Savannah, renowned for its southern charm and historical significance, is also awash with fun murals, striking sculptures, and public art installations that beautifully blend the old and new. Savannah has successfully transformed ordinary buildings and public spaces into extraordinary canvases of creativity.
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The old Pepsi Bottling Plant, situated at 4009 Montgomery Street, is a distinctive landmark on Savannah’s public art scene. Just a brief drive from the Historic District, the plant’s exterior is adorned with the cheerful mural “Pepsi Loves Savannah.” It features a jolly emoji toasting with a can of Pepsi, bringing a modern, playful element to the city’s historical landscape. This whimsical public art, in a location imbued with nostalgia, makes the old Pepsi Bottling Plant a must-visit spot for art and soda fans alike during a Savannah vacation.
The “Georgia Bees” mural, located at 12 W 41st Street in Savannah’s trendy Starland District, is a testament to the creativity making the city’s public art scene uniquely engaging. Roaming artist Mary Lacy transformed a blank wall into a captivating mural of four bees, each a mosaic of geometric shapes swathed in muted earth tones. Encapsulating the symbiosis of art and leisure, the mural graces the side wall of Two Tides Brewing Co., an idyllic spot to relax with a craft beer. To fully appreciate this artistic gem, head to the corner of Whitaker and 41st Streets. The “Georgia Bees” mural is just one example of how Savannah’s public art scene offers a fusion of history, culture, and contemporary charm.
Montgomery Hall, a property of Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), is a striking emblem of Savannah’s thriving art scene. The building’s exterior is graced by an electrifying four-story mural, a riotous celebration of color and vitality, conceived and executed by local artist Matt Hebermehl. Despite public access not being consistently permissible due to the SCAD ownership, the mural’s vivid visibility from the street enriches the cityscape and underlines Savannah’s commitment to fostering art and local talent.
Another gem in Savannah’s public art collection is the Green Truck Pub mural, located at 2430 Habersham Street. This nostalgic mural, painted on the side of the beloved Green Truck neighborhood pub, reflects the establishment’s straightforward and welcoming ethos. The depiction of a simple green truck is emblematic of the pub’s commitment to unpretentious and satisfying cuisine. For years, the Green Truck Pub has been a go-to destination for both locals and tourists, tantalizing taste buds with a varied menu that ranges from juicy, mouthwatering burgers to vegan-friendly chili, all accompanied by a selection of local craft beers. The Green Truck Pub mural, with its modest charm, is as much a part of the venue’s appeal as its delectable dishes, reinforcing Savannah’s attractive blend of art and culinary culture in the Starland District.
At the intersection of Desoto Avenue and 39th Street in Savannah, stands a testament to the city’s artistic legacy — the SAFE Lee mural. Created by Tommy May, the man behind the SAFE Lee brand, this mural graces the wall of the former Lee O’Neil Gallery, which was open from September 2015 to late June 2016. May’s mural showcases two stirring profiles painted in contrasting red and blue hues, characterized by his distinctive brushstrokes and design technique. Even though the gallery no longer exists, the mural endures, serving as a vivid reminder of Savannah’s dynamic and historically rich art scene.
Savannah Statues & Monuments
In the heart of Troup Square stands the Armillary Sphere, a key part of Savannah’s art scene. Constructed in the early 1970s, it was the city’s most modern sculpture at the time. An armillary is an old device that tracks movements in the sky, using a sphere in the middle and metal rings around it to show different paths. Even though telescopes replaced it for astronomy, the armillary is still admired as art. Troup Square’s Armillary Sphere, made of bronze, sits on six bronze turtles and is decorated with gold zodiac signs. It was once thought to be a sundial. So, while it’s no longer used for astronomy, it’s a reminder of our past and a beautiful piece of public art.
The Waving Girl statue holds a special place in Savannah’s dynamic public art scene. The statue pays homage to Florence Martus, affectionately known as Savannah’s Waving Girl, who was a beacon of southern hospitality on the Georgia coast. Born on August 7th, 1869, in Cockspur Island, GA, Martus became a significant part of maritime history through her unstinting efforts to greet and bid farewell to sailors aboard passing ships, day and night. Austrian-born artist Felix de Weldon designed this monument, which adds depth and character to Savannah’s coastal landscapes. The 9-foot-tall bronze statue, situated aloft a substantial platform, portrays a young Martus in a simple short-sleeved dress, her hands clasping a flowing handkerchief. This testament to Martus’ unswerving goodwill not only enhances Savannah’s artistic charm but also serves as a poignant reminder of the city’s maritime heritage laced with heartwarming tales of southern hospitality.
The Bird Girl statue, originally in Savannah’s Bonaventure Cemetery, has played an influential role in defining the city’s artistic and cultural landscapes. This iconic bronze sculpture, created in 1936 by Sylvia Shaw Judson, originally stood in relative obscurity, affectionately known as Little Wendy by the family that commissioned it. However, its quiet existence was disrupted in 1994 when it appeared on the cover of the bestselling novel “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil,” gaining nationwide recognition and its new title, the Bird Girl. Judson had crafted several exact replicas of her statue, but the Bird Girl in Savannah holds a distinct place in the public consciousness due to its literary fame. The Bird Girl Statue is now on display at the Telfair Academy Museum for guests to admire.
Make time to also visit and explore Bonaventure Cemetery. The cemetery is a historical treasure featuring striking tombs, epitaphs, and other notable statues, making it an essential stop on any Savannah itinerary.
The Confederate/Civil War Monument in Savannah, GA, significantly contributes to the city’s rich tapestry of public art. This towering structure is located in the serenity of Forsyth Park, stretching 48 feet (15 m) high, crowned with a bronze statue of a Confederate soldier, a solemn tribute to those who perished in the American Civil War. Originally dedicated in 1875 as the Confederate Monument, it was reverently rededicated by the City of Savannah in 2018. It stands today as one of the oldest and largest Confederate monuments in Georgia, a poignant reminder of the region’s complex history. While visiting, it’s important to not only marvel at this grand monument but also explore the surrounding Forsyth Park. The park, with its picturesque landscape, iconic fountain, and numerous historical markers, offers a captivating glimpse into Savannah’s past and present.
The William Jasper Monument, located in Madison Square, Savannah, GA, holds a prominent position in the city’s diverse public art scene. This monument pays a solemn tribute to Sergeant William Jasper, a courageous soldier during the Siege of Savannah in 1779. The monument, designed by the renowned sculptor Alexander Doyle, was dedicated on February 2, 1888, and stands at a substantial height of 15.5 feet (4.7 m). The monument, marked by its proximity to the De Soto Hotel, depicts Sergeant Jasper in a dynamic pose, holding the flag of the 2nd South Carolina Regiment, symbolizing his heroic actions during the battle.
The African-American Monument in Savannah, GA, embodies a powerful tribute to the city’s African-American community, simultaneously spotlighting the overlooked narratives of the transatlantic slave trade. Located along the picturesque waterfront near River Street, the 2002-dedicated monument features a bronze portrayal of an African-American family, each figure adorned in contemporary attire, standing atop a sturdy granite pedestal. At their feet lay broken chains, a silent yet potent symbol of a brutal past. This impactful monument, both enriches Savannah’s diverse public art scene and elucidates an integral yet often sidelined facet of the city’s multifaceted history.
Savannah is home to many famous sculptures, each contributing to the city’s rich artistic and cultural landscape. However, one of the most renowned is arguably the Bird Girl statue. This bronze sculpture gained nationwide recognition after it was featured on the cover of the bestselling novel “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.” Created by Sylvia Shaw Judson in 1936 and known as Little Wendy, it now stands in Savannah’s Telfair Academy and is a must-see on any Savannah itinerary.
The “Welcome to Savannah” mural is located in the heart of the city’s Historic District on Drayton Street. Its distinctive design and welcoming message make it a popular spot for photos among both locals and tourists.
Some iconic sculptures in Savannah worth visiting include the Bird Girl statue, famously associated with the novel “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil,” located at the Telfair Academy. The Confederate/Civil War Monument in Forsyth Park and the William Jasper Monument in Madison Square are both poignant historical tributes. Lastly, the African-American Monument near River Street is an impactful representation of African-American history and the transatlantic slave trade.
The most notable murals in Savannah can be found in a few key locations. First, in the Historic District, you’ll find the “Welcome to Savannah” mural on Drayton Street. The Starland District, a thriving artistic neighborhood, is known for its constantly evolving murals. Lastly, the Thomas Square Streetcar Historic District houses a mural project featuring numerous large-scale works.
Yes, Savannah hosts several art festivals and events that proudly showcase public art. Notably, the Savannah Art Walk, held every second Saturday, offers a guided tour of Savannah’s art galleries. The SCAD Sidewalk Arts Festival is an annual event where SCAD students, alumni, and high school students create temporary chalk art on city sidewalks. Additionally, the three-day Savannah Music Festival is renowned for its unique musical art performances.