In this second blog about embracing the quirky on Main Street, let’s take a look at public art. As discussed in the previous post, whimsical and offbeat installations (art, signage, alleys, seating, etc.) can fit well in historic surroundings, creating a unique sense of place, as long as they do not detract from or destroy the overall historic character. Public art is a great way to inject a bit of quirkiness into these areas.

Murals are one popular type of public art. Increasingly, communities are coming up with ways to make them interactive or create backgrounds for photo opportunities. This mural in the Ferndale district of Detroit encourages people to become part of it.

Mural in the Ferndale district of Detroit

In Green Bay, Wisconsin, the advocacy group “The Butterfly Effect” sponsored this butterfly mural that invites interaction, and they use it for public awareness of their cause.

Woman posing at “The Butterfly Effect” mural in Green Bay, Wis.
“The Butterfly Effect” mural in Green Bay, Wis.

Photos courtesy of The Butterfly Effect

In Beloit, Wisconsin, they pay homage to the city’s industrial history with industrial-themed murals on factory walls.

Industrial-themed mural in Beloit, WI.s

Murals don’t always have to be on walls. This alley in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, draws people in.

A funky alley mural in Pittsburgh

Murals can even make undesirable places more appealing, like this underpass along the Beltline trail in Atlanta, Georgia.

Mural along the Beltline trail underpass in Atlanta, Georgia

Traditional logos can make for whimsical art, like this post office mural in Princeton, Wisconsin.

Post office logo mural in Princeton, Wis.

Mother Fools coffee shop in Madison, Wisconsin, allows local graffiti artists to use their side wall as a canvas. Their artwork is left up for a week or two, and then another artist gets a turn, creating a steady stream of creativity all year.

Colorful mural at Mother Fool's in Madison
Mural at Mother Fool's in Madison
Portrait mural at Mother Fool's in Madison

Photos courtesy of Mother Fools Coffeehouse

Sculpture is another popular art form in downtowns. The streetscape provides a perfect backdrop for sculptures of all materials and sizes. This series of rusted metal artwork in Fort Myers, Florida, is dispersed throughout downtown, encouraging people to walk the entire district to see them all.

Rusted metal artwork in Fort Myers, Florida
Rusted metal artwork in Fort Myers, Florida
Rusted metal artwork on a bench in Fort Myers, Florida
Rusted metal artwork at a table in Fort Myers, Florida

A gap between buildings in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin, is a perfect place for this larger-than-life catfish.

Funky catfish sculpture in Fort Atkinson, Wis.
Funky catfish sculpture in an alley in Fort Atkinson, Wis.

Public art is not limited to urban areas. Reedsburg, in the rural Driftless area of Wisconsin, has created a program called Artslink, which is as cutting-edge as any similar effort in larger cities.

Reedsburg Artslink tree sculpture
Reedsburg Artslink crosswalk mural

Photos courtesy of Reedsburg Artslink