15 of Charlotte’s newest murals and the meanings behind them

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Photo by Alex Cason

Murals adorn buildings everywhere in our city, but we knew that already — we take photos with them all over the place. As fast as a Charlottean can say #cltmurals, there’s likely another one being dreamed up at that exact moment. In 2018 alone, here are 15 publicly viewable murals that have graced our presence:

(1) BLKTECHCLT at Camp North End

Courtesy of Dammit Wesley
Courtesy of Dammit Wesley

Artist: Dammit Wesley

Address: 1824 Statesville Ave.

Dammit Wesley created a mural depicting BLKTECHCLT at Camp North End, next door to his studio space BlkMrktCLT. “I wanted to create something that said Afrofutirism, based in the imagination of what could and the reality of what is black creativity at its apex,” Wesley said. “The Goddess at the end was placed there for protection.”

(2) Crescent NOVEL Stonewall Station

Photo by Matthew Spivey

Artist: Osiris Rain

Address: 400 E Stonewall St.

In the inner courtyard at NOVEL Stonewall, Osiris Rain is creating five pieces that include three figures in grayscale, with monarch butterflies flowing throughout. “The Monarchs are also a symbol of transition and change as well as a symbol for the natural human right of movement and immigration,” Rain said. “I feel that they are an appropriate symbol for our city given the speed at which we are growing.

“The inevitable diversity of our community is something our local government and the residents of our city are going to have to come to terms with. And I hope that the stance we take for the sake of our city is one of inclusiveness and one that respects human rights and cultural diversity,” Rain said. “Through this piece I am trying to softly address a concern that is a sleeping lion for our city in the hopes that in my own small way I can encourage empathy for one another through the beauty of art.”

(3) Davidson and 35th streets

Photo by Alex Cason

Artist: Osiris Rain

Address: 3200 N Davidson St.

Osiris Rain actually created this mural last year after being commissioned by Stella. However, a key modification happened in 2018, when Stella’s 6-month lease on the mural’s wall was over. “When that ended I wanted to re-appropriate my mural to an unbranded concept that was solely for the beautification and benefit of the neighborhood,” Rain said. “So I modified the color palette away from the harsh yellow and reds of the Stella brand to softer pinks and blues, and replaced (the) Stella Chalices with the lotus. The lotus is a symbol of creation and rebirth as well as a symbol of the sun.”

Rain noted that lotus images appear in several works of art in The Arts District, including mosaics by Ruth Ava Lyons. “I feel that it’s an appropriate symbol for the cyclical creative rebirth that NoDa is having with its public art right now,” he said.

(4) Dupp&Swat at Camp North End

Photo by Alex Cason

Artist: John Hairston

Address: 1824 Statesville Ave., Ste 109

John Hairston painted a mural inside Dupp&Swat for the grand opening of Digger’s Delight pop-up shop, selling vinyl records.

(5) Let’s Meat Kbbq

Photo by Alex Cason
Photo by Alex Cason

Artists: Matt Hooker and Matt Moore, along with Tucker Sward

Address: 1400 S. Church St.

The Matts have two new murals here, one of a tiger and one depicting Marilyn Monroe in a hanbok, blending Asian and American symbols.

(6) Seventh Sin Tattoo Company

Photo by Alex Cason

Artists: Southern Tiger Collective’s Alex D and Dustin Moates

Address: 927 Central Ave.

Southern Tiger Collective artists Alex D and Dustin made a statement on the side of Seventh Sin Tattoo with their newest piece, showing villain Thanos from “Avengers: Infinity War.” “The guys at the tattoo shop I guess are just really into the movie or I guess that character, so they contacted Southern Tiger because they knew we have a bunch of artists who could execute that mural for them,” Alex D. said. “We got a really good response to it, which was cool.”

(7) Skylark

Photo by Alex Cason

Artist: JEKS

Address: 2131 Central Ave.

Skylark owner Justin Driscoll said Skylark’s business model is to keep music and arts alive, so it was only fitting that JEKS decided to place Elvis front and center. “There was some banter about it once he painted the wall white, but I do not think folks knew what to expect,” Driscoll said. “After his second day, when the portrait of Elvis’ face was complete, we all got pretty giddy about it. “When you look at the finished project you can’t help but say ‘Damn, that’s amazing.’”

JEKS said his inspiration came from the Skylark sign. “Who better to put on the side of a kickass ‘rock ‘n’ roll’ bar than The King himself? Can’t really go wrong with Elvis. He’s timeless.”

Fun facts: Midwood is written on the left, rock is on the right and in the middle, T.C.B. with the lightning bolt represents the Elvis-coined catchphrase, Taking Care of Business in a Flash.

(8) Smooth Monkey

Photo by Alex Cason

Artist: Ashley Graham

Address: 1801 Commonwealth Ave.

While we didn’t get a response from the artist, with fresh produce dancing into a blender on the side of a new smoothie and acai bowl shop, who wouldn’t want to eat (and drink) fresh?

(9) Southern Tiger Collective

Photo by Alex Cason

Artist: Southern Tiger Collective’s Alex D

Address: 2029 N Davidson St.

Southern Tiger recently hosted an all-female creative art show. “In honor of that, I painted a Frida portrait behind the building,” artist Alex D said.

(10) The Nest at Camp North End

Photo by Marcus Kiser

Artist: Marcus Kiser

Address: 1776 Statesville Ave

Marcus Kiser is creating a new mural inside The Nest, the new Google Fiber-sponsored space inside Hygge. “The concept revolves around the magic touch, connection and growth of technology in that community,” Kiser said. The community space is part of the North End Smart District initiatives. Kiser was specifically chosen because of his connection to the Druid Hills neighborhood and his interest in science-based art, said Gökotta principal Jenny Vallimont, who does public art procurement and management.  It will be completed later this week.

(11) The Nook

Photo by Alex Cason

Artists: Matt Hooker and Matt Moore, along with Tucker Sward

Address: 1421 Central Ave.

When The Matts set out to create their latest mural, Poseidon on the side of an apartment building, they wanted to create something that showed permanence and tribute. “A statue is a specific thing that lasts a long time and pays homage to something and is a symbol in itself,” Hooker said.

The artists painted with red on the right, blue on the left, to symbolize the state of the country. “We’re sick of the back and forth; we’d rather see a lot more purple in the world.”

Purple also represents royalty, the Queen City and synergy overall, Hooker said. “It’s a two-sided meaning; Matt and I are OK on our own, but we’re better together.”

(12) The Peculiar Rabbit

Photo by Alex Cason

Artists: Southern Tiger Collective’s Mike Wirth and Dustin Moates

Address: 1212 Pecan Ave.

Charlotte, meet Vinny the Rabbit. Southern Tiger Collective’s Mike Wirth and Dustin created a rabbit holding a large beer stein in Van Gogh’s Starry Night-style, Wirth said. The mural “captures the Bohemian aura that is fiercely alive in the Plaza Midwood neighborhood,” he said. “Dubbed ‘Vinny’ by a passerby-er, the rabbit is a visual fusion of every great storybook rabbit we’ve ever known and a nod to the master impressionist himself. His semi snarky smirk and raised glass is meant to invite old and new friends to the neighborhood.”

(13) UNC Charlotte Uptown

Photo by Alex Cason

Artist: Osiris Rain

Address: 320 E 9th St.

Visit UNC Charlotte Uptown for a glimpse of two new murals by Osiris Rain. One is on the first floor, one is on the second floor in the student lounge; both are visible from the street. “Those two murals ‘interact’ with each other in a theme of call and response communication,” Rain said. “Open and unfettered dialogue is the foundation of education and a diversity of thought and perspective.”

(14) Urban Ministry Center

Photo courtesy of Marcus Kiser

Artists: Marcus Kiser and Antoine Williams

Address: 945 North College St.

As part of a McColl Center residency program, Marcus Kiser and Antoine Williams created an abstract mural called “A Tale of Two Cities” at Urban Ministry Center. Kiser and Williams hired homeless assistants as part of an unofficial apprenticeship. The mural is designed to raise awareness for affordable housing needs in Charlotte. The artists chose purple and lavender tones for the mural to create a serene feel, with linear lines that begin by representing motion. “Then we broke them off to show this is a place to stop and relax,” Kiser said.

(15) Wooden Robot

Photo by Alex Cason

Artist: Southern Tiger Collective’s Owl

Address: 1440 S Tryon St. #110

Southern Tiger Collective’s Owl created a mural for Wooden Robot Brewery’s new lounge. “Since my work is abstract, I decided to react to the architecture and space that was provided,” Owl said. “They wanted to set a more intimate private setting for this room since it will be used for private events. In return, the composition I came with translates into a calm and mesmerizing atmosphere that will have you get lost in it if you visit.”

12 COMMENTS

  1. Check out the one at Lake Forest Church on Gilead Road in Huntersville. Goes from the wild outdoors to the Charlotte skyline. Covers the whole North side of the building on their youth center.

  2. Look at the new mural at Daily Mews Cat Cafe in the 3000 block of Monroe Road. It has the skyline of Charlotte with cats of course and is super gorgeous!

  3. Glad to see more of these popping up. When you drive around Atlanta there is so much more art adorning the buildings all around town, makes it feel much more vibrant.
    And I’m really happy to learn that the Stella mural has been changed into a non-ad piece of public art!

  4. Miss the old “sailboat trail” painting of a sailboat blurring while in motion on the downtown wall. I think it was a trail blazer.

  5. Another John Hairston Jr. one has just gone up at Visart Video in the back. 80’s flashback overload. And don’t forget about the one in Common Market’s back alley of the giant orangutan playing the beer keg drum set! Both worth a mention!

  6. Does anyone know why there aren’t any murals in Myrtle Beach? I just moved here from Denver specifically to start painting photorealism murals again.

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