The Ultimate List of Detroit Street Art You Must See

2017 Murals in the Market - Rear View Mirror

Have you ever driven through Detroit and saw out of the corner of your eye a colorful art mural on the side of the building, but didn’t stop to see it more clearly. Well, don’t worry, I have done that for you. I spent a couple of days exploring Detroit and capturing the most beautiful street murals that Detroit has to offer, although this is just a small sample.

What is the difference between graffiti and street murals? Street art is usually painted with permission or commissioned. In the City of Detroit, they request you to register your artwork on their website, and they also have a gallery of all registered murals. The benefits of having street murals in your city are to create a tangible sense of place, destination, resulting in increased foot traffic while adding color, vibrancy, and character to an urban environment. This couldn’t be more evident while walking among the buildings in the city of Detroit.

Here is the ultimate list of Detroit Street Art that you must see when you come to visit Southeast Michigan.

Eastern Market Murals

For the past five years, Detroit has put on one of the top 5 Mural Festivals in the World! Murals in the Market is where you can see live paintings being made from local and international artists in the Historic Eastern Market. I was fortunate to make it down there last year while on a Detroit Photo Tour and see the paintings being created from scratch. Click on the photos below, and you will be able to see the title and the artist who created the mural if known.

If you can’t make it for the festival, the completed murals are up for you to see whenever you want to visit Detroit and Eastern Market. The Eastern Market is the largest open-air flowerbed market in the United States and has more than 150 foods and specialty businesses. Definitely worth a visit all by itself, but the street murals are a bonus. The Eastern Market is open on Saturdays so, this is the best time to come down and wander around the area. You will be in great company with all the other people doing the same or coming to the market to purchase fruits, vegetables, meat, or flowers. The other good day to come down is on Sunday, when the market is filled with crafters selling their wares (jewelry and art).

2019 Murals in the Market2019 Murals in the Market - Rosa Parks

The 2019 Murals in the Market had over 50 artists creating their masterpiece murals on the sides of buildings all around Eastern Market. The nice thing is that most of these were all clustered around the same building. All the other previous years, murals can be found just by walking around the streets of Eastern Market, or you can just drive around. Here is a link for the downloadable map of the 2019 murals for you to find when you visit Detroit’s Eastern Market area. And if you are looking for the complete list of Murals in the Market for the last five years, click here.2019 Murals in the Market - superheroes

2018 Murals in the Market2018 Murals in the Market - Woman with the D Earrings

2017 Murals in the Market2017 Murals in the Market - Rear View Mirror2017 Murals in the Market - Doom!

2016 Murals in the Market2016 Murals in the Market - band with car parts

2015 Murals in the Market2015 Murals in the Market - lady in mask

Other Eastern Market MuralsWelcome to Eastern Market

There are even more murals that aren’t part of the Murals in the Market scattered throughout the Eastern Market area. These murals I have captured over the many years going down to Detroit and are some of my favorites. Whenever I come down to Eastern Market, I walk around to see what has changed and what has stayed the same. There are the vendors selling t-shirts, purses, and burning incense on the bridge crossing the ramp to I-75 that are always there even sometimes in bad weather. The loudness of the meat market is something to experience, and I always try to pick up a sausage to munch on for lunch from Bert’s Warehouse right on Russel St. It makes for a fantastic day out!

Rise Up TigerRise Up Tiger

The Rise Up Tiger, painted in 2014, can be found at 6314 Russell St. Detroit, MI 48211. The artist, Meggs (David Hooke), wanted to remind Detroiters to rise up against great odds, and at 6,000 sq feet, it is an inspiring message. One fascinating bit about this mural is that Meggs refused to paint over the unauthorized graffiti at the bottom as a sign of respect for local graffiti artists. The link above takes you to the google maps area for this Detroit Street Art and a couple of others by that building.

Dequindre CutStreet Art in Dequindre Cut - Beautiful African American

Dequindre Cut is a two-mile paved pathway in downtown Detroit that opened in 2009. The path has two separate lanes for pedestrians and cyclists, and as a former Grand Trunk Western Railway line, it is 25 feet lower than street level. The Dequindre Cut greenway runs parallel to St. Aubin Street, between Mack Avenue and Atwater Street, just north of the riverfront. Highlights while being on this path is seeing the 35+ Detroit Street Art that is an intricate part of Detroit’s culture. Free parking is available at Rivard Plaza (1340 Atwater Street) near the trail’s southern end or the northern end by Eastern Market.Nature Street Art on Dequindre CutStreet Art on Dequindre Cut - sea monster

Isaac Agree Downtown SynagogueIsaac Agree Downtown Synagogue

In April 2018, Bunnie Reiss from Los Angeles painted this mural on the back of the Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue at 1457 Griswold St. Detroit, MI 48226. It took her a week to complete this mural showcasing symbols of love, luck, happiness, and protection. The painting has a hamsa (an open hand that is meant to protect the wearer from the evil eye), a pair of identical birds in mirror image, and other folk symbols and shapes that are representative of Eastern European folk art. She did a fantastic job creating this piece of art and working it within the building seamlessly.

RiseRise

The Rise street mural can be found at 1431 Washington Blvd. Detroit, MI, 48226. This piece is painted by Beverly Fishman, who happens to be an artist-in-residence and head of the Painting Department at Cranbrook Academy of Art. It reminds me of the 70s a bit with the colors, but the intention is that the machined forms collide with colors that evoke both natural and electronic lighting. What do you think?

Whale TowerWhale Tower

The Whale Tower is one of the most peaceful of the Detroit Street Art murals. I keep imagining hearing the whale sounds underwater while looking at this. This particular mural is one of 100 Whaling Walls around the world painted by Robert Wyland, who is a Detroit native. Painted in 1997 on the Broderick Tower at 10 Witherell St. Detroit, MI 48226. When it was on the list for America’s tallest abandoned buildings.

HENSEHENSE

Over 100,000 sq ft tall, it took three weeks for Hense (Alex Brewer), an Atlanta based artist, to complete this colorful mural. Painted on Detroit’s Madison Theater Building at 1555 Broadway St. Detroit, MI 48226 in 2014 with over 100 gallons of paint. The artist said at the time, “all of my work is purely abstract and nonrepresentational, so it’s not intended to have any meaning other than the form, line, color, and composition.” I think he pulled this off perfectly!

UnityUnity

This 118 foot tall Detroit Street Art can be found at 28 West Grand River Avenue, Detroit, MI 48226. But, the amazing thing is that the artist is 92-year old Charles McGee from Detroit. He is considered by many as the dean of Detroit’s visual arts scene, with an impressive career spanning seven decades. This mural is the largest that he has completed. The message of this mural is demonstrating community and togetherness through seemingly distinct and different shapes. What an amazing artist!

The BeltBrummel

The Belt is a collection of Detroit Street Art in an alley connecting Grand River and Gratiot between Broadway and Library streets. Its name is from the location being in the former downtown garment district. The Library Street Collective curated this project, making it a must-see place downtown. The Belt is also one of the busiest places I have seen photographers do photoshoots. You can always find someone getting their photos professionally taken here on the weekends. And when you are walking through the Belt, remember to check out the Z Parking Lot, which flanks both ends of the Belt.Detroit Street Art in the Belt - Crime

The Z Artwork in the Z Parking Lot - Unexpected Punchline

The Z parking lot is a pleasant surprise to find in downtown Detroit. With over 130 paintings, this is a stop that you have to make if you love seeing Detroit Street Art. The two ten-floor parking decks (north and south) are at 1234 Library St. Detroit, MI 48226. The best way to see the murals is to take the elevator up to the 10th floor and walk down the ramps. You will be able to see both garages down until the 3rd floor. Then you will have to come up in the other parking lot to catch what you missed. Artwork in the Z Parking Lot - ‘If you think you can do a thing…’

Music Hall Center for the Performing ArtsMusic Hall Center for the Performing Arts - Stevie Wonder Mural

The Stevie Wonder Mural is at 350 Madison St. Detroit, MI 48226, on the south side of the Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts.  Painted in 2019 by London artist, Richard Wilson it reaches 100 feet tall and is 8,000 sq ft. This painting was started on Stevie Wonder’s 69th birthday, and it is the 60th anniversary of Motown records. Richard has painted another mural on the west side of the building aimed to raise awareness of the need for arts education in Black communities.

2126 Pierce2015 Murals in the Market - 2126 Pierce

This mural was a surprise to find on a building in the middle of nothing by the Eastern Market. 2126 Pierce is part of the 2015 Murals in the Market, painted by Beau Stanton. This single home has been completely renovated and is now a unique Airbnb rental.

The Heidelberg ProjectThe Heidelberg Project

The Heidelberg Project is in a two-block area on 3600 Heidelberg St. Detroit, MI 48207. This is Tyree Guyton’s brainchild that has transformed blighted and abandoned homes in his neighborhood into works of art since 1986. On the weekend, you can find bike tours riding past and numerous cars parked around the Heidelberg Project with people exploring the exhibits in the yards. His use of dolls, toys, shoes, and other forms of medium creates eye-popping and bizarre works of art that you have just to come and see for yourself.

We Kahn Do It!We Kahn Do It Mural - Detroit Street Art

‘We Kahn do it!’ is a play on words for renowned architect Albert Kahn designed by Philip Lauri and Nick Jaroch. While looking at the mural wall, three Albert Kahn buildings are seen in the background off to the right, including the Fisher Building. Albert Kahn is known as “the architect of Detroit” and is one of the most respected industrial architects of his time. This mural can be found in New Center at 318 East Milwaukee Avenue Detroit, MI 48202. Although the building has been recently sold, no plans for the future of the mural have been defined. I would definitely make a trip out to see this iconic Detroit Street Art!

Illuminated MuralIlluminated Mural - Detroit Street Art

Right down the street from the Kahn mural is the Illuminated Mural on another Albert Kahn building at 2937 East Grand Boulevard, Detroit, MI. Some graffiti has been added to the bottom of this Detroit Street Art, and time hasn’t been kind to it as it was damaged by construction. Even with all of that, this 2009 ‘bleeding rainbow” mural is still beautiful with all the colors raining down the side of the building. I’m glad to read that they are planning on repairing the damage to Katherine Craig’s mural, and it will be protected going forward.

Detroit ChimeraDetroit Chimera

Probably one of the most iconic Detroit Street Art is the Detroit Chimera. You can see this on the side of the Russell Industrial Center while driving downtown on I-75. Located at 1600 Clay St. Detroit, MI 48211, it has probably been the one mural that I remember seeing forever, but never saw it up close only driving by. Kobie Soloman created this 8,750 sq ft masterpiece and at the time (2010-2012), was the largest mural in the state of Michigan. A little side fact is that there is a Detroit Redwings symbol that can be found within the wing of the Chimera.

Mary Ellen Riordan MuralMary Ellen Riordan Mural - Detroit Street Art

This mural is commemorating Mary Ellen Riordan, who is the first woman to lead the Detroit Federation of Teachers. Located at 3437 Cochrane St. Detroit, MI 48208, it is painted by Nicole Macdonald. Mary Ellen led one of the largest local unions in the United States and was the first woman to lead a union of such size. She was inducted into the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame in 2001. The mural features a portrait of Riordan with some students, uttering the quote, “Teachers want what children need.” Truer words have never been said!

Lincoln Street Art ParkLincoln Street Art Park

The Lincoln Street Art Park reminds me a bit of the Heidelberg Project, where the art is created by taking recyclables and materials and repurposing them. You can find quite the collection of murals on the sides of the buildings, under the bridge overpasses, and by the recycle center in Lincoln Park. When you visit, you can get tours, volunteer, or learn all about recycling objects into art. Detroit Street Art - Force of Nature in Lincoln Park

Southwest MuralsEl Asador - Deity of Southwest Detroit

The murals in Southwest Detroit are as vibrant and colorful as the Mexican and Mexican-American artists that created them. The Springwell murals can be found at 1312 Springwells St. Detroit. Under the viaduct on Springwell St. and following the wall around the corner, you can find a good chunk of the murals.Untitled Street Art in Southwest Detroit

Born in Detroit 1889Detroit Street Art - Born in Detroit

The Born in Detroit street mural, seen while driving on I-94, can be found on the back of the Carhartt store at 5800 Cass, Detroit. The artists, Kelly Golden and Jordan Zielke of Golden Sign Company, based their design on the illustrations by Michael Burdick and James Noellert.

Miscellaneous Detroit Street Art MuralsDetroit Street Art - Automatic Transmission

Here is the last roundup of Detroit Street Art murals that I have found. These are more or less scattered around the areas listed above, so nothing is too far from the downtown area unless I noted it.

Summary

I thoroughly enjoyed exploring Detroit and finding all of these street art murals. If you try to follow in my footsteps and find these yourself, let me know how it goes for you. I will add more as I find them as well. Also, if you know of any that I have missed here that you believe should be on this list, leave me a comment with the address, and I’ll go check them out next time I’m in town.

If You Enjoyed This Detroit Street Art Post, Sign Up To Receive Posts By Email or…

Join us on Facebook for regular updates and related articles
Check us out on Instagram to see what we are up to in photos
Follow us on Twitter for links to great travel articles curated just for you
View and purchase your favorite of my travel photos on SmugMug. And if you don’t see the one you want on the site, send me a comment below, and I’ll add it.
Or share this “The Ultimate List of Detroit Street Art You Must See” with others by pinning on your Street Art Pinterest board!Detroit Street Art Pinterest Pin

Further Reading

If you are coming to Detroit for a visit, check out these posts for further travel inspiration:

8 Comments

  • Karthika 20October2019 at 9:39 PM Reply

    I love exploring street art in places that I visit. Gives such a great glimpse of the local culture and vibe.

    • Heather 21October2019 at 9:59 AM Reply

      Thank you! I’m so glad you enjoyed seeing the creative side of Detroit!

  • Lynnette 19October2019 at 10:29 PM Reply

    Living in Houston, we have some amazing street art as well. I think that these artists don’t get the credit they deserve for creating such beautiful works of art on buildings. It takes time, talent, and many times their own money to create and they rarely get recognition. Thanks for sharing their talents.

    • Heather 19October2019 at 10:53 PM Reply

      I definitely agree that they don’t get as much recognition as they deserve. I’m glad Detroit makes a big show for them every year and dedicates buildings for them to showcase their art!

  • Ann 19October2019 at 3:13 AM Reply

    Oh I love streetart, this is a great post! Thank you for sharing!

    • Heather 19October2019 at 8:45 AM Reply

      Thank you, Ann! I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

  • Sage Scott 18October2019 at 3:46 PM Reply

    This is such a detailed list, and every mural is amazing! My daughter and I have Detroit on our bucket list, so we’re glad to have this resource to help us explore the street art when we get to visit!

    • Heather 18October2019 at 7:23 PM Reply

      I’m so glad you enjoyed the artwork. It is even more impressive in person. Let me know when you do make it to Detroit and I can give you more tips and cool places to visit.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

251 Shares
Pin194
Share57
Tweet
Share
Share