Ten years in the making, Northwest Philadelphia’s latest mural was officially dedicated on Saturday, as a crowd of around 30 people looked on.
“The waiting list is so huge. We weren’t sure when we were going to get to it,” said executive director of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program Jane Golden. Five years ago and five years after the idea was initially proposed, momentum for the project started building.
The final installation took place over the weekends of Oct. 19-20 and 26-27, closing down one lane of traffic at a time. SEPTA service on the bridge was not suspended.
A community-driven process
As cars passed beneath the now-adorned train trestle, representatives from Mural Arts, SEPTA, Mt. Airy Art Garage and the community gathered to acknowledge the work that went into the public art piece.
Out of a final budget of $38,000, Mural Arts kicked in $10,000 and the rest came from community contributions and local developers, Ken Weinstein and Dan Gordon.
Muralist Jon Laidecker spoke to the crowd, noting how smoothly the process went. “Usually at these things you try to find some story about a struggle to share,” he said. “But this time I’ve got no anecdotes.”
He thanked his three assistants Charles Newman, Thomas Walton and Felix St. Forte.
The final product
Last minute changes to the design due to “miscommunication” about the dimensions went unnoticed. “They moved the pieces a little bit closer together and did a great job,” said director of community murals for the Mural Arts Program Cathy Harris.
This installation brings the number of murals in Northwest Philadelphia up to 12, with two more slated for the coming year, one in Mt. Airy and one in Germantown. Incorporating the murals into a larger economic development strategy, future steps include partnering with local restaurants and businesses to take part in mural tours.
“Collectively we can make a huge difference in this part of Philadelphia,” said Golden.