8 Surprising Cities With Amazing Street Art

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    Houston, Texas
    This past fall, the second annual HUE Mural Festival took over Houston, bringing citywide tours, celebrations, film screenings, and live paintings to the sprawling metropolis. The weeklong festival, which features artists from across the globe, has significantly helped to brighten and beautify previously neglected neighborhoods. One of the organizers, street artist Gonzo247, launched the nonprofit Graffiti and Street Art Museum of Texas as a means of preserving and promoting the history and culture of street art. And plenty of temporary public art can be found throughout the city, which supports projects like 360 Degrees Vanishing, an installation of mounted South African beaded tapestries, and Art Blocks, just one piece of downtown’s continued revitalization as the biggest city in Texas as it prepares to host this year’s Superbowl.

    Plan Your Trip: Houston
    Photo by Veronica Meewes
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    Kiev, Ukraine
    Three years after protests throughout Ukraine’s capital led to the ousting of the president, the city is filled with mammoth murals, many of them political in nature. While much of this post-Soviet graffiti began with anti-Russian and pro-peace expressions in Maidan Square—the center of the Ukrainian revolution—beautiful street art can be found on walls across Kiev. And this past summer, the first International Festival of Contemporary Art presented Mural Social Club, an event aimed at decentralizing urban culture by spreading art beyond the city centers. More than 30 artists from around the world created murals that were then installed in Kiev as well as Odessa and Chernihiv.

    Plan Your Trip: Kiev
    Photo by Veronica Meewes
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    San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
    In recent years, Mexico has seen an explosion of high-quality art on the streets of its cities. San Miguel de Allende, in particular, which already had exceptional art galleries, now has a flourishing street art scene in Colonia Guadalupe, the first arts district in the UNESCO World Heritage city. In 2013, the city initiated the Muros en Blanco (“Blank Walls”) project, inviting 33 young street artists from around the globe to come paint the town. The street art, like the rest of the city, is bursting with color and Mexican culture, featuring imagery of the Virgin of Guadalupe, papel picado, sugar skulls, lotería, serape print, and more.

    Plan Your Trip: San Miguel de Allende
    Photo courtesy Muros en Blanco/Facebook
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    Perth, Western Australia
    Melbourne’s graffiti-covered lanes and arcades have become as much of a tourist attraction as the city’s flourishing food and beverage scene. But across the vast continent, Perth is home to so many beautiful murals that they’ve been mapped online by neighborhood, encouraging visitors to plan their own walking tours of the city. A majority lie in Northbridge, a neighborhood bustling with shops and nightlife. The capital of Western Australia also has a State Graffiti Taskforce, which supports urban art projects in an effort to prevent graffiti vandalism.

    Plan Your Trip: Perth
    Photo by Veronica Meewes
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    Richmond, Virginia
    This spring, the RVA Street Art Festival will celebrate its fifth year of beautifying Virginia’s capital while supporting youth art education. Formerly held at the downtown canal walk and then the old GRTC bus depot, which is currently slated to become luxury condominiums, the festival is now headquartered at the historic Southern States silos, which allows the artists to bring color to Manchester while educating participants on the Richmond Slave Trail, which runs along the site. And modern murals aren’t the city’s only form of street art: Preserved hand-painted advertisements are still visible on historic brick buildings throughout the Fan, Church Hill, and Shockoe Bottom.

    Plan Your Trip: Richmond
    Photo by Veronica Meewes
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    Montreal, Québec
    The largest city in the French-speaking Canadian province of Québec is also a huge proponent of street art. Montreal has invested money in the creation of permanent murals in different boroughs, as well as a project to beautify the highway connecting its airport to downtown. For the last three summers, the MURAL urban art festival has taken over Saint-Laurent Boulevard with block parties, live painting, street sales and live music for 10 days. And Under Pressure, which focuses on graffiti rather than murals, is the longest running festival of its kind in North America. Between the two festivals, Montreal is filled with street art of every size, shape, and style.

    Plan Your Trip: Montreal
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    Fort Smith, Arkansas
    If someone were to drop a street art festival where you’d least expect it, Arkansas might be the spot. So The Unexpected is an appropriate name for the big contemporary and public art project, now in its second year, that takes over downtown Fort Smith, brightening the city with epic works of art. This past fall, Australian artist Guido Van-Helton painted three sides of a grain elevator with portraits of people who represent the region, and Puerto Rican artist Alexis Diaz expanded the project to Fayetteville, where he completed a mural on a high-profile building.

    Plan Your Trip: Arkansas
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    Lima, Peru
    The capital of Peru is splashed with colorful chicha-style murals, despite resistance from current mayor Luis Castañeda, who recently painted the yellow color of his election campaign over 60 murals that had been painted when previous mayor Susan Villarán, a huge proponent for community and the arts, was in office. But in true rebel spirit, outraged and inspired street artists are adding new murals at a rapid rate, this time with the hashtag #BorraronUnoPintaramosMil (“You erased one, we will paint a thousand”).

    Plan Your Trip: Lima
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