The idea was to get people to write short messages with a black marker on white ribbons based on the theme of “What Ties Me To You,” and then tie those ribbons across bamboo poles. As Atlanta residents began flocking to the trail, they started leaving messages such as “I Love A Sunny Day” and “Smiles Take Less Energy Than Frowns.” By mid-November, there were more than 1,000 messages flapping in the wind.
“At first I was worried that not enough traffic would go out on the trail to use my piece,” Cates said in a recent phone interview. “I’ve been proved very wrong.”
Cates is one of a number of artists who’ve contributed to the new Eastside Trail, a 2.25-mile-long paved walking and cycling trail that’s the newest segment of the BeltLine project, which seeks to transform an old railroad corridor into trails, parks and other public uses. Atlanta BeltLine Inc. and its partners have invested more than $1.3 million in public art, including 16 permanent pieces in three parks and along the BeltLine, according to the group’s 2011 annual report.
The projects on the Eastside Trail range from permanent art works to temporary ones such as Cates’. Passers-by can also find dentist Alex Rodriguez’ “Whirling Wheels,” which consists of poles anchoring small windmills made of bicycle parts. The work is designed to show the “ease and mobility and the freedom of movement the bicycle provides to the people of all ages along the Atlanta BeltLine,” a printed description reads.
Other works include “Fantasia”-like murals painted under some overpasses; two full deer sculptures made of bent steel lines, showing how they might react if seen in the wild; a steel sculpture of a northern white rhinoceros near Inman Park; a colorful set of linked benches called “River Bend”; and hanging strings of beads designed to make the top of one overpass look like a “floating sea of diamonds” as in a ballroom.
Cates, a costume designer at The Galloway School Theater Company, said she got the idea of “What Ties Me To You” from her 20th wedding anniversary.
“I started to really think about all of the things that tie the two of us together, and the idea blossomed,” she said.