For over 20 years, the Memphis UrbanArt Commission has been working to make Memphis an even more beautiful place to live. If you’ve happened to pass any of the artwork commissioned by the organization on your daily commute, you know how much the Bluff City benefits from the UrbanArt Commission’s efforts.
If you’re eager to see more of the works that Memphis creatives have unleashed on our city, you might want to take the long route to your next destination. Here’s a rundown of some of the best locations to view urban public art in Memphis:
Broad Avenue Arts District
The name says it all. Broad Avenue serves as the canvas for some of Memphis’ most popular works of art—chief among which is the Broad Avenue Water Tower, which features a mural inspired by the Mississippi River.
At the base of the water tower, there are two more works to behold. At 200 feet wide, “This is We” by Guillaume Alby is the biggest mural in Memphis, and is situated adjacent to another mural named “Terpsichore.” Further down Broad Avenue, the Wiseacre Container Bridge plays host to an ever-evolving mural that changes every six to eight months.
Photo Credit: Broad Ave Arts District Facebook
South Main Arts District
Local artists are the focus of the South Main Mosaic Artwalk, a collection of eight temporary public art installations along South Main. On the way to the nearby train station, you can view “Modern Hieroglyphics,” a mural composed of eight song lyric snippets mentioning Memphis that celebrates the city’s unique musical heritage.
Overton Park has long been considered the crown jewel of Memphis, and the UrbanArt Commission has further cemented this reputation. The public is welcomed to the park by a gorgeous arched gateway constructed by local artist Tylur French and composed of 300 scrap bicycles. In addition, the East Park Playground, Rainbow Lake Playground and Levitt Shell feature similar gateway installations, while the park’s golf course is adorned with a movable sculpture titled “Rhapsody.”
On your way to Overton Park, be sure to cruise through Overton Square and enjoy the assorted murals and sculptures.
Main Street Pedestrian Mall
When students from the Memphis College of Art set out to transform this mall, they left nothing untouched, from the green utility boxes to the pedestrian bridge near the law school. Highlights include “Quiltsurround,” a sculpture by Greely Myatt made of recycled street signs that is located behind City Hall, and “Roof Like Fluid Flung Over the Plaza” by Vito Acconci, located at the Cannon Center.
Thanks to the revitalization of the old Sears distribution center, the Crosstown community has a renewed interest in urban art. A piece titled “Beacon”—also known as the bicycle windmill—welcomes all to Crosstown, while the “Jackie in the Secret Garden” billboard beams down from high in the sky. Other art murals in Crosstown include “I Love Memphis” by Jay Crum and Kong Wee Pang, as well as a rotating set of murals known as The Moonpie Project.
The neighborhood around Cooper Street and Young Avenue hosts some of the most iconic works in all of Memphis. Perhaps most notably, the original “I Love Memphis” mural is situated adjacent to the Cooper-Young Trestle, a 150-foot steel sculpture that depicts the neighborhood. Those taking in the art by foot can also behold the numerous underpasses that have been transformed from eyesore to eye candy.
The fact that the Memphis arts scene is clearly alive and well is just one more factor that makes Memphis a beautiful place to live.