Jun 6

The Lifespan of a Mural: Starting Fresh in Germantown

by: Laura Kochman

No one ever enjoys painting over a piece of art—we love how much Philadelphia’s neighborhoods love their murals. When you walk by an image every day, you see yourself in that wall, and it becomes part of the fabric of your life. The reality of mural making is that none of Mural Arts’ works will last forever, though we’ve done our best over the years to move toward longer-lasting muralism techniques. Our operations crew completes full restorations of 25 to 40 murals every year, but sometimes we have to say goodbye to a beloved piece of art.

This was the case with the mural at 164 West Chelten Avenue in Germantown, which proudly displayed an image of Frank Washington, late Germantown native and Harlem Globetrotter. The wall behind the mural needed extensive repairs, and the mural, painted by our own Jane Golden, could not be preserved. Once presented with a blank wall, though, we saw this for the opportunity it was and decided to work with the community to create a new mural—one that would honor the history of Germantown while looking forward to a bold, exciting future.

A New Mural Comes to Life at Chelten and Wayne 

  • Artist Jared Bader works on a mural at Chelten and Wayne Avenues. Photo by Steve Weinik.

  • Artist Jared Bader works on a mural at Chelten and Wayne Avenues. Photo by Steve Weinik.

  • Artist Jared Bader works on a mural at Chelten and Wayne Avenues. Photo by Steve Weinik.

  • Mural in progress at Chelten and Wayne Avenues. Photo by Steve Weinik.

A community-based volunteer selection committee came together to put forward artist names for a vote, and more than 400 neighbors voted to select artist Jared Bader. Throughout the spring of 2017, Bader held a series of community meetings to decide the design direction, and Germantown will come together for a paint day on June 17 so that everyone can get their hands into the process. In the design, a timeline and neighborhood map are overlaid by images that highlight Germantown’s unique histories: as a longtime diverse area, engaged in social movements toward racial and religious equality; a bustling shopping district once called “a second Center City”; and a cultural mecca, home base for the world-famous Sun Ra Arkestra. The new mural reflects a welcoming and geographically diverse Germantown, a place steered by democratic decision-making and joint ownership of public space.

 


Get involved with the next community paint day on June 17! Special thanks to the members of our volunteer selection committee in Germantown: Sharrieff Ali (Maplewood Neighbors), Carolyn Chavis (Germantown local), Emaleigh Doley (Germantown United CDC), Roya Taheri (local business owner), and Allison Weiss (SoLo/Germantown Civic Association and Wayne Avenue Merchants Association).

Last updated: Aug 4, 2017

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