Saturday, March 12, 2016

Philly the Bern

On 22nd and Catharine Streets in Philadelphia a mural now adorns the facade of the brick building . It is the work of 2 graffiti artists, and it is unlike anything else that you and I are likely to pass in our daily travels.

At 65 feet by 30 feet it is eye catching in its dimensions. But beyond that, it is an elaborately designed political statement. "Philly the Bern" is a very visual showing of support, by the artists and the owner of the building, for the candidacy of one Mr. Sanders.

I remember being escorted into the basement of the home where one of the artists, Disto, resided in his youth. He was even then, probably before his teenage years, a budding graffiti artist. The walls of this room were not adorned with old photos of grandparents come and gone. Strewn about this place were not discarded toys or crumpled up clothes waiting their turn at a washing machine. Rather, here could be found the tools of the trade of a  young man in the incubation period of his craft. The walls spoke not in sterile gray or white but were alive with the colors and  images of a mind hard at work.

Now Disto, along with his fellow muralist, Old Broads, is in the bright light of day.  A five day project from March 7 to March 12, transformed a nondescript brick wall into this. Like the postman, neither rain, sleet or snow was to impede these two in reaching their appointed goal. Fortunately, Mother Nature must be a Bernie fan for the artists were able to bask in unbelievable late winter warmth for much of this period.

Like Bernie, this undertaking relied on the financial support of the community for its well being. While the candidate reminds us of his grassroots campaign, with its millions of contributors averaging (you know) $27 each, Philly the Bern is a Kickstarter project, the company whose mission statement is to be a crowdfunding platform designed to bring creative projects to life. What could be more creative a project than a 74 year old, perpetually slightly disheveled, avowed Socialist, Jewish man running for President of the United States, trying to face down the political machine behind Hillary Clinton. Or transforming a silent building into a living breathing endorsement.

I came very late to this party, only learning of the existence of the mural from a Facebook post yesterday. But what a party it must have been last night and into today. When the Kickstarter fundraising goal had been met, I received a message inviting me and the other 178 backers to a celebration on the roof of the building where the enormous image of Mr. Sanders was now on full display.

I know the work of Disto and Old Broads is attracting attention, not only from local TV crews but from nearby residents.  When word of the transformation of this building was passed on to a relative in Philly, she wrote back that she lived nearby and had spent the past two days taking photos of the mural in progress.

There are parallels in the careers of artist and politician, from the basement of a home to an enormous public display, from Bernie's tiny state of Vermont to center stage on the national platform. Two paths intersecting, if only for a moment, on their respective ways to who knows where.


Anonymous said...

Nice but I'm a TRUMP VOTER.

Anonymous said...

With a little help from the FBI and DOJ it'll be The Donald and The Bern Show