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Atlanta according to Kyle Brooks

Local artist Kyle Brooks, aka BlackCatTips, shares his favorite things about ATL

Kyle Brooks
Photo credit: Jim Wilson
Kyle Brooks

Kyle Brooks, whose art you know as BlackCatTips, has deep roots in Atlanta. The self-taught folk artist uses found materials, house paint, and bright colors. Companies like Coca-Cola, the Weather Channel, and MailChimp use his paintings. In addition to his studio and mural work, Brooks creates street poems and whimsical roadside art installations. His happy signs are all over the city, brightening our days. He has lived in East Atlanta for 10 years. Here is some insight into what inspires him in Atlanta.

I decided to make Atlanta home because there is a magnet deep beneath town that I am tied to and have a hard time pulling away from; I give up sometimes and just forget about it. A soul magnet buried deep down underneath the town.

Inside my truck in an empty parking lot is my favorite spot in the city to think deep thoughts by myself.

The best advice you could give an Atlanta visitor is read the historical markers. Think about who lived here before you did.

An observation tower in Grant Park on the historic Fort Walker site used to be my favorite view in Atlanta. They tore the tower down. So now a similar view is from Climax Street.

Cabbagetown area and downtown Decatur are my favorite neighborhoods. [They] always feel nice to me ... like home.

The first three words that come to mind when I think of Atlanta are humid, sometimes-dirty, and home.

Empire State South is where I would take a visiting foodie for dinner (although it is too intimidating to take a foodie to dinner).

Carroll Street Cafe is my favorite place to go for a chill, weeknight dinner with friends.

My favorite place for brunch is Stone Soup, Ria’s Bluebird, or Sweet Melissa’s in Decatur.

My favorite spots for vegetarian dining are: Soba in East Atlanta has a very nice tofu and spicy pepper platter; Nam Phuong has been a favorite for years; El Mexicano on Moreland has a very fresh take on Mexican cuisine and they make regular ol’ Mexican pretty; Doggy Dogg in Decatur makes a mean veggie dog. If you don’t mind some interestingly odd ambiance the Soul Vegetarian on North Highland has some tasty dinner. And believe it or not you can get a tasty veggie dinner at Flatiron in East Atlanta Village, too.

For inspiration, I like to watch airplanes at the airport, walk in the orchid houses at the Atlanta Botanical Garden, or wander around the old prison farm where I feel like I am 100 miles from anyone else.

The best place to see art in Atlanta outside of the High Museum: Wylie Street with its Forward Warrior murals has a lot of street art to behold. The surrounding area has a lot of outdoor art to take in.

My favorite spot that nobody knows about is a neat grave from around the Civil War in a mostly unmarked cemetery. The gravestone is swallowed up by a tree trunk. Time marches on.

My favorite Atlanta walk is that one time I took an “urban hike.” I set out on a personal challenge with a walking stick (old broom handle) and shoulder bag to walk from my condo in South East Atlanta to the tallest building in Atlanta. I made it. I touched the building and then walked up to the Fox Theatre. Then I rode MARTA to Decatur and walked home from that direction. I took photos along the way.

I like it in Atlanta when you walk a street you have driven for years and all the sudden you see many things that you never noticed. It’s amazing. I recently did this walking from Paper Ghost Studio in Candler Park over the hill to get fries and a veggie burger at the Candler Park Market.

My favorite building is the Fabulous Fox Theatre. It has always captivated me since I was a child. It seems like Atlanta has torn down many of our other architectural treasures.

One of the weirdest things about Atlanta is: It’s more interesting than weird, but Atlanta is the highest elevation of all major cities east of the Rockies. The ridge that is Peachtree Street near where it crosses International Blvd. in downtown is one of the highest points and is part of the Eastern Continental Divide. Also Atlanta did not exist that long ago. Decatur was already a grown-up lady when Atlanta was born. That’s pretty crazy to me.

A place I feel connected to is ... My great grandfather, M.L. Parks, owned a dairy farm near where I live now. It was on Flat Shoals Road just south of I-20 in DeKalb County. It was called City View Dairy. He was one of the first to deliver milk by mule cart to homes and businesses. Now, the old dairy farm property is a rundown neighborhood. His two sisters lived on the farm for many years and then as adults lived in a house (1920s-1950s) directly behind the Midway Pub in East Atlanta. The house is long gone, (why I don’t know) but I had put a sign up next to it that says “We Remember You” about a sad event that happened there. Now my sign has more than one meaning.