Philly Water Art

Mural, Pocket Park Being Celebrated Earth Day Weekend

Last summer, we joined artist Paul Santoleri and Roxborough and residents for a community painting event that laid the foundation for Watershed, the mural that now overlooks the neighborhood’s newest community green space–Roxborough Pocket Park.

Just in time for Earth Day weekend, Santoleri’s work is finished and will be celebrated with a dedication ceremony at 1 p.m. this Saturday, April 21st. Starting at noon, the “Art Is Life” event also marks the official opening of the park and will feature food trucks, live music, and local artisans.

As sponsors of the mural, we will join Roxborough Development Corporation (RDC) in welcoming Watershed, which draws attention to the green transformation of the once-vacant asphalt lot at 6170 Ridge Ave.

Working alongside Mural Arts Philadelphia and RDC, we commissioned Santoleri–a Roxborough native–to create a piece of art that captured the essence of the new pocket park and the community’s relationship with water. The result was a vibrant blend of history and nature that invites the community and visitors to take a closer look.

Water elements, like the waves and ripples woven into each section of the mural, are reminders of how closely water connects all forms of life. The ball-like mass of water rolling downhill acknowledges Roxborough’s location at the top of a hill. As the divide between the Schuylkill River and Wissahickon Creek, Roxborough feeds into two of Philadelphia’s seven watersheds.

Watershed is located within the Schuylkill watershed. On the opposite side of Ridge Avenue, most of the land drains into the Wissahickon Creek. In addition to Roxborough’s relationship with water, Santoleri pays tribute to the neighborhood’s connection to its past.

The mural includes historic folklore like the Cave of Kelpius, a local cave by the Wissahickon Creek that served as Johannes Kelpuis’ and his followers 1694 escape to wait for the end of the world. The red fox is a nod to those who claim Roxborough got its name from Kelpius’ writings describing the area as “where the fox burrows in the rocks.”

Watershed is also a complement to another exciting feature of the park – its green stormwater infrastructure.

The pocket park contains rain gardens and water-absorbing pavement that capture and filter polluted stormwater runoff before it enters our sewers and waterways. All of the species in the mural – from the red Bee Balm flowers to the red fox – are native to the Schuylkill and Wissahickon watersheds. The red salamander, which stands out thanks to a mosaic of tiles, is featured on PWD’s Wissahickon storm drain markers.

Storm drain markers are a fun reminder that every drain leads to a creek or a river. Philadelphia residents can participate in marking storm drains around their community by ordering a free wildlife marker kit for their specific watershed. You can monitor which drains need marking, check off the drains that you’ve marked, and report damaged or missing markers by using PWD’s storm drain marking app.

We hope to see you on Ridge Avenue! 

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.

Pssst: Tips for the 2017 Green City, Clean Waters Art Contest


Philly students: Do you care about protecting our drinking water and aquatic wildlife? Have artistic talent? Want to win prizes for yourself, your teachers and your school?

The 2017 Green City, Clean Waters Art Contest is now underway, and the deadline for submissions has just been extended! We want you to send your best creative work showing what people can do to protect our rivers and creeks by Friday, March 17, 2017.

Three winning drawings are selected from each of the four grade groups: K-2nd, 3rd-5th, 6th-8th, and 9th-12th.

For the last eight years, we’ve been working with the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary (PDE) to organize this contest—open to all K-12 students that attend public, private, or home school in Philadelphia—and that’s given us a pretty good idea about what makes for a winning entry.

Here are a few tips to guide your creativity:

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:

New Signs to Welcome Neighborhood Green Infrastructure Projects

New decals near Hagert and Coral streets announce an upcoming Green City, Clean Waters project. Credit: Philadelphia Water
New decals near Hagert and Coral streets announce an upcoming Green City, Clean Waters project. Credit: Philadelphia Water

With so many Green City, Clean Waters green infrastructure projects planned for neighborhoods all over the city, we at Philadelphia Water are always looking for ways to let residents know about upcoming work that will improve stormwater management in their area.

In that spirit, we created colorful new street decals that will be placed in neighborhoods where construction for Green City, Clean Waters projects is scheduled to start within six months.

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.

Student Artists: Do You Have the Vision to Make Philly Care About Clean Water?

Erika Shrayer of Baldi Middle School won 1st place for the 6th Grade age group last year. Credit: PWD/PDE
Erika Shrayer of Baldi Middle School won 1st place for the 6th Grade age group last year. Credit: PWD/PDE

When Philly kids understand what it takes to be a good watershed steward from an early age, it can lead to lifelong habits that help to keep trash and other pollution out of our stormwater system and waterways.

That’s one reason we hold our annual Green City, Clean Waters student art contest with Partnership for the Delaware Estuary.

Another reason? Our local schools happen to be packed with creative minds, and these kids seem to be especially good at communicating the basics of good watershed stewardship with art that’s both direct and fun.

Year after year, we’re pleasantly surprised at the quality of the art that comes in, and last year we had over 1,300 submissions. The deadline for 2016 is Friday, February 26.

Artists: Help Us Highlight the Schuylkill River for Art in the Open 2016

Work by artist Sandy Sorlien in the South Garden fountain, AiO 2014 Family Day (Photo: Karen Jenkins)
Work by artist Sandy Sorlien in the South Garden fountain at AiO 2014's Family Day. Photo credit: Karen Jenkins.

This spring, the banks of the Schuylkill River will be buzzing with the creative work of artists selected for the sixth year of “Art in the Open,” or AiO, a three-day event that gives the public an intimate look at the processes behind art.

Our iconic Fairmount Water Works facility will act as the starting point for the AiO installations, which will populate the riverbanks moving south toward Bartram’s Garden.

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.

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.

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