artist Joe Boruchow

Watchtowers by Joe Boruchow. Photo by Steve Weinik.

About This Project 

At the time of its installation, Watchtowers by Philadelphia based artist Joe Boruchow was his largest work. The mural was designed from a single piece of black paper with all of the white space carefully excised. With lead muralist, Brad Carney, Boruchow repainted the image at 30 times its original size to adorn the side of a classic Philadelphia row home on the 900 block of Dickinson. It combines historical and current architectural elements into a monumental homage to Philadelphia’s East Passyunk Ave neighborhood.

Longtime residents will notice the lookout tower and columns from the long demolished Moyamensing Prison, the shadow of a church steeple that once stood atop Annunciation BVM Church at 10th and Dickinson, as well as aluminum awnings, an inside out tire planter, star bolts and the “E” from the old ACME grocery sign. In stark black and white, Watchtowers sets itself apart from its colorful neighborhood surroundings. At the same time, actual power lines and utility poles disappear into the kaleidoscopic composition. Besides referencing the obsolete prison battlements, the title, Watchtowers, alludes to the mural’s contrasting themes of security, captivity and freedom. It chronicles Boruchow’s 16 years living in Philadelphia and is the realization of his ambition to create his own Philadelphia mural.

Since moving to the city Boruchow has been inspired by its murals, especially those of David Guinn and, longtime hero, Keith Haring, whose mural at 22nd and Ellsworth was restored by Mural Arts in 2013.

Project Photos 

  • Artist Joe Boruchow and assistant Brad Carney pose with the final mural. Photo by Steve Weinik.

  • Photo by Steve Weinik.

  • Mural dedication photo by Dawn Cai.

  • Mural dedication photo by Dawn Cai.