Login

Return to Strawberry Mansion


New John Coltrane mural rises after original succumbs to development

(Photo Left) From left, Joey Harris, Sen. Vincent Hughes, Cathy Harris and Jane Golden of Mural Arts, and Artist Ernel Martinez at the John Coltrane mural dedication in Strawberry Mansion.  Photo by Sarah J. Glover.

That a mural of John Coltrane once again looks out over Strawberry Mansion is a testament to the power of collective engagement.

It started with Faye Anderson, a jazz enthusiast and director of All That Philly Jazz, who insisted that Pennrose Development be held accountable for having demolished the “Tribute to Coltrane” mural that, until 2014, had adorned a building on North 33rd and Diamond Streets.

Coltrane was the jazz saxophonist and composer who pioneered the use of harmonic progression in jazz. He lived in Philadelphia in the 1950s, and could then often be heard playing his horn in the park across from his house on N. 33rd Street. It was in that house that he kicked his heroin habit and recorded his seminal album, “Giant Steps.”

Jane Golden, executive director of Mural Arts Philadelphia, told radio station WRTI-FM about others who rallied around Anderson’s charge, including scholars from as far away as Los Angeles and Chicago.

Pennrose acquiesced and helped raise funds for a new mural. Finally, on an unseasonably warm Sunday in late September, the magnificent photorealistic creation, “Why We Love Coltrane” by artist Ernel Martinez was dedicated.

Many who contributed to the effort attended the ceremony, including members of the Strawberry Mansion Neighborhood Action Committee, Fairmount Park Conservancy and All That Philly Jazz. John Griffin — the owner on the home that the mural was painted on and himself a jazz musician — happily donated his side wall. “For me to have this, I was just so ecstatic,” he said.

Artist Martinez described Coltrane as “someone who came from humble beginnings but aspired to become one of the greatest composers, musicians, thinkers and leaders this world has ever seen.”

In creating the mural, Martinez said he drew on inspiration from the original one, rendered in 2004 by artist John Lewis. “But I wanted it to evolve, become more my style and personality.”

This one is less bluesy and more vibrant, and includes elements such as Coltrane’s house and a shopping strip that populated the area at that time.

Golden said the mural “is important because [John Coltrane’s legacy] is so significant as it relates to the history of jazz and music. And we knew we had to keep his story alive and that is what’s so wonderful about the murals of this city. They are truly the autobiography of the city of Philadelphia.”

She added, “Our program is about art, but it’s also about equity and opportunity and access and justice, and we are on a mission about all those things. … [The murals] represent our lives, our histories, our struggles, our collective humanity. They are a visual testament to Philadelphia and its people.”

 

 

Return to Strawberry Mansion
Sheila Simmons - Contributor

Sheila Simmons brings many years of writing and communications experience to her work for Liberty City Press. She began her professional writing career at the Philadelphia Daily News, where she covered Business, City Hall and Education.

Read More >>


More articles by this author

Saving ‘The Wonder Years’Saving ‘The Wonder Years’16 January 2018
Non-profit targets middle-school students for enriching after-school activity (Photo Left) After School All Stars launch event at Mastery Charter Cramer Hill celebrated a partnership with the Harris Family Charitable Foundation and its funding of two programs in Camden. The event included 3rd – 8th grade students. Photo courtesy of After-School All Stars...
Read More >>
Eagle Scout Takes FlightEagle Scout Takes Flight16 January 2018
Teen’s achievement marks lifetime goal (Photo Left) Local scout D'avon Byrd celebrates receiving his Eagle Scout status and full tuition scholarship with his aunt Denise Byrd (L), grandmother Rosemary Byrd (R). Photo courtesy of Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church. D’avon Byrd is studying architecture at Morgan State University, but he has already achieved lifelong...
Read More >>

What is Liberty City Press?

Liberty City Press is an independent weekly newspaper distributed by the Philadelphia Multi-Cultural Media Network whose members include Philadelphia Sunday Sun, The Philadelphia Gay News, Al Dia, The Metro Chinese Weekly and The Metro Viet News.

Print Edition

 

Related Articles & Videos

Liberty City Press Photos