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'Phoenixville Mural Arts Movement' Has Plans to Beautify the Borough

The group wants to create new murals and rejuvenate the old.

Inspired in part by 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 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 on and the  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.

Lynette Gray August 14, 2012 at 12:54 PM
Have the neighbors been contacted about these projects? I think, especially since it is claimed the Borough has not oversight, that someone needs to speak for the neighbors, residents, and other property owners surrounding these projects - I think particularly of the building going up Rt. 23 that has the large mural saying "World's Largest Pig Farm Coming Soon". Most communities have a municipal committee in place where these issues can be addressed, and we can be assured that everyone - the building owner, adjoining/nearby property owners, employees and the borough itself have a say in what is going to be displayed. I hate to think that this committee arbitrarily, and without review or comment, is going to decide what acceptable art is for our community.
LocalGirl August 14, 2012 at 01:15 PM
Lynette-- While I appreciate your sentiments, I know that the first project is taking an eyesore and making it into art. And ultimately, it is the property owner's decision on how they paint their building (unless it is in the Historic District.) Getting neighbors involved would likely be a lengthy and frustrating undertaking, as just one nay-sayer can spoil the fun and drag out the length of the project. How would you feel if you repainted your house, and your neighbors showed up banging on your door that they hated the colors? I think this is an amazing undertaking and I am thrilled to support it.
Clint Weiler August 14, 2012 at 01:15 PM
Whenever someone or some group wants to do / create something in this town, someone or some other group finds fault in said group's methods / intentions. If people would ease up a bit, more projects would actually come to fruition.
Rob Cywinski August 14, 2012 at 01:23 PM
Oh I didn't know Murals were graffiti proof? Coming together for a neighborhood watch may help with the problem. I will say the new mural on the shed out by Barto Pool and Spa is nice...until you turn the corner and make your way toward Wheatland Street...
. August 14, 2012 at 01:40 PM
I have noticed that Lynette rarely has anything nice to say about any improvement project in town. Some people just can't be helped and just need to be ignored if any progess is to be made.
Holly August 14, 2012 at 01:48 PM
Hi all! Lynette, just a quick note because that's a perfectly fair question - yes, neighbors are going to be engaged in advance of projects whenever possible. Its the hope of the program to really involve the community in selecting designs and assisting with the painting. Possibly, uniform consent over a piece is unrealistic, but we really do hope and want discussion around what public art comes into the neighborhood. That said, the Barto Pools opportunity came quickly, and so the "neighbor engagement" part of our process will need to evolve from here. I'd be happy to take you through our plans, and we're absolutely still looking for people to get involved, if you might be interested? All best, Holly
Holly August 14, 2012 at 01:51 PM
Rob - that's true, murals are certainly not graffiti proof. A lot of what we're hoping to achieve with the murals is to engage members of the community, including those who are our more "graffiti-oriented" participants. It'd be great to get to a point where we include younger patrons in the murals and give them a sense of ownership. But the other part of this project is to help the Phoenixville Mural Arts Movement to take stewardship of the existing murals, so we can jump in and fix graffiti in order to perserve the intended vision of these public pieces of art. In any case - we're still looking for members! Any availability this Wednesday evening, please join us at Phoenix Village Art Center!
Emma August 14, 2012 at 01:57 PM
Great news!
Barry Cassidy August 14, 2012 at 02:03 PM
murals like this were adopted in the arts and entertainment economic development strategy. if that strategy is still in place...it is part of the borough's strategy for revitalizing . also i would be wary of censoring art. i think lynette and sheila are the same person...
Ed Roper August 14, 2012 at 02:13 PM
There already is a neighborhood watch. They meet monthly and you're welcome to attend. This project is taking a different approach to try to give would be graffiti artists an outlet.
Sheila CrackpotPatriot Holmes August 14, 2012 at 02:17 PM
I'm a resident; I reported vandalism to my truck and local law enforcement laughed at me. Nothing was done until I called at 2am one morning to report two teens in my backyard spraypainting horrible slurs all along the backside of my block in the alley. I think a mural program is awesome and would be a great idea. I hope there's a way to include young people -and really for the whole community to contribute. I'd love to help support the effort!
Sheila CrackpotPatriot Holmes August 14, 2012 at 02:19 PM
Why am I being compared to Lynette?
Tom Sunnergren (Editor) August 14, 2012 at 02:20 PM
Also: should have mentioned this explicitly in the article, but Ed Roper was the author of the blog post that inspired the project(s). Kudos Ed!
Bill N. August 14, 2012 at 02:22 PM
Is the Barto building to be painted the little blue shack? That eyesore looks like it should just torn down, not beautified. It is funny though that this was chosen to be a top priority, as the shack has been an eyesore for years and the owners know it. This project sounds like a great idea!
Ryan Joyce August 14, 2012 at 02:27 PM
Why would somebody go to all the trouble of posting under multiple aliases? I image only a deeply disturbed person would stoop to that level.
Holly August 14, 2012 at 02:29 PM
Honestly, all the good conversation and comments is what engaged us to start this moving this movement forward! We have photos of the project started on our Facebook page - you can see how far we got with day 1 of painting. Also, shoot us any questions or comments or concerns - we're really interested in getting people involved. This is our very first effort, so we're only in the beginning of getting this together and improved :-)
Lynette Gray August 14, 2012 at 02:44 PM
Weren't you run out of town for being rude to people, Mr. Cassidy?
LocalGirl August 14, 2012 at 02:44 PM
Bill-- I agree that it has been an eyesore for years. We had actually already purchased paint to try to fix it up a bit when we were approached by the Murals Group. As far as fixing things up and tearing things down...the reality is, we, too, have been hit by a harsh economy and I wish that we had buckets of money to toss around. We simply do not. We are grateful to be chosen, and have donated already to the Mural Arts Movement beyond the cost of their supplies. I encourage others to donate (go to www.phoenixvillageartcenter.org) either money or grab a paintbrush and join in on the fun!
PVilleRes August 14, 2012 at 02:48 PM
Sign me up for this! I'm going to be a junior at PAHS, and I think this would not only be a lot of fun, but a great way to improve the town. Unfortunately I'll be away during the paint drive, but you can look for me at the next meeting. i have some friends that would be interested in this as well!
. August 14, 2012 at 06:31 PM
Good one Ryan. We all know of a former Downtown Manager that was caught using multiple online handles to stroke himself.....
. August 14, 2012 at 06:32 PM
Nice work kid....good to see the youth getting involved. Maybe you can find "Marshall" and give him some direction.
Nemo Wine August 14, 2012 at 07:01 PM
the shack is a rotton wood structure danger and appears to me like it might collapse at any minute. animals live in there too. if the owners would just clean up all the trash and pieces of old spas around and behind the building, that'd be a good first step. painting it before they tear it down would at least provide a practice space.
Nemo Wine August 14, 2012 at 07:12 PM
The article contains a factual error -- the statement about the West End Fire Company No. 3 is incorrect. Nobody has approved a mural. However, September 6th would be the next meeting where a mural could be discussed.
Phoenixville Mural Arts Movement August 14, 2012 at 08:12 PM
Thank you everyone for the comments. We read and appreciate all input from the community. Anybody wishing to know more about the projects can visit our site at http://PhoenixvilleMurals.org or email info@phoenixvillemurals.org Also, we have a regular bi-weekly meeting at the Art Center in Phoenixville, the next one is tomorrow , 8/15 at 7pm.
Michael Hill August 14, 2012 at 10:28 PM
I would suggest that you speak to all the local Hardware stores to see if they have any returned paint. Some sell it at a highly discounted rate or may give it to you as a tax write off. Also talk to the manager of True Value Hardware there may be some protective sealer that can be applied over the murals. He was very helpful and gave the Town Watch discounts when we did the Community Cleanup earlier this year.
Cliff Story August 15, 2012 at 01:11 AM
What a wonderful initiative! That Barto building may be run down, but now it's serving a beautiful purpose - and this, I take it, is just the beginning. I applaud everyone pitching in on this project to bring some more fun and beauty to Phoenixville, and I'm particularly impressed that the core group is so cheerfully open to all who wish to contribute - even criticism, without which no public effort can proceed. Let's not snipe at each other, folks - it's OK to have concerns. I remember a dead and dreary Phoenixville, and I'm tickled pink to see all the life and color of today's town.
Ike August 15, 2012 at 09:48 PM
Maybe they can get the kids to paint the benches and lights poles ,ANYTHING ELSE THAN THAT FEM BLUE WOULD BE FINE.
Sandie Rabena August 16, 2012 at 04:49 PM
So happy to hear about more murals!!! The town of Phoenixville desperately needs to embrace the imperatives of aethetics to move forward, particularly in our downtown district! And PS: Stricter building codes that would not allow and/or fine building owners for failing to maintain buildings in our downtown district would be even greater progress! The APPALLING lack of building maintenace on some of the buildings that dot our downtown is downright embarrassing.
LocalGirl August 17, 2012 at 03:45 PM
The local True Value VERY graciously tinted paint we donated for FREE. Thank you, True Value!!! btw, when I was there, they didn't have any EXTERIOR paint on their reject shelf, I looked...was willing to buy....it was all just interior paint.
Nemo Wine August 26, 2012 at 10:08 AM
now that i've seen the mural on the Barto Pools building, well, it's an eyesore.

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