Writing on the wall

Cesar Viver­os and Ana Guis­sel are work­ing on a series of four mur­als at an in­ter­sec­tion in Frank­ford. Cur­rently, two of the four are al­most com­plete, “His­tory” and “Pride”. The oth­er two, “Fam­ily” and “Po­ten­tial” will be put up with­in a couple of months. All of them are loc­ated near the Kens­ing­ton and Frank­ford Ave. in­ter­sec­tion. (Maria Pouch­nikova)


There’s col­or go­ing up on the walls near Frank­ford and Kens­ing­ton av­en­ues.


Two big mur­als — one de­pict­ing Frank­ford’s his­tory and the oth­er its neigh­bor­hood pride — will be com­pleted by the end of the month, artist Cesar Viver­os said in an in­ter­view on Thursday. A third pan­el, show­ing the neigh­bor­hood’s po­ten­tial, is ex­pec­ted to be fin­ished be­fore the end of Novem­ber.

“It all de­pends on the weath­er,” said Ne­tanel Por­ti­er, pro­ject man­ager for the city’s Mur­al Arts pro­gram. In­stall­a­tion can’t pro­gress when it rains, she said.

When a fourth mur­al is in­stalled in the spring a few blocks north on Frank­ford Av­en­ue and fa­cing St. Mark’s Church, the Ima­gin­ing Frank­ford series will be com­plete. The title and the design of that fi­nal mur­al has not been worked out.

The mur­als really will be Frank­ford’s own art­works. Neigh­bor­hood res­id­ents have had a say in their con­tent and ex­e­cu­tion. Viver­os and Por­ti­er spent months meet­ing with res­id­ents in groups and in­di­vidu­ally, listen­ing to and re­cord­ing their re­min­is­cences and dreams.

For Viver­os, the re­search in­cluded rid­ing the El, which comes in­to Frank­ford at Kens­ing­ton and Frank­ford av­en­ues. He said at a com­munity meet­ing in Feb­ru­ary that he wanted the mur­als to be seen from the train.

That shouldn’t be dif­fi­cult be­cause the walls be­ing used for the mur­als are wide and more than two-stor­ies high.

The mur­als aren’t painted dir­ectly onto those walls. They’re painted onto pan­els of what Por­ti­er calls “para­chute cloth,” and then af­fixed to the walls. That pro­cess opened up op­por­tun­it­ies for res­id­ents old and young to have a hand in paint­ing what Viver­os began put­ting up a few weeks ago.

There were two “com­munity paint days” in Au­gust at the Second Baptist Church of Frank­ford, at Mul­berry and Mead­ow streets, Por­ti­er said. And every day that month about 50 young­sters got in­volved at the North­east Frank­ford Boys and Girls Club on Kin­sey Street, she said.

Paint day par­ti­cipants did things by the num­bers. Viver­os had 5 feet by 5 feet pieces of cloth on which mur­al seg­ments were out­lined. Each out­line was di­vided in­to numbered seg­ments so neigh­bor­hood artists could brush on numbered col­ors from cups of paint.

“It’s a gi­ant paint-by-num­bers,” Por­ti­er said in an in­ter­view earli­er in the sum­mer.

Now that in­stall­a­tion has be­gun, the com­munity con­tin­ues to par­ti­cip­ate, Viver­os said.

“A lot of people stop and com­pli­ment the work,” he said.

Now that so many im­ages are go­ing up on what had been bare walls, people are ask­ing some ques­tions.

“We’re hav­ing a nice con­ver­sa­tion with the com­munity,” Viver­os said.

In­stalling the pan­el titled Pride is more tech­nic­ally com­plic­ated, Por­ti­er said, be­cause the wall at 4248 Frank­ford Ave. is not smooth and has a lot of angles that must be worked around.

What Por­ti­er and Viver­os found to be smooth was the co­oper­a­tion they have re­ceived since they began the Frank­ford pro­ject in 2011.

“The com­munity has a lot of pride and has been very sup­port­ive,” Por­ti­er said. “It’s been a pleas­ure work­ing in Frank­ford.” ••


The Col­ors of Frank­ford

Two of the Mur­al Arts pro­gram’s four Ima­gin­ing Frank­ford mur­als are al­most com­plete and can be seen near Wom­rath Park at 4248 Frank­ford Ave. and 4122-50 Frank­ford Ave.

The mur­als should be com­pletely in­stalled by the end of Oc­to­ber, weath­er per­mit­ting.

If con­di­tions are good, a third will be up be­fore the end of Novem­ber. A fourth mur­al will be de­signed over the winter and is ex­pec­ted to be up at 4426-28 Frank­ford Ave. in the spring.

Vis­it www.mur­alarts.org for more in­form­a­tion.


You can reach at jloftus@bsmphilly.com.

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