Georgia Magazine - March 2020 - 25

Curious GEORGIA

Story and photos by Cameron Whitlock

Artists bring flair to
defunct school buses

S

ometimes, you have to fight fire
with fire. Or in the case of Alto's
weird and wonderful School Bus
Graveyard, art with art.
Visible from Highway 365 about
an hour north of Atlanta is a makeshift
fortress of brightly colored school buses.
From a distance, one might suspect these
decommissioned buses were "tagged"
as an act of vandalism. But for those
who stop to explore this quirky roadside
attraction, it's easy to see that these
murals are far superior to basic graffiti.
Alonzo Wade's auto parts business
has been a staple in the Alto community
for decades. But after several instances
of robbery and vandalism, Alonzo's son,
Walter, who now runs the scrapyard,
decided to build a barrier around his
family's business.
The Wades originally purchased
school buses to sell for parts, but after several of their radiators
were stolen, the buses were rendered useless. The length and
height of the buses made them an ideal barrier for the scrapyard, keeping most would-be thieves and undesirables away.
However, some saw the new fence as a giant canvas.
Walter Wade, who drives a bus for Banks County Schools,
returned to the scrapyard one day in the early 2000s to find a
freshly painted mural of a ghost on one of his buses, along with a
note that read, "sorry about the bus."
This original "tag" was the work of local artists and
students, but it wasn't long before the buses attracted lessdesirable graffiti, such as gang signs and other vulgar works.
Local artist Nick Morris, who goes by the moniker "Nack,"
soon approached the Wades with a bold idea. Nack asked if his
art group, Crispy Printz, could be allowed to paint murals on all
of the buses, and the School Bus Graveyard was born.
"The deal was, [Nack] would come back out and paint over
any graffiti that was done to the buses," Wade says.
The artwork at the School Bus Graveyard is constantly
evolving.
"I never know what the new art is going to be, and that's
what I love about it," Wade says. "[Approved] artists are allowed
to paint whatever they want, as long as it's appropriate for
families to see."
The exhibit also has become a photography hot spot for

Local artist Nick Morris, aka Nack, and his art group hold an
annual art festival to repaint the buses. The event draws artists
from throughout the nation.

senior portraits and the perfect post-apocalyptic backdrop for
aspiring filmmakers.
With a modern security system and surveillance technology
to deter any further vandalism and trespassing, Wade aims to
ensure that the exhibit stays open for the public to enjoy.
"We just try to tell people to use common sense," he says.
"This is the fence line for my property. Treat it the same way
you'd like yours to be treated."
Cameron Whitlock is a Douglasville-based freelance writer.
The free exhibit is at the intersection of Crane Mill Road and
Highway 365 in Alto. Visitors can park along Crane Mill Road.
www.georgiamagazine.org

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Georgia Magazine - March 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Georgia Magazine - March 2020

Contents
Georgia Magazine - March 2020 - Intro
Georgia Magazine - March 2020 - Cover1
Georgia Magazine - March 2020 - Cover2
Georgia Magazine - March 2020 - Contents
Georgia Magazine - March 2020 - 4
Georgia Magazine - March 2020 - 5
Georgia Magazine - March 2020 - 6
Georgia Magazine - March 2020 - 7
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Georgia Magazine - March 2020 - Cover3
Georgia Magazine - March 2020 - Cover4
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