10 Public Art Displays You Need To Visit This Summer

A public art detour is the perfect addition to your next road trip.

When was the last time you’ve driven or walked by artwork so eye-catching, it forced you to stop what you were doing to marvel at its beauty?

That’s the power of public art: it courts the imaginations of passersby. It can escort you off the beaten path and establish new landmarks. It turns a hasty stroll into a series of questions about the visual identity of a community. 

More specifically, as photographer Nigel Crawford puts it, “Public Black art is a tool that invites us into the artist’s world.” It calls out to those in its path through double-paned windows, from brick walls, and the center of courtyards. Artists weld, spray paint and illuminate their ideas through public art. They anoint oracles and merge sentiments through their perspective.

And while these murals  receive the most attention in predictable metropolises, they are valuable everywhere—a free way to be delighted and inspired by a place you never considered visiting or an old block you forgot about. 

We’ve selected 10 public art pieces worth a quick detour this summer.

Kindred, Washington D.C.

This powerful piece from Alberto “Sabek” Clerencia is a standout for fashion writer and lifestyle expert Lauren Evette Williams.

“The Kindred piece is one of my favorites because it highlights women of color blossoming,” Williams tells Sweet July. “Every time I go to the U street corridor and see its murals, I am reminded of the history, diversity and vibrancy that thrives in Washington D.C. Each of the murals serve as a reminder, mixing cultural notes, influential persons and figures, and simply dope artistry.” 

The Golden Life, Newark, New Jersey

Armisey Smith and Rachel Fawn Alban collaborated on this massive mural project designed to promote female visibility. The project was developed by Project for Empty Space and executed in partnership with the city and Newark Arts.

Public art often supports wayfinding, and this mural doubles as a new landmark for the arts enclave.

Sunset Canopy, Tom Lee Park, Memphis, Tennessee

Practical uses for public art often include light. This luminous installation at the park’s pick-up basketball court is a 15,000+-square-foot covering and, beneath it, a floor mural by James Little. 

Visitors take in shades of “teal, tea green, mustard, lilac, warm brown, and cerulean blue.”

Xavier Veilhan: Le Corbusier, Miami, Florida

As a luxury content creator known best for her love of travel, Sabrina Browne has discerning taste. She loves to spend time taking in the art in the Miami Design District when she is in the area. 

“One of my favorites is the Le Corbusier sculpture by French artist Xavier Veilhan in Miami’s Design District,” she tells Sweet July. “I love the sculpture’s architectural design and how perfectly it enhances solo or group photos.”

Veilhan’s work holds special significance to Browne as a lover of architecture. “The multi-talented designer developed a formidable fiberglass structure that contributes to Miami’s vibrant and thriving arts community,” she adds.

Watch Us Grow, Detroit, Michigan

15 new murals have joined iconic masterpieces in Motor City, like the Girl with the D earring. Watch Us Grow from Wendy Popko is about evolution. It includes symbols for how to transform one’s mind and body.

When you’re finished checking it out, consider seeing a few others in the area using the city’s “mural map.” It allows you to explore nearby murals before you make your way to your next destination.

Mari Evans Mural, Indianapolis, Indiana

This mural is dedicated to the late writer Mari Evans. Her poetry celebrated the beauty of Black women

“Encouraging and maintaining art in public space is a practice toward community sustainability,” GangGang founders Mali and Alan Bacon, who have worked to highlight the creative community in Indianapolis, tell Sweet July.

The Art of Reconciliation, Atlanta, Georgia

This powerful sculpture lives on Atlanta’s beltway. William Massey III erected it with the help of 200  individuals dedicated to seeing his vision come to life. It is made of reclaimed items, something Massey is known to work well with.

His artist statement declared, “This sculpture stands as a monument to remembering the worth and dignity of all people.”

Strength of the Woman Mural, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

This mural spotlights the contributions Native American women have made to their communities. Part of the mural is drained of color, and the other half is filled with vibrant shades. 

Artists J. Nicole Hatfield and Steven Grounds worked to honor these women with careful depictions of how their energy uplifts the world around them. It wraps around the south side underpass, allowing viewers to follow their artistic statements up close.

Alamo Plaza, Alamo, California

Artist Elliot is actively working to transform the Alamo shopping plaza with this project. It features intricate details including colorful mountainscapes and neon signage designed to create an inviting environment for guests. 

Stop by and see it grow from an ABG Art Group concept into a completed reality.

Turfin, Oakland, California

If Kendrick’s diss record has taught us anything, it’s that regional culture continues to thrive. 

This iconic scene from the Lower Bottomz Collective welcomes visitors with a splash of Oakland culture,  placing the East Bay-born phrase “yee” in the forefront. It is energetic, beautiful, and specific—just like the area itself. 

Pay special attention to it from your seat on the Amtrak or schedule a departure from your road-trip to stop by.


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