By Rachel Jones
More than just beautiful brushstrokes and displays of jaw-dropping creativity, these meaningful murals reflect the united communities in our neighborhoods. The first is a marvelous mosaic that adorns the Squirrel Hill Community Food Pantry (SHCFP), a division of the Jewish Family & Children’s Service (JF&CS). Local, internationally known artist James Simon crafted “Moon Musicians” to depict colorful scenes of the neighborhood through pieces of glass and ceramic tiles. Commissioned by JF&CS and members of the SHCFP Endowment Committee, the mural recognizes the financial supporters who have helped the organization serve more than 1,700 clients a year. “Our Pantry depends entirely on grants and generous contributions from donors and volunteers to fulfill our mission of providing food assistance and ensuring food security for everyone in our community,” says Matthew Bolton, director of SHCFP. “This is our way of honoring our supporters, while lifting the hearts and spirits of those who need our assistance when times are tough and making ends meet is impossible.”
As a way to brighten the days of the people of Pittsburgh, Moving the Lives of Kids Community Mural Project (MLK Mural) painted the town in imaginative and whimsical works of art. More than 40 youths from the Pittsburgh Summer Employment Program and The Bridge to Pittsburgh joined professional artists to create inspirational murals in Squirrel Hill, Northside, and Oakland. These pros included rapper Gene Ojeda a.k.a. BZE, celebrity tattoo artist Roberto “Max” Maxwell, and muralists Lucas Stock, Doug Bruner, and Kyle Holbrook. As the founder of MLK Mural, Holbrook, a Wilkinsburg native, wanted to find a way to use public art as a way to get kids to do something positive in the community during the summer months. The result: more than 5,000 youths and hundreds of professional artists joining together to paint across Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Georgia, Texas, Florida, Haiti, Uganda, Portugal, and Brazil.