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Painting The PSFS: How And Why We Can And Should Do This Now

October 10, 2012

(Does anyone ever take a photo of the big, blank, windowless wall at the back of the PSFS Building? No, seriously, try and Google it… Let’s give people a reason to see this iconic building from a different angle!!)

So it’s only been two days since I created a petition to paint a mural on the back of the PSFS Building, but we already have over 100 signatures and counting!! We also have write-ups about the petition on Philadelphia Magazine’s blog The Philly Post, the Daily News’ blog on, and a BIG “we’re on board” from Philebrity.

Thank you guys so much for helping me get the word out!!

And while most of the reactions have been positive – we even got a retweet from the Mural Arts people – there are some folks who’ve raised concerns, like this architecture blog from New York, Inga Saffron from the Inquirer, and a few commenters on yesterday’s post.

It seems to me like the biggest issue with this petition for some people is that the building is a historical landmark, and how could we paint it?!

My reply to that is simple: there’s nothing we could do, or would do, that would ever harm this building. Period. It wouldn’t be allowed, for one, but also, that’s not what I’m suggesting. Whether we could paint directly on the brick, or whether we’d have to attach parachute cloth to paint over. Whether the mural should be more temporary and last only 2 or 3 years, or whether it should be more permanent. I think it’s important to keep in mind that the PSFS Building has been celebrated for its innovative spirit from the day it was built. Celebrated for the fact that the people who built it all those years ago were looking forward. And that’s all I’m suggesting we do today.

Our city is really good at commemorating our past… I say we start celebrating our now. (As Oprah-y as that sounds. It’s true. Think about it!!) We have amazing artists in this city right now. Let’s celebrate them. We have an amazing arts culture in this city right now. Let’s celebrate it… Let’s celebrate, period!!

As I’ve said, I think that painting the largest mural in America, right here, in the middle of our skyline would be such a powerful statement for the arts in this city. And the best part? What other city could ever compete with that? What other city has a 30+ story brick wall to paint a mural on? It’s such a great opportunity for our city to do something dynamic, something innovative, and something no other city could ever do.

If you look at the comments on the petition page, you’ll see that I’m not the only one who feels this way. While there’s plenty of time for discussion and compromise on many of the details of this project, I do think that this is the building, this is the city, and this is the time… We can do this Philadelphia!!

SIGN THE PETITION HERE, and feel free to leave your thoughts below.

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