Artists paint over Krog Street tunnel graffiti in protest over party

ATLANTA — Local artists said they are protesting a private party planned in the Krog Street tunnel by painting over its iconic graffiti.
The intricate graffiti was covered by gray paint in an overnight operation by the artists. They staged the protest because they said they were offended by how the party planners were using their art as a backdrop.

Opponents of the event argue that promoter Randall Fox, who runs The Atlanta Foundation for Public Spaces, is swooping in to make money off public space and public art. Fox has previously said he had artists on hand in case protesters painted over the tunnel.

"The animosity is coming from those who didn't think of it first," said Fox, who envisions the tunnel as the Paris Underground, a place with libations, burlesque dancing and a freak show. "It showcases Cabbagetown like it's never been showcased before. We want our guests to overflow to the businesses in Cabbagetown."
Organizers of the private masquerade party hope to attract around 2,000 paying attendees. The tunnel will be closed during the party.
Fox said he has the proper permitting from Atlanta to have the event. If it is a success, he said they hope to make it an annual tradition.

Nearby residents say the event will cut off one of three north-south arteries to their neighborhood for 30 hours.
Kelbi Morris, who lives nearby with a 2-year-old, said she worries about the tunnel being closed.

“The ability for emergency vehicles to enter and exit the neighborhood specifically fire and ambulance,” Morris said.

Just a week after the ball, residents of that same tight-knit community will close several streets to host Cabbagetown’s annual Chomp & Stomp fest. But that’s different, said Nathan Bolster, a photographer who helped kick off the initial Chomp a decade ago.
“It’s one thing for a neighborhood to embrace something that is their own,” said Bolster. “It’s another thing for an outsider to come in with something that is quintessentially for profit.”

Bryan Brunson, head of the Cabbagetown Neighborhood Improvement Association, which opposed the event, worries that the city permitting such an event will set a precedent for filmmakers and other party-goers to start closing tunnels.

He has also urged Fox to publicly declare how much his company will contribute to charities.

The event organizers said the party is still set for this weekend. Atlanta police say there were no arrests made.