One of the moving things about our works of public art, is that our stories reflect the stories of our city, our residents, and our history.
About the Project
Mural Arts has created a mural project to reflect Philadelphia’s long history of rowing on the Schuylkill River. Two murals have been installed, one on each side of the Schuylkill, facing each other under the Girard Bridge. These are the first murals in Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park.
Artist Jon Laidacker’s design represents a diversity of rowers, builds in historical references to rowing, and sets local context of rowing within Philadelphia and the city backdrop at that specific location along the river. Rowing is an important sport and one with a long-standing connection to Philadelphia. In 1870, Thomas Eakins completed Max Schmitt in a Single Scull, the first of more than thirty works he painted on the subject.
The location for the mural is along Kelly Drive and Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive on the steel-paneled walls beneath the Girard Avenue Bridge. This dramatic site lends itself to a pair of murals that will not only be extremely visible to the participants of this sport but also to anyone using the pathways through the park space along the river. The murals aim to create more awareness of the sport and enliven the empty wall canvases that have become less visually pleasing amongst the beautiful landscape of Fairmount Park.
The Girard Avenue Bridge connects the east and west sections of Fairmount Park and has pedestrian/biking paths in front of the walls where the murals will be located. It is on the outer limits of the Brewerytown neighborhood (Kelly Drive side) and the Philadelphia Zoo (MLK Drive side). The mural was installed in spring 2014. Laidacker is assisted on this project by Charles Newman, Thomas Walton, Felix St. Fort, and Laura Velez.