When you wander through the streets of Asheville, North Carolina, it’s not just the Blue Ridge Mountain range that catches your eye but the colorful splashes of color, graffiti, and murals that adorn the city’s buildings, bridges, and corners. Asheville’s mural scene is vast and a vibrant expression of our city’s soul and its local artists. 

In this deep dive into Asheville’s mural art, we take you on a visual and historical tour of the city, unveiling the stories behind the brushstrokes you might see on your next visit. 

A Colorful History

The story of murals in Asheville is as old as the city itself. From the days when the Cherokee first painted the landscape to the modern renaissance that has seen the city become a national art hub, murals have always been a part of the local culture. Graffiti has evolved as the city has grown, with each new mural showing a different side of the culture.


Popular Murals and Artists

If you’ve ever driven or walked through the River Arts District, it showcases Asheville’s commitment to art. The streets come alive with the works of renowned local muralists and painters, most painted on the sides of run-down buildings and warehouses waiting to be revitalized. Downtown and West Asheville offer many murals to gawk at, and you might even find a few hidden gems in the neighboring towns of Black Mountain and Weaverville. 

The diversity of styles and themes in Asheville’s murals is incredibly unique. Here, we’ll spotlight some of the most iconic murals and the artists who brought them to life.

“Sun Showers” by Ishmael
At the intersection of Patton and Lexington Avenues, “Sun Showers,” a radiant mural by Ishmael Leaver, plays with light and color, reflecting the artist’s love for the outdoors. A tribute to Asheville’s unpredictable weather patterns, Ishmael’s work adorns our city’s walls in several locations, featuring designs about local brewing and arts festivals, cementing his place in Asheville’s creative community.

“Chicken Alley” by Molly Must
Molly Must’s “Chicken Alley” mural at the entrance of Chicken Alley in downtown Asheville interprets the history of the chicken-processing plant owned by Sam and Argie Young of Asheville, for which the alley is named. It’s a testament to the area’s rich agricultural heritage, including a poem in which Molly collaborated with Sandra to illustrate her visual memories.

Christopher “Bugs Bunny” Walken by Ian Wilkinson
In the heart of the River Arts District on RAD Foundy Street, Ian Wilkinson‘s “Christopher ‘Bugs Bunny’ Walken” is a whimsical depiction of the beloved cartoon character Bugs Bunny and actor Christopher Walken. This mural captures the playful spirit of Asheville, blending pop culture and artistic innovation.

Foundation River Arts District Mural by Jerry Cahill
Jerry Cahill‘s mural at the Foundation River Arts District spotlights Asheville’s diverse artistic community. Through vivid colors and dynamic animal shapes, Cahill’s work resembles an ink blot test through a kaleidoscope.

Megan Kelly on River Mill Lofts Apartments
Adorning the River Mill Lofts Apartments, Megan Kelly‘s mural is a breathtaking piece that reflects the natural beauty surrounding Asheville. With a style that merges realism with fantasy, Kelly’s artwork focuses on taking the famous mandala design and turning it on its head, showing the onlooker something deeper.

“Hello Asheville” by Gus Cutty
Gus Cutty‘s mural at The Orange Peel is a bold, larger-than-life painting of the one and only Lionel Richie, who used to play there as the frontman for The Commodores. Known for his impactful street art all over the city, Cutty’s work here is no exception, drawing in music fans with its vibrant colors and compelling imagery.

“Greetings from Asheville” by Matteo Miles
The “Greetings from Asheville” mural at the Aloft Hotel is a modern take on the classic postcard design, welcoming visitors with iconic city images. This piece from Matteo Miles, a traveling muralist from nearby Greenville, SC, captures the essence of Asheville, from its historic landmarks to its natural wonders, making it a must-see for first-time visitors.

“Dolly Parton and Ru Paul” by Gus Cutty
An Asheville favorite, this mural featuring Dolly Parton and RuPaul celebrates two iconic figures and is a vibrant symbol of inclusivity and empowerment. Located at West Asheville’s Beauty Parade, this artwork from Gus Cutty pays homage to the trailblazers who have championed diversity and self-expression.

“West Asheville” by Jordan Atkinson
Jordan Atkinson‘s mural on the side of The Whale in West Asheville captures the eclectic, bohemian spirit of this funkier and more eclectic Asheville neighborhood. Through a mix of abstract and figurative elements, Atkinson’s piece reflects West Asheville in all the best ways.


Interactive Mural Map

To see all the fantastic art Asheville offers, we recommend either a self-guided tour or a local group tour to immerse yourself in Asheville’s mural scene. With dozens of murals scattered across the city, an interactive map can help you plan your route and ensure you get all the highlights. 

Check out our suggested loop, starting from the urban core and meandering to the West and South of the town.

Begin in downtown, where cafes and historic architecture frame larger-than-life murals. Look out for “Kaleidoscope” by Ian Wilkinson, where geometric shapes appear to dance under the sun’s passage and find the multi-wall mural underneath the Lexington Avenue bridge by local artist Molly Must, which spans Asheville’s history, ranging from traditional handicrafts to contemporary chess players.

West Asheville
Venture West, where the River Arts District stands, to see an unbelievable amount of paintings. NYC artist Jerkface’s “Fender Bender” features a mashup of Homer Simpson and Futurama’s Bende, while Ian Brownlee’s “Mother and Child” evokes the timeless connection between nature and humanity.

South Slope
Complete your tour with a stop at the South Slope Brewing District, a growing cultural hub on the edge of downtown. Here, you’ll find “Liberation” and “Freedom,” two murals by Zander Stefani that represent Zander’s idea of the magic and mystery found in exploring new places, and “Hilliard 197” by Ian Wilkinson, which showcases the fun and excitement of the area through a rainbow mural designed to look like a circus tent.


Local Impact and Engagement

As you’ve seen, our murals often mirror our city’s values and act as a platform for underrepresented voices, providing a canvas for activism and inclusivity. You can see the local support for public art through the many collaborative mural projects you’ll find, with many artists, residents, and local business owners involved in the planning and painting process.

For example, the gorgeous art landscape in the River Arts District was made possible by the Foundation Walls project, which allows graffiti artists to paint there while complying with the city’s graffiti ordinance. Community-led projects like these have spirited the move toward a painted Asheville, drawing tourists and locals to witness the murals and patronize local businesses. 

Asheville’s murals tell the stories of our town and its varied communities, sparking conversations and forging connections between business owners and artists. Whether you’re a local or a visitor, set aside some time to wander our streets and encounter the collections on our walls the next time you’re here.