October is Mural Arts Month in Philly, an annual celebration of the city’s unique art and culture. This year’s theme is “Roots and Risk” showcasing Mural Arts Philadelphia’s dedication to its mission by never shying away from a challenge and continuing to make innovative art.
On Saturday, the celebration continued with the exhibition of a new mural at Broad and Tasker Streets that pays tribute to South Philly’s music legacy. It replaced the original and now decayed ‘South Philly Musicians’ mural at Passyunk Ave. Many local Philly residents came out to indulge in the nostalgia of popular 50’s musicians who were featured such as Jerry Blavat, Charlie Gracie, and Frankie Avalon.
Founder of Mural Arts Philadelphia, Jane Golden, spoke at the dedication and was very impressed with the turnout. “I think it’s really emblematic of what murals mean to people in this city. I mean we are known internationally as the city of murals and we have a waiting list of over 2,000 people who want art,” said Golden.
Also in attendance was Congressman Bob Brady, City Councilman Mark Squilla, and Mayor Jim Kenny’s Chief of Staff, Jane Slusser, who shared her thoughts regarding Philadelphia’s distinctiveness in its public art that sets it apart from other cities worldwide. “Venice has canals and Paris has the Eiffel Tower, but Philadelphia has murals,” said Slusser.
The visionary behind the painting, muralist and Tyler School of Art grad Eric Okdeh, feels the mural particularly honors the older crowd in Philadelphia, who grew up listening to many of the musicians displayed on the wall. “I think for an older generation, it gets to tell a lot of their story and the things that they hold dear,” said Okdeh.
Although created as a tribute to the older generation, the mural has also been recognized as a potential bridge between young and old crowds alike. Jerry Blavat, legendary South Philadelphia-based radio personality and musician, observed how seeing unfamiliar faces on the wall could spark curiosity in younger audiences. “But they’ll say, who was that? What did they do? And they will google the name. And they’ll know who we were,”said Blavat.
The mural, entitled ‘South Philly Musicians Remix,’ can now be seen by onlookers on Broad Street for years to come.