Writing on the wall
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.