On a street art guided tour through Charleston.
While Charleston’s overall art scene may not be considered underrated, that’s certainly the case when it comes to our street art. The Holy City is, after all, the birthplace of none other than Shepard Fairey– who is arguably one of the most influential street artists in the world.
Some traditionalists may call it vandalism; others may view it as nothing more than a warning sign one has wandered down the wrong street– but quite the opposite is true.
In recent years, cities across the globe have not only grown to embrace street art as part of the mainstream, but in some cases have even gone as far as to consider it the saving grace of their personal identity + creative expression. See: Milan. Philadelphia. Brooklyn.
Just up the road in Columbia, the government is actually behind the surge in public art, commissioning murals + street art via the city-funded organization ‘One Columbia.’
So, put on your sunglasses + lace up your walking shoes, because it’s time to tour Charleston’s biggest art gallery of all: our streets.
Cynthia Graham Hurd Memorial Mural
John L. Dart Branch Library | 1067 King St.
Artist: Brooklyn-based artist Nick Kuszyk, a.k.a. R. ROBOTS
Cynthia Graham Hurd devoted 31 years working for the Charleston County Public Library– and over 20 of those years were spent managing the Dart branch. CCPL + nonprofit organization Enough Pie worked together to plan + raise funding for the mural, which was dedicated in her honor in 2016– one year after she was killed while attending Bible study at Emanuel AME Church.
Huger + Hanover Streets (near Taco Boy)
Artist: Lisbon-based painter Sergio Odeith
The mural serves as the cornerstone (literally) of an art installation along the Upper Peninsula. The installation was organized by Enough Pie as part of Piccolo Spoleto in 2015. See the other murals in the area below.
Olde Village Market & Deli | 1073 E. Montague Ave., North Charleston
Artist: Douglas PanzoneCommissioned by HBO in 2017 to promote the show Vice Principals, which was filmed in North Charleston. The artist, Douglas Panzone, has artwork featured all over the city. More of his work is listed throughout this article, but you can find his entire collection here.
Mira Winery | 68 ½ Queen Street
Artist: David Boatwright
A modern take on Renoir’s “Luncheon of the Boating Party,” Renoir Redux was commissioned by Mira Winery as a way of announcing its presence in Charleston (the painting is located on the side of its building, which is highly visible to both drivers + pedestrians). The mural was painted by local artist David Boatright, who is also behind several other iconic murals + signs around the Lowcountry. See more of his work here.
Power & Glory
Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art | 161 Calhoun St.
Artist: Shepard Fairey
Created as part of a 2014 exhibit at the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art, the mural, which hangs above the College Lodge dormitory next to the Halsey Institute, is a “celebration and critique of Americana with an emphasis on the meanings of power.”
Perhaps the largest cluster of local murals can be found in West Ashley’s Avondale neighborhood, in an area sometimes referred to as Alicia Alley. We traced the street art as far back as 2009, with a mural competition organized by the Charleston Regional Development Alliance.
Since then, and largely through efforts by the organization chART, the mural scene in Avondale has exploded. The neighborhood now features dozens of pieces of original street art by various artists- with new additions happening regularly.
Below are some of the many murals found in the area.
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To see more of the murals around CHS, browse our gallery below:
1411 Folly Rd., James Island
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Rev. Clementa Pinckney Mural
Stuart + Hanover Streets
I’m no artist, but I did make my mark on one mural in Charleston– via the Citadel’s Charleston Strong Wall. In 2015, Citadel cadets invited the public to paint doves along a wall near the corner of Rutledge Ave. + Grove St., as a way to inspire unity + remembrance in the wake of the Mother Emanuel shooting.
To celebrate Charleston’s murals, here’s a little giveaway for you guys:
- Find my dove on the Charleston Strong wall (hint: my name, Jen, is written beside it)
- Take a picture of it + share it on Instagram using the hashtag #CHStoday
- Tag @chstoday in the photo (double check your account is public, so we can see it)
The first person to find the dove + follow all three steps will win a small prize from the CHStoday team.