Devoted Eyes on the Street readers will know David Guinn as the artist who created Autumn, the Bella Vista mural at 9th and Bainbridge streets that was covered up in recent months by a new rowhouse. (EOTS recently reported the good news that David is reprising the fall-themed mural for a new Mural Arts project on one of Fleisher Art Memorial’s walls overlooking Palumbo Park.)
David dropped us a line to let us know he’s working on a new mural project, Freewall: The Artists’ Wall, an outgrowth of his work with Mural Arts with a very distinct twist that was inspired by the debate over Autumn.
Mural Arts projects typically evolve through community engagement, and are measured in terms of their social impact. In the case of Autumn, there was not much of a public process, yet the mural grew into a beloved neighborhood fixture. To David, it was an inspirational testament to the power of public art, beyond the bonds forged through participation.
“There had been very little community process in creating that mural. I was really impressed and flattered that so many people got involved in saving a mural because they liked it, liked what it did to the space it was in, liked how it looked,” David explained over email.
That appreciation gave David the idea for Freewall, an art-for-art’s sake, temporary mural series that is planned for the east wall of Fergie’s Pub (1214 Sansom Street). The idea is to provide artists space for a mural that’s fully of their own creation, and to offer the public a rotating fine art exhibition outdoors.
To be clear, David certainly appreciates and supports Mural Arts’ socially motivated projects, and he sees Freewall as an independent way to contribute to Philadelphia’s public art dialogue.
“I want to promote the idea that art itself is valuable in our public environment, and that an artist’s unmediated vision can be an interesting and compelling voice in the public landscape,” David said.
Robert Goodman, Chair of the Fine Arts Department at Moore College of Art, is the first artist to contribute to the Freewall series – an abstract artwork seen in the mockup above. David took to Kickstarter to raise the $2500 they’ll need for a lift and supplies, and they have already met their goal. Work will get underway soon, with an opening in September.
“I think that art for arts sake improves our lives,” David explained. “Its value is hard to quantify, perhaps because we don’t have the tools to articulate it in our culture, but the fight over the Autumn mural demonstrated to me that it is highly valued.”