We Love BuHi continues its celebration and advocacy of Buford Highway with major art projects coming to local businesses.

Living Walls, an annual street art conference, is bringing several artists to Buford Highway next month to listen to stories from people who live and work along the stretch of road. Their stories will then be used to influence art pieces to be installed as part of the conference Sept. 8-17.

The Great Gates project planned to be unveiled along Buford Highway this fall will include small artistic gates installed near businesses. (We Love BuHi)

“Hearing their stories will ensure that the art produced will be reflective of the Buford Highway cultural diversity,” said Marian Liou, founder of We Love BuHi.

Artists will be talking to students at Cross Keys High School and members of the Center for Pan Asian Community Services and other groups to hear their stories.

“We want the people who live and work here to have their voices and opinions heard and reflected in the art that is created … to make sure we are cognizant and respectful of their voices,” Liou said. “We don’t want an outsider to come in and interpret a place according to their concepts.”

Living Walls, which has taken place in downtown Atlanta for many years, is known for large murals painted on walls of buildings. The artwork created for Buford Highway will be different, however, and may feature sculptures because the stretch of plazas and businesses where the art will be located does not include many large walls.

The “epicenter” of Living Walls art will be focused in Doraville between Asian Square and Pine Tree Plaza and the display will continue to Doraville City Hall, Liou said. It will have a “big visual impact,” she said.

The conference in September will include workshops, seminars and Q&A discussions with local residents, business owners and other community members. Public programming will include outdoor movie screenings, lectures, a bicycle tour, a night market and more events. Living Walls officials estimate 3,000 visitors from Atlanta and around the world will attend the conference.

Liou said the purpose of this year’s conference is to demonstrate the power of public art to knit our “most unique, and often most fragile, communities together, visually and emotionally, and to elevate our perceptions of and behavior toward ourselves and each other.”

More art also is planned for businesses along Buford Highway in Chamblee and Doraville, but on a much smaller scale than Living Walls. Named “Great Gates,” the project is patterned after Tiny Doors Atlanta, where tiny individual doors are located outside businesses as small and fun art installations.

“We’ve seen how awesome Tiny Doors is and wanted to do the same for Buford Highway … as a way to engage visitors and those living here,” Liou said.

“We are working on getting funding for the project because we want to pay for the installation and also pay a stipend to the artist,” she said. “This is a way to re-introduce We Love BuHi to businesses.”

We Love BuHi is seeking 10 artists with Buford Highway roots and connections to submit proposals for the detail and background of each gate. Plans are to install the gates in the fall at different business locations.

The Great Gates will celebrate the diversity of Buford Highway through public art, promote local artists, support local businesses and encourage fun and safe pedestrian activity through the area’s “famously chaotic built environment,” she said.

The deadline for Great Gates proposals is June 30. Send inquiries to Liou at marianliou@gmail.com or 404-547-1349. For more information about We Love BuHi, visit welovebuhi.com.

Dyana Bagby

Dyana Bagby is a staff writer for Reporter Newspapers and Atlanta Intown.