Frankford residents brainstorm ideas for local mural project

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.mur­

Re­port­er John Loftus can be reached at 215-354-3110 or

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