Street Artist Kyle Brooks Inspired By Grandfather’s Journals

Gabbie Watts / WABE


Perhaps you’ve seen artist Kyle Brooks’ work in a gallery, but more likely, you’ve seen it on the side of the road.

Reminiscent of Southern folk artists, his work features brightly colored animals and creatures he has imagined. And almost all of these critters have big eyes and smiles on their faces. Under his moniker BlackCatTips, he adorns the Atlanta landscape with his street poems and murals.

“I enjoy this dialogue with people I don’t know,” said Brooks about his street art. “I can meet somebody in a year, and maybe the thing I put out this weekend, a mother and daughter, they named it something or have a little song they sing about it … I find that interesting that you can plant a seed, and it takes on its own life.”

Brooks recently moved from East Atlanta to Arabia Mountain, and while moving, he found his grandfather’s old journals, which were filled with weather statistics and random (and sometimes nonsensical) phrases and notes.

These journals provided much of the inspiration for Brooks’ current solo show at the Arts Institute of Atlanta. And Brooks discovered he had more in common with his pop, who passed away in 2008, than he had previously thought.

“I found these journals and funny sayings, but they looked and sounded to these things that come out of my head that I write in my paintings,” Brooks said.  “Now, I’m writing and doing strange, weird things that I think he would connect to.”

“Just South of Love” is on view through Sept. 17. Brooks will also give a lecture Wednesday at noon at the Art Institute of Atlanta.