57 Painted Donkeys Are Going to Be Displayed Throughout Philly for the DNC

Donkeys DNC

L to R: Gov. Ed Rendell, the Pennsylvania donkey statute and Mural Arts Program founder Jane Golden.

Ed Rendell came up with the idea. Obviously.

A collection of 57 painted donkey statues will decorate Philadelphia during the months of July and August, the former governor and current chairman of the Democratic National Convention host committee announced today at a press conference. The point of the donkeys, he says, is to get Philadelphians excited about this summer’s Democratic Convention and encourage delegates to visit different parts of the city. We’re guessing it doesn’t hurt that the donkeys will inevitably inspire tons of photo-ops and selfies, too.

“You all remember the bulls or the cows in Chicago,” Rendell said. “I thought, what a great idea to have donkeys around town. … The host committee wants this to be a great convention for the Democratic Party, but we also want it to be a great convention for the people of Philadelphia.”

The donkeys are made of fiberglass and weigh about 250 pounds apiece. They are being painted by artists to evoke each of the 50 states, five U.S. territories, Washington, D.C. and the group Democrats Abroad. The Pennsylvania donkey was on display at Tuesday’s news conference. It features the state’s coat of arms, the state bird, the state flower and other accoutrements. Read more »

Arts and Entertainment Selfies

Our mother publication, Philadelphia magazine, recently complied a collection of 75 selfies from notable faces around the region. Of course, there’s plenty of familiar folks in Philly’s rich arts and entertainment world that made the cut. Below you’ll find their shameless selfie poses that they shared with our readers.

Sharon Pinkenson with bestie Donna Livingston at the Beverly Hills Hotel, March 29, 2015.

Sharon Pinkenson with bestie Donna Livingston at the Beverly Hills Hotel, March 29, 2015.

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Frankie Avalon Backs Effort To Save South Philly Mural

Photo by Wally Gobetz, via Flickr and a Creative Commons license.

Photo by Wally Gobetz, via Flickr and a Creative Commons license.

Frankie Avalon, the South Philly-born crooner, has pumped thousands of dollars in to the restoration project of a neighborhood mural that bears his image.

The Inquirer reported Avalon’s donation last night to restore mural of famous South Philly musical influences, which is  currently located at Ninth Street and Passyunk Ave. He and Jerry Blavat, Avalon’s fellow survivor of the early 1960s music scene in this region have each given $5,000 to help paint a new mural at a new location.  Their images are on the current mural alongside those of Chubby Checker, Bobby Rydell, Fabian, Eddie Fisher and Al Martino. (Not everybody’s a fan: Philly Mag’s Dan McQuade put the site on a list of Philly murals he hates — which, to be fair, included almost all the rest of the murals, too.)

Nicole Steinberg, Director of Communications for the Mural Arts Program, told Philly Mag in a statement, “We’re excited to begin the process of rehabilitating South Philly Musicians, a mural that means so much to the South Philadelphia community and people everywhere who have been inspired by these legendary artists. It’s especially thrilling that Jerry Blavat and Frankie Avalon have made donations toward the project’s re-envisioning and, in doing so, are still making significant contributions to South Philadelphia’s cultural history.” Read more »

Mural Arts Teams With Google to Highlight and Preserve Local Street Art

A still from "Philly Painting" one of the Mural Arts exhibits featured in Google's new street art initiative. | Photo by of Mural Arts

A still from “Philly Painting” one of the Mural Arts exhibits featured in Google’s new street art initiative. | Photo by of Mural Arts

Philly’s Mural Arts program joins 68 organizations around the globe who have teamed with Google on an initiative to preserve our quickly fading street art through digital archiving. The Philadelphia Business Journal has more on the Google Art Project:

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New Shepard Fairey Fishtown Mural Tagged [UPDATED]

Philadelphia Redditors picked up on a few Instagrams that show the new Shepard Fairey mural in Fishtown tagged with white spray paint. For some reason Shepard—who did the mural in conjunction with Mural Arts—left scaffolding next to the mural, creating an easy opportunity for someone to climb up and tag it. In this instance, it looks like someone—or multiple people—went up to each level. Mural Arts’ Executive Director Jane Golden released a short statement, which was shared on Twitter:

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Jane Golden’s Mural Arts Program Turns 30

Philadelphia Mural Arts Program Jane Golden

See Jane Paint — The Mural Arts founder marks a mixed milestone.
Photo by Courtney Apple.

Through this spring, the esteemed Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts is hosting a Mural Arts retrospective, in commemoration of the program’s 30th anniversary. This may be of consternation to more than a few critics who wouldn’t be caught dead pairing “mural” and “fine arts” in the same sentence.

In 1984, when Mural Arts began as an anti-graffiti initiative, no one would have thought to argue there might one day be too many murals. Now, nearly 4,000 murals later, the brainchild of executive director Jane Golden has become a punching bag for the city’s tastemakers.

For the $1.4 million the city shells out yearly, some critics, including Inquirer architecture writer and Mural Arts antagonist Inga Saffron, question the return on investment. Others—many others—offer aesthetic critiques.

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What’s With All the Mural Arts Hatred?

There sure is a lot to complain about in this city. And we sure do like to complain about it. A lot. But one thing that you don’t normally hear people venting about are the city’s 3,000-plus murals, the public art works created by artists, students and ex-convicts as part of Jane Golden’s 27-year old Mural Arts Program. But in recent days, the normally immune-from-criticism organization has seen its fair share of it. Read more »

Why Are Philadelphia’s Murals So Ugly?

I hate Jane Seymour.

I also hate the double-dutching girls at 40th and Chestnut, the Philadelphia singers with a clock floating in the air near Pat’s Steaks, the eyes on Ben Franklin High School, Marc Vetri and his Tuscan landscape on Spruce Street, Dr. J in a suit instead of a 76ers uniform and, of course, the 20-foot Frank Rizzo lording over the Italian Market. Read more »

Kill the Bella Vista Autumn Mural

Local media outlets this week have highlighted a fascinating preservation versus development case study in Bella Vista, where a proposed town home threatens to block neighborhood views of a well-liked local mural. The Inky headlined the piece: “Planned townhouse imperils Autumn mural.” Far better if it had been called: “Sentimentality imperils redevelopment of vacant lot.” Read more »