Haas & Hahn, two mural artists famous for painting the Favela's of Brazil, make their mark in Philadelphia's Germantown neighborhood. The artists joined forces with the city's Mural Arts Program with whom they will spend a year with transforming one of Philadelphia's oldest commercial corridors, currently in a state of neglect, into a vibrant display of color and geometry, bringing a colorful shot of inspiration to this part of the city.
The artists took up residence in North Philadelphia where they have started work on four city blocks of community collaborative designs. The beautiful transformation can be seen as you round the bend of Germantown Avenue after W Cumberland Street approaching Lehigh Avenue. The grander scope of the project will stretch from the 2500 block to the 2800 block of Germantown Ave. Many residents along with the Philadelphia Commerce Department recognize the potential of a major project like this to spread and nourish optimism and serve as a catalyst for additional positive change and commercial potential. The painters involved are a crew of 7 including 2 team leaders Felix St. Fort and Jared Wood who are trained and paid through the Mural Arts Program, working full time. An additional crew of youths are paid by the Philadelphia Department of Human Services (DHS). In addition, a group of eight participants from Restorative Justice paint one day a week.
The design process requires each store-owner to sign off on a color scheme drawn from 35 color pallets and patterns extensively researched and photographed, locally, by the artists. The artists captured important images of the neighborhood and ultimately developed a color pallet based on patterns of recurring primary and secondary hues that reflect the neighborhood and the city's quintessentially rich and complex character. Local residents and business owners are genuinely pleased with the project, often times praising the artist and painters for their hard work and for choosing their community to perform an art installation of this magnitude. Metropolis MAG hales this project as a bold social intervention, introducing an element of uniformity that will knit the commercial corridor into a harmonious, marketable entity.
This remarkable effort required the collaboration of the Mural Arts with a range of funding and civic partners. A larger economic development strategy, spearheaded by Darrell Clarke, has also engaged the city's Department of Commerce and the Planning Commission. Other crucial partnerships involved the Village of Arts and Humanities who is hosting the artist's residency, Diane Bridges of NET CDC, and others who are critical to building trust within the community.