Monday, October 11, 2010

Big Moving Art

Philadelphia has got to be the mural capital of the world. Under Jane Golden and the Mural Arts Program, beginning in 1984, more than 3000 murals have been painted all over the city - and they're not stopping anytime soon! On Saturday I went to a big "paint-in" to see the next major mural taking shape - lively, moving, enormous shape. The mural is called HowPhillyMoves and the subject is dance -  50, 000 square feet of dance! After June 2011 this mural could well be your first sight of the city, because it's destined to cover the parking structure for the airport, which fronts onto busy I-95. Instead of that boring modern concrete nothingness of parking structures, you'll see great swaths of leaping, moving, color, life, speed, and excitement. Last week Mural Arts put out a call for help in the newspapers and online, and when I walked into a third floor space in an indoor shopping mall Saturday afternoon it seemed like all of Philadelphia had rallied to the cause. What a sight! Kids of all ages, moms with babies in papoose packs, old folks, young folks, everybody had a brush and paints and an apron, and the mural was growing like mad with every passing minute. Judy Hellman, the director of Art Education for Mural Arts pointed out a young woman with her sleeves rolled up, painting her share - and then pointed her out again - in the cartoon for the mural on the wall! She was - and is - one of the dancers to be immortalized in this creation - look for her splash of red in the panel I show here! Murals, in the tradition of ancient peoples, and from the revival of that tradition by Diego Rivera in Mexico in the 1930's, are such a forceful expression of a community - this is a great testament to a community not only in living color, but in BIG action!

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