Sep 7

Meet the Artist: David Guinn

by: Natalie Pompilio

David Guinn has completed about 40 murals for Mural Arts Philadelphia in the last 23 years. His early works showcase a geometric style as seen in Crystal Snowscape at 629 S. 10th Street. Later, he developed a style that approximated watercolors but on a large scale, seen in Autumn Revisited at Fleisher Art Memorial. Most recently he worked with light designer Drew Billiau on Electric Philadelphia, on 6th Street between Wood and Race Streets. The finished 8,500-square footwork must be seen both during the day and at night to be fully appreciated.

David said the string that ties all of his works together is “creating spaces that the passerby can imagine themselves inhabiting.” We spoke to David to learn more about his works:

Garden of Delight © 2010 City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program / David Guinn, 203 South Sartain Street. Photo by Steve Weinik.

Which of your murals is your favorite and why? 

Sartain Garden, located at Locust and Sartain Streets, is my favorite mural that I have worked on. The setting of the mural, within a community garden, is beautiful. The connection to the neighborhood where I grew up has a lot of meaning for me.

Can you share any “Behind the scenes” stories about any of your projects? Do you have a proudest Mural Arts moment?

There are so many stories for every project. A constant of mural painting is that it is unpredictable. You meet people and become part of their lives. The weather is always changing. One day the wind is blowing over your paint cups. The next it is so hot you can’t stand it. Another day you’re sweeping snow off the scaffolding and there is ice in the water bucket. When neighbors fought to save the Autumn mural I painted at 9th and Bainbridge Streets from development, it showed me what my work meant to people I’d never met.

Future Valley © 2019 City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program / David Guinn & Robert Goodman, 31st and Jefferson Streets. Photo by Steve Weinik.

What’s your favorite Mural Arts mural that you didn’t paint? 

Dave McShane’s Jackie Robinson mural was an inspiration to me, as was Meg Saligman’s Common Threads.

What’s the strangest/funniest/nicest thing anybody has said about your murals? 

I loved one day when a guy came up to me and said, “That’s a whole lot of nothing.” It cracked me up. Most people have very nice things to say, but you hear all kinds of things.

Spring (resoration) © 2018 City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program / David Guinn, 1315 Pine Street. Photo by Steve Weinik.

If you could paint anything on any wall in the city, what would it be, where would it go, and why? 

That’s a hard question. I’m interested in three-dimensional spaces and the way painting works with the natural or built environment around it. I’d like to design a painted structure that interacted with water, either as a fountain or something that was placed in an existing body of water. The reflection of colors and light in the water, and how that is constantly changing is something I would love to see.

Where else can people see or buy your work? 

They can visit my site at Davidguinn.com or follow me on Instagram @_david_guinn.

Last updated: Sep 7, 2021

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