Back in May, those familiar with the large Frank Rizzo mural at 9th and Montrose in the Italian Market were shocked to see that the mural had disappeared. The wall had been re-stuccoed and was a neutral gray. A few days later, the South Philly Review mentioned that the mural was to be re-painted by the original artist, Diane Keller, fifteen years after the original. Sure enough, a few weeks later, the scaffolding went up and the mural began to be re-drawn.
The original had deteriorated due to exposure to the elements. The new mural re-creates the original: the official mayoral portrait of Frank Rizzo, framed by a background scene of the Italian Market. Rizzo began his career in Philadelphia in the 1940's as a police officer. His beat was South Philly, and he was often seen in the Market area.
He served as Police Commissioner from 1967-71. In 1971, he resigned his position in order to run for Mayor. He won that year and served two terms, until 1978. Rizzo was famous for his brash, often brutish statements and vocabulary, both in private and in press conferences. Knowing this, I wonder whether the artist's choice to paint Rizzo's mouth last was intentional.
The mural is finished now, after about a month of work, and it looks great. Until it was gone, I didn't realize what an impact it has on its surroundings.