Jun 20, 2013

A Legendary Day

by: Victoria DeMarco

As early morning preparations were underway on the morning of May 31, 2013, the excitement exuding from Mural Arts staff and the artist team about The Roots mural dedication could not be masked. The opportunity to honor our hometown hip-hop heroes via a mural on South Street was an experience that each and every attendee would never forget.

The location for this mural, titled Legendary, is quite appropriate, as the band formed within the walls of the nearby Philadelphia High School for the Creative and Performing Arts (CAPA). Since then, The Roots have continued to influence multiple generations of artists with thirteen studio albums, endless global touring schedules, and their current gig as house band on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” on NBC.

Production of the mural itself was launched in the fall of 2011 and completed in December 2012. After a national open call for artists, Mural Arts chose a collection of Philadelphia muralists known as Amber Art and Design featuring Tatyana Fazlalizadeh, to make The Roots mural project come to life. Legendary is a colorful conglomeration of images including portraits of the band members, cassette tapes, and musical instruments that traces the group’s history back to their start-up in 1992. The mural is also the latest addition to the Albert M. Greenfield African American Iconic Images Collection, a curated collection of Mural Arts Philadelphia murals throughout the city that uniquely capture the rich African American experience in Philadelphia.

Weeks of careful preparation by the staff and artists made the dedication come together smoothly, just in time for its 11:30 a.m. start. As the morning wore on, the influx of people, free colorful posters, and Roots-inspired music by DJ Statik welcomed everyone into the World Communications Charter School parking lot. The audience accurately represented Philadelphia’s many diverse communities and neighborhoods – from young punk rockers to serious hip hop fans; from local South Philadelphia residents to friends and family of the band and artists. Just about every stratosphere of the city came out to witness the dedication of this exciting, contemporary work of art.

As the dedication began, attendees enjoyed friendly, welcoming speeches by Mural Arts’ Executive Director Jane Golden and Mayor Michael Nutter. Guests then enjoyed a special thank-you speech by The Roots themselves, words by Amber Art and Design and Tatyana, and concluding regards by Mural Arts’ Director of Art Education, Yolanda Wisher.

When the speaking program commenced, guests mingled to and lunched on wood-fired personal pizzas (margherita, spicy garlic, sausage, and more) from Pitruco Pizza. In order to stay cool in the blazing afternoon sun, guests also enjoyed sweet treats from Little Baby’s Ice Cream in unique flavors like birch beer vanilla bean and coconut chai. Mural Arts newsletters, brochures, and special curriculum booklets for The Roots titled “Roots 101” were hot items, as each and every product was gone by the end of the day. The 200 limited-edition Legendary mural posters completely vanished before the speaking program had even begun!

Following the dedication, a VIP reception sponsored by Heineken was held just across the street at the Jamaican Jerk Hut. Invited guests enjoyed music provided by DJ Phsh along with a wide array of tropical treats –and of course, plenty of Heineken.

At the end of the day, the love for all things Philly and The Roots outshone the light of the sun as everyone enjoyed a Legendary afternoon.

For more photos and information on The Roots mural project, visit muralarts.org/theroots.

Last updated: Mar 21, 2016

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