Brook Run Park is home to a display of a variety of temporary murals centered around Black and women’s history commissioned by the city for $13,000. 

A rotating band of regional art will be on display at the skate facility in the park at 4770 North Peachtree Road. Seven Black History Month murals were on display in February and eight Women’s History Month murals will be on display throughout March. 

Skateboarders hang out near one of the Black History Month murals displayed in February at Brook Run Park as part of a city-commissioned installation. (Phil Mosier)

“Because of COVID, we’ve been trying to find new ways to get people active in the parks and showcase the diversity we have in the community,” said Brent Walker, director of the city Parks and Recreation Department. “We want to support Black History Month and Women’s History Month as a city, and we thought this would be a great way for people to celebrate those months in a COVID protocols kind of way.” 

Walker said the city displayed murals at the skate park last October for Dunwoody’s annual “Arts and Culture” month, which serves as a way for the city to celebrate its different arts groups. Walker said the October art installation was a success, inspiring the city to do more public displays. 

The murals are painted on plywood provided to the artists by the city, and hung around the exterior fence of the skate park so they are easily visible. 

Walker said the installation was funded by money from the parks department budget. About $13,000 was spent on the project, paid directly to the artists. Walker approved the installation since this project was part of the parks department. 

Going forward, he said the Parks Department will bring all of their art installations to the newly formed Dunwoody Art Commission for approval. The commission had not been formed when the idea for this project came about. 

Walker said the city invited artists to apply to be part of the program through their social media, and a curator at Frame Worthy Gallery — an Atlanta-based art gallery — helped put the city in contact with Black and women artists who were interested. Fifteen artists were selected for the installation. 

Walker said when the murals are taken down, they will be kept by the department and used for future events.

Mario Padilla, a local artist who participated in the installation, chose Martin Luther King Jr. as the subject for his mural. Padilla, who is Latin American, said listening to King’s speeches helped him learn English. 

“When I chose to do this, I wanted to honor his figure in my painting,” Padilla said. 

Padilla, who lives close to the park, said feedback from the community has been positive. One day while working on fixing a problem in his mural, he said he was stopped by a kid who had come to skate. 

“One of the kids playing with his skateboard … stopped and said to me, ‘You’re one of the awesome artists that painted these things for us?’” Padilla said. “That made me so happy.”

Walker said that while no details have been nailed down, the parks department does have several ideas for temporary and permanent art installations. He said department staff members plan to meet with the Dunwoody Art Commission in March to go over some of the plans for 2021. 

Writer and Journalist Sammie Purcell

Sammie Purcell

Sammie Purcell is Associate Editor at Rough Draft Atlanta.