Public Art Enhances the Old Fourth Ward

The Old Fourth Ward is booming. New housing and restoration/renovation of older structures into modernized single family homes, apartments and industrial style condos, along with the proliferation of restaurants, bars and small shops of all kinds has meant a huge increase in pedestrian “traffic.” Accompanying that growth has been a community awareness of the importance of public art.


The bridge over Freedom Parkway at Highland is a delightful case in point. The concrete pedestrian wall is covered in a bright, lively blue paint and further adorned with folk art style figures, animals and flowers. This artwork cannot help but bring a smile even to the most disgruntled of people passing by.


The intersection is also fortunate to have a massive “sculpture” by noted artist Sol LeWitt [1928-2007]. “54 Columns” is a minimalist creation of concrete block pillars of varying heights referencing the city’s skyline.
It was erected in a spacious greenspace of trees and grass but has an industrial feel that always provokes thoughts about meaning/significance. This is especially true in an historic part of town which incorporates both residential and industrial periods in its long [for Atlanta] history.


The latest additions to the O4W’s public art involve the decoration of multiple electrical boxes. These are scattered widely over the district and totally transform those tall rectangles of nondescript metal at intersections. The Old Fourth Ward Alliance got the idea from the similar project in nearby Decatur of paint-ed traffic signal boxes which have proven to be very popular.


Primary funding for the O4W electrical box project came from the Atlanta Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs, a Neighborhood Fund Grant and the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta. Artists were “recruited” and guaranteed a minimum of $750 for each box following certain guidelines as to subject matter and materials. So far, sixteen plus boxes have been beautified and there will be many more to follow in the near future.


The artist/coordinator for the painted utility boxes is Larry Holland of Fishbone Art. To see a map of all the painted boxes and get artist information on the creators, go to Better yet, stretch your legs and walk about to see the wide variety of public art near you.


–Photo and story by Dick Funderburke

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