New South End & Uptown Public Art to Discover

Gather the whole family and spend the day exploring 
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In Charlotte, public art is for the people, and the vibrancy of the people shines through in the art.

Case in point: In 2005, Charlotte artist Tom Thoune collected old plates, glass and broken ceramics, all donated by South End residents through a community collection in partnership with Uptown’s McColl Center for Visual Art.  

Armed with the colorful collection, Thoune then recycled and blended them with his own handcrafted ceramics, and the results live on today in 33 mosaics along Camden Road at the East/West Boulevard Light Rail.  

If your family is looking for ways to enjoy our city’s public art, here are some suggestions for a day out all ages will enjoy.


Feb. 19-March 7, 2021 — I Heart Rail Trail: Lights 

Discover public plazas and works of art along the Charlotte Rail Trail, an ever-changing, 3.5-mile linear park that links diverse neighborhoods in South End and Uptown. The Rail Trail offers everyone from dog walkers and joggers to cyclists and commuters something fun to look at along the way.

Light up your kids’ world with the return of popular I Heart Rail Trail: LightsTemporary, interactive light installations pop up along the Rail Trail from Friday, February 19, to Sunday, March 7, 2021.

Nearly 20 Carolinas-based artists submitted proposals for sculptures, wayfinding, digital projections and more, each incorporating light in some way. In all, seven artists’ works were chosen for the second installment of I Heart Rail Trail: Lights.

Music, performers, and more will surprise along the way, too, making it a great outing for the whole family.  

This year’s art locations include: 

  • Light Beans by Luvly Moon – 1100 South plaza (at the apartment splash pad)  
  • Threads by Kit Kube – Charlotte Urban Design Center plaza (1507 Camden Road) 
  • Covid Confessionals by Rachel Dickey – Dimensional plaza (1515 S. Tryon St.) 
  • Lover’s Lighthouse by Sharon Dowell & Chris Holston – 1616 “Coop” (1616 Camden Rd. above Leroy Fox) 
  • Seating ReArrangements by Ellie Richards – Dilworth Artisan Station Plaza (118 E. Kingston Ave.) 
  • Fairy Ring by Meredith Connelly – Atherton Plaza (2102 South Blvd.)

Rail Trail Map


New for 2021 — South End Interactive 

Colorful, large-scale installations, murals, and sculptures pepper the streets of South End, from the loveable whimsy of the Confetti Hearts wall by Evelyn Henson to those a little more off the beaten path, like Edwin Gil’s Nature mosaic at Living Kitchen. Marvel at the mosaic, and then grab a Living Burrito or a plant-based burger to-go.  

New for 2021, you can dive deeper and learn more about the stories behind the art. Through South End Interactive, just scan a QR code with your phone camera and watch as eight South End muralists share the stories behind the artwork. Plan your adventure using this list.

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“Stronger Together” by Georgie Nakima, located at Bland Street on the backside of Lost & Found


Time-Honored Art in Uptown

In Uptown, eager Instagrammers from near and far flock to the The Firebird, an impressive mirrored mosaic sculpture by Niki de Saint Phalle.

The installation is a mainstay of the Uptown streetscape and anchors the Levine Center for the Arts, which comprises The Mint Museum, The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Art + Culture, the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, plus theatre, high-end dining, quick bites, coffee shops, bars, and more.  

Just across Tryon Street from The Firebird, The Green city park features a fun literary theme, whimsical sculptures, including water-spouting fish, and a picnic-friendly landscape. Grab a quick slice at Fuel Pizza (500 S. College St.) or a sandwich at The Sandwich Club and relax with the kids as you take in the art and sunshine.


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Ready to explore? Try it on two wheels

Hop on a bike and make a day of art-hunting with nonprofit bikeshare system, Charlotte Joy Rides.

Boasting 343 bikes and 34 stations throughout Uptown, Joy Rides makes it easy (and healthy!) to explore the city and its art.  

But Joy Ride bikes aren’t only an economical and eco-friendly mode of transportation, they’re works of art, too! Original work by seven Charlotte-based artists are featured on each bike.

Rental rates start at $5 per half-hour, and go up to $150 for unlimited hour-long rides annually. Start planning your weekend adventures today!


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