Dustin Emory’s mural of George Floyd on Marietta Street in Downtown.

The convergence of retirement, a trip to New York City, and Instagram led Art Rudick down an art-filled rabbit hole and the creation of a website to track Atlanta’s many murals.

Rudick’s Atlanta Street Art Map (streetartmap.org) has become a go-to site for finding Intown’s colorful wall art, as well as acting as an archive since so many of the murals disappear over time – either covered by graffiti or replaced with something new.

Rudick retired at the end of 2016 after a 32-year career with Coca-Cola. Shortly thereafter, he and his wife took a trip to New York to visit his niece. Before a street art walking tour of the Bushwick neighborhood in Brooklyn, Rudick’s niece suggested he download Instagram to his cell phone.

Augustino Iacurci’s mural in Reynoldstown.

“I was fascinated with the street art in Bushwick and started looking for more of it when I got back to Atlanta,” Rudick said. “I thought my Instagram account would be perfect for street art content.”

Beyond the visible and well-known murals in the city, Rudick had no idea where to start looking for more.

“I looked online and there was only a handful of websites that mentioned murals and when they did there was only a dozen or so,” he recalled. “And some of those had already been painted over.”

As Rudick set out on a quest to find more murals, he also figured out how to start his own website. By the time Atlanta Street Art Map went live in 2017, he had already photographed and documented 200 murals.

The site not only divides the city into easily walkable districts, but also provides a map, photo, and links (if available) to the artist’s website or social media. He’s constantly updating the site and has become Instagram friends with more than 160 artists who alert him about new murals going up in the city.

Rudick enjoys walking and driving to discover and document new street art. He also regularly checks on murals to see if they have been painted over or altered to keep the site as timely as possible.

“Archiving the murals is important, because no one else is doing that,” Rudick said.

Charmaine Minnefield’s mural tribute to Adrienne McNeil Herndon.

Late last year, Rudick realized he was nearing 1,000 murals on the website and decided that an event should be held to celebrate the milestone. His idea was to mark the 1,000th mural he had documented with the creation of a new mural.

Rudick came up with the idea for an ATL1000 festival, which would include walking tours, artist talks, and more. Then the pandemic hit.

Undaunted, Rudick contacted John Dirga with the Cabbagetown Initiative about possibly having the commemorative mural painted on the wall leading to the entrance of the iconic Krog Street Tunnel. The Cabbagetown Initiative has curated the walls leading to the tunnel since 2003.

Concept for Ashley Dopson’s mural tribute to Cabbagetown resident, Ms. Bertha.

The Cabbagetown Initiative agreed to put up the mural with ATL1000 as a sponsor. A call went out over social media for artists to submit resumes and qualifications. More than 30 responded, and six were invited to submit mural proposals.

By coincidence the 1,000th mural Ruddick documented for his site and the mural chosen for the Cabbagetown wall were created by the same local artist, Ashely Dopson, who goes by Ashely D. for her artwork.

Dopson created a colorful Black Lives Matter mural for the KIPP Strive Academy in southwest Atlanta, which became Rudick’s 1,000th mural for the Street Art Map site. For the Cabbagetown project, Dopson pays tribute to Ms. Bertha, a three-decade resident of the former mill neighborhood. In the mural, called “Fish are Jumpin’ and the Cotton is High,” Ms. Bertha floats happily in in a colorful koi pond. Dopson is painting the mural now.

Another ATL1000 partnership Rudick is excited about is wish Power Haus Creative and its founder, Ash Nash. The “Goddess Glow” project will se multiple murals created by Black women for Black women and girls to see authentic reflections of themselves in street art.

Ashley Dopson works on her mural depicting Ms. Bertha, a longtime resident of Cabbagetown. (Photo by Art Rudicks)

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.