhoods to see Atlanta’s wealth of murals street art and graffiti for themselves,” says Rudick. “Atlanta Street Art Map is intended to be used as a field guide, not as a ‘coffee table book.’ Hopefully, it will serve as a resource for anyone interested in learning more and as a tool for promoting Atlanta’s fabulous street art.”
With archived retired murals and hidden gems, Rudick’s self-guided mural tours are a great way to see beyond your everyday commute. Here, he shares more about how made his way to Atlanta, how you can jump on one of these tours, and more.
CommonCreativ: What brought you to Atlanta and attracted you to the art scene?
Arthur Rudick: I was born and raised in Pittsburgh. I moved to Atlanta in 1984. My wife Lauren and I both retired at the end of 2016 and we now split our time between Atlanta and Ormond Beach, Florida. I have always liked art and part of me always kind of wanted to be an artist. For many years my creative outlet was designing and building furniture as my hobby. Then one day I got a little too close to the table saw. After a series of three hand surgeries, Lauren insisted that I quit while I still had all of my fingers.
In the summer of 2016, we were visiting our niece in New York City and we took a street art walking tour of Bushwick. That’s when I became fascinated with street art. At that time I had no idea that Atlanta had so much street art, so I was pleasantly surprised when I found out. Attending some of the events of OuterSpace Project 2017 cemented my interest.
CC: Why did you start Atlanta Street Art Map?
AR: I started taking pictures of street art to use as Instagram content. Atlanta has a huge amount of street art, but it’s spread out all over the city and often hidden in off-street locations. I tried looking on the internet for the locations of street art, but most of the websites that I found only featured a handful of murals each and typically didn’t give detailed information on locations.
It became very obvious to me very quickly that there was a need that wasn’t currently being filled. Put that together with the fact that I am recently retired and I had a little spare time on my hands, and that’s how the idea to start the Atlanta Street Art Map website materialized. It supports the arts and I hope others might find it valuable.
CC: How did you start collecting the murals and art for the database?
AR: I looked at other street art websites, other people’s Instagram content, and randomly drove through neighborhoods just looking for murals. I even found street art by sitting at my computer and virtually driving around neighborhoods using the Google Maps Street View feature. I walked the Atlanta BeltLine. Friends who knew about my project gave me suggestions. After the website was up and running, users contacted me with street art that I missed. You name it, I did it. Much to my wife’s consternation, whenever we were driving along and I saw a mural, I insisted on stopping the car and taking a picture.
In the four months since I started this project, I feel like I learned more about Atlanta’s neighborhoods than I did during my previous 33 years living in Atlanta.
CC: Tell us about the self-guided walking tours on your site.
AR: Taking one of the walking tours with Atlanta Street Art Map is like going on a treasure hunt. The Cabbagetown, Little Five Points, and East Atlanta neighborhoods all have a lot of murals in a small, easily walkable area. The maps for these three neighborhoods are set up so that if the user simply follows the map markers in order, they’ll be taken on a self-guided street art walking tour of the neighborhood. And that’s where the fun begins. Many of the best murals are hidden from view behind buildings, on the back walls of back parking lots, and in alleyways — places that you would never see just walking down the street. The maps will take you to all of these “buried treasures.”
CC: You also have art on your site that’s now been replaced or painted over — how did you compile those?
AR: Street Art is temporary by its very nature, so I have to be constantly vigilant to keep the website up to date. By the time I photograph a mural, record its location, research the artist, and enter all of the information into the back end of the website, I pretty much learn where each mural is supposed to be. As I’m driving through the neighborhoods, whenever I see a mural that has been painted over or replaced, it sticks out like a sore thumb for me. I make a note and the next time I’m on my computer I switch that mural from the map to the archive. More often than not, the old mural has been replaced by a new mural.
CC: What are some of your favorite murals around town?
AR: I really like the tiger mural on Ralph McGill by Brandon Sadler (Rising Red Lotus) on the Old Fourth Ward map. Another favorite is the colorful skull and balloon mural by Patchwhisky created for OuterSpace project 2017 off of Decatur Street, also in the Old Fourth Ward. In fact, we liked it so much that we bought one of Patchwhisky’s canvas works. I have to laugh every time I see Big Teeff’s French bulldog with its paws on the back fence of the Spot for Dogs on the Midtown and Highlands map. Speaking of French bulldogs, I also like Ray Geier‘s (sQuishiepuss) iconic Pink French bulldog character (a great example is in the archive). You gotta love Greg Mike‘s Larry Loudmouf on Edgewood Avenue on the Inman Park map too. But my absolute favorite is the Jerry the Mouse mural by Jerkface on Euclid Avenue on the Little Five Points map. That’s probably because I grew up watching Tom and Jerry cartoons.
All photos provided by Arthur Rudick/Atlanta Street Art Map.