In case you did not know, Memphis is brimming with public art. From Broad Avenue to Overton Park to Cooper-Young to Downtown, the town is filled with murals, mosaics, light & sound installations, sculptures, and even artsy garbage bins that will make you stop and will leave you quizzically staring at them. Below are some of the best.
Broad Avenue Arts District
The Broad Avenue Water Tower is the tallest and most iconic public art installation in Memphis, soaring 150 feet into the air. The mural was done by Youngblood Studio, and the lighting design by Jeremy Allen Fisher. They don’t call it the “Broad Avenue Arts District” for nothing. Below the tower is French artist Guillaume Alby’s “This is We” mural by, also known as ReMed. You can also check out “Terpsichore,” a color block mural made by the students from one of the Binghamton schools under the direction of resident artist Tom Clifton. Also look out for Michael Roy’s Wiseacre container bridge in Wiseacre Brewing Company, which changes every six to eight months.
South Main Arts District
Start with the most notable one which is the South Main Mosaic Artwalk, a collection of eight temporary public art installations throughout the South Main neighborhood showcasing the different works of local artists. Don’t miss out on “Jay,” a masterpiece by Lance Turner, which is a tribute to Memphis musician Jimmy Lindsey aka Jay Reatard. Keep going to the train station and check out “Modern Hieroglyphics by Anthony Lee, and the eight famous song lyrics about Memphis along 48th stretch, which are stenciled in white on a bright red background from popular musicians. Some of them includes Roy Acuff, Jerry Lee Lewis, Junior Parker, Rufus Thomas, and Big Bill Broonzy. The 4ft panels form a fence of poetic expressions of love for Memphis, while documenting our outstanding musical heritage.
Check out Tylur French of Youngblood Studio’s arched sculpture that was created from scrap bicycles at the intersection of East Parkway and Sam Cooper Blvd. Another one is the “Rhapsody” by Yvonne Bobo, installed at the gateway beside golf clubhouse.
Main Street pedestrian mall
Be amazed by the ugly green utility boxes on Main Street pedestrian mall turned into works of public art by the students from the Memphis College of Art along with a few local artists. Also check out Greely Myatt’s breathtaking “Quiltsurround,” a composed of recycled street signs, and you can’t miss “Roof Like Fluid Flung Over the Plaza” by Vito Acconci, which sits at the entrance to the Cannon Center.
Art works to check out include the mesmerizing “Beacon” sculpture aka the “Bicycle Windmill” by Eli Gold and Colin Kidder, the “I Love Memphis” mural by Jay Crum and Kong Wee Pang, “The Moonpie Project,” which is a rotating mural series showcasing new artists every two months, and the billboard “Jackie in the Secret Graden” by Maritza Davila.
Cooper-Young is an eclectic neighborhood named after the intersection of Cooper St and Young Ave. Start in its entrance that is marked by one of Midtown’s most iconic works of art, the Cooper-Young Trestle by Jill Turman, which is a 150ft steel sculpture that depicts homes and businesses found in the neighborhood. Next is the original “I Love Memphis” mural adjacent to the sculpture. You can also go for a jog or walk through the Cooper-Young and checkout the numerous colourful underpases. And of course, don’t forget the city’s awesome recycling bins, in the First Congo parking lot, which were made possible by Project Green Fork and artists Jay Crum and Kong Wee Pang.
Visit the colourful, vibrant home to murals and sculptures which has the Love Birds by Jay Crum and Kong Wee Pang, and the huge wind chimes in the tower installed by Sean Murphy and Anne J. Froning of Being Art, and of course the live music in the square.