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Annual Atlanta arts fest moving to Pittsburgh neighborhood to honor ‘culture, history, heroes’

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The historically underserved community is fast evolving, and ELEVATE leaders want to maintain “cultural capital”

A bright blue mural is painted on the side of the Ashby MARTA station.
ADAMA executive director Fahamu Pecou’s work can be found at MARTA stations such as Ashby.
Curbed Atlanta

The City of Atlanta’s annual public art festival won’t be held downtown this year, but rather in the Southwest Atlanta neighborhood of Pittsburgh.

Called “ELEVATE: Pittsburgh,” the festival is being relocated next month as part of the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs’s efforts “to preserve and celebrate the cultural legacy of the fast-changing neighborhood,” officials say.

In recent years, Pittsburgh has witnessed unprecedented growth, attracting major real estate development investments that are changing the historically underserved neighborhood.

This incarnation of ELEVATE will aim to spotlight the neighborhood’s “culture, history, and heroes” as a way to memorialize them, as Pittsburgh and surrounding areas feel the forces of gentrification creep in.

The African Diasporic Art Museum of Atlanta (ADAMA) is curating this year’s festival, promising to inspire attendees to take stock of the area’s “cultural capital.”

The weeklong festival also “seeks to present the beauty and challenges the neighborhood faces while attempting to maintain ownership of its cultural heritage, while encouraging cultural exchange in a time of institutional development and artistic reinvigoration,” a press release states.

“As developers make plans to reimagine Pittsburgh, we will explore the often overlooked yet deeply embedded cultural resource of one of Atlanta’s oldest neighborhoods—its people,” said ADAMA executive director and noted local artist Fahamu Pecou, in a prepared statement.

The project also endeavors to highlight the importance of focusing on small, local businesses and other community-led institutions during Pittsurgh’s era of unpredictable growth.

Part of ELEVATE: Pittsburgh, the “Pyramid Food Project” will redesign the black-owned Pyramid Grocery in a way that addresses neighborhood issues with so-called “food deserts”—areas starving for easy access to healthy food.

With the help of festival patrons, Pyramid Grocery could be reimagined “as both a cornucopia of fresh food and juices for local communities, as well as a space of beauty,” featuring a redesigned interior.

In a similar vein, the popular—if controversial—“Pink Store” is primed to receive a mural makeover that will plaster it with images of notable community members.

Another mural is expected to be created outside the Pittman Park Recreation Center.

The festival will also see five “mural bike racks” installed around Pittsburgh.

And on ELEVATE’s last day, expect a children’s book fair and musical performances; Pittman Park will become an artist market; and Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing will be shown.

The festival is scheduled to run from October 14 to 19.