Painting Germantown’s true colors

Artist Jon Laidacker knows the theme of his new mural is going to be “Germantown.” But he doesn’t know what it will look like.

The mural is planned for an exterior wall of a Christian bookshop at 310 W. Chelten Ave., a spot that’s highly visible and a “nicely placed welcome into Germantown,” Laidacker says.

Laidacker is in charge of designing it; but, as with all Mural Arts Program projects, he’s counting on folks in the neighborhood to supply the ideas. “Nothing goes on the wall unless a consensus is reached by the community,” he says.

The Germantown community has been invited to brainstorming sessions and three workshops where neighbors are invited to create art that can be incorporated directly into the mural. There’s also a Facebook page asking people to send in ideas, photos or drawings that answer the question “What does living in Germantown mean to you?” (On Facebook, search for “Germantown Mural.”)

Laidacker was the lead artist on the massive “How Philly Moves” mural at the airport, a project that drew more than 1,000 volunteers. Turnout in Germantown hasn’t been as encouraging — but fortunately, Laidacker says interest always gets drummed up as neighbors start to see things happening.

Once the design is finalized, it will be painted on panels of parachute cloth in the next couple of months. In the spring, the panels will be glued to the wall like wallpaper.

“The great thing about a community mural project, when it works correctly, is its ability to bring people together,” Laidacker says. “The gathering of folks together sparks ideas, that spark discussions, that can spark change in a neighborhood.”

The big picture

To make murals that big, Laidacker starts with a “paint-by-numbers” design on 5-by-10 parachute cloth. For the 310 W. Chelten mural, neighbors will be invited to fill in the colors during designated paint days at Mt. Airy Art Garage.

“The community is an integral part of this process,” says Linda Slodki, co-founder of the Art Garage. “We want to get as many people out as possible.”

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