By Pat Ciarrocchi
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Philadelphia’s strengths can be found in its history, its sports teams and its artist creations found outside the city’s museums.
In this Eye on the Arts, head inside a world that started out as graffiti and is now considered mural arts. It’s on exhibit at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.
There’s no question: Dr. J dominated Philadelphia basketball, and on a wall along Ridge Avenue, Dr. J is iconic.
Then, most of Philadelphia looked at graffiti and saw vandalism. But one artist looked beyond the paint and saw mural artists, driven to tell a story.
“For us, it was a turning point when we were really the anti-graffiti network,” says that artist, Jane Golden. “We saw real genius and ability everywhere…and the kids used art as a life line.”
And so has golden, the ever passionate advocate.
“These are kids who had failure etched into their forehead,” she says. “They were graffiti writers, and I want to tell you where they are today: a teacher, a poet, a software engineer.”
It’s that evolution that’s taken Philadelphia’s mural arts from street side to inside PAFA.
“Nobody goes through this exhibit without saying, ‘I’ve seen that one before.’ That’s because there are murals all across the city,” explains Harry Philbrick, PAFA’s Museum Director.
At Broad and Spring Garden, a mural titled “Common Thread” rises from the street. It’s the work of Meg Saligman.
“I’m going to have a little drawing frenzy here,” says Meg, a professional mural artist who is encouraging PAFA visitors to come to her scaffold table and leave a mark.
“There are a bazillion life lines on this table, and we are tracing the life lines that people who have come to visit the exhibition add to our piece,” she adds.
Their piece is a mural that goes beyond paint.
For more information on the PAFA mural arts exhibit, visit: www.pafa.org