Another story about murals in Philadelphia? Really? Yes indeed.
Because as much as you’ve experienced the murals’ presence in almost every part of the city, nothing prepares you for this monumental retrospective at The Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts.
Monumental not only as an adjective, but as a way of describing the scale of the design for the “Beyond The Paint” exhibition, which traces the history of this city’s mural arts chronologically, from its birth as Philadelphia’s Anti-Graffiti Network in 1984 to today’s Mural Arts Program.
So instead of looking at one mural at a time, you get a better sense of the overall project through photos, signs, posters and videos of community gatherings where mural ideas are shaped in public discussions. It also shows how the original concepts of muralism have been allowed to evolve and literally spill over into public art designs for buses, solar trash bins and in one project, dance steps painted on sidewalk to invite pedestrians to dance while they explore the neighborhoods.
And of course, the show pays homage to the thousands of people, artists, community organizers, students, volunteers, designers, contributors, educators and scholars who have made the 3,600 Philadelphia murals possible.
This is a story that has taken 30 years to be told, one mural at a time.