1984 - 2014

City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program: First 30 Years

City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program

A Selection of Public Art Created by the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program

30 Years of Transformation

See how we've shaped neighborhoods, people and the landscape of Philadelphia for the past 3 decades. Video directed by Jon Kaufman

Music 'No Stoppin' (feat. Black Thought, Gene Mcfadden & John Whitehead) by Larry Gold

WE BELIEVE ART IGNITES CHANGE

The City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program (Mural Arts) is the nation’s largest public art program. For 30 years, Mural Arts has united artists and communities through a collaborative process, rooted in the traditions of mural-making, to create art that transforms public spaces and individual lives. 

Mural Arts engages communities in 50–100 public art projects each year, and maintains its growing collection through a restoration initiative. Core Mural Arts programs such as Art Education, Restorative Justice, and Porch Light yield unique, project-based learning opportunities for thousands of youth and adults.

Image Courtesy of Temple University Libraries, Urban Archives, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, as part of the Philadelphia Inquirer Collection.

Mural Arts was first established in 1984 as part of the Philadelphia Anti-Graffiti Network’s effort to eradicate the city’s graffiti crisis. Artist Jane Golden was hired to reach out to graffiti writers and redirect their energies to constructive public art projects.

In 1985 PAGN painted its first mural, Life in the City, on a 636-foot span of the Spring Garden Street Bridge. Jane Golden and a crew of nearly 100 young people paint day and night for four weeks to complete murals on both sides of this highway-and-pedestrian bridge linking West Philly to Center City.

1990: well-known portrait muralist Kent Twitchell is commissioned to paint the Dr. J (Julius Erving) mural at 1219 Ridge Avenue. The goal of this mural is to integrate superior artwork with a subject that is significant to the community. This is the first mural installed using the parachute cloth method. 
In 1997, Philadelphia Mural Arts Advocates, a private nonprofit, is incorporated to advise and support the program. The following year, Common Threads by Meg Saligman is painted. At eight stores it is the program’s tallest mural at the time.
Colors of Light © 1999 City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program / Josh Sarantitis, Photo by Jack Ramsdale
Philadelphia Muses © 1999 City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program / Meg Saligman (restored 2012), Photo by Steve Weinik
Tree of Knowledge © 2003 City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program / Michael Webb (restored 2014), Photo by Steve Weinik
A Celebration of Poetry © 2004 City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program / Parris Stancell, Photo by Jack Ramsdale
In celebration of the Lincoln Financial Group’s 100th Anniversary in 2005, Mural Arts is commissioned to engage Philadelphia students in examining the legacy of Abraham Lincoln and to create a 10,000 square foot mural, Legacy, by muralists Josh Sarantitis and Eric Okdeh.
People's Progression Towards Equality © 2007 City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program / Jared Bader, Photo by Steve Weinik
A Taste of Summer © 2009 City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program / Ann Northrup, Photo by Jack Ramsdale
The Evolving Face of Nursing © 2009 City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program / Meg Saligman, Photo by Steve Weinik
2008: Mural number 3,000, Tuskegee Airmen: They Met the Challenge, by Marcus Akinlana is dedicated.
Garden of Delight © 2010 City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program / David Guinn, Photo by Steve Weinik

Mural Arts and artist J. Meejin Yoon create Light Drift, a temporary interactive lighting installation along the Schuylkill River banks.  Thousands of visitors  travel to the waterfront.

2010: Mural Arts collaborates with the Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility to launch the Porch Light program.  This new initiative targets individuals struggling with mental health challenges, addiction, homelessness, and trauma. Mural Pictured: The North Philadelphia Beacon Project by James Burns
In 2012 Mural Arts hires renowned Dutch artists Haas & Hahn to create Philly Painting. During an 18-month residency, they work with the Commerce Department and local residents to transform a four-block stretch of Germantown Avenue. This project goes on to win a public art award from Americans for the Arts’ Public Art Network. Check out our separate exhibition devoted to this project. 
The Color of Your Voice © 2012 City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program / Keir Johnston and Ernel Martinez, Photo by Steve Weinik
Peace is a Haiku Song © 2012 City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program / Josh Sarantitis and Parris Stancell, Photo by Steve Weinik
How to Turn Anything Into Something Else © 2012 City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program / Miss Rockaway Armada, Photo by Steve Weinik
How We Fish © 2012 City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program / Eric Okdeh, Photo by Mike Reali
Personal Melody © 2012 City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program / HOW and NOSM, Photo by Steve Weinik
Imagining a Modern Philadelphia © 2013 City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program / Gaia, Photo by Steve Weinik
Philly Chunk Pack © 2012 City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program / Kenny Scharf, Photo by Steve Weinik
2013: Mural Arts completes a new mural project, Legendary, by Amber Arts & Design featuring Tatyana Fazlalizadeh, that honors GRAMMY Award winners, The Roots. 
In 2014 German artist Katharina Grosse partners with Mural Arts to install psychylustro, an abstract work of color along a five-mile stretch of the Northeast Regional Rail Line.
All The Way Live From The 215 © 2014 City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program / Chris Stain, Photo by Steve Weinik
Lotus Diamond © 2014 Shepard Fairey, Photo by Steve Weinik
You Go Girl © 2014 City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program / Jetsonorama and Ursula Rucker, Photo by Steve Weinik
Credits: Story

Creator — City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program
Role — Steve Weinik

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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