A selection of hand-painted signs. 

Club Memphis on Park (painted over)

Photos by Justin Fox Burks

Club Memphis on Park (painted over)

click to enlarge Chilitos on Macon
  • Chilitos on Macon

Memphis' patina of rust and concrete and peeling paint speaks of a city that has lived and built and moved and changed and rebuilt. On brick walls from Orange Mound to downtown, you can find hand-lettered, disappearing ghost signs or freshly painted masterpieces advertising everything from car washes to vacuum cleaner repair.

click to enlarge Chef’s Supply and Design on Hollywood
  • Chef’s Supply and Design on Hollywood
click to enlarge Central BBQ on Summer
  • Central BBQ on Summer

As a food photographer I've always been particularly interested in how sign painters represent food. There's beauty in the dark-outlined representations of ribs, cheeseburgers, and wings that seem to float in mid-air devoid of any context. There's an abundance of comedy, too, in the cartoon versions of the animals we eat — a chicken cooking a chicken, pigs dancing, a catfish smiling.

click to enlarge Valle’s Italian Rebel on Winchester
  • Valle’s Italian Rebel on Winchester

Below is a collection of images of some of my personal favorite hand-painted signs of food that I shot throughout the years. Some of the paintings are by artists including the late James "Brick" Brigance and Melvin Upchurch. Other paintings are anonymous and fading. For me, the trick is to look and find the art hidden in plain sight that surrounds us every day.

click to enlarge Memphis Big Burger on Hollywood
  • Memphis Big Burger on Hollywood
click to enlarge Old Style Smokin! BBQ on S. Parkway
  • Old Style Smokin! BBQ on S. Parkway
click to enlarge Effie’s Lounge on N. Second
  • Effie’s Lounge on N. Second
click to enlarge Live Catfish on Lamar
  • Live Catfish on Lamar

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