Monica Campana is the co-founder and executive director of Living Walls, an annual conference held in Atlanta on street art and urbanism that began in 2010. It brings in artists from all over the world to transform buildings into works of art in areas of transition and provides a dialogue to discuss the issues facing the city
What do you love most about living in the South?
I am originally from Peru and I moved to this country in 1998. I was 15 years old and we, my family and I, moved to Orlando, Florida. I was there for about 10 years and I moved to Atlanta to go to arts school. The second I moved here, it was a big change. It felt more like a city. It was definitely a better place for me.
The statements of Southern hospitality is very, very true. When I moved, I fell in love with Atlanta immediately and I knew I wanted to stay here. I was very confused regarding my art career and it wasn’t until I discovered street art that I started to really explore my streets and my city. I started to see it from a different perspective.
With Living Walls, it makes a lot of sense for us to be here in the South. I think it makes us appreciate it more. With our mural projects, I think there’s a lot of challenges and that makes for a lot of opportunities available for people in the arts.
What are your favorite places in Atlanta?
I bike a lot, so I like to ride at a ton of different places here. I am in love with the Beltline and I think that’s one of the best things that we have here. Piedmont Park is great and makes you feel like you’re in a completely different place. It has that sense of New York, but it’s still the South.
There’s a lot of amazing food places in Atlanta like Buford Highway, which is one of the best places for food. I love the fact that we have pop up kitchens or restaurants. There’s one place called Gato Arigato in Gato Bizco, which serves breakfast but changes at night. You can bring your own beer.
Anywhere on Edgewood Avenue is interesting and so is the Old Fourth Ward and Sweet Auburn. At night you can to Edgewood and visit all the bars there. We keep them working with all of the bar owners and venues that we use with Living Walls, so we’ve seen that area grow and it’s amazing. I remember going when there would be no one in the streets and now it’s almost impossible to find parking spaces.
There’s a bar called Church that’s pretty awesome and if you visit Atlanta, you have to go. It’s just a really funny place to see artwork and play ping pong.
I think there’s a great art scene in Atlanta, specifically the Goat Farm Arts Center, which is probably the best place to see a show.
What is your favorite Southern meal and where is the best place to get it?
I have artists that come to Atlanta that we have worked with and they have to go to Daddy D’z [a barbecue restaurant in Grant Park]. It’s become a ritual by now.