Jul 29

Viaduct mural series nears conclusion with artist Brad Carney's Magic Hour

by: Natalie Pompillio

Brad Carney’s Magic Hour, the fourth and final mural in the Viaduct series, will be completed in mid-August, concluding a City of Philadelphia, Division of Housing and Community Development-funded project that began in 2019.

The term “magic hour,” sometimes referred to as “golden hour,” is the time period after sunrise and before sunset when the sun is lower in the sky and produces a soft, diffused light. Most photographers and filmmakers say this is the most flattering natural light. Each “hour” actually lasts about 30 minutes.

The project’s first three murals – at the underpasses at 10th and Norris Streets, 10th and Diamond Streets, and 11th and Susquehanna Streets – were all completed in November 2020. Community members were thrilled with the resulting works, which not only beautified the area but also increased lighting and improved safety. Adding a fourth mural was something all interested parties desired.

 

Railway Enhancement project in-process at Temple University train station, July 22, 2021. Photo by Steve Weinik.

The mural, across from the Temple University SEPTA Regional Rail station at 9th and Berks Streets, is meant to show transition: people are coming and going to work and school, the background sky is changing, showing bits of yellow, pink, orange, red and purple.

Artist Brad Carney describes the soon-to-be completed Magic Hour, as being about “that special time around dawn and dusk, when the light embraces us.”

 

Railway Enhancement project in-process at Temple University train station, July 22, 2021. Photo by Steve Weinik.

The colorful work has a trompe l’oiel effect, including arched pillars that mimic other designs in the area. Behind the pillars are 11 figures set against a colorful sunset with bits of yellow, pink, orange, red and purple. The people are alone or with one other person: There’s a young girl reading a book, children watching a bird, a grandmother hugging a grandson, “all those areas where we find comfort, where we find joy in our day,” Carney said. Other elements draw from city landscapes past and present including nearby Norris Homes.

“They’re all unique and bring something different to the mural corridor that we’ve created,” Project Manager Maya Curtis said.

Carney worked with local poet Ursula Rucker on a design they hoped would prompt passers-by to stop and engage with the work. Parts of the sunrise, for example, include words and phrases.

“We want people to stop and maybe make up a poem on their own,” Carney said.

 

Railway Enhancement project in-process at Temple University train station, July 22, 2021. Photo by Steve Weinik.

Work on the 26 x 66 foot mural began in June. The sheltered location meant the artistic team could work rain or shine. Carney was joined by three assistants, and supported by eight participants in Mural Arts Philadelphia’s Summer Internship Program, which Carney coordinates.

“I’ve been doing this for over a decade and this summer, maybe even more than others, the interns just seem like old souls,” Carney said. “I see a lot more diversity in terms of education and abilities and they bring that all to the table on the site. My focus, when teaching about muralism, is yes, you’re here to learn how to physically build murals but I also want you to listen and ask questions about why we’re making murals. Every artist has a different reason, each project has a different focus.”

Railway Enhancement project in-process at Temple University train station, July 22, 2021. Photo by Steve Weinik.

The other murals in the series are:

History In The Present Moment (I AM), Procession, Portals of Progress & Play, 10th and Norris Street by artists Patrick Dougher and Josh Sarantitis, Norris Street. The design blends the beauty of the community with traditions of the African diaspora and features “Hood Haikus” written by Phildelphia poet Ursula Rucker.

Diamonds in the Rough, 10th and Diamond Streets, designed by Andrea Legge of design firm Legge Lewis Legge. Legge’s design features images of locals and was inspired by two statements that came from community design meetings: “We are diamonds in the rough” and “It takes pressure to make a diamond.”

Our Neighborhood: Growth, Unity, Abundance, and Love, 11th and Susquehanna Streets, by Priscilla Bell and Anthony Torcasio. The mural incorporates specific neighborhood homes and the sunflowers flourishing in the local community garden.

Last updated: Aug 2, 2021

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