Off the wall

Frank is ... top of the heap?

At the corner of S. Broad and Wharton Streets in my neighborhood, a Frank Sinatra mural was recently unceremoniously covered up by a new building.

This is what it used to look like:

He had it his way for years.

I don’t happen to care about this particular mural, though I imagine many in my old-school Italian neighborhood do. And it is a bit odd to see Frank’s head and shoulders peeking out awkwardly over the top of the new structure.

But it’s okay to say good-bye. The whole point of the Mural Arts program in Philadelphia is to beautify the scars exposed when abandoned buildings get demolished. They cauterize the wounds of urban blight and help stave off decay. When those neighborhoods prosper, and when those abandoned locations attract developers, it’s a very good thing. The murals have done their jobs. Time to paint Frank on another wall.

It’s the same thing with another mural in South Philly. This one is getting a lot of attention, because there’s a petition among the neighbors to try to save it.

Hidden Philly has some good perspective on the mural fight between the neighbors and the would-be builders. The neighborhood is off-base in its reasons for objecting to the new building, and apparently the new building being proposed is a real stinker.

If only the construction projects these mural neighborhoods are drawing were actually worthy of the art they are replacing.


2 Responses to “Off the wall”

  1. 1 Tre
    October 27, 2011 at 4:10 am

    That one mural on Bainbridge is less about losing the mural and more about the shitty building that’s being proposed for the adjoining vacant lot. And since the neighborhood has zero recourse over bad design, they’ve latched onto saving the mural as their reason for opposing the development.

    It’s kind of annoying that the neighbors can’t fight the development on its merits, ie whether this new infill development fits within the existing neighborhood in terms of scale and size, and instead has to create this other issue just to get their voices heard. It weakens what I think is a strong argument about preventing bad design and context which is logical in favor of an emotional argument over art.

    • October 27, 2011 at 10:51 am

      That seems to be what the guy is saying in that Hidden Philly blog post. If it came to it, the mural could be reproduced elsewhere, so saving it turns out to be a pretty weak argument. It’s interesting that they can’t fight the building based on its own merits. Is there no recourse? Looking at other ugly buildings in the city, it’s clearly not the first fight of that sort that’s been lost.

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the untallied hours

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