Street art fascinates me. It’s a way of taking the canvas of the urban landscape and recontextualizing it in inspiring forms. Done well, street art can make you question not only the wall or staircase that you’re gazing at, but also the greater place in which it exists (be it the neighborhood, the city, the country, or the hemisphere). It’s a way of bringing vitality to otherwise mundane. What’s best, street art is an art form that is largely democratic. From mid-afternoon sidewalk chalk pictures to late-night, discreet tags to government-sponsored murals, street art is a medium that is open to all.
Below is a list of some of the best street art destinations in the US. I’ve been lucky enough to tour some of them.
**All images are from a public domain source unless otherwise noted
New York City, NY
Neighborhood: Bushwick, East Village
Street art is inextricable to the history of NYC. Take for instance this iconic image of a much adorned NYC subway car.
In a bittersweet turn, the city’s been cleaned up a lot since then, but you can find amazing street art in every borough of New York City. I recently had the opportunity to check out the street art scene in Bushwick and I was not disappointed.
Here’s a collective mural that you can find down there.
For a comprehensive guide to street art in NYC, check out this map.
Neighborhood: Lower Roxbury, South End Cambridge
You can find some pretty cool street art throughout much of Boston, but some of the densest pockets of art can be found around Lower Roxbury and Southend.
The African Arts Mural in Lower Roxbury
And here’s the Communal Feast mural in Cambridge
For a comprehensive guide to street art in Boston, check out this map.
Neighborhood: Wynwood Art District
When you think of Miami, what first appears in your mind is its vibrant architecture: art deco signs, red stucco roofs, and palatial tropical-themed abodes. But Miami also has a rich and diverse street art scene. The Wynwood Arts District is the undisputed epicenter of all of this. Along with Bushwick, I’ve had the opportunity to tour the scene and have to say that I was totally taken aback.
For a comprehensive guide to street art in Miami, check out this map.
Philadelphia is a very special space for street art, as it is one of the few cities that actively encourages it. In the 1984, Philadelphia created the Mural Arts Program in order to foster collaborative relationship between the citizens of the city, generate dialogue, and spark economic revitalization. Every year, the city supports 50 to 100 public art projects. Today, the city hosts arguably one of the largest collections of street art in the country.
The Painted Bride Art Center
Keith Haring, “We are The Youth” in Point Breeze
For a comprehensive guide to street art in NYC, check out this piece.
Los Angeles, CA
Neighborhood: Arts District
In the history of American street art, Los Angeles has been an instrumental space. In 2003 the city issued a mural moratorium, which among other things, prevented artists from doing what they do best. Then in 2010, L.A.’s Museum of Contemporary Art curated a controversial exhibition on uncommissioned street art, bringing the art form to center stage in the national eye. You can imagine the excitement that resulted when in 2013 the mural moratorium lifted resulting in the even more lush L.A. arts scene that we now have today.
Plus, we can’t forget the the mural that Elliott Smith famously posed in front of
For a comprehensive guide to street art in NYC, check out this piece in HighSnobriety.
What are your favorite street art destinations in the US? Let me know on Twitter @PatrickManasse.
Thanks for reading,