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The Northeast Star: Mural Initiative Hopes to Unite Artists and East Kensington-Fishtown Community

Jun 1, 2015

Artists in East Kens­ing­ton and Fishtown will have a chance to change the facade of their neigh­bor­hood with a new ini­ti­at­ive headed by Phil­adelphia Fed­er­al Cred­it Uni­on and the City of Phil­adelphia Mur­al Arts Pro­gram.

This two-year ini­ti­at­ive hopes to find artists with ties to the East Kens­ing­ton-Fishtown com­munity to cre­ate a mur­al that cel­eb­rates and raises the pro­file of the neigh­bor­hood, while build­ing a sense of com­munity.

The idea came about dur­ing the Kens­ing­ton Kin­et­ic Sculp­ture Derby and Arts Fest­iv­al on May 16.

“We were talk­ing with rep­res­ent­at­ives from the Kens­ing­ton Com­munity De­vel­op­ment Cor­por­a­tion,” said Kar­en Eav­is, a com­mu­nic­a­tions spe­cial­ist at PFCU. “We asked if there would be some ex­cit­ing new ini­ti­at­ives we could do as part of the fest­iv­al, and one of the ideas was to com­mis­sion a mur­al we could un­veil at the derby, but we knew with tim­ing this year that that wasn’t go­ing to be the case.”

PFCU then reached out to the Mur­al Arts Pro­gram to ask if they would be in­ter­ested in part­ner­ing for the new ini­ti­at­ive.

“This is an ex­cit­ing way for Mur­al Arts to work with emer­ging artists in the neigh­bor­hood, dis­cov­er new tal­ent and bring them in­to the Mur­al Arts port­fo­lio,” said Leslie Lod­wik, pro­ject man­ager at Mur­al Arts. “Mur­al Arts is ded­ic­ated to work­ing with and dis­cov­er­ing new and emer­ging artists and this is a won­der­ful way to build re­la­tion­ships with new artists.”

Artists, and teams of artists, sub­mit­ting work to the con­test are re­quired to either live or work in East Kens­ing­ton-Fishtown. Along with samples of their work, artists must sub­mit a budget plan. The win­ning artist will have a budget up to $18,500.

After the dead­line for sub­mis­sions on Ju­ly 31, PFCU and Mur­al Arts will de­cide on three fi­nal­ists. The fi­nal­ists will then have to sub­mit a fi­nal design for the mur­al, which will be ex­hib­ited in the lobby of PFCU’s Fishtown branch, 2136 E. Dauph­in St., from Sept. 28 to Oct. 12. Vot­ing for the win­ning design will take place on PFCU’s Face­book page dur­ing that time as well.

“We are look­ing for artists that want to con­trib­ute to their com­munity through their art,” Lod­wick said. “We are look­ing for artists that have a strong port­fo­lio and a unique voice. We are look­ing for artists that care about East Kens­ing­ton-Fishtown and have an idea for how they would ap­proach cel­eb­rat­ing their com­munity visu­ally.”

Lod­wick ad­ded that artists don’t need to have pre­vi­ous ex­per­i­ence mak­ing mur­als, but should have a clear idea of how they would ap­proach the pro­ject.

“Mur­al Arts will work with the se­lec­ted artists to de­vel­op to­geth­er the best plan for pro­du­cing and in­stalling the mur­al,” Lodgwick said.

Be­sides com­mis­sion­ing a new mur­al, PFCU and Mur­al Arts hope to cre­ate even stronger ties to the East Kens­ing­ton-Fishtown com­munity.

“I think what we did since we put roots down in the com­munity more than two years ago we’ve grown to really ap­pre­ci­ate everything the neigh­bor­hood has to of­fer, in­clud­ing the vi­brant cre­at­ive eco­nomy,” Eav­is said, “and we look for ways to make it bet­ter, so we just thought com­mis­sion­ing a mur­al is a way to uni­fy an already ec­cent­ric neigh­bor­hood. It’s in­ten­ded to cel­eb­rate everything the East Kens­ing­ton-Fishtown com­munity has to of­fer, while we also hope to raise the pro­file of the East Kens­ing­ton-Fishtown arts and cul­ture com­munity.”

Lod­wick ex­plained East Kens­ing­ton-Fishtown was chosen for the mur­al pro­ject be­cause of the long-stand­ing artist com­munity in the neigh­bor­hood.

“East Kens­ing­ton Fishtown has his­tor­ic­ally at­trac­ted artists and has there­fore de­veloped in­to a thriv­ing arts com­munity,” Lod­wick said. “Since PFCU has a branch in the neigh­bor­hood and a strong in­terest in sup­port­ing the arts com­munity, Mur­al Arts is ex­cited to work with artists in the com­munity to build our net­work of artists.”
Be­sides vot­ing on the win­ning design, com­munity mem­bers will be able to par­ti­cip­ate in a com­munity paint day, where they can help the win­ning artist paint the mur­al.

The mur­al will be un­veiled dur­ing the next Kens­ing­ton Kin­et­ic Sculp­ture Derby and Arts Fest­iv­al in May 2016.

Artists and com­munity mem­bers in­ter­ested in learn­ing more about the ini­ti­at­ive and the sub­mis­sion pro­cess can meet with rep­res­ent­at­ives from Mur­al Arts and PFCU at a com­munity meet­ing on Thursday, June 4, from 7 to 8 p.m. at the Fishtown PFCU branch, 2136 E. Dauph­in St.

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