Looking for something different to do?

Try searching out an outdoor mural while on a walk, on a bicycle or while driving around Old Gretna. Follow Mayor Belinda Constant’s call to “Mask Up, Gretna” and see how many you can find.  

Hint – hint – there are seven outdoor murals. There are lovely indoor murals in Gretna, as well but those are not accessible due to pandemic restrictions.   

A mural is a piece of artwork that is painted or applied directly on a wall, ceiling or other permanent surface. A distinguishing characteristic of mural painting is that the architectural elements of the given space are harmoniously incorporated into the image.

Some wall paintings are painted on large canvases, which are then attached to the wall, a technique in common use since the late 19th century. Murals in Pompeii date back as early as around 100 BC-AD 79.

There are many different styles and techniques. The best-known is probably fresco, which uses water-soluble paints with a damp lime wash, rapid use of the resulting mixture over a large surface often in parts, but with a sense of the whole.

Murals today are painted in a variety of ways, using oil or water-based media. The beauty of a wall mural today has become much more widely available where a painting or photographic image is transferred to poster paper or canvas which is then pasted to a wall surface to give the effect of either a hand-painted mural or realistic scene.

Besides the pleasure of the art itself, murals can take on a special role in a community and can help to transform a neighborhood.

So Mask Up and let your tour begin!  The murals are listed by year of creation, choose your route for your convenience.   

  • 1. River Boat Mural
  • Artist: Rodney Lewis       Date 1999
  • Location: Newton Street, corner of 2nd Street
  • 2. Gretna Green Blacksmith Shop Mural
  • Artist: Rodney Lewis        Date: 1999
  • Location: Newton Street, corner of 2nd Street
  • 3. Jefferson Memorial Arch with City Hall Mural 
  • Artist: Rodney Lewis         Date: 1999
  • Location: Young-Baham Building – 401 West Bank Expressway,
  • Amelia Street side
  • 4. German Life Mural Artist: Robert Dafford       Date: 2015
  • Location:  5th Street side of German-American Cultural Center
  • 519 Huey P. Long Avenue
  • 5. Swamp Mural
  • Artist: Mel Wilken            Date: 2015
  • Location: Front of Chris Ziifle Home 3rd Street
  • 6. Love That Mural
  • Artist: Keith Eccles           Date: 2019
  • Location: River side of Jefferson Bldg. (next to 125 Huey P. Long)
  • 7. Creole cottages – Amelia Streetscape Murals
  • Artist: Max Bernardi        Date: 2006
  • Location: 524 Amelia Street

The huge mural on the 5th Street wall of the two-story German-American Cultural Center at 517 Huey P. Long Ave. was painted by renowned international muralist Robert Dafford and certainly adds to the charm of Old Gretna. https://www.robertdaffordmurals.com/   

Muralist: Robert Dafford

Dafford’s murals are created with the purpose of boosting downtown development in small communities. When he painted the German club mural, he had painted over 300 murals in 35 years across the United States, Canada, France, Belgium, and England.

From 2000-2015, he worked along the Ohio River, painting over 200 large historical images of cities on their floodwalls, using trompe l’oeil advanced perspective and realist technique.

The German center has areas on its campus that offer the perfect place to stop, rest or perhaps have refreshments or a picnic as you take your mural tour. 

Up Huey P. Long Avenue, near the riverfront, is another mural to visit and enjoy. It is located on the river side of the Jefferson Building next to 125 Huey P. Long Avenue. Painted by Gretna artist, Keith Eccles, it’s loud and fun and makes you smile. https://www.facebook.com/KeithEcclesArt/  

“The “Love That” mural is becoming an iconic image that people are taking pictures in front of, where you clearly identify that you are in downtown Gretna. That whole space is coming alive with the greenspace and new addition of Downtown 2020 amenities. The beautiful addition to downtown Gretna will draw people and help the restaurants and businesses in the area. About the mural, I feel that the artwork is so vibrant that it is a celebration of life,” Keith Eccles said.    

Eccles has a studio in Gretna and one in Mississippi, but his love for youth equals his love for art. He teaches art at West Jefferson High School and is responsible for artwork and programs there as well as in other locations in the area.

Obviously all of the murals are on commercial buildings or businesses except the Swamp mural that decorates the home of Chris Ziifle. It was painted by local artist, Mel Wilken and affixed on metal for protection.

Mel Wilken and Keith Eccles have wonderful indoor murals that you will be introduced to in the future. 

Enjoy your outdoor mural tour. Mask Up, Gretna, practice social distancing and sooner, rather than later we can enjoy an indoor mural tour together.


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