Mural Arts

New Roxborough Mural Explores Local Watersheds, Lore and Mysterious History

Roxborough Paint Day  - 6/25/2017

 

The site of Roxborough’s Pocket Park project, nestled between two buildings along Ridge Avenue, now features the beginnings of a water- and history-themed mural—a bright new addition to a still-developing space that the community hopes will be a keystone attraction for residents and visitors.

Mural Arts worked with the Philadelphia Water Department and Roxborough Development Corp. (RDC) to commission Paul Santoleri, an internationally recognized artist and Roxborough native, to create the work.
Nearly 60 Roxborough neighbors and visitors, including U.S Congressman Dwight Evans, participated in a June 25 Roxborough Community Paint Day and worked side-by-side with Santoleri for a communal painting event that got the new work started.

Thursday: Celebrate Improvements at Conestoga Playground

Room for Growth at 53rd and Media is a Mural Arts project heralding more improvements, including green infrastructure that will keep 32.5 million gallons of stormwater pollution out of the Schuylkill each year, coming to the site.
Mural Art’s “Room for Growth” project at the Conestoga Rec Center. Credit: Mural Arts

You’re invited to celebrate big improvements at the Conestoga Community Playground, located at 53rd and Media streets in the Hestonville neighborhood.

Join Philadelphia Parks & Recreation, the Philadelphia Water Department, Philadelphia Mural Arts and the Trust for Public Land’s Parks for People Philadelphia team at 3:30 p.m. on December 8 as we mark this special occasion at the playground.

Photos and More: Big Celebration Welcomes New Rain Garden, Mural at Vacant Lot Site

We want to send out a big thank you to all who came out to celebrate the new rain gardens and mural in Hestonville yesterday! Below you’ll find photos from the event and coverage from local TV stations:

Come See How Green City, Clean Waters Helped Transform a Vacant Lot into a Community Gem

This is close-up image showing an American shad on the mural at 55th and Hunter Streets. The mural features raised and textured elements that make it pop off the wall.
This detail shows shad depicted in the new West Phila. mural created by Eurhi Jones and Mike Reali. Credit: Philadelphia Water

What happens when the nation’s boldest green infrastructure program meets the nation’s boldest mural arts program in a vacant West Philly lot?

The public is invited see for themselves at the Heston Rain Garden Mural Dedication & Ribbon Cutting event, to be held on Wednesday, October 5 at 3:30 p.m. at 55th and Hunter streets in the Hestonville neighborhood.

Join Philadelphia Water, Parks and Recreation, the Mural Arts Program, Councilman Curtis Jones, the Hestonville Civic Association and community members in celebrating the first Green City, Clean Waters vacant land transformation, a project that turned an empty lot into a green space that manages stormwater, protects local waterways, and features a vibrant water-themed mural from Philly artists Eurhi Jones and Mike Reali.

Call for Artists to Shine Light on Green Stormwater Infrastructure!

Request for Qualifications Deadline: April 15
We’re looking for art that can help people understand how Green City, Clean Waters tools work and how they connect to a complex world of infrastructure beneath our feet.

Philadelphia Water is collaborating with the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program for Uncover the Green 2016, a new citywide design initiative celebrating the innovative tools and systems that make up Green City, Clean Waters, Philadelphia’s revolutionary green stormwater management program.

Saturday: See GSI Being Made and Contribute to Art in Hestonville

Hestonville residents and representitives from Philadelphia Water break ground at 55th and Hunter streets. Volunteers will gather for a community paint day to begin a mural planned for the wall seen in the background. Credit: Philadelphia Water.
Hestonville residents and representatives from Philadelphia Water break ground on a Green City, Clean Waters project at 55th and Hunter streets. Volunteers will gather for a community paint day to begin a mural planned for the wall seen in the background. Credit: Philadelphia Water.

This Saturday, volunteers will join Mural Arts, Philadelphia Water and members of the Hestonville neighborhood in West Philadelphia for a community paint day that will help artists Eurhi Jones and Michael Reali complete a new mural titled “Your Hands Shimmering on the Legs of Rain.”

Set for completion in spring 2016, the mural will overlook and highlight a Green City, Clean Waters project that will bring a rain garden and storage trench to a vacant lot at 55th and Hunter Streets. The mural was designed with input from neighbors who requested that art be included in the project during community meetings about plans for the site. "Your Hands Shimmering" is also part of the citywide Philly Water Art program, which uses creative works of public art to engage residents and connect them to green infrastructure projects that tend to blend into city streets or are hidden beneath the pavement.

Can a Vacant Lot Be Beautiful AND Work for Our Rivers and Streams? We Say Yes.


This map provides an overview of planned improvements at 55th and Hunter. Click the image for a larger version. Credit: Philadelphia Water. 

On Tuesday, we broke ground on a new project—our first official vacant lot site—that truly speaks to what the Green City, Clean Waters program is all about.

At its core, Green City, Clean Waters is about improving the water quality in our rivers and streams. But it’s also about improving our neighborhoods with green stormwater infrastructure that greens and beautifies communities. And it’s about forging partnerships with officials, other departments and government agencies, community groups, and non-profit organizations so that we can bring the benefits of Green City, Clean Waters to a diverse range of community improvement projects—from stormwater tree trenches added to routine sidewalk repairs to rain gardens that enhance schoolyard makeovers.

Our Heston Lot and Baker Playground project has all of those elements. Located in the in the city’s Hestonville neighborhood, the playground and adjacent vacant lot at 55th and Hunter streets has long been in the care of dedicated groups like the Hestonville Civic Association and the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS), which has maintained the lot through the LandCare program. But, three years ago, City Councilman Curtis Jones approached Philadelphia Water to see if we wanted to get involved in efforts to revamp Baker and make Heston Lot a more inviting, park-like space for the neighborhood.

Because we’re always looking for ways to expand the Green City, Clean Waters footprint, we jumped at the chance and set to work in designing green tools for the two sites. That was in 2012. Now, construction is underway, and we’re inviting the community to an Oct. 7 ground breaking celebration to learn more about what’s in store. Click Here For Event Details.

Councilman Jones is in the process of implementing Heston Lot improvements that include fresh sidewalks, a new gazebo with benches and a wheel chair access path. The City’s Department of Public Property, which owns the lot, helped raise funds for the gazebo. Across the street at Baker, Jones is working with and Philadelphia Parks and Recreation to bring improvements that include sidewalk upgrades, a Mural Arts installation and new heater. PHS is also donating a post-and-rail fence for Heston Lot. In all, Jones’ office contributed $140,000 for the projects. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency also generously kicked in funding to help us with these projects and another nearby vacant land site.

To enhance those improvements and meet the stormwater management goals of Green City, Clean Waters, Philadelphia Water is building rain gardens and subsurface storage trenches at both sites. While the rain gardens will provide landscaped green space for the neighborhood, we’re upping the community beautification aspects of the project by working with Mural Arts to install a water-themed mural at Heston Lot. Designed by artists Eurhi Jones and Michael Reali, the colorful piece highlights neighborhood connections to the Schuylkill River and includes aquatic wildlife such as American shad, river otters and a heron. Reali will add textural dimension to Jones’ design, making some of the water elements sparkle and shine through the use of mosaic materials.

From an environmental perspective, the Heston Lot rain garden and storage trench will soak up and filter water from surrounding streets, and can hold 3,638 cubic feet of water. That’s equivalent to filling one SEPTA bus, 389 bathtubs, or leaving the faucet running for nearly 9.5 days! Across the street at Baker, that rain garden and storage trench will manage stormwater from 11,269 square feet of nearby impervious surfaces. The playground’s green tools have a stormwater storage capacity of 1,417 cubic feet, which is equivalent to 151 bathtubs of water or leaving a faucet running for over 88 hours. Combined, these sites provide the city with an additional 2.27 “greened acres”— that’s acres of impervious surface whose stormwater is now managed by Green City, Clean Waters tools.

While the actual green tools currently being built in Hestonville are pretty typical for Green City, Clean Waters, we’re excited about the potential to bring more green infrastructure projects like this to other vacant land sites in the city. The negative impact of vacant lots on communities is well documented. If we can work with partners to tackle the challenges of vacant lots through Green City, Clean Waters, we’re effectively delivering a one-two punch that knocks out blighted areas and turns them into valuable community green spaces that also help improve our rivers and streams.

Healthier rivers and streams. Greener, more beautiful neighborhoods. That’s what Green City, Clean Waters is all about, and the work underway at Heston Lot is shining example of what the program can achieve.

New Video: Philly Water Art Strengthens River Connections

A girl checks out the Waterways art at the Venice Island Performing Arts and Recreation Center. Photo credit: Philadelphia Water.
Waterways art at the Venice Island Performing Arts and Recreation Center. Photo credit: Philadelphia Water.

Before we started our trailblazing Waterways collaboration with Mural Arts, we hit the streets for an informal survey looking at what people in Manayunk know about our efforts to improve the health of the Schuylkill River and whether that’s something they care about.

Since the dozens of colorful vinyl pieces created by artist Eurhi Jones for Waterways were designed to act as steppingstones linking Pretzel Park to a vastly improved Venice Island Performing Arts and Recreation Center with tons of important stormwater features, we wanted to know how many people knew about those improvements.

In that survey, a striking 90% of the people we spoke to weren't aware of all that Venice Island's stormwater features are doing to improve Schuylkill River water quality. The number was way out of whack with the percent of people—a full 100%—who support improving the health of our waterways. In other words, everyone wants healthy rivers, but not many people know how money is being spent to achieve that goal.

So, five months after the Waterways debut, we went back out to the streets of Manayunk to see if people had a better sense of how features like the green roof  and 4 million gallon stormwater basin at Venice Island are helping to make the Schuylkill better. And, we’re pleased to say that 30.6% of respondents said they knew about Philadelphia Water’s Venice Island improvements. It might not be the 100% we all want, but it’s a start!

To further highlight Waterways and other infrastructure-enhancing public art projects, we put together a cool video about Philly Water Art projects. You can find out all about Philly Water Art while getting a unique drone’s-eye-view of Venice Island and Manayunk here:

While Waterways was designed to be a temporary street art project, the Mural Arts team has been doing weekly check-ups on the integrity of the installation, and so far it’s still looking great. Philadelphia Water has also been monitoring the effectiveness of our stormwater basin, and it’s also doing its job of keeping dirty water out of the river. If you haven’t seen Waterways in person yet, we encourage you to take a stroll and soak in the art while checking out amazing Manayunk green spaces like Pretzel Park, the Manayunk Canal and Venice Island.

'Uncover the Green' Lids Highlight the ‘Underdog’ of GSI

Inset: Laura Hoover (at right) with her winning design. At bottom left: a new "Uncover the Green" clean out lid.
Inset: a new "Uncover the Green" clean out lid. Laura Hoover (at right) poses with her winning design at the Fairmount Water Works.

If anyone ever said infrastructure can’t be functional and eye-catching, we’re proving them wrong.

Over the last week, our Green Stormwater Infrastructure Maintenance team (GSIMN) has been busy installing artistic "clean out covers" that aren’t just essential for our green tools and sewers—they’re also downright beautiful.

Like Waterways, a temporary street art installation that debuted in Manayunk in May, the new clean out lids use art as a way of speaking to residents about the importance of green infrastructure investments and highlight the presence of green tools in neighborhoods.

The sidewalk and street installations, which incorporate "Philadelphia Water" and an intricate tree branch pattern, are the fruit of our 2014 “Uncover the Green” student design competition. In the coming weeks and months, 1,000 of the new engraved cast iron covers will be placed over access points that allow maintenance crews to inspect and clean the hidden but crucial components of GSI that capture stormwater.

The covers were designed by Tyler School of Art’s Lauren Hoover, who was an undergraduate student when her submission was selected by design professionals, outreach experts and various government agency representatives in May 2014. Hoover also won the People’s Choice Award, voted on by participants at an Uncover the Green award ceremony held at the Fairmount Water Works. Over 40 students submitted designs, and Hoover’s work was selected from among eight semifinalists.

The citywide contest was held in conjunction with the Mural Arts Program and sponsored by NextFab and Fleisher Art Memorial.

With the distinct new lids, residents will have one more way to spot the green stormwater tools that enhance the beauty of our neighborhoods and make Green City, Clean Waters work.

Alex Warwood, an environmental scientist in Philadelphia Water’s Office of Watersheds who oversees the Aesthetic Maintenance Program through a partnership with PowerCorpsPHL, says the hidden subsurface components don’t get the same attention as the lush, highly visible “living landscapes” of surface components seen in tools like tree trenches and rain gardens.

But without these access points, which are unique to Green City, Clean Waters installations, Warwood says much of the infrastructure wouldn’t operate properly. The GSIMN team routinely removes the covers and uses cameras to inspect pipes that distribute stormwater evenly throughout tree trenches and other green tools. If something is blocking the pipes and preventing the infrastructure from operating properly, crews will flush the system or use powerful vacuum hoses to restore the flow. Most structures get cleaned out at least once a year.

"The subsurface components of many of our GSI systems are sort of the underdogs of our green tools," says Warwood, "and they are absolutely critical for them to work. The new lids help promote Philadelphia Water's green infrastructure, and they help the average resident to see that there’s much more to GSI than just the plants on the surface. Some of the most important functions are happening where people can’t see them, and these covers are a really cool way to draw attention to that."

So, next time you're out for a walk and you notice one of these new designs on the sidewalk, take a look at the green infrastructure around you—this is your invitation to uncover the green and discover Green City, Clean Waters!

Do You Know What's Happening at Venice Island?

No? Come out to Main and Lock streets in Manayunk tonight at 6 p.m. and get the inside scoop along with a free scoop of ice cream. 

Cyclists in Manayunk stop to ask about the new Waterways artwork. Credit: Philadelphia Water.
Cyclists stop to ask about the new Waterways artwork in Manayunk. Credit: Philadelphia Water. 

While we were working with Mural Arts to install artist Eurhi JonesWaterways, a 10-block string of colorful steppingstones in Manayunk, our public engagement team took the time to do an informal survey of people passing through the neighborhood.

During the first two weeks of May, we spoke with 113 people at Pretzel Park, on Main Street, and at Venice Island–all places now featuring the temporary street art of Waterways

What we found reinforces our motivation for creating Waterways in the first place, and shows a definitive gap between what people want for the Schuylkill River and what they know about the work being done to make that desire a reality.

First, we asked people if they knew about the Philadelphia Water improvements that debuted at Venice Island in October 2014. Those improvements include a massive stormwater basin that keeps as much as 4 million gallons of untreated water from entering the Schuylkill as well as Philadelphia Parks and Recreation’s Venice Island Performing Arts and Recreation Center.

Of the 113 people we spoke to, just 11 said they knew about Philadelphia Water’s work at Venice Island. 

That lack of knowledge is precisely why we wanted to use art as a means of highlighting infrastructure. The work we do can be a little hard to wrap your head around if you aren’t an engineer or environmental scientist. Waterways uses compelling imagery to draw people toward the somewhat hidden grounds of Venice Island, where signs help to explain what the infrastructure–much of it shielded from view beneath the ground–is doing to make the Schuylkill a cleaner, healthier river.

And, if our informal little survey tells us anything, it’s that people really do care about making our rivers healthier places where both people and wildlife can thrive. When asked whether they support improving the health of our waterways, all 113 people said yes. People were also unanimously positive when asked if they think waterways can be incorporated into our city’s public spaces for recreation.

So, people want cleaner rivers and they want them to be a part of our recreational lives: places where we can fish, hike, go boating and more. Yet very few people seem to know what a huge public effort has been made in the pursuit of those goals.

Tonight, people will have a chance to learn about what Philadelphia Water is doing for the Schuylkill as we unveil  Waterways at a 6 p.m. ceremony and ice cream party (the treats are on us). Join us at Main and Lock streets, tour the artwork with Eurhi Jones, and educate yourself about how we’re working to make the Schuylkill the river we all want it to be.

If you can’t make it tonight, find us on Venice Island this Saturday during the PLAY Manayunk festival, and help spread the word about Philadelphia Water and Waterways to your neighbors. After all, it’s your informed support that makes fighting for the health of our rivers possible.

Follow along on social media: @PhillyH20 on Twitter  and Instagram and Facebook.com/PhillyH2O and use #phillywaterart to see what is being posted about Waterways!

Syndicate content