Mulling mural design for Mt. Airy railroad trestle

News February 21, 2013 0 Comments

by Lou Mancinelli

In November, the City of Philadelphia’s first Mural Arts tour meandered its way along Germantown Avenue stopping at Chestnut Hill’s newest mural painted on the side of the Bredenbeck’s Bakery building between Abington Avenue and Hartwell Lane, which was dedicated in the fall, and passed historic sites like the Johnson House in Germantown.

Now a new mural is planned to be applied to the trestle on W. Mt. Pleasant Avenue near Lincoln Drive. The goal is to create a gateway piece of art for those traveling between the suburbs into Mt. Airy and vice versa.

The city’s Mural Arts program will host a second community meeting to present an overview of design elements thus far discussed by the community and to generate additional ideas for the mural, Wednesday, Feb. 20, at 5:30 p.m (before the Local goes to press) at The Goat Hollow, located at 300 W. Mt. Pleasant Ave.

“To tell you the truth it’s still in progress,” said Jonathan Laidacker, the artist contracted to design and paint the mural, about design plans. This marks his fourth mural in the Northwest, including the Doo Wop mural on the side of the Mt. Airy Trolley Car Diner and Café.

Both sides of the long, slender 65 by 5-foot trestle will be painted, according to Laidacker. The design will be based on comments offered by community members who attended a January meeting and will represent a theme consistent with the area’s rich urban, rural and historical past. It will illustrate scenes of the Wissahickon and local stone architecture.

“It’s a very panoramical format,” said Laidacker.

He said that will present a challenge. That will also mean the design will feature less of his frequent used trompe l’oeil style, which is designed to create the illusion that the mural exists within the viewer’s space, as if the viewer existed in the scene.

“This is a gateway so a lot of people are going to see it,” said Cathy Harris, director of community murals for Mural Arts.

The design phase of the process should conclude by March, with painting beginning this spring, according to Harris. Plans are for the mural itself to be completed and dedicated by early summer. A community paint day is slated to be hosted at the Mt. Airy Arts Garage.

The mural will be painted on parachute cloth and later applied to the trestle. The material contributes to the longevity of the paint. Almost $20,000 of the $36,000 has been raised by the community, according to Harris.

“This meeting is an outlet for anyone in the neighborhood to voice questions, comments, or concerns regarding the design and any other aspect of the mural,” said Ken Weinstein. “A large public art project such as this mural impacts the entire neighborhood, and we want to ensure that all residents have an opportunity to provide their input before the mural is created.”

Weinstein, a private developer and the owner of the Trolley Car Diner and Café, has spearheaded recent local efforts to bring murals to the Northwest. His actions were instrumental in bringing a mural tour to the Northwest.

Weinstein views murals as entities that draw visitors. He pointed to the new Bredenbeck’s mural as an example.

“This is the first thing that they will see,” said Weinstein about residents turning off Lincoln Drive onto W. Mt. Pleasant Avenue as they enter Mt. Airy. “To turn an ugly trestle into something really attractive would make Mt. Airy more attractive.”

Weinstein has worked with SEPTA for two years to bring a trestle to W. Mt. Pleasant Avenue. He and local resident Dan Gordon invested $10,000 for the project, an amount which they are currently attempting to match though community fundraising efforts.

At present, Weinstein is engaged in conversations between SEPTA and the City of Philadelphia regarding the donation of a seperate unrelated trestle located at Cresheim Valley and Lincoln Drives near his diner. If a proposed arrangement is approved, that could mean another mural in Chestnut Hill.

In the longer term, that could also mean the development of a bike trail that strengthened connections between the Schuylkill River and Wissahickon Park. Weinstein has been working on setting up an arrangement where the trestle at Chresheim Valley and Lincoln Drives would be donated from PECO to the City, and then transformed into another mural in the Northwest.

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