The outdated Olympic images on the two Twin Bridges have become a familiar sight for many East Falls residents commuting through Ridge Avenue for the past few years. But come next week, the bridges will take on a fresh new look.
A new Japanese-inspired mural called “Schuylkill Tapestry” incorporates images of the surrounding environment and river, as suggested by the East Falls Development Corporation.
Members of the EFDC suggested that all of the fish, insects, flowers and ferns included in the mural be indigenous to the area.
The mural ignites with vibrant colors of blue, green, red and tan with three dimensional bugs, fauna and flora. The mosaic fish swim high in a waterfall accompanied by mosaic oxygen bubbles.
Johnny Buss, one of the artists, said he felt divided to cover the former Olympic depictions because he knew one of the artists, Ras Malik, who painted them.
“I felt a little bit like should these stay here but it was not really my decision, it was the community’s, so I just embraced that I was going to paint over it and put as much energy as I could to make it as nice as I could as a personal memorial to his energy and other artists that taught me how to paint,” said Buss. He added that he aspired to be an artist after he saw the Olympic mural and others around the city.
Gina Snyder, EFDC’s executive director, said the mural efficiently weaves together the Japanese theme with the neighborhood by creating a gateway under the bridges.
“What is really important about the location is that it really is to flank both sides of Ridge Avenue to create an experience for people coming down Ridge Avenue,” said Snyder.
The mural will also include photo luminescent paint that will absorb sunlight in order to make it glow at night. The paint will not be on the entire mural, but specific areas such as the oxygen bubbles.
Tanya Pierce, an employee at a nearby business, believes the artwork is a realistic representation of the small neighborhood.
“It is beautiful and it really brings The Falls alive,” said Pierce. “It gives it a flare and shine and the material is perfect.
Buss worked alongside Mike “Smash” Mash who is known for his mosaics and sculptures. The duo has worked together for seven years and hopes to work in the neighborhood more.
The mural is expected to be complete by the end of next week.
The project was managed by the Mural Arts Program.