Inspired in part by a spirited conversation in a Phoenixville Patch comment thread, a band of residents have joined forces to combat bad art with good in the downtown.
Frustrated by the borough’s occasional graffiti problem, the newly formed Phoenixville Mural Arts Movement has designs on countering it with a robust effort to create legitimate, and lasting, artwork. To that end, the group will hold a paint drive at the Phoenixville Village Art Center on August 24 from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. and the 25th from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. to build its paint reserves and recruit new members.
Organized by Kathy Bestwick of the Art Center, the 12-member organization first met in mid-July and, according to committee member Holly Heller, has hashed out a three-pronged plan to aesthetically rejuvenate the downtown. The Movement plans to first create a handful of new murals, then establish a system that enables other groups to propose and create murals of their own, before finally organizing the maintenance of the borough’s street art.
The group will begin by painting four additional murals in the downtown; one, already underway, on the old fish market building owned by Barto Pools (Heller says the mural will be a “Not realistic, but playful” illustration of the creek that flows behind the property), one on the exterior of the West End Fire Company No. 3 (“A modernist, 1920s fire poster. Period for the building,” according to Heller), and two more projects whose location and content are yet to be determined.
Local artist Joe Varady will design both projects.
Once the new murals are underway, the group will shift towards creating an infrastructure for other groups—sports teams, businesses, community organizations, etc.—to make murals of their own. The Mural Arts Movement would furnish these comers with a packet of the legal forms, approved locations, listings of area artists, and a project coordinator to work with.
Once that’s established, the group would move onto renovations and stewardship of existing murals; something that, Heller says, is sorely needed.
“Big portions of the building are crumbling and taking the mural with it,” she said, lamenting the condition of the mural on the side of Steel City.
And though the group doesn’t need explicit approval from the borough to carry out its ambitious art project, Heller says they’ve reached out to the council to get help writing grant requests for other, larger, projects down the road.
The Phoenixville Mural Arts Movement is meeting next on August 15 at 7 p.m. at the Phoenixville Village Art Center.