Back in 2015, Baltimore native Maria Wolfe spent a year documenting her research on urban art through posts to her Instagram page, @Baltimurals. Now, six years later, she has more than 16,000 followers, a website, and a detailed virtual map featuring hundreds of locations to spot street art throughout Baltimore City.
She was first encouraged to present her findings on social media by her friends and family: “My friend and my mom were like, ‘Maria, you have all these photos, you should share them with the community,” says Wolfe, who also works for a web design company.
For Wolfe, the process of curating Baltimurals—naturally—starts with snapping a photo. Then, she publishes the images on Instagram with attribution to the artists and a location tag, giving the unique works the chance to reach viewers well beyond those who happen to be strolling by.
And the city is chock full of great material, Wolfe says. In recent years, it hasn’t been rare for her to discover a new mural on a daily basis. Among those that are most special to her is the Birdo Mural on North Pulaski and West Franklin streets in West Baltimore. She collaborated with artist Jay Birdo to fund and produce the piece—in vivid shades of red, purple, and green, with unique detail from the building’s owner—for the neighborhood.
“I got to meet with the homeowner, hear about her life, home, and community,” Wolfe says. “She loved specific flowers and colors…those are the ones we chose for Birdo to paint, along with a native Maryland bird.”
Overall, Wolfe explains, what makes Baltimore’s murals unique in the realm of public art is their ability to tell stories about the area’s history and neighbors.
“If you go into specific communities, [the art] is going to be specific to that corner, or whatever happened there,” she says. “This gives a voice to certain people and shows histories that were forgotten.”
Here, Wolfe shares a few of her many favorites:
“Wall of Pride (Back to the Future)”
This stunning array of public figures in Sandtown-Winchester includes portraits of Colin Kaepernick, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Toni Morrison, Nina Simone, John Lewis, and Marcus Garvey. The original “Wall of Pride” was painted between 1976 and 1977 by Pontella Mason and Avon Martin as a dedication to former president Jimmy Carter, according to Wolfe. “It’s important for people in Sandtown to see people who look like them, and what they have become,” she says.
“Long Live the Rose that Grew from Concrete”
Across a three-panel brick wall, this mural depicts children playing next to a luminous white rose pushing through the pavement. With bright shades of white and purple, it certainly stands out as a must-see.
“One Day at a Time”
By Michael Owen
Maryland Ave. and W. 26th St., Charles Village
With neutral color and the use of shadows, this mural’s message makes a powerful impact on those passing by. Raising awareness about addiction and the path to recovery was the guiding principle for the design. “It just speaks volumes, one day at a time, not just for people in recovery, but for everyone,” Wolfe says.
“However Far the Stream Flows It Never Forgets its Source”
See the vibrant yellow, green, and pink piece featuring a man holding an open book looking toward a stream and landscape.
“Learn, Grow, Evolve”
A woman looks up toward an array of colorful flowers with evolve written in the hoop of her earrings. The mural includes a city landscape at its center on a blue and teal background.
1301 N. Monroe St., Sandtown-Winchester
A man in between two yellow-and-black striped bees enlivens Baltimore’s Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood. With “Survival” outlined across his face, the focus of this mural is clear even with minimal color.
“Home, This Must Be the Place”
By Steve Powers
2201 Russell St. Southwest Baltimore
Part of “A Love Letter to Baltimore,” this mural embodies a sense of Charm City pride through its simplicity. Check out the bold typography the next time you’re driving down I-295.