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9 beautiful things to see in Philly this Memorial Day Weekend

Sculptor Sarah Peoples installed this noncommissioned rainbow monument to spread cheer during the pandemic. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Sculptor Sarah Peoples installed this noncommissioned rainbow monument to spread cheer during the pandemic. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

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Philly during Memorial Day weekend is usually a good time for street parties and people-watching — everyone out with new spring looks and sun-kissed smiles.

This year, try art watching instead.

“Art is around the entire city,” said Philly artist Symone Salib. “You just have to explore new streets and look up, instead of at your phone.”

The coronavirus pandemic has spurred many artists into action, beautifying boarded-up businesses with messages of hope and reminding people to keep six feet apart. The new works complement the city’s 4,000 existing murals and plenty of other new pop-up art to be found if you opt to go for a walk, bike ride or car drive this long weekend.

If you head out, remember to follow CDC recommendations to keep yourself and others safe — wash your hands, wear a mask and keep a distance.

Plastic Rainbow Sculpture in Fairmount Park’s Lemon Hill

If you’re hungry for the fresh air and green grass of a park, consider Fairmount Park’s Lemon Hill, where you’ll find a bright, beautiful rainbow installation by Sarah Peoples.

The sculpture is originally from 2013, but Peoples brought it out of storage earlier this month.

“I had seen the symbol of a rainbow in my neighborhood of Brewerytown grow into a universal emblem of hope in the pandemic and the idea struck me how ‘real’ symbolic imagery truly is,” Peoples told Philly art blog Streets Dept. “I put the piece up to support the essential workers, the doctors, nurses and everyone working in the hospitals, the grocery store workers, etc.”

‘Be Kind to Others’ at Passyunk and Tasker

Symone Salib’s artwork is centered on community.

“I just want to make sure people are safe,” she said. Rather than going out, she recommends people explore art virtually and check out exhibits at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and other cultural spaces around the country.

But if Philadelphians are interested in seeing her work in-person, a lot of it can be found across South Philly.

‘Miss America 2020’ on 10th between Spruce and Locust

In Center City, you’ll find a painting from @JesPaints, depicting a woman health care worker, armed with PPE.

Murals all over the city

Murals can be found all over Philadelphia, thanks to the city’s Mural Arts program.

“Enjoying these works of art is fun and easy to do at a safe distance outdoors,” said Jane Golden, executive director of Mural Arts Philadelphia. “We hope the murals help remind Philadelphians of the beauty of our city and bring a sense of peace and hope to onlookers.”

If you want to take in some of these large-scale works, there’s plenty to explore.

‘Convergence’ on 27th and South streets

Convergence © 2019 City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program / Rebecca Rutstein, 27th and South Street. (Photo by Steve Weinik)

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‘The Phillies Mural’ at 2400 Walnut St.

The Phillies Mural © 2015 City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program / David McShane, 2400 Walnut Street. (Photo by Steve Weinik)

‘Sanctuary’ at 13th and Chancellor streets

Sanctuary © 2016 James Burns/Mural Arts Philadelphia, 13th and Chancellor Streets. (Photo by Steve Weinik)

You can also take a virtual tour on the Mural Arts website or a self-guided tour through The Mural Mile.

#FilltheWallswithHope on 2016-18 Ridge Ave.

Mark Strandquist’s art project is a collection of images and words from a variety of artists intended to cover empty walls and storefront windows and offer support, inspiration, resources and commentary.

You can find various walls filled with hope in various neighborhoods citywide.

Art tour along Kelly Drive

An incredible collection of outdoor sculptures lines Kelly Drive along the Schuylkill River. If you’re headed to the trail this weekend, consider a self-guided exploration of this route.

The Association for Public Art has a detailed tour you can follow, that also includes details about the sculpture and artist.

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