Your Pocket Guide to South End's Public Art
Cultural adventures can benefit Charlotteans of all ages. Here's your own DIY tour to the public art in South End so you can hit all the best spots on one afternoon stroll.
You don't have to spend money to get a good dose of Charlotte culture—many of Charlotte's most memorable assets can be found right in your neighborhood! All you have to do is open your eyes a bit wider. Public art is hidden all around the Queen City, beautifying spaces that would be otherwise bland and unused.
Next time you've got a free Saturday afternoon, treat yourself to a tour of one of Charlotte's most artful neighborhoods.
Grab a LYNX ticket, charge your phone, bookmark this page, and grab the whole family (or the friends who feel like family). You're headed to South End, a modern neighborhood loaded with quirky public art. Are you ready for some colorful selfies?
Your Guide to an Afternoon Exploring South End Public Art
Starting point: Living Kitchen
Ending point: Wooden Robot Brewery
Total Stops: 13
Total Distance: 0.8 miles
(You can also use this full, interactive map to help you navigate.)
Stop 1: Living Kitchen, 2000 South Boulevard, #300
Begin your South End excursion at a neighborhood favorite. Living Kitchen, also known as Luna's Living Kitchen, is a cute spot in Atherton Mill serving up vegan fare with bold flavors. You'll want to get something hearty, like the curry bowl, so you can fuel up for your artful adventure ahead.
While you're at Living Kitchen, you can also feast your eyes on the two murals in the space—Edwin Gil is responsible for the green-faced mosaic made with broken glass, pictured above.
Stop 2: Warby Parker, 2000 South Boulevard
No, you're not getting new specs (unless you need them). This hip eyewear store also in Atherton Mill has more than just bifocals—it's got an eye-catching wall illustration by Cyprus-based artist Anna Kövecses. See her whimsical, modern style come to life in the fun interior mural.
Stop 3: The Rail Trail Magic Carpet Murals, 109 E. Tremont Avenue
The Rail Trail is pretty much Charlotte's yellow brick road to the land of public art. Or the magic carpet. Find the sidewalk along the LYNX Blue Line behind Atherton Mill, you may see one of three Magic Carpet Murals installed along the trail. Artists Jessie Unterhalter and Katey Truhn designed the vibrant, multicolored carpet paintings in collaboration with children in the Charlotte community. With the help of volunteers, the paintings were installed on the Rail Trail in March 2016. The three Magic Carpet Murals can be found on the Rail Trail across the tracks from Atherton Mill, near Sycamore Brewing at 2151 Hawkins Street, and between the New Bern Station and Hyde Brewing at 2833 Griffith Street.
The public trail winds through the heart of the city, and it will take you to many of the stops on this guide. Today’s trail is on its way to becoming a string of gardens, unique spaces, activities, and even more public art, making life in South End special. You can use this map to find the Rail Trail relative to your location.
Stop 4: Signal House, Intersection of Camden Road and W. Tremont Avenue
You may have seen this signature signage and art from a friend's South End apartment views. The building, constructed in 2007, houses equipment necessary for the operation of the Lynx Blue Line. Thanks to the CATS Arts in Transit program, local designer Leigh Brinkley gave the utilitarian structure a new look in 2012. The neighborhood landmark shouts SOUTHEND" in red, marquee-like letters.
Stop 5: Exclamation Point, 109 E. Tremont Ave.
Also along the Rail Trail is the Exclamation Point by David Furman. Tall, red, and hard-to-miss, this grammatical statement makes for great photo opportunities.
Stop 6: The Ultra Running Company, 110 West Boulevard
As you progress along the Rail Trail lining Camden Road, you'll reach the intersection at West Boulevard. Take a left onto West, where you'll find Ultra Running Company near Blaze Pizza. Inside, feast your eyes on the graffiti wall art piece by John Hariston Jr. titled "MOVE!"
Stop 7: Camden Wall Mosiac Frieze, Camden Road
You'll have 33 chances to see this beautiful artwork by Charlotte artist Tom Thoune and South End residents. In 2005, Thoune gathered donations of plates, glass, and broken ceramics from South End residents through a community collection arranged in conjunction with McColl Center for Visual Art. He then recycled and combined them with his own handmade ceramics. The result was a glistening mosaic frieze spanning 360 feet that tells a story about South End and its surrounding neighborhoods.
Stop 8: "Before I Die I Want to" Chalkboard, 115 E. Kingston Avenue
This one's for all the dreamers and believers—the kids will especially love this activity. On this chalkboard wall, all types of Charlotteans and visitors share what it is they want to do before they die. Some of the responses are honest, some are aspirational, and some are humorous. This popular spot is guaranteed to inspire and delight. It's also one of the many guerilla art pieces that have appeared overnight on the Rail Trail; this one materialized in March 2015.
Stop 9: Unfurled, 102 W. Park Avenue
Conceived and managed by glass mural artist Pamela Goode, Unfurled had the dual aim of providing fellow artists with the opportunity to contribute to a public work and of highlighting the unique qualities of large-scale glass mosaics. Goode invited 52 international artists to contribute, and each had the freedom to showcase their individual style in a section of the mosaic. Patching together these smaller pieces resulted in three very large plant-shaped panels blooming with color. The intricate finished product would not have been possible without designer Lin Schorr, grouters, installers, and enthusiastic private sponsors. Even art can take a village.
Stop 10: Prehistoric South End Brontosaurus bicycle rack, Rail Trail
You might stumble upon a bicycle-osaurus while strolling the Rail Trail! Brought to South End by CIEL gallery’s Amy Hart in 2016, the project brings playfulness to bike riding.
Stop 11: Duke Substation & Beacon Tower Illumination, Rail Trail
In true Rail Trail fashion, corporate sponsors Duke Energy and Beacon Partners turned a dark, mundane substation and radio tower into an illuminating piece of public art with 12 LED floodlights and 16,000 color possibilities. See these stunning lights in action—the same team who worked on this piece was also responsible for lighting the Empire State Building, so they're sure to be a show.
Stop 12: Urban Eddy, 1507 Camden Road
Follow Camden Road until you find Urban Eddy, an interesting installation worth checking out. Charlotte native and local artist Carmella Jarvi wanted to bring movement and nature to the Charlotte Trolley Powerhouse. Inspired by water, Jarvi crafted 13 stunning glass rounds, which were then photographed and printed onto vinyl. In January 2018, the vinyls were adhered to the windows of the Powerhouse, reflecting beautiful colors outside and inside the building.
Stop 13: Wooden Robot Brewery, 1440 S. Tryon Street, #110
Finish your South End sightseeing at Wooden Robot Brewery, where a rotating exhibition of artwork is on display inside. See if you can spot the black-and-white mural by artist Owl in the Kre8 gastropub side of the taproom.
Phew, you made it! Thirteen works of public art, four-fifths of a mile, and countless smiles later, your DIY tour of South End public art is complete! Cheers to your success at one of South End's beloved breweries.
When you're ready for more public art, check out South End's continually updated list of public works you can visit. This guide doesn't even cover all of them! Historic South End has so much to offer the Charlottean that chooses to seek great experiences—learn more about the neighborhood here.