Northeast Times

New mural shines on West Girard Avenue

The city's latest mur­al wel­comes vis­it­ors to Brew­erytown.

Jane Golden, ex­ec­ut­ive dir­ect­or City of Phil­adelphia Mur­al Arts Pro­gram makes a re­mark at at a rib­bon cut­ting event for new mur­al on the wall of Pearl­steinÕs Fur­niture in Brew­erytown Monday June 20.

The bur­geon­ing com­mer­cial cor­ridor of West Gir­ard Av­en­ue through Brew­erytown is look­ing a little bright­er these days thanks to a new mur­al un­veiled last week.

Titled Mov­ing For­ward, the piece em­braces what makes North Phil­adelphia along Gir­ard Av­en­ue unique, with a wide ar­ray of scenes de­pict­ing com­mon neigh­bor­hood sights, from the icon­ic Route 15 Trol­ley to the ar­chi­tec­ture on every block.

“It’s ab­so­lutely beau­ti­ful,” said Re­becca John­son, ex­ec­ut­ive dir­ect­or of the Fair­mount Com­munity De­vel­op­ment Cor­por­a­tion, as she spoke to a crowd dur­ing the June 20 un­veil­ing.

The mur­al, with a bright, golden sun shin­ing down over the mem­or­able scenery, is on a large wall at Pearl­stein’s Fur­niture Co. at Gir­ard and Col­lege av­en­ues.

John­son said the site was chosen be­cause it’s a pop­u­lar entry point to the stretch of shops and res­taur­ants that have popped up along that sec­tion of Gir­ard Av­en­ue.

“It’s a gate­way to Brew­erytown at this in­ter­sec­tion,” she said.

The mur­al was cre­ated based on in­put from com­munity groups, in­clud­ing the Fair­mount CDC, the West Gir­ard Busi­ness As­so­ci­ation, the Great­er Brew­erytown Com­munity De­vel­op­ment Cor­por­a­tion and the West Gir­ard Com­munity Coun­cil.

Jane Golden, a Fair­mount res­id­ent and ex­ec­ut­ive dir­ect­or of the city’s Mur­al Arts Pro­gram, said the design was se­lec­ted through meet­ings to de­term­ine what res­id­ents wanted to see on the wall.

“This is about the his­tory of the neigh­bor­hood and also, the blend­ing of com­munit­ies,” she said as she walked along the mur­al. “We wanted to pay trib­ute to the com­munity, so we in­cor­por­ated ar­chi­tec­ture from the com­munity. It’s the build­ings, the people … This is really a very in­ter­est­ing com­munity.”

Thanks to a grant for about $12,500 from the city’s Com­merce De­part­ment — fund­ing used to cre­ate this mur­al and an­oth­er on the Bish­op’s Col­lar bar and res­taur­ant at 24th Street and Fair­mount Av­en­ue — the mur­al has fi­nally been com­pleted after more than 18 months of work, said John­son of the Fair­mount CDC.

Also, Golden said that by pla­cing a mur­al along a grow­ing, im­prov­ing com­mer­cial cor­ridor like West Gir­ard Av­en­ue, busi­ness own­ers could see a real boost in busi­ness as the Mur­al Arts Pro­gram hosts reg­u­lar mur­al tours — by trol­ley, train, bike, seg­way or simply walk­ing — that brought more than 20,000 vis­it­ors through com­munit­ies with mur­als last year.

Ac­cord­ing to Golden, not only does the mur­al tour provide an in­flux of pat­rons — look­ing for loc­al places to eat or to shop — but, she claimed prop­erty val­ues in the city rise in areas where mur­als are loc­ated.

And, per­haps most im­port­ant, she said, the Mur­al Arts Pro­gram keeps artists work­ing, help­ing to sup­port the city’s cre­at­ive eco­nomy, and provides art in­tern­ships for young­sters look­ing to hone their craft.

The tour pro­gram will grow soon, Golden said, as the Mur­al Arts Pro­gram is in the midst of pre­par­ing to open a new tour of­fice in the Gal­lery Mall in Cen­ter City.

Step­ping up to ad­dress the crowd gathered on the sunny af­ter­noon, City Coun­cil­man Dar­rell Clarke (D-5th dist.) said the Mur­al Arts Pro­gram was “a great pro­gram.”

“I look at this mur­al and I see the col­or and his­tory blen­ded to­geth­er,” he said.

Clarke said that the mur­al re­minded him that a com­munity is about more than the bricks and mor­tar that make up the rows of hous­ing.

“It’s not just about build­ing build­ings,” he said. “It’s about build­ing com­munit­ies.”

While artist Wil­lis Humphrey was un­able to at­tend the un­veil­ing — Golden said he had fam­ily con­cerns at the last mo­ment — John­son of the Fair­mount CDC, took her time to step back and as­sess the art­work, look­ing at the sun-baked im­ages of a pair of trol­leys, bookend­ing an im­age filled with fa­mil­i­ar look­ing build­ings and faces.

She said that the com­munity had a num­ber of choices when se­lect­ing what the mur­al would be, from se­lec­tion of design to an open call for artists, but felt that Humphrey’s style fit the com­munity best.

“We didn’t just want this to be a pic­ture of Gir­ard Col­lege or beer for Brew­erytown,” she said. “We wanted to make this a gate­way to the com­munity…and, we liked his style.”

Tak­ing a long look at the newly painted mur­al, John­son smiled when asked what she liked most about the paint­ing.

“Oh, the sun, that’s my fa­vor­ite part,” she said with a grin.

Re­port­er Hay­den Mit­man can be reached at 215-354-3124 or hmit­man@bsmphilly.com

You can reach at hmitman@bsmphilly.com.

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