Inga Saffron vs. Mural Arts: The T-Shirt Edition

mural arts t-shirt

A t-shirt made by Mural Arts in the wake of a column by Inga Saffron. Modeled by Emily Goulet.

This year marks the Mural Arts Program (MAP)’s 30th anniversary, and it should surprise no one that the Inquirer‘s Inga Saffron — a longtime critic of the city arts agency — would have something to say about it.

In a recent Changing Skyline column, the architecture critic did indeed take the opportunity to say a few words about MAP, some of them almost kind:

During those three decades, the city agency has left its mark on some 3,600 walls, mostly in the bleaker corners of the city where a little paint isn’t the worst thing that can happen.

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A Celebration of Fergie’s New Freewall

the fawn

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…

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Mural Arts: “Fear Not, It’s a Face Lift”

Photo: Mural Arts' Facebook page

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.

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David Guinn Mural Defaced By Graffiti at 13th and Pine

Photo via Jay Wahl's Twitter feed

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.

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Property’s Morning Obsession: Faveladelphia

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.

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Property’s Morning Obsession: Roots Mural Gets a Dedication Date!

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.

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Property’s Morning Obsession: Steve Powers’ “Love Letter” for Sale

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?

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