Desiree Bender’s The Fawn on the side of Fergie’s
Freewall Philadelphia is a mural project dreamed up by David Guinn, a prolific muralist with the Mural Arts Program who saw something missing in the city’s wall-art scene: a place where non Mural Arts-affiliated artists could use a wall as a canvas without doing something illegal. Hence the side of Fergie’s on Sansom between 12th and 13th — a building that’s now become an outdoor art gallery.
Up now? Desiree Bender’s wheatpaste The Fawn. Next week Freewall holds a celebration and fundraiser for the newest Bender’s wheatpaste, hoping to to match a Knight Foundation grant. More info to come…
The Mural Arts Program (MAP) knows how much people love the 1987 Keith Haring mural We the Youth at 22nd & Ellsworth. That’s why the city arts organization issued a reassuring heads up on its Facebook page before the beginning of a six- to eight-week restoration, during which there will be scaffolding and workers and other oft-suspicious signs of doom.
Photo via Jay Wahl’s Twitter feed
One the best things about this city is the plethora of artwork on its buildings. Some of it is legal (see: the Mural Arts Program) and some of it isn’t (check out StreetsDept.com). Either way, the city’s real estate serves as a lively and expressive canvas.
One of the city’s most-loved muralists is David Guinn, who’s known for becoming the subject of a neighborhood dustup when his “Autumn” mural in Bella Vista was obscured by a new building despite mountains of resident opposition.
Photo: Laura Kicey
The pair of Dutch painters known as Haas & Hahn are famous for transforming Brazilian favelas with bold, colorful paint on building exteriors. Last year they began doing the same in Philadelphia on the 2600 block of Germantown Avenue in partnership with the Mural Arts Program, working with neighborhood kids and residents to transform a neighborhood that the two painters characterized as equally troubled as the slums of Rio.
The project was featured in the New York Times’ Style Magazine, which described the area as “a crime-ridden section of North Philadelphia” with “dilapidated storefronts, boarded-up windows, drooping cornices and even a few stray Art Deco details.”Amazingly, the artists also told the Times that Philly is so screwed up, it’s harder to get things done here than it is in Rio’s favelas due to “layers of bureacracy,” among other problems.
The Roots mural via muralarts.org
How long have we been waiting for the Roots mural? It seems like forever ago that we started pining for Philly’s biggest hometown hip-hop stars to be enshrined on some wall, somewhere. Well, it’s finally happening, and the wall is at 512 S. Broad Street, on the side of the World Communications Charter School. Seems like a more fitting idea than Sixth and South, which was pitched some time ago.
The building for sale at 50th and Chestnut. Photo via Steve Powers' website.
You’ve seen them on the buildings along the route of the Market-Frankford El–artist Steve Powers’ “Love Letter” murals, which are evocative, poignant, funny and one of the most inventive projects the Mural Arts Program has ever done. Best seen from the train, with messages that use colloquial language and a mix of type and color, the murals are accessible to a range of people in a way art isn’t always. And what could enliven an El trip more than flashes of mysterious messages that zip by, making riders look forward to the next day’s ride to decode the buildings that often blur like blight?
Sixth and South, looking west, in 1930. Philadelphia Dept. of Records, via phillyhistory.org
As the countdown continues to the opening of Serpico–the much-hyped Stephen Starr restaurant that has foodies in a lather–real estate watchers are hopeful but puzzled. The new restaurant will be at 604 South Street, right in the middle of, well, Sixth and South. Can Starr work his magic there?