Philadelphia Mural Celebrating Influential African-American Artist Mysteriously Erased

A mural honoring one of Philadelphia’s most significant African-American artists was painted over, and it’s not clear who destroyed the piece of public art. The 2001 mural, painted by Eric Okdeh and Cavin Jones on a building at 2442 Cecil B. Moore Avenue, is called “A Tribute to Dox Thrash.” Interpreting Dox Thrash‘s signature black-and-white style, created with his invented “carborundum mezzotint” technique, which allowed richer print tones, it depicted Thrash working in his studio.

The printmaker, who lived from 1893 to 1965, with 40 years of his life spent in Philadelphia, is renowned for the realism and tonal depth given to his images of African-American life in the early- to mid-20th century. The creation of the mural coincided with a retrospective on Thrash at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and is part of the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program‘s “African American Iconic Images Collection.”

In a story on philly.comJenn McCreary, Director of Communications at the Mural Arts Program, stated that it was “definitely possible” that a firm contracted by the government painted the black square over the art. This is because of the foreclosure on the building that puts it under the management of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. It’s not clear exactly when the defacement occurred, but they were notified of it via Twitter in November. According to the Atlantic, the mural was tagged with graffiti in May, which may have led to the painting over by a contractor.

Amy R. Johnston, Information & Events Specialist with the Mural Arts Program, told ARTINFO this week that they are still investigating the matter.

Allison Meier

(Images via Mural Arts Program and the Art Blog)