Inman Park's Great Wall Of Angina

Abstract, multicolored Elizabeth Street mural has some seeing nothing but red

Thomas Yim sees the mural on the outer wall of his Inman Park dry cleaning business as an abstract thing of beauty.

But some Inman Park residents say how the mural came to be on Elizabeth Street at the Austin Avenue intersection is beastly.

The mural, which is near completion, has been up for about a week.

The Whitespace art gallery selected Inman Park artist Tommy Taylor to paint the mural as part of the Four Coats Neighborhood Mural Project.

Sponsored by the city of Atlanta's Office of Cultural Affairs, Four Coats is designed to increase general awareness and interest in public art.

Taylor's mural, one of four across the city, will have its official unveiling July 30.

Yim is already a fan. A dry cleaner who opened Professional Cleaners five years ago, he told East Atlanta Patch the wall was a perennial magnet for graffiti and that he and many of his customers are pleased with the results.

But since the mural's debut, Inman Park's neighborhood listserv on Yahoo has been a tad testy.

Some residents are critical of the work, but what really has them upset is what's they say is the city's failure to get input from Inman Park residents about what should go on the wall.

It's a debate framed, in part, as liberal vs. conservative, art snobs vs. the uncultured.

Devolving into a tit-for-tat skirmish of words via iPhones and Blackberries — it is Inman Park, after all — some have even threatened to quite the Yahoo group altogether because of it.

A few of the exchanges:

"Seems to me plenty of liberals have been active participants in this discussion. If I were to guess, the liberal viewpoint has been espoused on about a three-to-one basis here. The tenor of the discussion has been 'we like the mural, and if you don't you aren't in the majority, and therefore don't fit in in a progressive place like Inman Park.' ... Last time I checked, my household's vote counts equally with everyone else's in this neighborhood, and minority or not, someone made a decision here that completely disregarded my opinion on the subject."


"Did I move to the wrong neighborhood? Between this, the whole 'community' pool fiasco of last year, and your attack on an Inman Park resident (renter or not) makes me feel like I moved to Cobb. Where is the creative, liberal/conservative mix of a neighborhood that this used to be?"


"Seriously, I think that all mess with APS and possible redistricting of Inman park from Mary Lin, Inman Middle and Grady, will have much more impact on our home values (also the homeowners without kids need to be concern) that some mural painted on the store wall. Lets put our energy to something that really matter like bringing a good education to our children and keeping the home value at least at the same level as it now.....[sic]"


"If someone doesn't like pasta, it does not mean that that person hates Italians..the same way that if someone doesn't like a mural or graffiti, it doesn't mean that that person doesn't like art, or is an art hater. ... the work that some of you so admire, looks like a piece of crap to me. What is it resembling anyway? A car? An emotion? Does it excite you that someone puts some colors on a wall and calls it a piece of art? What is it that makes you so excited? I can't figure it out. I rather look at a Rembrandt, or Frans Hals. To me, what some of you call a mural and piece of art, seems like something that my 5 year old nephew could have done with some crayons and a piece of paper. He could never accomplish that trying to copy some of the old masters."


"Hi! I just returned from 2 weeks in New York and saw the mural for the first time today. It brightens up that corner and the colors make me smile. Everyday on my way home from school i pass a mural on DeKalb Ave. that depicts different regions around the state.  It has never been tagged and hasn't encouraged graffiti on any of the surrounding walls. ... I think we are lucky to have been chosen for a mural and see that as a compliment to our neighborhood. I have lived in Inman Park for 18 years this is a great addition to the neighborhood."


Some of the feedback the mural has elicited is likely not the response Whitespace ower Susan Bridges was expecting to her July 13 invitation to residents that they "stop by and say hello to Tommy" as he worked on a mural "intended to make the Elizabeth Street corner an interesting and exciting spot to visit."

To be sure, a piece of art, considered great by some may be seen as garbage by others.

"I am glad the mural has brought a response from everyone, both positive and negative," she wrote on the Yahoo group listserv Wednesday night. "I guess that's what art is all about."

But she defended her selection of Taylor, whom she said she selected because of his fine arts skills, him being a muralist and his work is collected nationally. 

"Whether you appreciate it or not, Tommy has spent the past two weeks on a scaffold in 90+ degree heat to provide our neighborhood with a beautiful, vibrant wall," she wrote.

"Now, regarding the email stream, I know everyone has an opinion and that’s fine, but I think some of the comments have not only been inaccurate, insulting but extremely immature."

Maureen Walter July 22, 2011 at 12:35 PM
love the mural, love the art happening right in our neighborhood (one could watch the artist working--how delightful) and that wall had been marked up crudely for years---I love it! Love Inman Park and have lived in these in town neighborhoods for over 30 years--bring on the art!
Dawn July 22, 2011 at 02:45 PM
I enjoyed watching the progress on the mural, and I think it's beautiful. The intersection is much more interesting now. I would welcome more public art, and no, I don't need to approve it first.
Péralte Paul (Editor) July 22, 2011 at 02:53 PM
Maureen and Dawn: Do either of you think it would have made a difference if the city went to the neighborhood first and said 'hey, we're going to do this art project, etc...'? Art is subjective, but some folks felt like they should have been notified, at least.
Adam Stillman July 22, 2011 at 03:47 PM
The fact is, it's a painting on the side of a privately owned building. Unless it was painted without the building owner's consent (which it was not) there is no reason to notify anyone, and certainly no reason to seek anyone else's "permission."
Péralte Paul (Editor) July 22, 2011 at 04:49 PM
That's true Adam, but some communities place restrictions on what one can do with one's property. Remember the ruckus that erupted in Avondale Estates a few years back when a homeowner painted his house lime green with purple polka dots?
Michael Goettee July 23, 2011 at 12:59 PM
I love the mural. I'm betting that the folks that revived Inman Park and created the wonderful spirit I associate with it, probably love the mural. I'm also betting that the conservatives that have moved in are likely the ones who hate it. That's been the way in many communities, where the brave and liberal turn a neighborhood around making it desirable and safe, followed by the others that move in because of that effort and start changing the nature and the rules. "The homogenization of neighborhoods" too often comes with gentrification. UGH.
Péralte Paul (Editor) July 23, 2011 at 04:06 PM
Adam: I have an architecture question for you. Can you e-mail me at peralte.paul@patch.com?
Darryl moland July 31, 2011 at 01:05 PM
As a graphic designer, I know all-too-well how a committee to approve art/design works. If that had happened we probably would have had a wall looking like some junior high art class did it instead of a nice happy colorful piece of actual art. It's abstract and most people don't get what they don't understand. They buy art to match their sofas.


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