Here Today, Gone Tomorrow…
By GREG MIKE
Will we run out of walls? Will urban artwork go out of style? Will city ordinances change the future of murals? As an artist, creative entrepreneur, and co-founder of mural arts festival Outerspace Project, these are all questions that are constantly running through my head.
Atlanta has become a global destination for street art over the past ten years, but murals are disappearing at a rapid rate due to new developments in artistic areas. While some developers are seeing the importance of murals and beginning to incorporate them into their projects, many are not.
Over the past decade my team and I have painted and produced over 100 murals in this city. Some remain, some have been repainted, and some walls have been demolished. Through our mural festival, OuterSpace Project, we have flown in artists from around the globe to add their creative touch to our city’s blank canvases. New artwork in the streets engages people — from transforming underpasses into galleries for those sitting in traffic to providing content for folks’ Instagram feeds. I’ve always found excitement around public art and the way it gets people out of their homes and into the streets. Something as simple as a creative thought, some paint, and a little hard work can change the landscape and energy of an area and the people who interact with it. With the explosion of social media, in particular Instagram, street art photography has become a massive trend which has created a global online gallery and an incredible platform for artists.
The beauty of art on the street is the unknown. There is magic in the moment of coming across a piece while making a wrong turn or while out for a bike ride in a neighborhood you may not frequent. There’s beauty in the transient nature of art in public places. It makes cities more exciting to explore. Currently, there’s a balance between developers, preservationists, and artists that allows for new work to be created. But, will it begin to shift in either direction? Will such a good thing come to an end? Only time will tell. The only concrete thing I believe is that we are living in the midst of the largest global art movement of all time. We must get out and experience the works in the flesh before they disappear — only to remain as a few megabytes floating in a cloud or on someone’s social media account.
Watch a documentary short that was just released about Greg Mike. It is hosted by THEA and Choose ATL and produced by Tenderfoot TV: https://www.thea.network/media/329649