Tag Archive: Michelle Ortiz

We Got the Band Back Together, Maaaaaaan!

This week I got to work with my two favorite partners in crime to install a piece of a mural we completed over 2 years ago. The Citywide Mural that Michelle Ortiz, Kien Nguyen and I designed, was temporarily displayed in its entirety (29’x105′) in 3 different locations: 30th St Station, The Gallery @ Market East, and one night in Loews Hotel.

After a period of time, it was always the intention to break the work up into 7 pieces and install them throughout the city. The first section is now up at Ana B. Pratt Elementary School on 22nd Street in North Philly. When all is said and done, these 7 sections will lie within a half hour tour route. Hopefully by this time next year, the entire project will be permanent.

Huge HUGE thanks go out to Deborah Zuchman who had the herculean task of finding a home for 7 giant vertical mural strips in a city with an abundance of horizontal walls.

Here is a shot of the complete design. (click to enlarge each section)

Citywide Installation: The Gallery at Market East

The Citywide Mural was taken down on October 11th from 30th Street, and a few weeks later was reinstalled in a new location at the Gallery just inside the 9th and Market St entrance.

As it turns out, the mural found a home on a wall that was big enough to accommodate all the sections in their proper order. Our thinking for months was that the mural would be divided into seven sections and distributed throughout the gallery, in fact the design itself was created around the fact that it would eventually be in seven equal parts. We’re all thrilled that we can get one final look at the entire mural. Its going to be up for a long time as well. Last I heard it may still be there through the holidays and into January! Between The Gallery and 30th St, the mural has found an incomprehensibly vast audience.

There is going to be another event as well. On Wednesday December 9th at 11am there will be an event held on site at the Gallery to rededicate the mural and announce the list of permanent host sites for many of the mural’s sections. With any luck the event will help find a permanent home for any final panels that remain.

Big thanks go out to Kathryn Ott Lovell, Deborah Zuchman, and Cheryl Durgans of the MAP Staff for finding the time to take on the unenviable task of managing the remainder of this project, and finding it various homes throughout the city.

Oh yeah, and before I forget, here is a link to a WHYY interview with Peter Crimmins that aired the day of the Dedication at 30th St.

WHYY Peter Crimmins Interview

Click Photos to view Slideshow

30th St Dedication Photos

The Citywide Mural was officially dedicated at 30th St Station on September 25th. The event was well attended, despite the early 2pm start time. The crowd was filled with familiar faces of the people who volunteered their time during the workshops and paint days.

I wish I could remember the names of all the people who got up to speak during the ceremony, and the specific name of the choir that performed, but almost two months have passed between the dedication and right now. I’m lucky I found some time to post.

What I can remember is that the event was overwhelming, but in a good way. We got a lot of positive vibes from the crowd, and a lot of praise for the job that we did. The music from the choir filled the entire building, everything seemed larger than life. The staff at Mural Arts really outdid themselves putting this event on, I can honestly say it was the best dedication I’ve ever had.

That night Michelle, Kien, Myself and a few friends went to Yakitori Boy, rented a karaoke room and celebrated. I’m going to miss working with those guys, we worked together well as a team. Hopefully this wont be the last time we collaborate.

Click any thumbnail to view slideshow
all photographs by Mike Reali

30th Street Installation!

The Citywide Mural is up and can be seen up close in the North Waiting Room of 30th St Station.

Kien and I set everything up for the Stagehands Union to hang, all in all the process took 3-4 hours. Peter Crimmins of WHYY was on hand to interview us for a segment that will air Friday morning. Ill post the audio when I get it.

Dedication Friday at 2pm!

click for expanded view

Citywide Mural Completion and Dedication

Mural Dedication: This We Believe City-wide Mural Project

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 25 · 2:00 – 3:00 PM

Celebrate the Mural Arts Program’s first Philadelphia-wide mural project, a cornerstone initiative of the 25th Anniversary Celebration! This We Believe was created by artists Eric Okdeh, Michelle Ortiz and Kien Nguyen through eight months of community forums, a public vote, and community paint days to create a collective work that expresses the beliefs of the city.

This project was made possible by the support of: The Sunoco Founation, WHYY, LEADERSHIP Philadelphia, Penn Project for Civic Engagement, Philadelphia Daily News, 6abc, Philly.com, IATSE, Amtrak at 30th Street Station, PREIT and the Gallery at Market East.

Call 215.888.9166 or e-mail events@muralarts.org for more information.

The Citywide Mural titled Living in the Presence of History was completed in studio earlier this week, following an intense 6 weeks of painting and tying together all of the work from the 7 paint workshops and the men from my SCI Graterford Mural class. We’ve had well over 300 volunteers take part in the murals painting and it was up to my teammates Kien, Michelle and I to bring the work together and make it seamless.

We took a photo of our progress every 15 minutes and I created this video out of the shots.

The final remaining paint days open to the public took place over 3 days

North Philadelphia
Saturday, July 11 · 10:00 am – 1:00 pm
The ARC/PDDC, 2350 West Westmoreland Street

South Philadelphia
Saturday, July 18 · 10:00 am – 1:00 pm
Columbus Square, 12th and Wharton

Southwest Philadelphia
Saturday, July 25 · 10:00 am – 1:00 pm
Myers Recreation Center, 5800 Chester Avenue

The following thumbnails were from those dates. Thank you to everyone who volunteered their time and spent an afternoon with us painting this massive mural.

Click any Thumbnail to begin the slideshow

Our Citywide Mural Paintdays and Progress

We are officially halfway through our paintdays for the Citywide Mural!
Things have been extremely busy throughout the past month and a half (thats why I havent been able to update much), for now I’ll focus on Citywide….

The Paint days kicked off with Wall Ball 2009. We brought a single 5’x15′ panel for people to paint during the cocktail hour. We even got to meet Jane Seymour at the event, but she didn’t get to paint anything

I was cut out of the photo, most likely because I had a beer in my hand… and I was sweating profusely (not because of nervousness, but because the lights we were under were like heatlamps)

Since then we’ve had 4 total paint days that saw a total of over 300 volunteers working on the first two sections of the mural; dubbed the “industry” and “History” sections.
During our last paint day on July 1st, hundreds of volunteers came out to participate, thankfully we had more than enough work to go around. The Mayor even stopped by to paint.

Peter Crimmons of WHYY and a Cameraman from Univision were on hand to record and interview my teammates and myself along with the volunteers. I will post links when they become available.

We’ve been covered again in the Inquirer, that story can be found here.

…Finally here are some photos of the paint days, and below the thumbnails some video of the sheer madness of the Sunoco Welcome America turnout…

Click any Thumbnail to begin the slideshow

also… here is the info for the remaining paint days… come out and be a part of it!!

“This We Believe” Paint Days

North Philadelphia
Saturday, July 11 · 10:00 am – 1:00 pm
The ARC/PDDC, 2350 West Westmoreland Street

South Philadelphia
Saturday, July 18 · 10:00 am – 1:00 pm
Columbus Square, 12th and Wharton

Southwest Philadelphia
Saturday, July 25 · 10:00 am – 1:00 pm
Myers Recreation Center, 5800 Chester Avenue

Team One WINS!

Our Team’s design has officially won the first ever Citywide Mural Competition! Massive thanks to everyone who voted and to those people who reached out and spread the news of the project and our design to friends and family. There are literally too many to list right here, but I will make my way around to thanking all of you personally. Over 4500 votes in total were cast. We could not have done it without your support!

I also want to thank my teammates Michelle and Kien for being equally as obsessive and working hard to make this design a possibility.

View Michelle Ortiz’ work here.

Much respect to Team Two (David Guinn, Phillip Adams, and Damon Reaves) whom Ive known and worked alongside for years.

Team one

Click design to Enlarge

Since receiving news of our win, there has been some press.

Valerie Russ of the Daily News wrote two articles on the project. The first taking place during the voting and the second after our design was chosen.

Article One
Article Two

Peter Crimmins of WHYY interviewed my team after news of the win. There’s audio of that somewhere; Ill update this post when I find it. For now, here is a link to the article he wrote.

WHYY Write-up

Peter’s article lists the scheduled Citywide Paint days where we will have prepared sections of our mural that anyone (regardless of skill level, or age) can participate in helping us paint. These are great events to bring the kids out to. They are as follows…

Sunday, June 21 at the Allens Lane Art Center, 601 W. Allens Lane, 10 am – 1 pm.

Saturday, June 27 at the John Perzel Community Center, 2990 St. Vincent Street, 10 am – 1 pm.

Sunday, June 28 at Wall St. International, 1431-39 N. 52nd Street, 10 am – 1 pm.

Wednesday, July 1 during Sunoco Welcome America! in all four city squares simultaneously from 1 – 3 pm:

*Rittenhouse Square, 18th and Walnut Street
*Logan Circle, 19th Street and Benjamin Franklin Parkway
*Washington Square, 7th and Walnut Streets
*Franklin Square, 6th and Race Streets

Saturday, July 18 at Colombus Square, 12th and Wharton, 10 am – 1 pm.

Saturday, July 11 at The ARC/PDDC, 2350 West Westmoreland Street, 10 am – 1 pm.

Additional paint days will be scheduled in Southwest Philadelphia.

For more information on the paint days please visit

www.muralarts.org/thiswebelieve or call 215-685-0729.

The finished mural will be hung temporarily in two central locations in Philadelphia: first in the North Waiting Room at 30th Street Station and then the Gallery at Market East. At the end of the exhibition, pieces of the mural will be installed in neighborhoods all over the city. In late September, the mural will receive a final dedication, celebrating the culmination of the 25th Anniversary.

Please come out, and thanks again for participating!


Voting for the Citywide Mural Competition has officially begun! Anyone can vote online for our design on all of the following three sites.

Click on the links below to vote




If we win, the final Mural which stands at a whopping 30ft x 105ft will be hung at 30st Station for a month, and then broken up in seven pieces and hung at the Gallery at Market East for another month. In the end the mural will be further divided and installed in locations around the city accompanied by a plaque showing the full design and credits.

Mock-up of the 30th St. Station Installation

Team Statement:
Philadelphia is a city where past and present co-exist.
Our mural design evokes an awareness of our city’s history through archival photographs, poetry and personal stories from everyday people that live in the city.
Our goal was to portray nostalgia and memory along with the evolving nature of the people and neighborhoods.

The design shows visions of history, industry, identity, diversity, community, social activism, struggle, survival and progress that are relevant to the the Philadelphia experience.
Overall, we reflected the triumphs and hardships that make Philadelphians unique and resilient.

I must say that this is the most work I’ve ever put into one of my mural designs. Our team worked tirelessly on creating a mural layered with meaning, infused with individual stories, informed by the voices of the participants, and history. In the end our mural provides the viewer with a wealth of stories, and new discoveries in its imagery.

… now for some closeups. (Needs Flash to view… download it here

Click on a Panel for a larger view

Detail Slideshow

If you’re left wondering what this competition is all about here is a blurb from the project managers at Mural Arts.

In celebration of twenty-five years of art education, mural-making and working in communities, the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program invites you to participate in our first city-wide mural project.

Centered around the theme “This We Believe,” this initiative has provided an opportunity for people throughout the city to share what they believe about Philadelphia. Community forums held and facilitated in neighborhoods throughout Philadelphia, and attended by two teams of artists, gave voice to the audiences. The two teams of artists listened, researched and interpreted what they heard and distilled their responses in these two mural designs. It is now your chance to vote on your favorite design. The winning mural will become the canvas for a series of community paint days throughout June and July. The finished mural, painted on over 2500 sq. feet of cloth, will be temporarily installed in 30th Street Station and then at the Gallery at Market East.

The winning mural will be announced the week of May 18th.

Community Paint Days will be held throughout the city in June and July. All are welcome! Specific dates and locations will be announced along with the winning mural.

Please Vote Team One!

Citywide Press Conference

Press Conference tomorrow at 3pm….

Thomas Eakins House… 1729 Mt Vernon St…

Our month of hard work unveiled to the public, teams will get their first glimpse of each others designs…

Final design review just ended… lots of positive vibes and smiles…

now sleep….

so tired

Citywide Project Meetings

4 of the 8 scheduled Citywide workshops are behind us now. Each one brought about completely different conversations, arriving at certain truths about the city and being a Philadelphian in general. This has been an interesting series so far, and its worth it to attend just for the conversation, and the stories.

Heres a few shots from the first 4

The Northwest workshop was postponed due to the snowday last monday. Here is the revised schedule of the last remaining workshops.

Monday, March 9
6:30 – 8:30 pm
Project H.O.M.E.: Honickman Learning Center and Comcast Technology Labs
1936 Judson Street

Tuesday, March 10
6:30 – 8:30 pm
Meyers Recreation Center
5800 Chester Avenue

Wednesday, March 17
6:30 – 8:30 pm
St. Martin’s Church
8000 St. Martin’s Lane

Final Culminating Meeting:
(all are invited to attend)
Thursday, March 19
6:30 – 8:30 pm
Daily News/Inquirer Building
Broad and Callowhill Streets

During this final meeting, representatives from all of the community forums will help present the information from their area of the city. This will be the final meeting before the artists begin their design phase.

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