Mural Arts Philadelphia will “cease all involvement” with the mural of former Mayor Frank Rizzo in the Italian Market, the organization said in a statement responding to the removal of the Rizzo statue near City Hall.
The mural has again “become a target for defacement amidst this national chapter of pain, grief, and anger over the recent death of George Floyd and the systemic racism plaguing our country,” the statement noted.
It continued: “We do not believe the mural can play a role in healing and supporting dialogue, but rather it has become a painful reminder for many of the former Mayor’s legacy, and only adds to the pain and anger.”
Mural Arts’ statement said that the maintenance and repair of the Rizzo mural is not consistent with the organization’s mission. The mural was vandalized Friday, one of many similar incidents.
“We think it is time for the mural to be decommissioned, and would support a unifying piece of public art in its place,” it said, though that would be contingent on the property owner’s approval. “At this time, Mural Arts will no longer be involved in the repair or restoration of the mural.”
David Neukirch, the owner of the pizzeria on the Ninth Street property, said Wednesday afternoon he expects the Rizzo mural to be removed imminently, depending on the weather.
“This is not a mural that is kept up because the Italian Market Association wants it here,” Neukrich said, adding Mural Arts Philadelphia “put up this mural in this location years ago and it became controversial.”
“It’s a very tough position I’ve been put in,” he said. “I can’t just go out and paint over it or take it down.”