By Kristen Johanson

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — An effort is underway to keep one of the Mural Arts Program’s most iconic works, in the heart of South Philadelphia, from disappearing forever.

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The Mural Arts Program is recognized internationally, but some of the murals painted around the city over the years are deteriorating.

Such is the case at Ninth and Passyunk, where famous faces from South Philly are painted on the wall of a building across the street from Pat’s Steaks.  The underlying stucco is crumbling, and sections of the mural are falling away.

The mural shows popular entertainment legends from the neighborhood, including Chubby Checker, Bobby Rydell, Fabian, and Frankie Avalon.

“I love the location, because that is really the heart of South Philadelphia,” said Jerry Blavat, whose face also graces that wall, “because people from all over the world come to Ninth Street, especially to get a cheesesteak.  But, unfortunately, as you saw, the building is being demolished — it’s falling apart!”

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Blavat will be part of a group coming together to work with the Mural Arts Program to help decide details of the new mural and to raise money for the new version.

“We are going to look at samples of artists’ work, so hopefully we will pick an artist,” says Jane Golden, executive director of the Mural Arts Program.  “And the second thing we are going to talk about is where it should go, so we will be proposing some locations.”

The group will hold its first meeting next week.


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