Lantern Parade Kicks Off Atlanta's Art on the BeltLine
The city's largest display of public art, Art on the BeltLine starts with a festive annual parade.
If you think Atlanta doesn’t have a vibrant art scene, then you’re probably watching too much of The Walking Dead. On the contrary, it’s very much alive and we're all invited to enjoy it along eight miles of Atlanta’s BeltLine.
Art on the BeltLine began in 2010 with 40 works of visual and performance art and has now grown by a whopping 40 percent. It is the City of Atlanta’s largest temporary public art exhibition, showcasing the work of hundreds of visual artists, performers and musicians.
Kicking off each year’s event is the Lantern Parade. Bring a homemade lantern or anything that illuminates and take the leisurely 2.2-mile walk to the Park Tavern in Piedmont Park where folks gather for post-parade food and drink. Lantern-making events are held prior to the event.
If watching parades is more your style, the route is dotted with some of the city’s best restaurants, like Rathbun’s in Inman Park and Parish in the Old Fourth Ward; both have outdoor patios. There’s also a great view from the Highland Street Bridge. Take a look at the route map and plan accordingly.
We caught up with the Atlanta BeltLine’s director of design, Fred Yalouris, to find out a little more about the city’s burgeoning and changing art scene.
How has the Atlanta art community changed over the years?
The Atlanta arts community has evolved to become less exclusive and more grassroots, with a wider range of artists adding ideas to the creative sphere. More opportunities have opened up for younger and emerging artists, with organizations such as WonderRoot, Burnaway, Flux and others offering resources to these artists. This growth in resources has resulted in not only more active artists, but also a far bigger audience for the arts and a greater opportunity for public interaction with the arts.
What does Art on the BeltLine add to the Atlanta community?
Art on the Atlanta BeltLine has greatly increased the community’s awareness and exposure to public art. It has also helped many emerging artists benefit from that exposure, enhancing their status in the arts community.
Art on the Atlanta BeltLine also takes a unique approach to exhibit space — not just placing art outdoors, but in a linear space over eight miles. This also helps to encourage people’s interaction with and understanding of the larger picture of the Atlanta BeltLine as a transit, trails and parks project. There is an added benefit for public health by drawing people out to the corridor to walk and view the work.
What is the community’s reaction to Art on the BeltLine?
Community feedback has been very good. Each year, members of the community become more and more involved, with greater numbers of artists submitting proposals and more people taking an interest in the art they are seeing on the trails. Not only is interest growing in the visual art, but the performance art sees greater participation every year. With eight performance days, Art on the Atlanta BeltLine is able to offer a variety of mediums and performances for audience members of all ages. Inquiries from artists about proposals and from the community about the artists, installation and performance schedules arrive earlier every year, well in advance of our September launch.
How about support from the local government and other officials?
Art on the Atlanta BeltLine maintains a close partnership with the City of Atlanta Office of Cultural Affairs and the Fulton County Arts Council. Our partners and sponsors are vital to the implementation of the project, as well as increasing awareness about it. This is fantastic not only for the artists, but for people in the Atlanta community who may not know that they have access to free public art as part of a program that is being held up as a national model for transformation.