ArtLot brings public art to Avondale
By Mary Margaret Stewart, contributor
On Sept. 1 a ribbon-cutting and kickoff party will open Avondale’s temporary, pop-up park, The ArtLot.
It will be located at 70 North Avondale Rd, next to Finder’s Keepers.
While Atlanta is home to the up-and-coming Beltline art installations and Decatur features new public art projects throughout the city, public art is something newer for the City of Avondale.
“It’s unique for us in that we don’t have a Beltline, but we do have this city-owned vacant property,” Mayor Jonathan Elmore said. “We have this great idea that David Newburn and the Arts Alliance came up with, and it’s a great opportunity to do something fun and positive to bring people to Avondale.”
Elmore said that the ArtLot is “the beginning of something for Avondale,” kickstarting a conversation about the future of art in the town.
David Newburn, the brains behind the ArtLot, has lived in Avondale for 23 years. Over the years, he noticed several vacant or “just blighted” properties in the central business district, and he started to consider urban revitalization that incorporated the arts in his hometown.
“After reading about a program called ‘Build a Better Block,’ I came up with the idea of incorporating pop-up parks and public art to help improve the viability of the downtown business district,” Newburn said.
Newburn said the ArtLot will stand out from other installations.
“Though there are many art parks and there are many art installations, there are no real temporary art parks that will offer a wide range of arts programming such as dance, music and film,” Newburn said.
Newburn and the Arts Alliance introduced their vision to Elmore in late spring with the intentions of “getting it done to take advantage of the fall, or even late summer.” After pitching their idea, they proposed a plan to the Downtown Development Authority and the City Hall. The DDA agreed to provide $12,500 in funding and the city agreed to provide $6,000.
Since the beginning, Elmore has been rooting for the success of the pop-up park.
“I’m an architect so I have a major interest in the arts – my main focus is growth, but I also want to see the arts take off,” Elmore said. “It’s fun. It’s flexible. It’s not like some super heavy museum, which is a major commitment.”
Newburn holds high expectations for Avondale’s art scene.
“To be honest, I am not nervous about the ArtLot,” Newburn said. “The Avondale Arts Alliance team is a strong innovative group of volunteers who have worked tirelessly to make ArtLot a success. The impact already has been huge.”
With, in the words of Elmore, “a freshness and a strong desire to make things happen soon,” more than 20 people volunteered alongside the Arts Alliance to clear the site for the park on North Avondale Road.
The Avondale Estates City Commission recently approved the Intergovernmental Agreement between the city and the DDA.