Some Frankford residents got the opportunity last week to share their ideas for a series of murals that will start to decorate the neighborhood’s business corridor next year.
Those who gathered on Oct. 5 at Denby’s Sweet Sensations on Frankford Avenue favored incorporating images of the neighborhood’s history, green space, ethnic and religious diversity, talented residents and architecture into the project being planned by the city’s Mural Arts program.
Artist Cesar Viveros will paint the Imagining Frankford murals, and he was on hand at the meeting to hear residents’ suggestions and advice.
The session was just the beginning of Mural Arts’ process of exploring ideas for the artistic designs, said the program’s chief operating officer, Joan Reilly.
ldquo;This is the start of a yearlong process,” Reilly said.
Anyone who wants to add their thoughts can attend a second meeting at Denby’s, 4428 Frankford Ave., on Thursday, Oct. 13, from 6 to 7:30 p.m.
ldquo;We cannot do it without you,” said project manager Netanel Portier. “The mission of the Mural Arts program is really to collaborate with artists and the community … to make public-art works that transform spaces and transform lives.”
After the second meeting at Denby’s, Portier said, Viveros will conduct private meetings with individuals. Designs are expected to be ready for program approval in January, and work will begin soon after that. Installation, which depends on the weather, could begin in spring 2012.
Some ideas put forward last week reflected personal interests. Local restaurateur Nafisah Lewis said images that reflect the many types of food found in Frankford could be incorporated into the murals. “Fanatic gardener” Diane Kunze said “there’s a lot of green in Frankford” that should be represented.
Jason Dawkins, an aide to Councilwoman Maria Quinones Sanchez, said Frankford has many families that have been in the neighborhood for generations. It’s a family-oriented area that has been home to many talented musicians, artists and athletes.
It’s also a neighborhood facing a lot of challenges, residents said. Apathy, crime, poor communications, bad perceptions of the neighborhood, poverty and unemployment were just a few that were mentioned.
Residents also had some advice for Viveros and other members of the Mural Arts team.
ldquo;Walk around the neighborhood,” said local businessman Chris Gulledge. “Know the history before you paint it.”
Other suggestions included “meeting with some of the pastors and “engaging young people,” as well as making the murals “visible from the El.”
In interviews with the Northeast Times over the summer, Portier and Viveros said the murals will be situated on Frankford Avenue or just off the avenue, and that some will be visible from the El.
Last week, Portier said that Viveros will try to get a studio in Frankford where he can work. She said there will be “community paint days” and “studio days” when residents can take part in the murals’ creation. The murals will vary in size, she added, but will be “a cohesive series of public artworks.”
Mural Arts is in the process of getting property owners’ authorizations to install the murals. They will be painted on non-woven cloth in the studio and then mounted on walls.
“We call it ‘parachute cloth.’ We’ve been using it for years. It is adhered to the wall with a gel medium … and the painter will paint over it again,” Portier said during the summer.
Some painting also will be done directly to the walls, and the work will be coated to protect it from the elements. ••
For more information on Mural Arts, call 215-685-0750 or visit www.muralarts.org
Reporter John Loftus can be reached at 215-354-3110 or firstname.lastname@example.org