While recently visiting family for the holidays in Kentucky, we often visited Louisville (Luha-ville) and each time we drove through town, there was a new and exciting piece of street art on the side of a building. While it took me longer to get into street art than others most likely, I’ve come around the appreciate a good wall mural with my favorites tending to be vibrant or with florals and the occasional wings. I especially appreciate an interactive wall mural as it adds some spice to sightseeing!
What exactly is “Street Art”?
Artists take to the streets to fill empty spaces on the sides of buildings and other public spaces that are either plain or rundown, and turn them into a artsy masterpiece. Walls become an open canvas for creative, colorful, unique pieces of artwork to be displayed.
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Bryan Patrick Todd is a Louisville-based designer who has done local work for several businesses.
Address: 415 East Market Street, Louisville KY
Sometimes, Street Art is also referred to as “Urban Art” or “Guerrilla Art” and is different than your every day graffiti, or pure vandalism. This trend of Street Art dates back to the 80s during a “graffiti boom” and has since evolved over the last decades into a more sophisticated and inspiring version of art.
Artists tend of create work that makes a statement about the society in which the artist lives by to having their work communicate with everyday people about these issues, which can be very powerful and reaching tons of people. Sometimes, the artwork is purely for aesthetics.
How is Street Art different from graffiti?
Street Art uses a variety of techniques such as stencil art, mosaic tiling, LED art and so much more, making it stand out from your every day graffiti. Considering that much of this artwork takes time to create, I am sure the artist has the approval from the building owner before starting work. However, there is much debate as to whether or not much of this is actually considered “art” or “graffiti”.
Graffiti is something ever major city deals with and is generally unappealing “tagging” by a group of people in the typical graffiti font. Sometimes it can also be quite interesting and almost artistic, but this type of art in usually found in run down places, under bridges or the backsides of buildings or walls. Generally, graffiti artists don’t ask for permission from the building owner before vandalizing buildings, as this typically happens late at night when no one is around to watch it happen.
Here is some of the artwork in downtown Louisville:
Address: Downtown Louisville near 2nd and Market
Artwork in the Highlands, a district of Louisville
On the border to the Highlands is this wall mural letting you know you’re now in the Highlands, located on the right hand side of the Old Town Liquors building.
Address: 1529 Bardstown Rd, Louisville, KY 40205, USA
Painted on the opposite side of the Old Town Liquour Store on Bardstown Road by Byron Roberts and Gary Bennett in 2002. These murals were partially funded by the City of Louisville.
Address: 1126 Bardstown Rd – Across the street from Akiko’s on Bardtown Road
Address: 1034 Bardstown Rd, Louisville, KY 40204, USA – on the left side of the Holy Grale church turned bar, behind a fence.
Probably one of the most famous street murals in the Highlands is the “Kentucky Rushmore” showcasing Kentucky’s icons: Abraham Lincoln, Colonel Sanders, Muhammad Ali and Secretariat.
- Address: 1583 Bardstown Rd painted by Margaret Morely.
Next up, this vibrant mural is located on the backside of HopCat, one of the coolest bars on Bardtown Rd.
- Address: 1064 Bardstown Rd, Louisville, KY 40204
There were many more we saw while driving around town, but didn’t have the time to stop for every single one. Louisville is definitely a haven for young and innovative artists taking an empty space and turning it into a vibrant and colorful wall mural. Bardtown Road is definitely a breeding ground for some pretty unique art pieces making for an entertaining drive around town!
East Market Street aka “NuLu”
Yes, Louisville is cool enough to have an abbreviated nickname! “NuLu” is short for New Louisville, the up and coming revitalized district just east of Downtown Louisville. Here you can find a ton of cool new bars, restaurants, cafes, ice cream shops and boutiques popping up!
A walk down E Main Street and you’ll pass several pieces on after another, from the Louisville wings to the slightly creepy but awesome Chicken King on the side of the Royals Hot Chicken restaurant which serves up Nashville style hot chicken and bourbon milkshakes!
- Address: 736 East Market Street
Everyone loves a good set of wings, right? Be sure to find this cute little hanging mural and use #LouisvilleWings, just feet from the Harvest, about 624 E. Market St.!
Just across the street on the side of Joe Ley Antiques, you’ll find a unique and vibrant piece of what looks like to be marionettes.
- Address: 615 E Market St, Louisville, KY 40202
Located on the side of Red Tree Furniture at the corner of E Market St and S Clay Street, you’ll find a colorful array of blooms! #NuLuWildflowers
- Address: 701 E Market St, Louisville, KY 40202
Near a shop call Mahonia and before Decca, you’ll find a quirky display of NuLu pride playing tricks and combining art and power cords.
- Address: about 806 E Market St, Louisville, KY 40206
Located on the front facade of VIA Studio, this mural was quite fun and my husband quite enjoyed it. That futuristic stuff is more my husband’s type of thing rather than mine so I let him have a go at it!
- Address: 225 South Clay Street
Smoketown near Shelby Park
The next we had a little bit of fun with. We assume the “To the Top Please” mural in Louisville is like stepping into an elevator to heaven with Winnie the Pooh clouds. Created by the artists who simply call themselves Often Seen Rarely Spoken in 2017.
**Warning: But I must warn you that along Logan St is not exactly the nicest of neighborhoods, so take heed while snapping pictures, and only go during broad daylight and never alone.
- Address: 1256 Logan St
And just a tad further down on Logan St, you’ll find a pixelated mural of flowers best seen from afar, but to be honest, I actually didn’t know that until later. Nonetheless, it was fun to play around with the many vibrant colors with this mural by Tyler Deeb, who was supposedly robbed at gun point while painting this…
- Address: 1217 Logan St
Shelby Road Street Art
Just a block and a half north from Logan Street is a massive raven mural by Wilfred Sieg III with hidden messages embedded into the mural, for example, The Pen is Mightier Than the Sword, Believe in Yourself, Live and Let Live, Change and Inspire!
- Address: 1124 Logan Street (at the corner of Logan and Mary St)
Just across the road was just a simple retro mural we took a quick selfie with just because it was vibacious!
And as if that wasn’t retro enough, we stumbled upon this beau on the side of Scarlett’s Bakery, called the Sunshine and Shadow mural by Gibbs Rounsvall. Best of all, we discovered this fantastic bakery which actually helps to empower and employ formerly abused and trafficked women! So, definitely stop by the bakery before we you prance around the mural!
- Address: 741 E. Oak Street
Somewhere along our street art adventures in Louisville, we stumbled across this simple yet happy mural simply telling the world to “SMILE!” I’d say that the world definitely needs more of that these days! So here’s my cheesy smile!
Butchertown Street Art
Forewarning: PLUG YOUR NOSE! Butchertown ain’t called Butchertown for a reason. And holding up to tradition and the name of the neighborhood, it was quite stinky!
This large, vibrant mural wraps around two sides of one of JBS Swift (the pork processing plant). It stunk so badly here, I managed only to snap one photo!
- Address: 1200 Story Avenue
Nearby on the corner of Buchanan St and E Eashington St, things start to smell much yummier and we just so happened to have stumbled across this big display of L-O-V-E!
Saint Joseph murals
and now the cutest for last! On the side of Nord’s Bakery, a popular little nook known for their cakes, donuts and other confections is the “Life is Sweet, Eat it Up” mural! Two of America’s preferred food categories – bacon and donuts!
- Address: 2118 S Preston St
Stay Tuned as I add more!!
There are bound to be more wall murals in Louisville popping up as it becomes more and more popular! I wish we had found more street murals in Louisville, but unfortunately we just didn’t have the time and driving around looking for them takes a lot of time. However, these art murals in Louisville should hopefully be enough to get you started!
If you’re looking for some extra guides to prepare your trip, we enjoyed these the following items, both before and after our trip to Kentucky! The first gave us a lot of history and information about the Kentucky Bourbon Trail while the second we purchased along our journey for some home cooked meals in the future! And of course, my faithful Travel Guide Bible, the DK Travel Guide: USA!
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Day Trips from Louisville:
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