By Matt Korman
The thousands of murals famously dispersed throughout Philadelphia have become an iconic backdrop to a diverse city. Portraying pride, culture and a rich history, the size and scope of the murals continues to expand, correlating with the city’s ever-changing landscape.
In celebration of the murals, the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program has announced the Robert M. Greenfield African American Iconic Images Collection. The collection is curated in partnership with the African American Museum in Philadelphia. It includes 47 of the city’s most famous murals portraying African American imagery and can be seen either by tour or through the Mural Arts Program’s website muralarts.org/iconicimages.
“(The program) uses public art for social change,” said Cari Feiler Bender, spokesperson for the Mural Arts program, noting the organization’s unofficial moniker: “Art saves lives.”
Bender also said the mural program aims to educate students around the area about the city’s art history. As part of the collection’s multimedia features, including online lesson plans, an audio tour — narrated by Roots drummer and Philadelphia native ?uestlove) — and video, the program will provide monthly public trolley tours of the city’s murals.
The trolley tours will take place on the last Saturday of each month with the first scheduled for Saturday, March 26.
The tour will feature 21 of the city’s most famous murals, including several from Philadelphia native David McShane.McShane, a LaSalle University and Pennsyvania Academy of the Fine Arts graduate, has been working with the Mural Arts program for 16 years.
McShane’s artwork has also been exhibited in France and Ireland.
“I’ve done about 80 to 90 projects for the Mural Arts Program,” McShane said.
Two of his prominent works, “Legendary Blue Horizon,” a four-square mural depicting legendary boxers against contrasting floral patterns, and “Jackie Robinson,” a black and white grid mural showing the baseball icon famously stealing home, are both on the tour.
“I love a figure in motion,” McShane said. “Looking at figures in motion is almost like a beautiful ballet.”
Tours for the program will begin at the African American Museum in Philadelphia, 701 Arch St. Tickets range from $17 to $27, with special discounts for seniors, students, and children, and include a general admission to the museum the day of the tour.For more information on the tour visit muralarts.org.