Unique murals in Chattanooga, TN

real mural

This mural takes up all four sides of the large AT&T building on MLK Boulevard. | Chloé Morrison

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Good Morning, Chattanooga. Intern Brianna here, and today I’m taking you all on a virtual art tour of Chattanooga’s murals.

If you’re like me and love to learn about local art, keep reading to find some stories behind our city’s amazing murals and muralists. Oh, and check out this map with the locations of all the murals I mention in the article (because oftentimes, a photo just isn’t enough).

🎨 Flying doughnut mural

Artist Joseph Giri created this mural, located near Koch’s Bakery (1900 Broad St.) in the summer of 2014. After Giri completed the doughnut mural, the city inspector called Koch’s Bakery owner Barbara Davis and asked her to “paint it out” because the mural seemed like an illegal advertisement for the bakery. Local artists started a petition to keep the mural, and someone sent 54 dozen donuts from Koch’s Bakery to City Hall. Ultimately, the city changed the ordinance + the mural was saved.

🎨 MLK mural

Possibly the most visible mural in Chattanooga, this one painted on the AT&T building located on Martin Luther King Boulevard is one of the top five largest murals in the country. Meg Saligman took the lead on this 42,000-square-foot project, which also included efforts from local artists. Inspiration came from community input meetings, and everyone featured in the mural is a real person, photographed in the former “Big 9” neighborhood. The mural explores the themes of race and how the old + new are balanced within a city block. Local artists who were involved in painting the mural are Hollie Berry, Anier Fernandez, Anna Carll, Rondell Crier, Mercedes Llanos, and Shaun LaRose.

🎨 Brainerd YFD mural

This community-driven mural design was recently completed by artist Brandon Donahue and transformed a silo architectural feature into a work of art at Brainerd’s YFD Center. The mural, which was informed by the community’s input, represents the Woodmore Manor and Brainerd area neighborhoods.

🎨 Miles Morales mural

This mural of Miles Morales, the main character of the comic + animated movie “Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse” (a must-watch, if you haven’t already — it’s on Netflix!) is another more recent piece of wall-art, created by the artist SEVEN in 2019.

The artist said that this mural is also a tribute to Stan Lee, the comic book writer, editor, publisher, and director who SEVEN said is partially responsible for his development as an artist. SEVEN has painted lots of well-known public art in Chattanooga, including the Pizza Bros mural, Tears of a Burning Feather mural, and more recently, he designed the Black Lives Matter street painting on MLK Boulevard.

🎨 McCallie walls mural project

If you’ve driven down McCallie Avenue, you’ve likely noticed several different unique murals lining walls of the street. Local artist Kevin Bate started this “world’s first drive-through gallery” in an effort to liven up the street with local art. The project recruited artists from across the city and paid them to create murals with very few creative restrictions and invited people from surrounding neighborhoods to help out, resulting in the unique art you can see today. The project received grants from MakeWork Foundation, ArtsBuild, the UNFoundation, Causeway, the Tennessee Arts Commission, and the Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga, and Usher even gave the project a shoutout in 2014. Check out three of the many McCallie Walls murals:

Four Horsewomen | Hollie Berry | Berry’s mural features the “Four Horsewomen of the Renaissance” — Scheherazade on the white horse, Mulan on the fiery horse, Uhura on the dark horse, and Ellen Ripley on the pale horse. Her goal was to make a mural of powerful women that girls can look up at.

Fallen Five Memorial | Kevin Bate | This mural honors the five service members who were killed on July 16, 2015.

Child with goggles | Ali Kay | Kay said that she wanted to create a mural that made people smile and feel good when they saw it from a distance.

🎨 Bonus: The Blue Eyes

You’ve probably noticed this pair of bright blue eyes eyeing you while driving down Georgia Avenue or eating at Universal Joint. Did you know that this piece of wall art looking over local restaurant Universal Joint has no artist attached to it? When UJ opened in 2013, the eyes randomly popped up on the building behind the restaurant, and many passersby assumed that the restaurant owners painted them. The owners denied painting the eyes, however and said that they weren’t sure who did. Looks like it’s still a mystery as to who wanted those eyes to be watching us...

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