'Storefront Artwork Initiative' adding brightness to closed store fronts in Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Murals have long been an important form of artistic expression in Philadelphia, and now more than ever, they may beautify the city.

If you've spent any time in the city, odds are you've come across some form of it. Be it murals or street art, it isn't hard to find.

"We do big permanent works of art and we do smaller works of art as well," said Mural Arts Philadelphia Executive Director Jane Golden.

"We are a city that has a real appetite for art," she added.

And it may surprise you, that hunger has grown even more so during this pandemic.

"It's a great idea. It brightens the city," said Gail Hearn from Center City.

For this art installation, a blank canvas was needed and at the moment Center City is in no short supply.

By now, you've probably seen some storefronts plastered in black plywood. That's no accident.

"We painted them all black just as a deterrent so that you wouldn't see the graffiti continually showing up," said Center City District President and CEO Paul Levy.

"But then, black walls wasn't the nicest thing in the world, so we reached out to Mural Arts," he added.

As a result of the partnership, 11 artists were commissioned to paint more than a dozen 6 X 6 foot celebratory paintings now spaced out between nine storefronts-- all part of the "Storefront Artwork Initiative."

The paintings were also printed on special material, so installs were quick and complaint with social distancing.

"We wanted something that would be cheerful and bright," Levy said.

And in a time when things may see them their darkest, these touches of color may just be the contrast that's sorely needed.

"I hope it makes us all feel joyful and hopeful," Golden said.

If the shutdown continues, there are talks of adding more artwork around the city. Eventually, the hope is to find a way to make them permanent post-pandemic.


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