Asheville’s Must-See Mural at the Grail: Movie Magic Meets Mountain Street Art

Mural on Grail Moviehouse

A Passion for Film Gives Birth to One of Asheville’s Hidden Gems

When the Grail Moviehouse opened in downtown Asheville, owners Davida and Steve Horwitz wanted to incorporate local art into the theater’s interior. They commissioned Asheville artist Gus Cutty to paint portraits on reclaimed wood of  actors from various movie genres including Grace Kelly in Dial M for Murder, Gary Cooper in High Noon, Salvatore Cascio in Cinema Paradiso Giancarlo Esposito in Do The Right Thing, and Steve Martin in The Jerk.


Connection and Collaboration Leads to a Unique Movie Mural by Chris Jehley

After closing their downtown location, Davida and Steve brought the portraits to their new space in the River Arts District, the heart of Asheville’s creative community. Foundry Street in the RAD is the home of one of the only true street art galleries in the south. The Altamus property group worked with the city to preserve this as an active gallery with ever-changing installations. When they moved the Grail Moviehouse to Foundy Street in 2020, Davida and Steve were inspired by the art in the community and excited to commission a mural on their building. They admired works by other street artists, particularly the Shepherd Fairy that started the cultural phenomenon of the Andre the Giant has a Posse/Obey the Giant stickers which appeared all over the country in an effort to “subvert and take over public space”. 


Inspired by Asheville’s thriving street art scene, the Horwitzes wanted to continue their support of local artists and commissioned Chris Jehly to create an exterior mural. Using his background in printmaking and NYC street art, Jehly collaborated with Steve and Davida to create a dynamic movie collage mural. The mural reflects dualities in films, incorporates intricate details, and engages viewers.


 Jehly had been a regular movie-goer at the Grail as his partner is an independent film critic. The Horwitzes admired Jehly’s other work in  the Foundy, and Gus Cutty highly recommended him as an artist to work with.

The collaborative process not only led to a riveting piece of street art, but it also showcased the positive influence of businesses who develop meaningful relationships with local artists.


The Artistry and Vision of Grafitti and Street Art 

Jehly is  from New York City and studied and taught at Columbia University. His art specialty is Intaglio printmaking He describes the printmaking process as drawings  etched on metal and then rubbed in ink . “Whatever ink is left inside the crevices is then printed on paper through a press,” he said. The process is ”somewhere between a micro-sculpture and a painting.”


Jehly was engaged in the street art community since his youth in California. Because graffiti is such an accessible art, Chris, like most artists, started early. He earned a living painting houses and selling airbrushed shirts  to purchase spray paint.  He was also part of the skateboarding and BMX culture, which is very synchronized with urban art culture.


A Mural Collaboration with Personal Meaning 

Jehly enjoyed collaborating with Steve and Davida because it was his first Asheville mural commission and because he’s an avid film fan. “They started talking about movies that [they] liked, certain scenes, certain elements, and it unfolded day by day in that way,” he said. Steve and Davida  wanted “(the mural) to be representative of the movies we show in some ways, but we also wanted him to just let his imagination go.” Chris sketched out the mural of the movie collage so the building owners could approve the design first.


Chris said that he wanted to depict a balance of dualities, such as  the famous sunset scene in Apocalypse Now and the inflatable balloon people from Nope. Both scenes depict the sky as  a source of menace…kind of like death from above.”  Steve discussed Chris’s careful consideration when selecting Thumper to depict the exploding rabbit in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Steve wanted to ensure that Thumper’s portrayal wasn’t excessively gory to offend Bambi loving grandmas with children. 


Chris wants the piece to be something you want to revisit and to see something different time and time again,” said Jaylee. “It shouldn’t be one note; it shouldn’t be just like a logo or a quick read. It should have constant re-engagement because we are so used to quick-fire imagery.” The collage features many esoteric film characters like Nosferatu from the first vampire film. And Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, a Thai film about a man dying of kidney disease that spends his last somber days with the ghost of his wife and a forest spirit that used to be his son. The mural collage is a treat for movie lovers and people that enjoy mural art. You’ll see something new every time you view it.


Mural Art in Action 

Steve and Davida said it was amazing to watch Chris use spray paint and  brushes of various sizes to do fine details. When he did the representation of the Japanese film Akria, he  stenciled the cell animation so that “each frame is like you are looking at the frame of the film.”He also enjoyed incorporating the architecture by using the “garage door windows as sprockets from a film frame so that when you are looking at it, it looks like a frame of film with an image in between.”


Chris viewed Steve and Davida as true collaborators and kept  an on-going dialogue. “It’s not just like ‘I’m here to decorate your stuff’. You also have to deal with me, right?” Businesses that value art and invest in murals work to develop meaningful and long-lasting relationships with the artists. Commissioning a mural is a way for businesses to connect with their community, communicate their ethos and values, advertise their brand, and interact with the urban landscape or environment. Steve and Davida said, “We just love it. It’s great for our business, but it’s also made a meaningful contribution to Asheville’s River Arts scene.


See the Grail mural and many others on my  Mountain Mural bus tour.

And even more in depth on my walking tour

1 hour 30 minutes
Group Size
4 to 12

Dolly Parton and Beyond- Get off the Beaten Path of Asheville Street Art

Get ready to immerse yourself in Asheville's vibrant urban art scene on this guided walking tour! We'll explore hidden alleyways and bustling streets, discovering the stories and artistic talents behind the city's most captivating murals.
Our adventure begins in the River Arts District downtown, where the city’s art culture was born. We'll marvel at diverse styles, from photorealistic portraits to abstract creations. Our knowledgeable guide will share insights into the local artists and the messages they aim to convey.
No Asheville art tour is complete without a visit to West Asheville! Here, a vibrant community spirit shines through the colorful murals that adorn the walls. We'll stop by the legendary Beauty Parade Hair Salon, where a true Asheville icon – Dolly Parton – graces the side of the building. Artist Gus Cutty's creation features Dolly in all her rhinestone-studded glory, joined by the fabulous RuPaul in a recent update. Snap a selfie with this Instagram-famous mural and learn the story behind this unexpected artistic duo.
We will encounter murals that celebrate Asheville's rich cultural heritage, and local businesses close to the community's heart, or whimsical designs that spark your imagination. Our guide will keep you engaged with interesting facts and anecdotes about the murals and the artists who breathe life into Asheville's streets.
This tour is perfect for art enthusiasts, photography lovers, or anyone seeking a unique way to experience Asheville's culture. It's a chance to appreciate the artistic energy that pulsates through the city and be surprised by the beauty found in unexpected corners. So hop on the bus and join us on a colorful adventure!

1 hour
Group Size
2 to 12

Asheville Art Walk: Street Art Gems of Foundy Street in the River Arts District

Asheville Art Walk : A Graffiti and Mural Tour of the River Arts District

Unleash your inner art explorer on Walk the Line, a guided walking tour through the vibrant graffiti scene of Asheville's River Arts District (RAD)!

Immerse yourself in a world of artistic expression as we navigate the dynamic streets of the RAD, uncovering hidden alleys and showcasing large-scale murals. Our expert guide will peel back the layers, deciphering the messages and techniques behind each piece.

Here's what you can expect:

Discover iconic works by renowned Asheville street artists.
Learn the history and evolution of Asheville's graffiti scene.
Gain insights into the local artists' inspirations and styles.
Explore the cultural significance and impact of street art.
Uncover hidden gems tucked away in unexpected corners.
Capture Instagram-worthy photos of Asheville's most captivating street art.

Asheville Art Walk is perfect for:

Art enthusiasts curious about the world of graffiti.
Visitors seeking a unique and off-the-beaten-path experience.
Anyone who appreciates the vibrancy and raw energy of urban art.

Join us on the Asheville Art Walk and discover the hidden gems of the River Arts District!

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Best Bachelorette party
3 hours
Group Size
Up to 14

Bride Tribe, Ditch the Veil! Unleash Your Inner Artist on Our Bachelorette Beverage & Art Tour!


Skip the clichés and raise a glass to creativity! Our Asheville Bachelorette Art and Beverage Tour lets you and your besties explore the city's vibrant street art scene while indulging in the local craft beverage culture.

Immerse yourselves in:

A curated street art tour: Uncover hidden art gems and gain insights into the city's artistic soul from your knowledgeable guide.
Asheville's booming beverage scene: Sample delicious craft beers, ciders, or wines – all with a backdrop of stunning murals.
Sisterhood and laughter: Celebrate your bride-to-be with unforgettable experiences and photo-worthy moments.

What's Included:

Expertly guided street art tour
Tastings at multiple breweries, cideries, or wineries (depending on your preference)
Insider knowledge on Asheville's art and beverage scene

Ready to toast with your besties?

Book your tour today and let the artistic adventure begin! (Link to booking page)

Optional Add-on: For added convenience, upgrade your experience with pick-up and drop-off directly at your accommodation (fee based on distance).

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