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Art enhancing Atlanta's MARTA Stations

Matt Terrell

By Matt Terrell, Dad’s Garage
Major praise deserves to go to Midtown Alliance for their latest public art collaboration with MARTA’s Midtown Station. The work is focused on a new mural, “Confluence: Burst Forth with A Terrific Noise,” created by Atlanta based artist Andrew Catanese. The mural features Catanese’s signature style of brightly colored organic shapes that come together to form a storybook-like image of a nature-filled forest. Located along the southern entrance to the station, the mural reminds viewers of Atlanta’s moniker of being “a city in a forest” and gives viewers a whimsical connection to the natural world during an otherwise boring commute.

Instagram photo from Andrew Catanese

The installation was unveiled in late July and since then has majorly enhanced this transportation hub. Along with the mural there is new lighting and seating designed by Sylvatica Studio and constructed by MacroTek Services. Mounds of green astroturf are placed near the entrance, and they give commuters a beautiful and place to sit while waiting for the bus or train. Midtown Station, like many MARTA Stations, is a brutalist concrete slab that can often overwhelm and engulf the humans that shuffle through it daily.
The work is a collaboration of MARTA’s Artbound initiative and Midtown Alliance’s Public Art & Placemaking Program. This work follows on the heels of “Autoeater” located at 10th and Peachtree (across from the Federal Reserve), which was a collaboration of Midtown Alliance and Marcia Wood Gallery. These projects show Midtown Alliance’s keen understanding of how public art can reshape their neighborhood, and make it a more beautiful and livable place.
Here are some of the things that this Midtown Alliance/MARTA collaboration gets right about public art:

  1. Placement in a high-traffic, high-visibility area. Almost 200,000 rail and bus commuters pass through Midtown Station every month. This work, especially because it is located at a station entrance, will automatically reach thousands of people every week.
  2. The mural and installation changes the function of the space. Prior to this installation, this entrance to Midtown Station was drab and offered only a few benches for people to sit at. By adding color and seating mounds, commuters are given a beautiful new space to congregate.
  3. The space opens up the opportunity for performances and other events. MARTA’s Artbound program offered free live music performances weekly in this space, and the new seating areas make a natural concert venue.
  4. The work puts humans first in the environment. One of the legacies of brutalist structures (which many MARTA Stations are) is how they shrink the human presence, and can often remind viewers of their insignificance in the greater community. Public art can reshape these structures into something more human-oriented which is ultimately more pleasing to the individual.

Keep up the good work, Midtown Alliance! This is exactly the type of public art we need in our community!
Featured Photo: From WABE.com by Lauren Booker/PBA


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