Our good friend, street artist Hugh Leeman recently completed this amazing Martin Luther King piece in Atlanta. Below is the full story which you MUST READ.
From Hugh’s lips: ”I feel strongly about this story being told not only as a relaying of the events to make this happen and as coverage to the mural itself but it serves as a great example of public art vs. the ever growing arm of corporate advertising in public space. For once if only for a while art won out against advertising….”
Here is the full story:
”This mural sits a block between the Martin Luther King Jr. historical society and Dr. King’s birth house, overlooking the heart of the MLK Jr. district of Atlanta. Initially I was given permission to do this mural by the restaurant owners of The Sound Table, who lease this building. Just before my arrival in Atlanta from San Francisco I found this permission had been revoked by the buildings owner who was vacationing in Alaska. He both permits and profits from this Old English Ad on his building. The Ad agency in no way would allow any infringement on its space on this wall even an MLK mural on his own doorstep.
My plane had arrived in Atlanta much later than expected do to an emergency landing in Wichita, Kansas. Finally in Atlanta I dropped my bags and walked at 1a.m. to the restaurant calling its owners on the way. Wanting to hear why my permission had been revoked in person, I received an interesting twist of fate as one of the owners had gone to R.I.S.D. with Sheperd Fairey and could appreciate this murals value. The Sound Tables open mind and ability to see away an injustice served by the hands of corporate advertising are what initially and finally made this mural possible. In between a property owner, and ad agency, and an ad so distastefully placed in this historic district had blocked our permission.
Word spread fast through the neighborhood that scaffolding and a giant MLK mural was going up. As art holds the beautiful potential to interpretation we began hearing this is great but why is it next to an “Old E” advertisement that’s not cool. So initially blocked by Old E then forced to downsize the mural by more than half only to have the mural interpreted as slander towards him and all he represents. We saw this as a beautiful opportunity to start a dialogue amongst all those who saw this mural and ad next to one another.
Two signs were posted between the mural and the Ad. The one pointing to the Ad ” The Sound Table and muralist Hugh Leeman neither endorse, condone, nor benefit from this advertisement.” And another pointing to the new MLK mural stating “The Sound Table would like to thank Hugh Leeman and the Living Walls crew for this beautiful and uplifting addition to the Old 4th Ward.”
Finally after countless hours painting, printing, cutting, drawing upon 20 feet of scaffolding, and what seemed like endless amounts of 97 degree Atlanta summer sweat we had started to set the record straight. Only two hours after finishing I am on my way to the airport and get a text from The Sound Table, ” The Ad Agency has sent a crew to paint over their ad and the signs we posted.” minutes later ” They say it had nothing to do with the mural only a coincidence.”
This is beautiful to see the Old English Ad go away and an MLK mural overlook his birth house. And should another ad go up to take this ones place hopefully it is in better taste to this honorable area. A special thanks to The Sound Table for giving me your wall and Living Walls for giving me great assistants and steady scaffolding.”