Aug 12, 2015

Frankly Speaking

by: Carly Rapaport-Stein

Wrapped around the corner of Pine and 13th Streets, a number of faces peer out from the walls. The first time I passed by a few years ago, I looked for an indication of what the business was, but there was no name and no sign to be found. There’s still no indication that the business is a bar or even that it has a name, but that is, I later found out, by its own quirky choice to preserve some anonymity. The faces lining the walls telegraph what words do not: you’ve reached Dirty Frank’s, a local watering hole with a long history.

The mural, a melange of Franks, was painted in 2001 by artist David McShane, who recently completed the new Phillies Mural on 24th and Walnut. The artist picked the Franks based on those he felt had a connection to him or to the city, or just had an interesting, paintable face. Up on the wall, figures from across the centuries hang out together – three Franklins, Benjamin, Aretha, and Delano Roosevelt, grace the walls, as do singers Sinatra, Zappa, and Avalon. Frankenstein’s monster makes an appearance, a hot dog (also known as a frankfurter), and the double Frank-ness of actor Frank Morgan in a scene from L. Frank Baum’s The Wizard of Oz. Rounding out the mural, there’s the political Frank, Barney; the puppeteer, Frank Oz; famed Phillies pitcher Tug McGraw (whose real name, you guessed it, is Frank); the religious Frank of Assisi; the chicken magnate Frank Perdue; the architect Frank Lloyd Wright and the architecture of Frank Furness; and the actor Frank Burns, from the sitcom M*A*S*H*.

After 14 years, the vibrancy of the mural needed a touch-up, so this week, David is hard at work sprucing up the images. And, in a neat twist, David is adding two more Franks to the mural. One Frank, Frank Sherlock, was Philadelphia’s 2014-2015 poet laureate, has worked with Mural Arts in the past, and has been a bouncer at Dirty Frank’s. And the second Frank? Well, readers, I’ll let you identify the newest famous face that lights up the wall. Two clues: this Frank was also a bouncer in his youth, and his impending visit has the city bracing itself for an influx of 1.5 million visitors.

The Mural at Dirty Frank’s can be seen by walking or driving by the intersection of Pine Street and 13th Street. If you are walking, there’s often art going on inside Dirty Frank’s as well.

Top photo by Jack Ramsdale. Additional Photography by Steve Weinik.

Last updated: Jan 27, 2016

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