25 Aug 2010

Sousa, in Hot Pink, Coming Soon to Public Mural at Wisdom

photo courtesy of the Alicia "DECOY" Cosnahan

While it’s certainly not the Big Apple, DC’s growing art community has been adding it’s aesthetic touch to the city’s social fabric and landscape for years. The city’s public art program, MuralsDC, and DPW are adding to the canvas that is our streetscape with two new murals on Capitol Hill. A bit reminiscent of the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, this is the kind of “exterior” expression I’m thrilled to see, not this!

Soon all those commuters coming across the Sousa Bridge will get an eyeful of hot pink and local history on the exterior wall of Wisdom at 1432 Pennsylvania Avenue.  Work started Saturday on the mural that features U.S. Marine Band conductor and famous Hill resident John Phillip Sousa and his band in front of another Hill icon, the black iron fence.

This mural, and another one designated for the exterior of the Sasha Bruce House at 745 8th Street, SE, are part of MuralsDC’s graffiti deterring mural program. The Capitol Hill BID will provide funding to install lighting, intended to deter vandalism and crime, as well as highlight the artwork.

The Sousa mural is being created by artist Alicia “DECOY” Cosnahan of Albus Cavus, an arts collective that regularly hosts events and workshops at the Fridge. Her work can be seen around town in wheat paste illustrations and as far away as Iceland. Cosnahan says her art focuses on the immediate: the situations, people and places that surround everyday life and often portrays a distorted reflection of the original idea. The Sousa design definitely brings to mind the Beatles film, and it’s hard to imagine the hard-nosed Marine man would have picked that particular shade of fuchsia, but it works for me!

This Hill resident would be ecstatic to see more mural art in the neighborhood, and wonders what it would take for local groups and businesses to embrace the canvas that is the horrid, sad, crumbling, falling-apart fence that spans most of the 1200 block of Pennsylvania Avenue. A byproduct of the ongoing crazy-making saga of the E Street Shotgun House, the fence has been in various states of decay for more than 11 years and despite various groups’ occasional attempts to beautify it with cheerful yet disparate paintings, it’s really a Guernica-sized canvas waiting to be discovered.

Lumber, paint, brushes, unbridled creativity with a big helping of community service, anyone?

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  • if there’s any city that we should strive to copy when it comes to murals, that’d have to be philly.

  • beth b.

    philly’s program is to be admired, to be sure. The best thing about them? it’s not governement so there aren’t the bullshit NIMBY hoops (I shouldn’t say that….there are…there always are with public art) I just got the impression from their tour that there were less than I saw happening here.
    Plus? The people in Philly like the program. They talk about the program like it’s a jewel of the city (which it is)

  • Don’t forget to mention Erik Holzherr – owner of Wisdom – who brought us all together and not to mention is OK with a bright pink wall on his building!!
    Thanks Erik!

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