Burlington Street Art

by Gray Cargill on April 20, 2010

Tiger mural

Tiger mural

In recent years I find I am enjoying street art as much as (if not more than) art I see in museums and art galleries when I travel.  The first street art I ever saw was in New York City.  Coming from a small town in rural Vermont, I’d never seen anything like it:  A mural on the side of a building.  Later, I saw it in Montreal and Atlanta as well.  I became enchanted by these gems popping up in the most unusual places.

Lest you think street art only exists in big cities. I thought I’d share some shots I took during a walk around downtown Burlington a couple of weekends ago, when we hit record-high temperatures.  Burlington, Vermont is a very arts-friendly small city, so it doesn’t really surprise me to see this kind of creativity turn up in odd places. And for such a small city, there’s actually quite a lot of it.

UVM Mural

UVM Mural

This mural, painted on a cement wall outside of the University of Vermont’s Living/Learning Center, might be the oldest in Burlington, but if not, certainly one of the oldest.  It is also one of the most political, featuring slain Archbishop Oscar Romero and a plea for peace in El Salvador.  Sadly, the paint on this mural is chipping now due to the elements, so it’s not what it once was.

UVM Mural

UVM Mural

Over the years, the artwork on this wall has been added to, most notably in 2001, following the 9/11 attacks.  But in my opinion, though I’m sure the emotion behind the later art was powerful, the quality of art is not comparable to the original work.

Pearl St. Liquor mural

Mural on a Pearl St. liquor and pharmacy building

From the UVM campus, I walked north to Pearl Street and then west down the hill toward the lake.  The next major mural I found was the above one on the side of a building housing Pearl Street Beverage and Lakeside Pharmacy (conveniently located together for all your drug and alcohol needs). [6/6/10 update: My friend Michael tells me the building owner just painted over the mural, so sadly, this work of art no longer exists.]

Dough Boy's Bakery mural

Dough Boy's Bakery mural

Further along, on the other side of Pearl street,I saw this mural, partially hidden behind some trees along the side of Dough Boy’s Bakery.  I’m trying to figure out if that thing holding the flag is supposed to be an animated pastry of some sort. Odd.

Mural next to Parima Thai

Mural next to Parima Thai

The next mural up was this interesting city scape on the side of a building next to the excellent Parima Thai restaurant.

Skateboard shop

Skateboard shop

One of the most eye-catching buildings on Pearl Street is this skateboard shop on the corner of Pearl and Battery, which is entirely painted in street art, with cut skateboards decorating the edge of the roof.  Since there was a car in the way of one of the most interesting pieces of art on the building, I had to take a separate photo of that:

Skateboard shop

Skateboard shop

I have no idea who that guy is.

After grabbing lunch at the Beansies truck in Battery Park, I walked back to the center of town.

Mural on building housing Daily Planet

Mural on building housing Daily Planet

This fun design decorates the side of the building housing Rapunzel Salon and the Daily Planet, one of Burlington’s better restaurants, located on Center Street. On the back of a service station across the street, facing the Planet is this mural:

Mural facing Daily Planet

Mural facing Daily Planet

Facing the intersection of Center and Bank Streets, there is a parking garage located behind a Texaco station.  The Texaco station features some of the best street art I’ve seen in Burlington.

Texaco station mural

Texaco station mural

The details on this one warranted a close-up shot:

Texaco station mural

Texaco station mural

That guy cracks me up.  He totally looks like a Vermonter.  Then there’s this piece of art wizardry on the rear of the gas station:

Texaco artwork

More Texaco artwork

That looks like “Tooth” to me.  But I can’t for the life of me figure out what “tooth” would have to do with a Texaco station.  Finally, I took shots of this jungle mural, located in an alley off Church Street leading to the parking garage.

Mural off Church Street

Mural off Church Street

This mural is incredibly detailed and shows a lot of talent on the part of the artist. However I do question some of the animals featured in this urban jungle.  Since when do you find penguins in the jungle?

Penguin art

Penguins? In the jungle?

And look out for that most dangerous of jungle predators–the cow:

jungle cow

Jungle cow

There is more street art in Burlington than this, but I made an unfortunate choice of footwear on this day and was developing several blisters at this point, so I called it a day.

If you’re looking for something different to do on your next trip to Burlington, outside of the usual tourist stops, consider just walking around the streets of Burlington and enjoying the street art.  The architecture of this city is also an interesting combination of historical and eclectic, but that will have to be the subject of a future post.

John February 27, 2011 at 8:16 pm

“tooth” is the name of the artist who painted the large piece on the side of the Texaco station. He also painted the leftmost piece on the side of the skateshop, in which one of the O’s in tooth has been substituted for a tooth.
In response to Gray’s post below me, tooth’s pieces are a great example of graffiti, not necessarily street art. painting your middle finger would be an example of poorly done graffiti. It’s an art form just like anything else.

Gray February 27, 2011 at 9:30 pm

Aha! Good to know, John. Thanks. Graffiti or not, his work is definitely art. I’d have to say that most of the graffiti I’ve seen is like a figurative middle finger to the world. At what point do you draw a distinction between graffiti and street art, if both have that element of art to them?

John February 28, 2011 at 3:33 am

graffiti itself is an art form. Even though it may look illegible to the untrained eye, once you’re familiar with the different styles within that art form, your perception of it changes. I see street art at the stuff that people do in public that’s good, but not necessarily directly comparable to styles of graffiti. A good example of something that i’d say is no more graffiti than it is street street art is graffuturism, check it out on google.

Gray March 1, 2011 at 12:34 am

Will do, thanks!

Anonymous November 4, 2010 at 9:17 pm

amazing pics! great camera work too =)

SoloFriendly November 5, 2010 at 12:00 am

Thanks, Johnny!

Touristravelling July 11, 2010 at 2:20 pm

It is really outstanding!it looks like a openair art museum free of charge….
Worth travelling especially there!

SoloFriendly November 5, 2010 at 12:01 am

It’s definitely worth walking around town to look at, for sure.

SoloFriendly April 21, 2010 at 4:44 pm

I think there's a distinction between graffiti and street art, Candice. Not that I would dare try to come up with a firm definition of what it is in all cases, but as I see it (read “my opinion only”), street art tends to be more artistic and adds to the beauty and character of a city, whereas graffiti is like extending your scribbled middle finger to the world on the side of somebody's building.

Candice April 21, 2010 at 3:09 pm

Oooh, wow. I'm not a fan of graffiti, but I really like those.

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