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 »