The Spirit: And then there were three! Finalists selected for new Riverwards mural

Sep 25, 2015

Calling all neighbors! Please get off your front step and VOTE (or vote from the convenience of your front step) for the next big thing to hit the Fishtown and East Kensington art scene. Three finalists have been asked to submit their ideas for a mural set to be created on the wall of AC Auto Body, which is located diagonally from the Philadelphia Federal Credit Union (PFCU) Fishtown Branch, and it’s gonna be EPIC!

The evidence of the past years of artists moving into the neighborhood has come in the form of a tremendous amount of “local” talent — some were born here while others have lived here just long enough to call Fishtown and East Kensington home. The three semi-finalists’ mural ideas are all rich in local history, from as far back as the Lenni Lenape Indian tribes to as recent as yesterday’s newest shop opening. The best thing about this project is that the neighbors get to decide which mural will adorn the wall of AC Auto Body through perpetuity.

So let’s meet the finalists!

The first finalist is made up of the artistic duo of sculptor Brad Carney and lifelong Fishtowner and cartoonist Jeff Kilpatrick. If their mural is chosen, the duo wants it to emphasize the artsy culture that has risen in the Riverwards. It will be about artists, contemporary musicians, welders, fabricators and other muralists.

“There are so many voices… so many people; we wanted to juxtapose the old with the new… everything you would see on the street,” Carney said. Stylistically, theirs would be mostly paint and will incorporate glass mosaic.

The second finalist, another team, is comprised of Emily White and Nguyen Kien. This pair wants to create a mural that builds off of the over the top-ness that is the Kinetic Sculpture Derby, “which would show the kinetic energy of Fishtown,” White said. They want to design their own sculpture derby machine using quirky elements from around the neighborhood.

“There is an option to wrap our mural around the building so we want to do that,” White added. In order to keep their mural sustainable, White and Kien would use techniques that have been used on murals before, such as polystyrene foam and chicken wire covered with cement.

The third finalist is the solo act of Marie Elcin, a trained textilist. She has resided in Fishtown for eight years.

“I always felt like a newcomer compared to the old timers on the block,” Elcin said, but that is truly her inspiration. Digging deep into the history of Fishtown and East Kensington, Elcin’s mural design will be a series of stripes, or strata, which would represent the various time periods in the neighborhood’s history. From the 1600s and William Penn through the 1800s and the various types of industry — glassworks, textile — to the present with farms coming to the area. “This history will feel three-dimensional,” Elcin noted.

“We are excited to see the artists’ visions come to life and look forward to working with them to create a public work of art that reflects the spirit of the neighborhood,” said James McAneney, President/CEO of PFCU. “The purpose of this initiative is to celebrate the arts and culture scene in the Fishtown and East Kensington neighborhood, and by calling upon artists who live and breathe it every day to design a mural, we hope to create a visual metaphor for the fabric of the community and what it represents.”

Mark your calendars for the Opening Night reception that PFCU will host at its Fishtown branch on October 2 from 6-8PM. This celebratory event, which will coincide with Frankford Ave. Arts’ First Friday, will kick off the two-week public exhibition at PFCU, during which the three mural designs will be on display to the public. Throughout the evening, guests will have the opportunity to view the final three original concepts for the mural and help determine which design they think should win by voting on PFCU’s Facebook page. Attendees will also have a chance to meet the artists and artist teams, as well as enjoy complimentary light refreshments.

The final selection of the design concept will be announced the week of October 19, 2015.

-Written by Denise M. Krenski for The Spirit

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