Philadelphia graffiti artists have taken it upon themselves to paint a large mural depicting Bernie Sanders in the Graduate Hospital neighborhood.
Before the “Philly the Bern” at 22nd and Catherine streets in Philadelphia was finished, passers-by were already stopping to take photos of themselves standing in front of it.
“I’m supposed to be going to an interview right now — and I’m probably going to be late — but I wanted a picture in front of this,” said Hannon Fearn, 27, of West Chester. “It’s just gorgeous.”
The 65-foot-by-35-foot mural shows a bust of Sanders floating over the mountains of his home state of Vermont and the Philadelphia skyline. The Democratic presidential candidate is shown with his iconic flyaway hair.
“I think it’s one of the great parts of him, that he’s too busy worrying about his politics to be messing with his hair,” said the artist known as Old Broads. “I think that’s what makes him endearing.”
Old Broads collaborated with another graffiti artist, known as Distort, on the mural. The artists do not want their real names used, as sometimes their street work is illegal. This mural on a vacant building wall, however, is legitimate. The owner, real estate developer Max Glass, is a Sanders supporter.
“I think he has had a brand disadvantage, and the clock is running out on us,” said Glass.
The mural is funded by a $5,000 Kickstarter campaign, coordinated by Conrad Benner, the creator of the Philadelphia graffiti art blog streetsdept.com.
The artist known as Distort said this is the first time in his adult life he has had any optimism about a political candidate.
“It took some switching gears for me to realize this is a candidate that does line up with the things I believe in,” said Distort. “I don’t want to complain next election that there’s nobody good, and when there was, I didn’t do anything.”
The lower part of the mural includes a re-creation of an Internet meme, “Bernie vs. Hillary,” showing the heads of Sanders and Hillary Clinton with users writing in their own quotes — usually funny, sometimes off-color. The artists encourage passers-by to write their own quotes on the wall in chalk, take a picture of it, and send the meme back to the Internet.