9-7-11: The Utility of Murals
In your travels around Baltimore, you may have noticed the paintings of cliffs located on Washington Boulevard—or the series of portraits on the side of the Giant on Greenmount Avenue. They’re two of over 225 paintings that have been created by Baltimore’s Mural Program.
Randi Vega, Director of Cultural Affairs for Baltimore’s Office of Promotion and Arts, says it costs the city between $5 – 10,000 dollars to create a mural – and some cost as much as $20,000. In July, The Baltimore Sun reported that the city had allocated $350,000 dollars in slots revenue to be put towards murals on vacant buildings in Park Heights. The city changed that plan after community residents protested, saying the money could be put to better use elsewhere.
That made us wonder: what is the public utility of murals? A 2002 report from the University of Pennsylvania’s Social Impact of the Arts Project indicates that its not really the mural’s visual impact that is valuable — it’s the process of engagning the public in the mural’s creation.
Sheilah discusses this with Randi Vega, and with Angela Chen, who studied the public effect of murals in Baltimore when she was a student at Johns Hopkins University. She’s now the Assistant Registrar for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. You can read her paper here.
We also want to hear from you – what are your thoughts about the public utility of murals? Have you been involved in creating one? Do you have a particular favorite, either in Baltimore, or elsewhere in Maryland? Do you think it’s worth the expense – or would you rather the money be spent elsewhere?
Call us at 410-881-3162, email us at mdmorning@wypr-dot-org, or leave a comment.