Will Smith is finally getting his own mural in West Philadelphia
Richard Wilson is working with a West Philly charter school.
It's been about a year since Kevin Hart got a mural in Philly, and now another local mega-celebrity — Will Smith — is getting his due.
London artist Richard Wilson is working on a 60-foot mural of Smith in a project at 4545 Girard Ave. in the actor's old West Philadelphia stomping grounds. The mural is on the side of the Gevurtz Furniture building.
As Wilson said on Instagram, the project is being done in collaboration with the Global Leadership Academy Charter School, which is across from the mural. He is working out of the school and plans to teach an art class there during the project.
The work is not a Mural Arts Philadelphia project. As Cari Feiler Bender, a representative for that organization said, Mural Arts paired Wilson with the charter school as a form of community engagement. Wilson arrived with his own funding.
The artist, Bender said, was inspired to paint the mural after following Smith's Instagram account, which spreads the star's positive, peaceful outlook on life. The account has about 16.1 million followers.
Wilson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
A longtime street art and mural artist, Wilson uses primarily spray and oil paints. He got his start with graffiti in 1984, according to his website. Since then, he has completed murals in the U.K. and U.S. featuring musicians like jazz great Roy Ayers and as soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo.
60ft tall Will Smith! Work in Progress… I’ve wanted to paint Will for ages, and it only made sense in West Philly 🌍 I actually found this wall using Google Maps a few months ago, its right by the park Will rhymes about in ‘Summertime’ I came out a couple months ago to knock on the door of the building, but the owner was away 😫but few months later and with some help from my friends (Pete, Tayyib, Rich, Gaby ❤️🙌) we got the permissions, ran around Philly getting all my paint, hired the lift and this pic is about 5 days in. A few things happened that gave me the context of how to paint him, it was sooooo vivid in my head. If you dont already, follow him! #inspiring #motivating #willsmith Making new friends here, loving Philadelphia! Back at it tomorrow loadssss still to do #spraypaint #portraits
Work on the mural began last week, and it is unclear when it is expected to be finished, but Bender said Wilson was making rapid progress.
No word on whether Smith will be back in town to see his mural. But, hey, a city can hope.