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“Art on the BeltLine” a good beginning for a new public space

“Art on the BeltLine,” Atlanta’s largest exhibition of temporary art, christens a new public space in the best possible way: with a wide-ranging display of works by a broad array of Atlanta artists, supported by numerous volunteers and institutions.

The project, which will include scheduled performances throughout its five-month run, was conceived to lure the public to the BeltLine route (eight miles of it, anyway) to discover its pleasures and potential.

To that end, BeltLine design director Fred Yalouris opened two very different sections. The East side, urban in character, backs up to old industrial buildings turned into lofts and restaurants and offers great views of the Atlanta skyline.

The West section, which passes through residential neighborhoods, is densely wooded, in some places with old-growth pecan trees and tulip poplars or patches of orange daylilies and blue spiderwort. You almost forget you’re in the city.

The project exposes visitors to the work of 60-plus local artists. The work reflects the varied expertise of its makers — kids, art students, street artists and accomplished pros — and the limitations of time and funds. Most stand on good ideas, but many are rough around the edges.

Quite a few of the artists made work that responded to the BeltLine’s history. “The Wanderers,” by the Paper Twins, is one of the show’s standouts. A series of painted wooden figures evoke the railroad subculture of hobos, loners and other outsiders who might have haunted the area back in the day.

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