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  • Writer's pictureKristin Guglietti

New exhibition melds art forms in Philadelphia

Jodie Milkman, Executive Vice President of Delaware River Water Corporation; Evelyn Ebo, Former Dancer and Pennsylvania Ballet Board of Trustee Member; Vita Litvak, Associate Director of Adult Education at Fleisher Art Memorial; Tammy Salvadore, Executive Director of Delphi Project Foundation; Shelly Power, Executive Director of Pennsylvania Ballet; Maria Konrad, Choreographer; Jane Golden, Founder and Executive Director of Mural Arts Philadelphia; and David McShane, Staff Artist at Mural Arts Philadelphia stand in front of the “Spread Your Wings” mural. (THG/Kristin Guglietti)

Pennsylvania Ballet and Mural Arts Philadelphia is showcasing the new exhibition Spread Your Wings. The new exhibit will run at Cherry Street Peer, 121 North Columbus Boulevard, Philadelphia, through June 6.

“The free public exhibition is a dynamic display of photography, video, an indoor mural and live performances,” according to the press release.

Pennsylvania Ballet II dancers performed during opening night.

“We’ve created historical classic music of the ballet but we’re pushing it forward to what Philadelphia is producing now,” Choreographer Maria Konrad said.

According to the choreographer, each dancer represents a different part of Philadelphia from the history of Benjamin Franklin to the Philadelphia Flyers. Konrad attempts to “encapsulate the intangible grit, joy and energy of the city” in PHrenetic.

“So everything that comes to Philly, I’ve taken that energy and put it up on the stage,” Konrad said.

Jane Golden, founder and executive director of Mural Arts Philadelphia, talked about the mural art in Philadelphia.

“The great thing is that the murals in Philly are not disconnected from the people who live here. They are deeply resonated in them. When you pull around the city, it’s really an autobiography of Philadelphia, and I think that’s so wonderful that we get to see ourselves in our work. We see our stories, our history, our memories, our struggles, our triumphs, our aspirations for change. So broad authorship is really at the heart of who we are and is why I’m positive that the movement around muralism has been so resilient,” Golden said.

Pennsylvania Ballet II perform at the Cherry Street Pier. (THG/Kristin Guglietti)

Spread Your Wings includes a mural from artist David McShane of Mural Arts Philadelphia. McShane was inspired by Shawn Theodore’s photography featuring Pennsylvania Ballet company dancers.

“I’ve developed a really particular interest in drawing and painting figures in motion, and I like to draw, so that’s what drew me to projects like the Jackie Robinson mural, which was one of my first projects I was able to do,” McShane said.

Growing up in a working-class family with lots of brothers, McShane said he’s amazed at how people can push their bodies physically to its limits.

“Although I wasn’t myself very good at sports, two of my failed attempts at sports have developed a true appreciation of just how high level athletes can push their bodies to do some extraordinary, truly extraordinary things,” he said.

The mural shows two figures in motion.

“One is suggesting a bird taking flight, so I drew this swan as an illustration of that motion. Then the other was sort of to me, sort of felt like a flower, an opening flower as it was blossoming, so I put a flower to symbolize that,” McShane said.

Lines suggest what the motion is while the different brush strokes capture the energy of the motion.

“When we think poetry in motion, we oftentimes think about ballet, and this is like the quintessential poetry in motion,” he said.

McShane hopes the mural will serve as a backdrop for people to create their own motion.

Also on display are large scale photography of ballet dancers by Vikki Sloviter, Arian Molina and Shawn Theodore as well as a video directed by Michael Candelori.

The Spread Your Wings mural by David McShane shows two ballet dancers in motion. (Courtesy Photo)

“Art I think makes us look at something new. It’s like something we thought we knew, but it’s suddenly, it makes us see something different all the time,” Golden said.

Partners for Spread Your Wings are Pennsylvania Ballet, Mural Arts Philadelphia, Cherry Street Pier/Delaware River Waterfront Corporation, Fleisher Art Memorial, Big Picture Alliance, Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus, Art Reach and Might Writers. Funding is provided by Reliance Standard Life Insurance.

Mural Arts Philadelphia is the nation’s largest public art program, dedicated to the belief that art ignites change. For more than 35 years, Mural Arts has united artists and communities through a collaborative and equitable process, creating 4,000 artworks that have transformed public spaces and individual lives. Mural Arts aims to empower people, stimulate dialogue and build bridges to understanding with projects that attract artists from Philadelphia and around the world, and programs that focus on youth education, restorative justice, mental health and wellness, and public art and its preservation. Popular mural tours offer a firsthand glimpse into the inspiriting stories behind Mural Arts’ iconic and unparalleled collection, which has earned Philadelphia worldwide recognition as the “City of Murals.” For more information, call (215) 685-0750 or visit Follow along on social media: @muralarts on Twitter and Instagram, and @MuralArtsPhiladelphia on Facebook, and phillymuralarts on YouTube.


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