How to Find Murals in Your Neighborhood

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

A few years ago, when I was living in DC, I remember driving into work one morning when I spotted a giant mural on a shuttered building. Without thinking I pulled over and took a picture of the spectacular wall I had somehow never noticed before. Isn't that how it goes though? As soon as you become attuned to something you can't help seeing it everywhere. Have you noticed the recent mural trend? If you've read this blog for a while you know I started incorporating images of murals into my monthly updates. Also I love the subtle message murals convey: a visual reminder that accessible art is everywhere when you truly look for it.

And mural spotting is such a great low-cost activity. It can be done in a car or on foot; solo or with a group. Next time you're stumped what to do on a boring Tuesday night try scoping out some of the fantastic street art right in your own backyard. I promise you'll enjoy yourself and it might even inspire a burst of creativity in your own life.

That said, here are a few tips to get you started.

1. Search online images: This is a fast way to look for murals in your city by simply typing "Your City murals" into Google Images. From the results you can click on images that interest you and get an idea of where they are. Sometime it will even give you the coordinates for an exact location. Other times, like happened to me recently, you'll just have a part of the city or neighborhood to explore on your own. Funny thing about that experience, I ended up driving around some construction and drove directly to the mural on the first street I tried. Guess my car has an internal mural GPS!

2. Check out hashtags: Social media is a great place to look for murals. A couple of my favorite Instagram sources are #studiodiywallcrawl and #ABMlovesmurals. You don't even have to have an account to search the pictures. Which again can be hit or miss on pinpointing an exact location. Just know that you might have to scout around for a bit until you become familiar with what's in your neighborhood.
3. Try known hot spots: It may sound a little strange but without fail I often find murals in the following three places: the seedier parts of town, ethnic communities or neighborhoods, and near schools and/or parks.

4. Drive around: Remember back in the day when you had to drive around to look for "For Rent" signs in college? Oh wait, maybe that was just me. But seriously, do a loop around a neighborhood or street you have never been before and keep an eye out. It can be a little tricky when you're driving, because eyes on the road, but I happened upon one of my favorite murals this way just because I varied my normal Saturday morning routine.
5. Keep looking: Not all murals are signed, but when they are you can search to see if the artist has any other works in the same city. New murals pop up all the time and similarly they also disappear overnight. Last week I went to a neighborhood I knew had several murals on the same street and one of the images was being removed to make way for a new one. And finally, don't forget to look for murals when you travel. It's a fun way to get to areas of town you might not otherwise see.

Top mural found in Athens, GA; bottom two murals located in Wichita, KS. 

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