Jul 2, 2014

Mural Arts weighs in on the Kurt Vile mural uproar

by: Jane Golden

You probably have heard by now that this past weekend someone took it upon himself to partially white out a mural created by internationally known artist Stephen Powers. This was shocking, sad, and completely unexpected. While we were not involved with this project and we don’t expect murals to last forever, this work of art was recently created and was a tribute to an iconic Philly musician, Kurt Vile. In typical Powers style this mural captured the heart and soul of a generation of people who love our city and Vile’s music as Mural Arts does.

And I should know about the impact of Steve’s work. He and I have known each other since 1988 and came together to create the Love Letter series in 2009 – a remarkable public art project that functions both as a love story of two young adults and as a public proclamation of the artist’s love for the West Philadelphia neighborhood, where he grew up. While working together, I saw how we share a profound love for the connection people have with art and the powerful change that art ignites.

In our third mural book, Jeremy Nowak says that “murals transform the ordinary and the seemingly discarded into something alive and unexpected. We see ourselves in the murals: our stories, our aspirations for change, and sometimes our handiwork. From the small and intimate to the large-scale works of public art, mural making belongs to all of us.” And this mural was the same; that’s why the outcry has been so huge. By leaving the confines of his studio and making a mark in public, this wonderful artist inevitably shares his gifts, talents and magic with all of us; his work helps actualize relationships and helps promote acts of self-renewal and discovery.

You can read Steve’s response to this situation on his Tumblr, including the good news that he’ll be back soon to repair and improve the mural. I look forward to seeing what he paints.

– Jane Golden, Executive Director, City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Philadelphia

Photo by @dasheikee

Last updated: Mar 21, 2016

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