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Controversy rises after Krog Street protest

"The Krog Street Tunnel, fully covered in grafiti and artwork, is a popular place for artists to practice their craft and appreciate the craft of others." PHOTO BY JADE JOHNSON | THE SIGNAL
“The Krog Street Tunnel, fully covered in grafiti and artwork, is a popular place for artists to practice their craft and appreciate the craft of others.”

Krog Street Tunnel, only minutes from the Georgia State campus, has faced controversy after Atlanta-based artists and some Georgia State students came together to protest against the Krog Masquerade Halloween Ball held on Oct. 24 inside the location.

The controversy stemmed from a new event called Krog Masquerade, which to hosted the party in the tunnel for its street art and graffiti backdrop, according to Georgia State student Ben Richardson who resides in Cabbagetown close to the tunnel.

“The Masquerade wanted to shut down the tunnel for a chunk of the weekend,” Richardson said. “Well, that tunnel is one of only three ways you can get around in that area. I bike around and I don’t want my usual route closed for a whole weekend.”

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The private event sold tickets ranging from $50 – $100, according to the Masquerade’s Facebook page.

Local artists then proceeded to paint over the tunnel’s artwork, creating a blank backdrop for the duration of the event, according to 11Alive.

The Krog Masquerade promoter Sean O’Keefe said the protest was only helping to fuel publicity, according to an article from the Atlanta Business Chronicle. O’Keefe also said the protest would bring more attention to the event.

“The thing that I think people don’t realize is that the proceeds from the event will be benefiting the Georgia Lawyers for the Arts which is a nonprofit whose focus and whose drive is to help artists in their time of need,” O’Keefe said in an interview with WXIA-TV, according to the Atlanta Business Chronicle.

Dena Burnett, a local Reynoldstown resident, and other Atlanta based natives gathered the evening of Oct. 22 with paint brushes aimed at graying out the graffiti that had been an Atlanta landmark for years, according to 11Alive.

“It’s always tough to paint over an amazing piece, so it has to be for something bigger. Graffiti artists believe in getting over on the man. This was a huge way to show that,” Burnett said.

Burnett also said the general thought by all of the artists involved with the paint-over was it was not the place of the Krog Masquerade to use the landmark tunnel to profit their own party.

“It’s not their art,” she said.“They have no right to use it as bait without giving credit to the artists.”


Some of the re-painters put up art such as stick figures, dinosaurs and obscene drawings, according to Burnett. The slogan #krogstreetisnotforsale was written in large print letters multiple times.

“All kinds of people came. Even from out of town, people that don’t live here anymore,” Burnett said. “We aren’t part of any organization. We just came together to make this happen.”

A Georgia State arts history major student who wished to remain anonymous said the Krog Street Tunnel is not just an area with aesthetically pleasing artwork.

“The Krog street tunnel is a place for artists to show off their work and practice. The legal parameters are looser there than they are anywhere else in terms of tagging. Artists don’t get harassed as much tagging there,” she said. “It’s also a place where people can advertise their art events in the front if they need to but not just for events. For example, I have a friend in jail for graffiti and someone painted ‘free Luke’ in an attempt to raise awareness.”

Atlanta and other national graffiti taggers can face legal repercussions and risks in the name of art, according to the student.

“Here in Atlanta, you used to just get cited or a ticket or whatever. Now you can face serious jail time. So every time we paint or tag, we’re putting ourselves in danger for the name of art. And the Masquerade just wants to come in and exploit and profit and not even give us artists a nod of appreciation,” she said.

Despite some concerns that the protest was just about the artists, the anonymous student said it wasn’t.

“It’s about everyone: artists, students, residents. This place is a forum of free expression,” she said. “It’s a place of free expression. It’s open to everyone. This is not a gallery. And now that the event is over, we’re doing even better paintings than before just to show them that you can’t exploit free expression.”

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