Mar 15, 2017

8 Local Artists and Creatives Talk About Their Favorite Philly Murals

by: Guest Post by’s Conrad Benner

Philadelphia is simultaneously the City of Murals and a city burgeoning with creative talent. Perhaps those two facts live independently from one another, or perhaps they complement and spur each other in ways we can only imagine. As someone who believes in the influence positive or negative of the so-called butterfly effect, I suspect they probably have much more to do with each other than not.

So in a city steeped with creativity, then, I started to wonder which Philly murals local artists and creatives found themselves the most drawn to – which leads us to the post you’re currently reading. Today, we’re asking eight of Philly’s most active and engaging artists and creatives to tell us about their favorite Philly mural!

Yolanda Wisher: DR. J on Ridge Ave 

  • (Photo by Ryan Collerd, Courtesy of The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage)

  • Dr. J by Kent Twitchell. Photo by Jack Ramsdale.

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“I grew up in the 70s watching Dr. J play for the Sixers with folks like Mo Cheeks, Moses Malone. I come from some basketball playin fools on both sides, and he was one of my first sports icons, especially when he was rockin that fro. I look forward to seeing this mural when I’m on Ridge Ave. It’s like I need to make sure Dr. J is still there, his gigantic figure a lighthouse, presiding over the city.” -Yolanda Wisher

Yolanda Wisher is a multidisciplinary poet and educator. She’s currently the 3rd Poet Laureate of the City of Philadelphia!

Shawn Hileman: MOMO in Fishtown 

  • (Photo by Jessica Flynn)

  • © 2015, untitled, 1831 Frankford Avenue. Photo by Steve Weinik.

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“The idea of color and shape has always enticed me and when I look at MOMO’s mural on Frankford it brings a child-like joy to my life. The movement and calculation seems to come to him without effort (but we all know better). Though some people find their happy place inside of an oil painting of horses or tigers, my tastes have always gravitated toward the vibrant and abstract.” -Shawn Hileman

Shawn Hileman is an artist, Adjunct Professor at Moore College of Art and Design, and Founder of Masthead Print Studio. You can learn more about MOMO’s mural HERE!

Albert Lee: Legacy on Chestnut St 

  • (Photo by Max Grudzinski)

  • Legacy by Josh Sarantitis and Eric Okdeh. Photo by Jack Ramsdale.

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“When you live and work downtown, it’s not often you see a mural being worked on firsthand but I’ll never forget riding by the ‘Legacy’ mural at 707 Chestnut Street when it was finally unveiled. I almost ran into a parked car because I was so in awe of the finished product.  It’s been said that art ignites change. It transforms public spaces. The mural is on the side of a parking lot but I would argue that would be the last thing people ever notice. From the glass titles to the wonderful story in the mural, here is public art it’s finest.” -Albert Lee

Albert Lee is a photographer and community organizer who most people probably know as @UrPhillyPal. You can learn more about the ‘Legacy’ mural by artists Josh Sarantitis and Eric Okdeh HERE!

Aubrie Costello: Love Letters in West Philly 

  • (Photo by Billy Cress)

  • A Love Letter For You. Photo by Adam Wallacavage.

  • Photo by Adam Wallacavage.

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“My fave Mural is Stephen (Espo) Powers’ Love Letters series of murals seen from 45th St to 63rd St on the Market Frankford El line. These are my favorite murals in the city because they read more like an installation. They activate and respond to the neighborhoods they reside in. They are thoughtful, timely, reflect our times, our city, the neighborhood, and they are very romantic. They make you smile and they make you cry. They’re bold yet approachable. And I appreciate the subtle nod to the old hand painted ads once found on the walls of our city. His murals are both nostalgic and fresh all at once.”  -Aubrie Costello

Aubrie Costello is a textile artist, most notable for her ephemeral Silk Graffiti installations, and a co-organizer of Signs of Solidarity, a public art project in opposition to hate. You can learn more about the Love Letter murals by artist Stephen Powers HERE!

R. Eric Thomas: Pride and Progress in the Gayborhood 

  • (Photo by Matthew J Photography)

  • Pride and Progress by Ann Northrup. Photo by Jack Ramsdale.

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“What’s fantastic, for me, about the Pride and Progress mural is how it speaks to past and future at once. Its imagining of a Pride celebration is far more inclusive and intersectional than the time it came from. It touches on so many identities that are present in the LGBTQ communities while also documenting and paying homage to the communities that produced it. Whenever I see this mural I get filled with hope; it’s the future that I want to live in and the present that I’m trying to create. For me, this is what so much great art, especially public art, does: it speaks to our best conceptions of self, sometimes even speaking those selves into existence.” -R. Eric Thomas

R. Eric Thomas is a Barrymore Award-winning playwright, stand-up dramedian, and social impact storyteller. You can learn more about the Pride and Progress mural by artist Ann Northrup HERE!

Nicole Krecicki: Steve Powers in Southwest Philly 

  • (Photo by Tim Blackwell)

  • Ralph Brooks Park Project © 2015 Steve Powers. 20th and Tasker Sts. Photo by Steve Weinik.

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“Besides loving the message itself, I really appreciate the colors, words and the boldness of their size and style. As a stencil artist, I often find myself doubting my work and comparing its validity against other mediums and styles of art. This piece left a big impression on me the first time I saw it, because it reminded me that there is no one right way to create something beautiful and powerful.” -Nicole Krecicki

Nicole Krecicki is an artist, designer, and Owner of Rainbow Alternative, a local apparel line geared toward the LGBTQ community and its allies. You can learn more about the Ralph Brooks Park mural by artist Stephen Powers HERE!

Nero: Lotus Diamond on Frankford Ave 

  • (Photo from artist)

  • Take better photos by learning how to drive an articulating boom lift. Photo by Steve Weinik.

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“Every time I pass by this mural, I glance up at it and I’m inspired. Knowing this piece was created mostly from large hand cut stencils leaves me in awe. Shepard Fairey has always been a major influence in my life. He is the reason I got into street art and the reason I am a stencil based artist. I love catching it right before sundown when the sun highlights it towering over Fishtown. Having this gorgeous mural come from an individual who got their start very similar to mine motivates me to continue to create and display my work in the public.” -Nero

Nero is a street artist specializing in hand cut stencil art. You can learn more about the Lotus Diamond mural by artist Shepard Fairey HERE!

Emma Fried-Cassorla: Martha Rich in Spring Arts 

  • (Photo from artist)

  • Tell the Truth by Martha Rich. Photo by Steve Weinik.

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“The Martha Rich mural that recently went up in the Spring Arts district of my neighborhood is probably my favorite mural up right now. I love where I live, but without a park (new Rail Park coming soon!), old warehouses, and small streets, it can feel dark and really gritty. Her mural adds so much color to that wall and I love that the phrases she chose include some that were open sourced through Mural Arts Philadelphia.”  -Emma Fried-Cassorla

Emma Fried-Cassorla is the Founder of the popular Instagram channel, Philly Love Notes, which explores all that there is to love about Philadelphia; as well as the artist behind the custom woodcut and papercuts of the same name!

Last updated: Mar 15, 2017

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