The ELEVATE public art festival will be held in various locations in Downtown Atlanta from Saturday, Oct. 14, through Saturday, Oct. 21.

With a theme of “Enlighten,” ELEVATE provides a platform for artists and art professionals to share and exchange knowledge and experiences that have shaped their work.

Participating artists will touch on issues surrounding the plight of veterans, issues of gentrification, and the power of healing through art, while art professionals will lead panels and workshops about public art trends, the business of being an artist, and community empowered projects. All events are free and open to the public.

“Art can elevate your senses and expand your ideas about the world around you,” said Camille Russell Love, Executive Director of the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs. “We invite anyone who enjoys contemporary art and exploring Downtown’s evolving cultural landscape to attend this year’s festival. Our events will be lively, interesting, and provocative. We’ll have interactive art installations, music and dance performances, murals, the hottest spoken word poets, panel discussions, an eclectic block party, and much more. Make plans to join us.”

Here are some highlights of ELEVATE: Enlighten.

LEFT OUT art installation opening on Oct. 14 from 4:30-8 p.m. at Gallery 72, 72 Marietta Street. LEFT OUT uses found art, video filmed by soldiers from the battlefield, testimonials, interviews, poetry, and photos to help audiences internalize the experience of combat veterans in America. Carlos Thompson and Morgan Carlisle have created art based on their experiences of attaining “normalcy” after returning home from war.

Inner City Urban: Vine City. This exhibition of 30 photographs by Rose Smith will be seen on kiosks throughout Downtown Atlanta beginning on Oct. 14, including two kiosks in Broad Street Plaza. This body of work is a photographic declaration significant to the lives of Black Americans and gentrification. It focuses on the common misperception of Black Americans narrated by the media and sheds light on a historic Atlanta neighborhood established in the 19th century.

TGIF Performance Showcase will take place on Friday, October 20 from 7-10 p.m. at Woodruff Park. Come enjoy an evening of music, dance and spoken word. Yumi Kurosawa and Rockwell Dancers Brittany Smith and DeWayne Jamar Brown will perform from 7-8 p.m. The collaboration will blend the mesmerizing sound of Kurosawa’s music on traditional 16th century stringed koto with contemporary Hip Hop dance in a unique performance transcending genre and cultural stereotypes. Ailey II Dance Company will perform from 8-9 pm. Universally renowned for merging the spirit and energy of the country’s best young dance talent with the passion and creative vision of today’s most outstanding emerging choreographers.

Spoken Word Poets hosted by Queen Sheba will perform from 9-10 pm. Two-time National Poetry Slam Champ Queen Sheba was a performer on season two of “Verses and Flow” on TV One, and featured poet on “Lyric Café” on BET. She has six albums, two of which were nominated for Grammys. The evening will also showcase NFared, 10-Year-Resident Host at Urban Grind Thursdays in Atlanta and National Poetry Slam Champ; Samuel Eddie, member of Java Monkey National Poetry Slam Team; Telesa Hines, nationally touring poet featured on FOX TV’s “Star;” Nate Mask, member of Java Monkey National Poetry Slam Team; and Tamika “Georgia Me” Harper, 18-year veteran in the spoken word community who was featured on all seven seasons of “DefPoetry.”

Artist & Community Workshops and Panels will be held in the Watershed Auditorium, 72 Marietta Street, on topics including learning about art trends and funding tips; materials and planning for projects; funding art projects; laws and insurance; arts and social justice; and many more.

Seven New Murals in South Downtown will be created for ELEVATE by artists Ernesto Torres, Lydia Futral, Muhammad Yungai, Jo Di Bona, Gyun Hur, Corey Barksdale and BlackCatTips. Come find them!

ELEVATE Block Party will close out this year’s festival on Oct. 21 from 6 to 11 p.m. in Woodruff Park. Hear fresh spins ranging from Afro-Latin to R&B and Techno by members of WERC CREW, Morph and Choloteca.

ELEVATE is a program of the City of Atlanta Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs. For more information and a full calendar of events and times, visit

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.