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Hunter Leibler

How Atlanta artist Greg Mike came up with his most iconic character

Greg Mike Larry Loudmouf
A mural at the W Hotel pool in Atlanta

Photograph courtesy of Greg Mike

If you’ve spent any time in Atlanta, you’ve probably seen a bright turquoise, often square creature with an ever-shifting amount of eyes and a massive set of pearly white teeth staring at you from murals and billboards across town. The character, known as Larry Loudmouf, is the brainchild of street artist Greg Mike, a Connecticut native who has been living in Atlanta for the past 14 years. His murals are iconic to many Atlantans and draw visitors from across to state to snap Instagram photos of these trendy, brightly-colored walls. Below, he discusses how he created his signature character:

What inspired the design of Larry Loudmouf?
I grew up addicted to graffiti, skateboarding, and cartoons in the 1990s. Anything from Ren and Stimpy to Disney to The Simpsons, blended with Powell Perelta skate graphics. The Loudmouth was a re-occurring idea in my sketchbooks, which then made its way to stickers, canvasses, and murals across the globe.

Greg Mike's Larry Loudmouf

What’s with the giant eyes and the single chipped tooth?
Larry Loudmouf’s eyes are constantly changing depending on his current situation. Sometimes he has three, for the better to see you with, or sometimes it’s only one when he’s in his “cyclops” state of mind. Larry’s chip tooth is a symbol of life’s imperfections; it was inspired by a near-death experience.

Woah. What happened?
When I was in my 20s, I had a vivid dream and went sleepwalking off a balcony. I woke up on the ground in a pool of blood and almost died. My tooth was chipped, my skull was cracked, and my face was covered in blood. From that moment on, I began incorporating the chipped tooth on all my characters. It symbolized that life was short, imperfect, fragile, and could change at any minute. When I see it and draw it, I think about that day and it inspires me to push the envelope and live life to the fullest.

Greg Mike Larry Loudmouf
Larry peeks out from the wing of a hawk on the Modera Midtown building.

Photograph courtesy of Greg Mike

So what does Larry symbolize?
In the beginning, it just symbolized my voice and my creative thoughts. But over the years with the thousands of “Loudmouf Says” phrases [where anyone can submit online a catchphrase for Larry to “speak” that is then published on billboards and merch], it’s now developed into a global art project. We’ve received submissions from people all over the world voicing their thoughts and beliefs through Larry.

Larry has become somewhat of an icon around Atlanta. What’s that like for you as an artist?
Larry Loudmouf was born in Atlanta, inspired by the streets and people in this city. The city has embraced Larry since day one and helped raise him into the character he is today. It’s inspiring to see Larry grow and just to be a part of it all. At this point, I am only one person in this larger community-based project. I help guide Larry, but the city, people, fans and followers are just as important to his growth and development.

Greg Mike Larry Loudmouf
Several Larrys hang out in this bear mural.

Photograph courtesy of Greg Mike

What’s next for the Loudmouf?
I have a Los Angeles solo show currently in the works and a ton of exciting projects we can’t disclose quite yet. The Loudmouf Says forum is always open and we’re reviewing new submissions for sayings that could appear as artwork on walls, stickers, billboards, canvases. You never know where Larry will show up next . . .

What’s your ultimate goal as an Atlanta street artist?
Atlanta is a great place for art on the streets right now; get out and explore the beautiful work that drenches our city walls. My hope is to continue living vicariously through the Loudmouf and inspire future generations to follow their passions. If I can make someone smile or think when interacting with my work then I’ve done my job as an artist.

As two Atlanta animal shelters launch expansions, here’s how you can give back

Atlanta animal shelters
A dog gives a kiss at LifeLine’s DeKalb shelter.

Photograph by Hunter Leibler

When LifeLine Animal Project opened in 2002, it set out on a mission to end shelter euthanasia in Atlanta while caring for more than 15,000 animals a year—making it one of the largest nonprofit animal welfare organizations in the state. LifeLine took over managing both Fulton and DeKalb County’s animal services in 2013 and works to educate the community on better pet welfare and decrease the amount of euthanasia in shelters. One method is to offer low-cost spay and neutering services for Atlanta pet owners, and the shelter has even set aside funds for free procedures for those who can’t afford it.

Atlanta animal shelters
A dog at LifeLine’s DeKalb shelter looks out from his kennel.

Photograph by Hunter Leibler

LifeLine announced in early March plans for a new 25,000-square-foot community animal center that will serve as a full-service, low-cost veterinary clinic, an adoption center, and a dog training space. The vet clinic will be open to anyone that needs it, and will be designed for people to enjoy coming to it. Included in the plans is an outdoor area with patios and possible expansion for a dog park.

“We offer these [spay and neuter] services because people love their pets, but they just might not be able to afford it,” says Karen Hirsch, PR Director for LifeLine. “That’s one big component about this new shelter. We’re going to be able to eventually serve 20,000 people at our new vet clinic.”

Atlanta animal shelters
A dog looks out from behind a fence at PAWS Atlanta.

Photograph by Hunter Leibler

LifeLine isn’t the only local shelter that is looking to expand. PAWS Atlanta recently finalized plans with architects and the board of directors has approved an expansion, according to PAWS executive director Nancy Longacre.

PAWS Atlanta is the oldest animal shelter in the state, founded just over 50 years ago as the DeKalb Humane Society. They changed their name to PAWS Atlanta in 2002 and expanded the property in order to house more animals in need. Today, PAWS has found homes for over 46,000 animals, and their goal for this year is to place 1,000 pets with loving families.

“We’re currently creating a campaign to raise funds for our expansion,” says Longacre. “But we will be building a brand new clinic for the shelter and the public to use.”

Currently, PAWS offers low-cost vet services every other weekend, but once the new clinic is built, they will be able to provide these services daily.

Atlanta animal shelters
One of the dogs who was housed at PAWS Atlanta

Photograph by Hunter Leibler

Giving back
Giving back to the community is a core value for these nonprofit shelters, so how can you give back to them? Beyond volunteering at the shelters and donating to the expansion projects, one way is to purchase items from the Amazon wish lists for PAWS and LifeLine. The items ship directly from Amazon to the shelter, and the list includes items like dish and laundry detergent, office supplies, trash bags, pet crates, and more. The shelters will also often host unique fundraising events. For example, PAWS partners with Wild Heaven Beer on the first Thursday of every other month for a program called Pups and Pints, where the brewery donates 25 percent of the evening’s sales to PAWS. (The next event is June 7.)

Here are a few more upcoming events hosted by the two shelters:

Benefiting LifeLine:
April 28: ZooPaws Adoption Event
Before you check out the wild animals of Zoo Atlanta, stop by the front gates to meet more than 100 adoptable animals from LifeLine’s shelters. There will also be food trucks on site and various pet item vendors. 10 a.m.-2:30 p.m., Zoo Atlanta, 800 Cherokee Avenue Southeast

April 29: Cool Rides & Rescues
The entry fee for this open car show, hosted by Georgia Cool Cruisers, is a donation to LifeLine, and the event includes door prizes, a raffle, food, and of course, plenty of cool cars. 1-5 p.m., Decatur Estate & Way Back Antiques, 2272 Lawrenceville Highway, Decatur

May 12: Community Pet Party & Picnic
This fundraising event at Kirkwood’s Bessie Branham Park will include adoptions, a dog parade, a dog kissing booth, and more. 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., 2051 Delano Drive Northeast

Benefiting PAWS:
May 9: Pints for a Purpose
Hosted at the Whole Foods on Ponce, proceeds from each $3 pint of beer will be donated directly to the shelter. 6-8 p.m., 650 Ponce de Leon Avenue Northeast

June 30: Atlanta Adult Prom
This retro dance—themed to Prince’s “Purple Rain”—will have its own red carpet, an open beer and wine bar, and a silent action where 100 percent of the proceeds go to PAWS. Ten percent of ticket sales also supports the shelter. 8 p.m.-12 a.m., Piedmont Room at Park Tavern, 500 10th Street Northeast

September 29: Party for the PAWS
Taking place at fellow animal nonprofit Chastain Horse Park, there will feature plenty of cocktails, a silent auction, and adoptable dogs. 6-10:30 p.m., Chastain Horse Park, 4371 Powers Ferry Road Northwest

5 Atlanta events you won’t want to miss: March 21-27

Pearl Cleage

Two One-Act Plays by Pearl Cleage
When: March 23 to April 15
Where: Alliance Theatre
Cost: $10-60
Details: Atlanta playwright Pearl Cleage wrote Hospice and Pointing at the Moon 30 years apart. With Hospice (one of Cleage’s earliest plays), Jenny Anderson longed to understand her dying mother. Pointing at the Moon features Jenny 30 years later as she looks back, giving advice to her younger self.

Wasabassco Burlesque
When: March 23, 10:30 p.m.
Where: City Winery
Cost: $20-$25
Details: The traveling burlesque troupe brings vaudevillian humor, dancing, magic, singing, and very little clothing to City Winery.

SPECTRA: Atlanta Queer Art Showcase
Cameron Lee

Photograph courtesy of Cameron Lee

SPECTRA: Atlanta Queer Art Showcase
When: March 23, 8-11 p.m.
Where: Revelator Coffee in West Midtown
Cost: Free
Details: Five queer-identified artists from Atlanta will present their work while drag queens, dancers, and singers provide live entertainment. Artist Cameron Lee will showcase his art series Flores Fatales and unveil four new galaxy-themed works that feature fashion influencer Tommy Lei and singer Carissa Alvarado.

World’s Largest Key Lime Pie
When: March 24 at noon
Where: Lenox Square
Cost: Free
Details: Fifty-five gallons of sweetened condensed milk, 200 pounds of graham crackers, 5,760 key limes. All to bake a world record, eight-foot-wide key lime pie. The team of bakers will be led by Bobby Stoky, a chef from Key West, in an attempt to get placed by World Record Association.

Brookhaven Cherry Blossom Festival
When:
 March 24 and 25
Where: Blackburn Park
Cost: Free concert, $25-30 for race
Details: It’s spring, so Brookhaven knows exactly how to celebrate: free music and fun festivities. Thousands are expected to turn out for the Classic Car Show, Pet World, Pet Parade, 5K/1K Race, and plenty of barbecue, gyros, and jerk chicken. Country music and rock will dominate the festival with Transviolet, Keith Anderson, and headliners Craig Morgan and Five For Fighting.

5 Atlanta events you won’t want to miss: February 14-20

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Big Apple Circus

Big Apple Circus
When: Until February 25
Where: Verizon Wireless Amphitheater
Cost: $30-99
Details: Experience what seem like impossible feats by award-winning contortionists, roller skaters, jugglers, and world record-holding high wire walkers. Global artists will come together until February 25 for 48 performances.

Improv Idol
When: February 16, 8 p.m.
Where: Dad’s Garage
Cost: $14.50-23.50
Details: Join Dad’s Garage for a musical night of comedy. Throughout the 90-minute show, watch as actors are put through musical games and try to sing their way to the finales to be crowned Improv Idol.

DopeFlix & Jammies: Indie Film Screenings Brunch Edition
When: February 17, 2-6 p.m.
Where: TILA Studios
Cost: $15
Details: Bring your own blanket, wear your PJs, and enjoy local indie films while eating brunch. Interact with local film directors in a low-stress environment (you know, with the pajamas and all) through Q&As and networking sessions while playing trivia games and drinking.

Joris Laarman Lab: Design in the Digital Age
When: February 18-May 13
Where: High Museum of Art
Cost: $14.50
Details: Dutch designer Joris Laarman combines technology, art, and interior decorating to create innovative furniture designs. This collection—which includes videos, sketches, and renderings to show Laarman’s creative process—is the largest public holding of his work outside of Holland.

Sweet Auburn Barbecue's Chinese New Year Celebration

Sweet Auburn Barbecue

Sweet Auburn Barbecue’s Chinese New Year Celebration
When: February 20, 6:30-11 p.m.
Where: Sweet Auburn Barbecue
Cost: $45 per person
Details: Ring in the Year of the Dog with traditional dragon dances from Chien Hong School of Kung Fu and a special menu, including sesame pancakes, cold noodles, General Tso’s chicken, coconut lemongrass ribs, and fortune cookies and oranges.

5 Atlanta events you won’t want to miss: January 31-February 6

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Romeo and Juliet
Romeo and Juliet at Shakespeare Tavern

Photograph courtesy of Shakespeare Tavern

Romeo & Juliet
When: February 1-March 3
Where: Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse
Cost: $15 on February 1, $20 on February 2, $26-42 for other days
Details: It’s the 18th anniversary of the Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse performing this classic tale of forbidden love. There are two cheaper preview performances on February 1 and 2 and a Q&A session with the cast after the February 11 performance.

First Friday at the High

First Friday at the High
When: February 2, 6-9 p.m.
Where: High Museum of Art
Cost: Free after $14.50 museum admission
Details: On the first Friday of every month—hence the name—enjoy an art party and happy hour. Tiny Doors ATL and Indie Craft Experience are dropping in for some creative craft sessions while Atlanta Funk Society performs live music. Get pre-Valentine’s Day dating advice from Dutch Uncle and watch a shadow puppet show featuring Latin American music from Tango Hambre.

Uncorked Atlanta Wine Festival
When: February 3, 12-4 p.m.
Where: Park Tavern at Piedmont Park
Cost: $48
Details: Spend the afternoon sipping more than 50 varieties of wine and craft beer at this Atlanta Sports and Social Club event. There will also be a live DJ and food available for an additional cost.

Tablao Flamenco at Kavarna
When: February 3, 8-10:30 p.m.
Where: Kavarna
Cost: $18 general admission, $20 at door
Details: Feel the fast and upbeat rhythm of flamenco dancing from the comfort of your table. Featuring two flamenco guitarists, Daniel Benitez Perez and Carlos Pacheco, and professional flamenco dancer Ania La Candela, enjoy the show while sipping coffee (or a beer) at this Decatur shop.

Hattie B’s Hot Chicken pop-up
When: February 3, 11 a.m.
Where: Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q
Cost: Varies
Details: Fox Bros. is hosting the best welcoming party Hattie B’s Hot Chicken could get. In preparation for the Nashville-based chain’s highly anticipated Atlanta opening later this spring, the Nashville-based chicken joint will serve up plenty of chicken paired with Fox Bros. sides and a variety of sauces, ranging from mild all the way to “shut the cluck up.”

5 Atlanta events you won’t want to miss: January 24-30

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Lady Day

Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill
When: Through February 4
Where: Theatrical Outfit
Cost: $22.50-$49
Details: This one-woman musical starring Terry Burrell will take you back to the late 1950s to legendary jazz singer Billie Holiday’s last solo performance—four months before her death. The award-winning play tugs at your heart strings with iconic songs like “God Bless the Child,” “What a Little Moonlight Can Do,” and “Strange Fruit.”

Rainforest Adventures

Rainforest Adventures
When: Through March 4
Where: Center for Puppetry Arts
Cost: $19.50
Details: Take the little ones to a tropical rainforest to create their own pink river dolphin marionette puppet. A collaboration between Center for Puppetry Arts and the Atlanta Botanical Gardens, the event will also include a tropical frog interaction and marionette-style puppet show.

Fast Break 5K

Atlanta Hawks Fast Break 5K
When: January 27, 8 a.m.
Where: Phillips Arena
Cost: $45
Details: Fly—ehm, run—with Harry the Hawk and the Atlanta Hawks Cheerleaders around Phillips Arena for the fourth annual Fast Break 5K. By registering, you receive a long-sleeve shirt, $25 ticket voucher to a Hawks game, a $10 food voucher, and a shot to win a Hawks winter scarf.

Honda Battle of the Bands
When: January 27, 1 p.m.
Where: Mercedes-Benz Stadium
Cost: $20-26
Details: In its 16th year, eight historically black college and university marching bands will showcase their showmanship talents on the field at Mercedes-Benz Stadium for a chance to split $200,000 in grants for their school’s music program. Looking for more details? We broke down the event by the numbers.

City Winery Winemaking 101
When: January 27, 2 p.m.
Where: Ponce City Market
Cost: $45
Details: Familiarize yourself with the winemaking process with City Winery’s head winemaker Travis Greene. Learn the varieties of wine, when to harvest, how to process the fruit, and how to taste different types of red and white wine. Cheese and charcuterie will also be served.

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