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Huge Wall Mural New in Neighborhood Park; Part of Anti-Graffiti Program

By P.L. Wolff

[Note: Photographs accompanying this news story in the print edition can be viewed in the full PDF copy in the Current & Back Issues Archive.]

Among the public art — six new murals –- slated to be unveiled by the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities and the Department of Public Works (DPW) on December 11th is the highly colorful abstraction painted along the wall between the basketball court and the playground inside Walter Pierce Park in Adams Morgan.

This project — part of DPW’s initiative to combat graffiti — also included outdoor wall murals near Howard University, at 907 Barry Place, NW, and in Columbia Heights, at 3904 14th Street, NW, was funded through a $100,000 fiscal year 2009 public works department budget allocation specified for this project by the City Council’s Committee on Public Works, chaired by Ward 1 Councilmember Jim Graham. Three other murals are located in Wards 4, 7 and 8, respectively.

Each of these murals reflect the character, culture and history of the neighborhoods in which they are located. The lead artist for each mural lives in the neighborhood of their mural. For the Walter Pierce Park mural the lead artist was Aniekan Udofia.

In praising the arts commission and the public works department for the successful completion of this project, Councilmember Graham enthusiastically pronounced the murals as “spectacular.”

As explained by DPW’s public affairs office, MuralsDC was launched in 2007 as a way to combat the rising tide of illegal graffiti by engaging young people through the teaching of proper art techniques. It also provides supplies and a legal means to practice and perform their skills in a way that promotes respect for public and private property and community awareness.

According to Gloria Nauden, the arts commission’s executive director, “There is an unwritten code of respect that is observed by street artists, which generally keeps walls with art murals from being tagged by others. We are looking forward to this continued partnership so that we can continue to transform and revitalize other areas of the city.”

Expanding on Ms. Nauden’s comments, DPW Director William O. Howland, Jr., in noting that “DC spends a significant amount each year to remove graffiti,” added that his department works with the arts commission “to identify walls that are frequently tagged with illegal graffiti [and that, so far,] “very few walls have been retagged, which means safer, cleaner neighborhoods where citizens can live, work and have fun.”