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Sunday, October 7, 2012

Tribulations of McKees Rocks Murals

10/07/12 17M
Started at 0715 at the Bastille with S. Rode south to the West End Bridge, and saw people preparing to begin tailgating for the Steelers game that begins in seven hours at 1300. That's serious.

At the West End police station, a mural of first responders, designed by Officer Ed Wirkowski and painted by Carson Street Gallery Artists:


A beautiful mural at 436 South Main Street in West End Village, which some poxy State Rep named Dan Deasy found it necessary to obscure with his placard:


"At Work", Jon Laidacker, Sept 2004, West End Village, which is my first time in this neighborhood:


Then our path pitched up via Wallbridge and it was a great climb and a S-turning dance with oxygen debt. At the top we found this mural at the West End park shelter:


"Night Garden", in Sheraden, another new neighborhood for me:



We stopped at Mancini's Bakery (again, my first time there) for fresh warm bread on a cold morning. Wow.

"I Myself Am That", McKees Rocks, Laurie Marshall, Sept 2003. Possibly the only mural McKees Rocks tolerates.




An Anti-Smoking Mural by Local Kids that Yew Can't See, And Other Tales

Riding on Chartiers Avenue, you come upon the McDermott Funeral Home:


If you look closely, you may see bright colors behind the brick wall and densely-spaced yew trees:


Therein lies a story. According to Pittsburgh City Paper in January 2005, a mural by Kyle Holbrook was commissioned by the county agency Tobacco-Free Allegheny County's Music and Arts as Prevention program, and McKees Rocks' Focus On Renewal agency, which brought kids from the community to paint along with designer Holbrook.

An article in the Post Gazette, Which Color Isn't Right?, suggests that the funeral home gave initial approval of the project but - according to the adjacent property owner - didn't like it when they saw African-American faces on the wall.

This is what the mural initially looked like in 2004, while it was still being painted:


This is a month later, when the funeral home had trees installed:


This is what the location looks like in October 2012:


Nice.

Eventually, a new anti-smoking mural was placed at the F.O.R. health services building on Thompson Street in McKees Rocks. This one is much more pointed, including a financier reading the Wall Street Journal about his RJR stocks, a tobacco salesman offering children cigarettes, a pregnant woman and her fetus, and a few other factors:


But wait, that's not all! Subsequently, muralists Kyle Holbrook and Maurice Solomon found themselves in another conflict with racial overtones over a McKeesport Mural. From the Post-Gazette,

Holbrook again found himself in controversy last week about a [McKees Rocks] mural on the side of an Island Avenue nail salon that he and partner Maurice Solomon were commissioned to paint.

McKees Rocks mayor Jack Muhr ordered that the painting of a colorful scene of women getting their nails done had to come down, saying that it was in violation of an ordinance passed earlier this year that limits such murals to 150 square feet and requires formal approval from the borough.

Complicating the matter is that the 350-square-foot mural also had a small tribute -- a picture of 4-year-old DeAvery Lyons, who was struck and killed by a vehicle on April 14 on nearby Locust Street.

"We got so much flak from the first mural and we couldn't do anything about it," Muhr said. "Now they're screaming that I don't like blacks. But the mural depicted women with their breasts hanging out in low-cut dresses," Muhr said.

Solomon and Holbrook also thought it ironic that the depiction of the women would be considered harmful although two well-known strip clubs are located nearby.




You can't go too far around Observatory Hill, Perry North, or Perry South without running into something named after Commodore Perry. Perrysville Avenue was once a part of an Indian path called the Venango trail. Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry used the route to carry supplies from Pittsburgh to Erie for his lake battle against the British during the War of 1812.

O.H.Perry mural on Observatory Hill:


In Perry North, at the intersection of Perrysville and Vinceton, we found this mural by David and Fran Hawbaker:


17 miles on the ride, a lot of climbing. Off the bikes at 1100, before the North Side went crazy with the football game.

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