Arts and Culture in Downtown Atlanta: Galleries and Events

January 11, 2017

Guest Post by Brooke Thompson of WellAtlanta

Atlanta is a diverse city with many different cultures, interests, and events colliding. However, one of the most rapidly rising in popularity is its art scene, especially in Downtown Atlanta, where everything from galleries to large-scale murals can be found. Whether you’re new to Atlanta or have called it home for years, here are a few of the Downtown art galleries, events, and museums you should know about.

Gallery 72

If you’re looking for culture but need to pinch pennies, Gallery 72 is a great place to check out local artists for free. This contemporary gallery features everything from paintings to installations from Atlanta-based creators. It even hosts exhibits surrounding topics like Atlanta’s music history as well as social issues like civil rights.

The Mammal Gallery

Only a couple blocks from the Five Points train stop, the Mammal Gallery is a truly unique experience for the socially engaged. A self-proclaimed “safe space for creative minds,” the gallery has opportunities for interactive creative expression like live music and open mic nights, as well as experimental exhibits that keep guests thinking long after their visit.

Castleberry Hill

Prefer to explore your creative side in the fresh air? Downtown’s neighboring Castleberry Hill offers a free art stroll every second Friday of the month. With different galleries and installments on display each month, you can grab some friends and make it an evening of local art and culture, even grabbing dinner at one of the participating restaurants, such as No Mas! Hacienda and Cantina, along the way.

Eyedrum Art and Music Gallery

Eyedrum is Atlanta’s one-stop shop for everything a creative mind could hope for: literary readings, avant-garde film screenings, a community garden, and extraordinary exhibits that push the boundaries of the current art scene, just to name a few! There are even opportunities to build upon your own creativity with unique classes and workshops, such as the Eyedrum Literary Committee’s editing meet-up and the gallery’s filmmaking workshops, that allow you to hone your skills and meet others who share your passion.

Besharat Gallery

This gallery actually has two locations--one in Atlanta and the other in France. It is home to permanent as well as temporary, special exhibits devoted to famous artists and highly skilled individuals from around the world. The European style of the building comes from its French sister and has been around since 1885. If you’re looking to experience a taste of classic European elegance and high-end art, Besharat Gallery is a must-see.

To submit a guest post to the blog, please contact Paige Sullivan at


Connect Downtown: Winning Cabbagetown/Reynoldstown Commuter

November 9, 2016

Connect Downtown is a CAP/ADID initiative that targets young, intown commuters in Downtown-adjacent neighborhoods, encouraging them to pledge to take an alternative commute to work two times a week. The first phase of Connect Downtown focused on Cabbagetown/Reynoldstown residents who commute to Downtown.

Those who took the pledge were given a customized commute map and a ten-trip MARTA pass. For every month participants met their goals, they won a gift card to a local business, like Cabbage Pie. Those who participated in the program for three months were eligible to earn over $100 and be entered to win a $500 flight voucher.

We're pleased to share that the winning Cabbagetown/Reynoldstown commuter is Justin, a Reynoldstown resident who works in Downtown at CallRail, housed in the Equitable Building. 

We sat down with Justin to talk about his commuting habits and his Connect Downtown experience.

What was your commute like before participating in ConnectDowntown, and how has it changed since participating in the program?

I worked in Midtown for a long time, and I’ve worked in Downtown for a year. Before this program, I commuted by MARTA mostly, from Reynoldstown. I don’t really know why I started riding a bike—I just wanted to be outside more. And this was an awesome summer for riding a bike. [Laughs]

I no longer have to buy a monthly MARTA pass, meaning I save money. I keep a pass with a package of rides on hand, and that lasts me a while.

What is your bike commute like?

I take Wylie to Krog to Edgewood—it’s not too bad. What’s helped a lot is the bike parking room in my office building. It holds 25-35 bikes, has a fix-it stand, and the building comes with gym showers. There are also tubes, spares and patches in the room that are “take if you need one,” which is nice. Other people who work in the building use the room, too. There are 10-15 bikes in there on a “busy” day.

Do you ever use your bike for midday trips?

Definitely. Once you start riding a bike, you realize places like Castleberry Hill just aren’t hard to get to. And a bunch of my coworkers like to use Relay to go to lunch at the Sweet Auburn Curb Market. It’s just a two-minute ride.

Did your commutes ever involve driving?

I used to work in Town Center and would drive every day. It was frustrating and just the wrong tool for the job, especially in fall/winter with GSU traffic. It would take me a good 35-40 minutes, and honestl,y a train or bike would take the same amount of time, maybe less.

Riding a bike just fun—it’s a better, cheaper way to get around.


Congratulations to Justin, and thank you to all our inaugural Connect Downtown participants. Learn more about the program here.


Perceptions About Downtowns Are Changing

September 20, 2016

More than 700 people from around the country descended on Atlanta from Sept. 7 to Sept. 9 to attend the International Development Association meeting at the Westin Peachtree Plaza. The event harkened back to 1977 – the last time the IDA came to Atlanta. At the time, Dan Sweat, who was heading Central Atlanta Progress, hosted the organization.

Downtowns have changed dramatically in the four decades since the last time the International Downtown Association met in Atlanta.

For instance, the organization’s members were the top executives of downtown groups – and at the time, they were all male. So Atlanta put together a “ladies program” for the spouses. Dan Sweat’s wife – Tally Sweat –helped organize the program.

Today, the association’s members include staff members in addition to top executives and industry consultants – and a large portion of the attendees were women.

Richard Bradley was president of the association in the 1980s. He remembered journalists calling when downtown department stores started closing and asking him whether their downtowns were dying.

Bradley optimistically told them downtowns were changing.

In the 1970s and 1980s, stores and businesses were moving away from central cities as suburbs were booming.

Today, downtowns are rebounding.  More people want to live and work in urban centers – choosing authentic and historic locations rather than cookie-cutter suburbs.

The lingo also has also changed. Now downtown leaders talk about “place making” and creating experiences – a sharp contrast from the previous perception that downtowns were dirty, dangerous and dull.

Richard Bradley’s efforts have come full circle.  He was recently presented with the IDA’s Dan Sweat Lifetime Achievement Award. One of the people presenting the 2016 award was Sweat’s widow – Tally Sweat.

Related Tag: Members


#BeDowntown for These Weekend Events: August 26-28

August 26, 2016

It’s another great weekend to be Downtown, no matter what your interests are. Don't forget that you can get around Downtown by bike, by public transportation, by ride share, and by your own two feet! Event description copy provided by the venues.

1. Drake & Future Summer Sixteen Tour, Philips Arena, Friday @ 6:30 p.m.

Grammy® Award-winning and multi-platinum selling artist Drake will launch the DRAKE SUMMER SIXTEEN TOUR WITH FUTURE AND SPECIAL GUESTS in support of his brand new album, View. They play their second show in Atlanta tonight at 6:30 p.m. Philips Arena is MARTA-accessible, so you can leave the car at home.

2. International Vulture Awareness Day, Zoo Atlanta, Saturday @ 11:00 a.m.

Zoos and conservation organizations worldwide mark International Vulture Awareness Day on September 3 – join Zoo Atlanta for an early celebration on Saturday, August 27! Bring the family for an action-packed day devoted to some of Earth’s most crucial creatures. Vultures are among the world’s fastest-declining bird species. These often misunderstood birds are invaluable contributors to ecosystems around the world. We don’t want to imagine a planet without them – not only do they keep our environments clean, but they also prevent the spread of disease. 

3. Grant Park Summer Shade Festival, Grant Park, Saturday-Sunday

For more than a decade, Atlanta art and music lovers have flocked to Grant Park each August to bid adieu to summer at the Summer Shade Festival. We’ve got two days of outdoor fun planned for all ages including a 5K Run for the Park, food trucks, craft beer, an entertaining Kids Zone and a music line up that just gets better every year. You won’t want to miss the Sunday morning Grant Park Farmers Market. And did you know you can ride your bike to the festival and park it for free with the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition Bike Valet? So, bring your blanket, bring the whole family, but don’t bring any pets, and spend summer’s final weekend at the Grant Park Summer Shade Festival.

4. ART PARTY, Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, Saturday @ 7:00 p.m.

Join us for an evening where we turn our whole campus into a huge outdoor bacchanal. Means Street shuts down and music, food, drinks, and art fills the air. This year, we are re-launching the Atlanta Biennial—ATLBNL—which features the best working Southeastern artists as well as awarding the 2016 Nexus Award to Larry Walker, for his contributions to the contemporary art world. Meet and mingle during Open Studios with the 14 artists participating in the Studio Artist Program.

5. Dream vs. Sun and Dream Pink Auction, Philips Arena, Sunday @ 3:00 p.m.

The Atlanta Dream and Grady Health System have once again joined forces against Breast Cancer with the annual “Dream Pink” game and auction. Watch the Dream take on the Sun, then stick around for a great cause. Join them this weekend!


#BeDowntown for These Weekend Events: August 19-21

August 19, 2016

Here's our weekly roundup of some of Downtown's most intriguing events, and what an eclectic list it is. Event descriptions provided by venues: 

1. Saturday, 12:00 - 7:30 p.m., World Music Day: Sounds of the World, Center for Civil and Human Rights

The Center for Civil and Human Rights is hosting WORLD MUSIC DAY on August 20, 2016! This family friendly event will expose kids and adults alike to new music and cultures from around the world. Admission grants visitors access to our museum galleries and music performances throughout the day. Visit the website for the full lineup of activities and performances. This Saturday is also the closing of The Talking Drum, which you won't want to miss!

2. Saturday, 2:00 - 7:00 p.m., German Bierfest, Woodruff Park

Atlanta's favorite and most authentic German party is back! Grab your lederhosen or dirndl and join us for the craziest beer tasting event in Atlanta! Now celebrating our 13th Anniversary, the 2016 German Bierfest will serve up an incredible day of German beers, food, and music on Saturday, August 20th at Woodruff Park. Festival patrons will receive a commemorative sample glass to enjoy unlimited samples of more than 35 authentic German beers. Atlanta area German restaurants and food vendors will be on site selling authentic German cuisine such as bratswurst, kasepatzle, pretzels, saurkraut, schnitzel, and more! The German Bierfest also serves up live music as well as plenty of sports activities and games to keep you entertained. Gates open at 2 p.m. and the event ends at 7 p.m.

3. Saturday, 4:00 p.m. onward, Jortsfest, Mammal Gallery

JORTSFEST, the brainchild of Maria Sotnikova and Michael Leon, will return for a fourth year in 2016. The festival was conceived as a way to bring the garage, punk, indie pop, and emo scenes together to bid farewell to summer. Both runs of the festival garnered over a hundred attendees and JORTSFEST 2014 also brought in local makers, record labels, and other organizations. As a result, we’re hoping to make the event bigger than ever. The festival’s motto has become “ALWAYS FREE // ALWAYS ALL AGES // ALWAYS ACCESSIBLE” and we aim to keep it that way by hosting the show in an ADA and transit accessible location, where all ages and all income levels are welcome. View the complete lineup here.

4. Saturday, 8:00 p.m., Butch Walker at the Tabernacle

This is an All Ages event. Doors at 7:00 p.m., show at 8:00 p.m. Supporting acts will be The Wind and The Wave and Suzanne Santos. Georgia native Butch Walker's headline show in support of his forthcoming album, Stay Gold, is sure to be a good one. Stay Gold will be released on August 26.

5. Sunday, 11:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m., Brunch with the Braves, Turner Field

Enjoy an exclusive Sunday Brunch in the 755 Club Champion's Room before the Sunday, August 21 game vs. the Washington Nationals at 1:30 p.m.!

For only $53, your Brunch with the Braves ticket package includes:

  • Club Reserved game ticket with 755 Club access
  • Catered buffet featuring mini Tater Tot Chop Waffles and other brunch fare
  • Souvenir Cup
  • One (1) drink ticket for the Bloody Mary and Mimosa bar (cash bar will also be available) 


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