On the Beltline's Eastside Trail, toward Monroe Drive as you approach 10th Street and Piedmont Park, there is a bridge overhead. Under that bridge, to the left, is a mural — one depicting dozens of fish, some speaking in cartoon-style bubbles. All are flanked by what appears to be Chinese writing. It looks great, as does most of the Beltline art. But what the hell does it all mean? Does it mean anything? We tracked down the artist to pick his brain.
Here to provide a little insight is the artist himself: Brandon Sadler, a.k.a. Rising Red Lotus.
What the mural symbolizes: "With this painting, I wanted to show what the Beltline is to me. The giant fish is the Beltline and from it explodes all the other fish (Atlantans) with all their personalities and interactions. This piece was meant to inspire interaction and congregation, much like a school of fish; in that, I feel it's been successful."
What the writing is: "All of the writing has meaning. Actually, what you are seeing is a complex letter system that is based on the English alphabet but designed to look like the Chinese character system."
What the writing says: Large text includes phrases like "In the water you will find peace and we will float together in the love of God" and "Let's travel to new places and meet new faces filled with light." The small fish "are saying things that connect people" — "eat," "smile," "share," "laugh," "pray."
What the Beltline means to him: "Before the Beltline was the 'Beltline' it was a freight line that contributed to a large amount of the economic and physical growth of this city. After that, and closer to me personally, it was an exclusive and secluded area where people could paint graffiti without harassment and skaters made their own way around a vacant lot; all of this in the center of a homeless camp. It was a diamond to those who were in the culture; you had to know the score in order to even get there, as it was hidden inside massive overgrowth."
— By Curbed Atlanta contributor Tyler Estep
· Rising Red Lotus [website]
[Mural photos via Flickr/capcrime.]