Mural Arts launches new walking tour of South Philly
If you're intrigued by the most curious facts about muralism, architecture and the history of the South Philadelphia community, here's your chance.
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South of South Walking Tour is the first guided tour organized by Mural Arts Philadelphia to kick off Spring 2023. On this occasion, the tour explores the history behind the murals, the architecture and the community of South Street and its surroundings. AL DÍA was present on the first day of the tour, held on March 18, along with a group of locals and tourists passionate about art and culture.
Led by professional guide Caroll Drazen, the tour began at Palumbo Park on Catharine Street, right in front of David Guinn's Autumn Revisited mural. As Drazen explained, the original version of this mural was located at 10th and Bainbridge, until the owners of the building covered it up for new construction. Thanks to the support of the community, Guinn reworked the mural, for the second time, on the park grounds. Unfortunately, the loss of murals in Philadelphia is a trend that continues to increase as the artists are not the owners of their physical work of art. By law, building owners can decide what to do with the murals. However, the muralists do retain their copyrights.
Mapping Courage: Honoring W.E.B Du Bois by artist Willis "Nomo" Humphrey is another of the historically high profile murals that is part of the tour. W.E.B Du Bois was a sociologist, activist and the first black American to receive a Ph.D. from Harvard University. While in Philadelphia, he spent an entire year interviewing the city's black community door-to-door. He then classified each of them by social class according to his own criteria and used colors to represent each group on a map he named the Seventh Ward.
As Drazen told us about the street art culture on South Street and the process of creating the murals, we moved on to Queen Village, named after Queen Christina, who ruled Sweden from 1632 to 1654. Once there, we visited Mario Lanza Park to see Summer, also by the artist Guinn. In this beautiful haven of peace, the guide shared with us about the life of Lanza, a renowned local tenor singer and actor who rose to fame in the late 1940s and early 1950s.
Along the way, we also stopped in front of Ali Williams' All at Once mural, which has great sentimental value among the trans community in Philadelphia. Located on one of the walls of Philly AIDS Thrift, this mural pays beautiful tribute to seven black trans women who have passed away in the city.
After an hour and thirty minute tour, we ended at the Nocturnal Skateshop (near 5th and South), where artist Jim Houser created the Skater mural, dedicated to one of the founders of skateboarding in Philly, Roger Browne.
The tour also includes visits to other murals such as Moonlit Landscape by Diane Keller and Peace Through Imagination by Paul Santoleri.
The next available dates to participate in the South of South Walking Tour are April 23 at 11:00am and March 6 at 2:00pm.
Groups will be limited to 15 people or less and tickets must be purchased in advance via the following link: https://www.muralarts.org/tours/