At a City Hall press conference announcing the city-wide giant mural project, "This We Believe," are (left to right) Linda Munich, of 6abc; Gary Steuer, the Mayor's cultural arts director; Jane Golden, executive director of the Mural Arts Program; and Mayor Michael Nutter.
(Photo credit: Bonnie Squires)
New city-wide mural project
Mayor Nutter and executive director of the Mural Arts Program, Jane Golden announce exciting new project.
-- Barbara Smolen and Bonnie Squires
This month Jane, together with Mayor Nutter announced, “This We Believe,” MAP’s latest initiative. Perhaps inspired by the moving radio segments recorded in the 60’s and again recently in smallscale individual grassroots radio documentaries, MAP’s “This We Believe” is a monumental citywide mural project which will get individuals throughout Philadelphia working together to generate ideas, edit down images and ultimately vote on a design for and get together to paint a mammoth set of murals. Two three-person teams of professional artists compete for the winning design. The winners will be assisted by at least eighty volunteer participants from the Leadership Philadelphia Core Class who will be responsible for the community organizing and outreach.
Community meetings are scheduled to begin Tuesday, February 24th at the Church of Philadelphia at 17th and Snyder in South Philly, followed Wednesday by a meeting in the Northeast at The John Perzel Community Center, and on Thursday a Center City meeting will be held at WHYY. (Are you beginning to get a sense of Jane Golden’s typical weekly schedule?) Other meetings follow in West Philly, North Philly, Northwest and Southwest Philadelphia at the University of the Sciences, Project Home Honickman Learning Center and Comcast Technology Labs, a Church and a Recreation Center respectively. The final culminating meeting for everyone involved is set for
Thursday, March 19,
6:30 - 8:30 pm at the
Daily News/Inquirer Building
at Broad and Callowhill Streets.
Jane Golden, executive director of the Mural Arts Program. (Photo credit: Bonnie Squires)
As found on Mural Arts literature on its website:
“This is a unique historic, city-wide project in commemoration of the Programs’ 25h anniversary “Centered around the theme "This We Believe," this initiative will provide the opportunity… to share what you believe about our city. Facilitated community forums in neighborhoods throughout Philadelphia will give audience to your voice, which will in turn direct and inspire two teams of artists who will interpret your vision to create two proposed mural designs. These community-driven designs will be put to a city-wide vote, with the winning mural becoming the canvas for a series of community paint days. The finished mural will be temporarily hung in central locations in Philadelphia, with pieces ultimately being installed all over the city.”
An old friend, David Guinn, is one of the artists leading a team in the competition. I spoke with him about the initiative.
“The mural is supposed to be 25’ X 100’ feet long. There are two teams of artists and we each will make a design and then one will be chosen.” I mentioned the extensive meetings all around the city. “Yeah. There are a lot of meetings! The design has to reflect the stuff that comes out of the community meetings, so I’ve tried to avoid thinking about it yet. The key part of the design is the input we’ll get from the meetings. After we get the feedback we’ll do the designs and it will be publicized, I think through newspapers and people will be asked to vote. (for the winning design). It may be an online vote but there will be places to vote too. The leadership volunteers also might go door to door. The paint days will be all over the city in June and July. The deadline for the finished work is the dedication in mid-September.”
I asked about what happens once the work is finished. “Initially it will all be seen at 30th Street Station. Then it will be displayed in the Gallery Mall in separate pieces. They are working with the Stagehands Union with some kind of grommets and backing that will allow the mural to be hung as a single piece of fabric.”
I asked David about his team, made up of himself, Philip Adams and Damon Reaves. “Phillip and Damon have MFA’s from Penn and Damon is a Mural Corps instructor. I put together the team with the idea that Phillip and Damon have experience working with community paint days. I’ve never done that before,” Guinn says. He has done large scale commissions for Philadelphia’s airport, and a beloved series of season murals, “Winter” “Spring” “Summer” and “Fall”, in Center City, among other projects. He has shown his work in galleries and won various awards and fellowships. He just completed a large scale mural last summer on two walls facing one another in West Philly which involve a sound component: speakers attached to the wall set to a local radio frequency amplify recordings done in a collaboration with a sound designer. I own two of his terrific paintings and did a small mural with him, so I am biased.
The city of Philadelphia, led by Jane Golden’s vision of art-oriented community organizing, becomes more of a small town, with friends and neighbors getting to know one another as they exchange ideas, make pictures together and beautify public spaces. People from other cities come to Philadelphia and contribute to the creative economy, filling up tours three days a week to visit the outdoor art gallery Philly has become. May the best art win!
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