Painting the Town

Himo and all of his helpers pose with their masterpiece.
Up until last week, walking down 36th street has been typical to any sidewalk stroll through University City. While en route to class, I noticed the brick home to Power Yoga and Urban & Bye was painted white. There were some workers sitting on scaffolding, applying the white paint evenly over the brick. I didn’t think much of it, and hurried on my way. The next day, a patch of color was smiling at me from the wall.
36th & Lancaster gets a makeover.
I did a double take. With just a corner of a mural painted, the intersection was transformed into a place of wonder. It’s now a place where people can gather and where the community could meet beside a 15×20 foot technicolor fresco. The boost of energy, color, and happiness provides a vibrant surface for the sun to bounce off of and for people to reflect beside.
I watched the progress of the mural installation for a week, and on the final day of painting, I couldn’t stay away. I was pulled like a moth to a flame, like a design student to a bucket of paint. 
After a solid five minutes of standing on the sidewalk smiling at the mural like the village idiot, one of the artists asked their leader a question.

“Hey, are you gonna let this girl just stand there or are you gonna give her a brush?”
Before I knew it, I had a can of silver paint in my hands and I was adding lacey layers of iridescence to a beautiful web of color. Their Spanglish joking and banter drew me in, and the colors made me stay. I spent the next hour painting, laughing, and playing with their dog, Samantha. I learned about Himo’s first art lessons, which were held at the community down the street. I also learned about his artistic process, which draws inspiration from his native Veracruz. As a Spanish Minor who was currently preparing for a presentation on Central and South American artistic movements, I couldn’t help but feel incredibly lucky to be working alongside Philly’s own Diego Rivera.
I also met his assistant, Ana Uribe V., who hails from Colombia and has a broad portfolio of murals throughout the city. Her son, David, and two other painters stood a few feet back on the sidewalk with me and we all said what we saw in the mural. Chinese calligraphy, hurricanes, topographical patterns, bubbles, lightning…the list went on. This abstract fiesta breathes life into the community and energizes the entire surrounding area.
Be sure to keep your eyes open for flyers with details regarding the mural dedication ceremony, where a Colombian band, food, and dancing will help celebrate the achievements of Himo and his team of painters. The mural capital city of the nation has a new piece of history that has just been written, and it’s only a few steps away from Ed’s. 
Himo’s mural vibrates and sings the stories of the Latin community of Philadelphia. I hope you’ll take the time to see it and let the visual tango take your eyes for a spin down Lancaster.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s