A new mural, symbolizing peace, diversity, and unity is going up at the corner of Streeper St. and Fairmount Ave., on the side of JK’s Grocery and Deli, 101 N. Streeper St.
The Patterson Park Neighborhood Association, with the assistance of Banner Neighborhoods, commissioned the mural “Breathing Peace” to help bring more art into their community, according to Steve Preston, vice president, east sector, of PPNA.
“We’ve been trying to engage the community in art for the last year,” says Preston of the mural project, which began late in the spring.
The mural is funded by the Baltimore Community Foundation and the PPNA’s Virginia Dobry Community Progress Fund.
Still in progress, it is dominated by a little girl exhaling doves onto what appears to be a street in front of a Baltimore brick rowhouse. There is also a multicolored arm and a blanket of daisies on the sidewalk.
“The mural has multiple symbols,” says the mural’s artist, Pablo Machioli, “but it is my intention to show that kids grow up breathing peace. We all have a need to keep believing. The doves carry red string, which unites the skin of the various races on the arm. The arm has the power to make everything move. It will open the windows of the house,” Machioli says.
Eric Fitch, who also serves on the PPNA board, says “the multicolored fingers of the hand…indicate we are diverse but come together to make a strong community. Additionally, the green finger tips are meant to evoke the community’s commitment to sustainability and environmental care.”
Machioli will complete the mural within the next week or so. After that, there is a community participation component to the project.
“We will build in the community part of the mural project, organizing residents to come out and help paint when the mural gets to that point,” says Leanna Wetmore, a community organizer for Banner Neighborhoods, which assisted PPNA with obtaining the grant from the Baltimore Community Foundation, and helped find the artist.
“Pablo is native to Uruguay and a Spanish speaker. We thought he was perfect for the job, as we are trying to engage the Hispanic community. He’s getting a lot of good feedback,” Wetmore adds.
“Breathing Peace” is Machioli’s first mural in America. He used a similar design for a wheat paste for Baltimore’s Wall Hunters project and also for Artscape.
“The girl in the mural is my sister. She is 9 years old. I called my mom in Uruguay and asked her to take pictures of my sister blowing. She sent me the photos,” Machioli says.
Says Preston of the mural: “The neighborhood loves it. I like the way it ties in the different cultures that make Patterson Park great.”
Machiloi says he says he was drawn to art because of its power improve communication among diverse people.
“Art is a communication medium that does not tie you down to who you are or where you are from, or what language you speak. You can touch people who don’t know you,” he says.
Of “Breathing Peace,” Preston adds: “I hope it starts a trend. These kinds of murals are engaging and inspiring for kids and adults and for some of the residents of our neighborhood who don’t get to museums, among the few opportunities they get to see art.”
In fact, the PPNA has another mural planned for the corner of Fairmount St. and Decker Ave., he says.
“I don’t know all the details, but it will tie in with Patterson Park’s neighborhood greening theme. It’s scheduled to go up some time next year,” Preston says.
by Danielle Sweeney