In May and June I spent two separate days In Philadelphia taking a look at some of the murals there. There are actually over 3000 (yes, three thousand ) murals in the city. The instigator of this was Jane Golden who started an anti-graffiti campaign in Philadelphia where graffiti artists were redirected to Mural painting. That was in 1984 and the program has grown a lot since then Check out http://www.muralarts.org/ for more info.
They have pioneered the use of photo-shop to paint photo-real murals as well as using parachute cloth, which is a tyvek type material that you can paint on in a studio and then adhere to the outdoor wall like wallpaper. Meg Saligman is the local top dog with this wonderful flag near Philly’s riverfront. in the gallery below you can see more of her stuff, figures in a photo-real style.
I had a great time in Philly. One moment of weirdness was on the Sunday afternoon I visited about 30 murals.Many of them were in rougher neighborhoods . The quality and concepts are quite high. But the most amazing thing I saw were these insane car chases in which police chased these daredevil gang-bangers on ATVs, who were buzzing through traffic at breathtaking speeds . It was like an old Mel Gibson movie.
The noise and the people and the frenetic activity on the street all disappear as you leave the rougher neighborhoods and enter the gentrified areas. Suddenly no one is on the street, like a neutron bomb hit. Was everybody out of town? Inside watching TV?
It’s a great place. They have mural routes and bused tours as well, but you would need several weeks to see them all.