Centennial Yards Installs ‘Heartbeat ATL’ Art Light Exhibit in The Gulch
The art installation is a precursor to what is planned to eventually fill these 50 acres: an ambitious mix of residential, office, retail, dining and entertainment spaces.
Brian McGowan, president of Centennial Yards, said he will see 8,000 new people living at Centennial Yards over the next decade.
“We are organizing a community,” he said. “We thought a great way to kick this off was with an art exhibit. We wanted to signal to Atlanta residents that life is coming back to downtown. As other neighborhoods begin to run out of space, economic momentum will shift south. We see seedlings all around us.
When people walk in and out of Mercedes-Benz Stadium or State Farm Arena for concerts or sporting events, Hammond said, the last place they would normally look is the Gulch. But this installation gives visitors food for thought if only for a few seconds.
In effect, Hammond said, the audience “defibrillates the heart and brings the heartbeat back.”
The concept was born out of the pandemic itself.
“We wanted a project that had a humanistic quality,” Hammond said. “We wanted to allow people to give and share love without needing to physically interact.”
Hammond said the artists created the interactive feature from scratch. She wanted to show that art and technology can coexist.
“They must have made this up,” she said.
There’s also a bright mural on a bridge support wall designed by 35-year-old artist Lisette Correa, a Puerto Rican native who moved to Atlanta in 2018 and loves leopard prints.
“She’s a rising star in Atlanta,” Hammond said. “She comes from a fashion background and started creating these really beautiful, brightly colored murals.”
Correa, who goes by ARRRTADDICT as her stage name, said she was inspired by Atlanta’s greenery. “I’m Caribbean from South Florida,” she said. “We love forests and plants. When I think of a heartbeat, I think of nature. The heartbeat is nature.
This lightweight mural, dubbed “let go and grow,” features palm fronds and monstera leaves, a plant that Correa loves and regularly sheds to get stronger, Hammond said. It’s a metaphor for property abandoning its old desolate ways and blossoming into something new.
Correa has the light wall paint change colors over time. “It’s very calming,” she said. “It represents chakra healing. I am a fan of chromotherapy. The light transition was very important to me.
Hammond’s group also developed other notable art-focused events in Atlanta. In 2018, his group designed a pop-up ramen shop in the Old Fourth Ward with glow-in-the-dark food. Last year, it partnered with MARTA to create a large-scale lighting artwork with 60,000 roadside reflectors at the Grant Street Tunnel in Atlanta, near King Memorial Railroad Station.
Danny Davis, a production designer who helped Hammond design Heartbeat ATL, said balancing art and business wasn’t easy. “Managing that trade-off is really the whole game,” he said. “It’s that compromise. Courtney is an elegant bearer of this compromise. It empowers artists and achieves corporate goals. She can meet in the middle and still have a vision behind her.
McGowan already uses Hammond’s Dash Group for other art installations and exhibitions on the road.
“A lot of people just see art as a convenience,” McGowan said. “I see it as an economic engine. This creates jobs and economic impact. This makes places more desirable. And what’s most important to me about this project is that it’s true to Atlanta. At the end of the day, this should be a place you take friends and family to when they visit. We want Centennial Yards to be about art, culture, music, food and people.
Hammond said McGowan and others at Centennial Yards embraced his group’s ideas. “I work with a lot of developers,” Hammond said. “Not everyone is open to progressive work or experimentation. They were great working with them.
WHERE TO GO
Heartbeat ATL Light Art Installation, The Gulch, 7-11 p.m. through March 4, 2022. heartbeatatl.com.