With the launch of three new public art projects, Erie Arts & Culture continues efforts to build community, beautify our urban core, and advance access to resources and opportunities for creative and cultural professionals of color.
In 2019, we formed the CHROMA Guild to advance access to resources and opportunities for creative and cultural professionals of color in Northwestern PA. In the summer of 2020, members of the guild indicated that they were interested in learning more about careers in public art. In response to this interest, we have secured three public art opportunities for the CHROMA Guild.
1. Manus Sunoco
The first project is slated to start in mid-August and will be located at Manus Sunoco (26 E 12th Street). Artists Ceasar Westbrook and Antonio Howard are collaborating together to design and paint a mural that honors Luther Manus Jr., who turns 93 later this year. In 2019, Caesar worked as a paid assistant for the mural created at Dobbin’s Landing by international artist SatOne. That same year, he also won first place in CelebrateErie’s annual chalk walk initiative. Caesar works full-time as an art teacher at McKinley Elementary School. Antonio was one of Erie Arts & Culture’s 2019 Emerging Artist Fellows. He was also commissioned to create the artwork for 2020’s Erie Blues and Jazz Festival. This year, Antonio was working with Mercyhurst University’s Hafenmaier College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences to develop a writing workshop for individuals incarcerated at the State Corrections Institution of Albion. This program has been temporarily postponed as a result of the public health pandemic. Antonio works full-time as a paralegal for the Federal Public Defender in the Western District of Pennsylvania.
“God has blessed me with nearly 93 years of life and I am immensely grateful to have two local black artists recreate my life on a mural at Manus Sunoco. What a wonderful birthday tribute.” Said Luther Manus, Jr. “Having my daughter, Alicia Boone Jean-Noel, serve as the Art Educator at the Brooklyn Museum for over 10 years introduced me to the importance of art in my life. I really appreciate the arts and the talents of local black artists. I reached out to Erie Arts & Culture after I noticed the outstanding mural on Methodist Towards. I was so impressed with the artist’s work. I started having conversations with Patrick Fisher, Erie Arts & Culture’s Executive Director, expressing my desire to create a mural that celebrates my husband’s achievements and dedication to the Erie community.” Said Connie Manus.
This project is funded in part by Erie Insurance and the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development through the Neighborhood Assistance Program (NAP). Additional in-kind support is provided by Sherwin-Williams Commercial Paint Store, Erie Downtown Partnership, and the Erie Parking Authority. An estimated start date for the project is August 21, 2020.
Erie Arts & Culture has pledged $2,500 to this project. We are asking that the community assist us in raising an additional $2,500 to support the project and the artists who create the mural.
2. Whole Foods Co-op
In July, the Board of Directors of The Whole Foods Co-op (1341 W 26th St) approved commissioning the CHROMA Guild to create an exterior mural on the grocery store’s east-facing facade. The mural will explore the intersection between food access and social justice. The mural project will be managed by Walter Ang, a member of the CHROMA Guild who is interested in arts administration. Erie Arts & Culture is currently working with Walter to write and publish a Call to Artists.
This mural is funded in part by the Whole Foods Co-op. LeAnna Nieratko, the Co-op’s General Manager, is encouraging member-owners to match the $6,500 invested into the project by the Co-op’s Board.
“We feel this year, being the force that we naively did not anticipate in December 2019, is the perfect time to capture who we are right now. We have all experienced disruption and in some instances complete upheaval, on global, local, and intrapersonal level in 2020. Our experience at the Co-op has been no different. As ongoing injustice was exposed as food insecurity continued to disproportionately impact communities of color; our own community notwithstanding, we were called back to our roots in food accessibility with the understanding that now we must take further action to show up for our community in ways we have not before.” Said LeAnna Niratko. She continued, “While we are engaging in food equity work, we wanted to draw in local artists of color to get their perspective on the intersection between access to food and community in the form of a mural that we hope to have placed on our external cafe seating area walls. This mural represents our recommitment to our co-operative principles and a celebration of what makes our Co-op possible, our community.”
This project is slated to begin in the fall of 2020. Artists of color who live in Northwestern Pennsylvania who are interested in learning more about this project and opportunity should email Walter Ang at [email protected].
3. Community Engagement and Service Project
Local residents Brian and Linda Graff made a generous donation to Erie Arts & Culture during the 2019 Erie Gives campaign. Their generosity funded the mural of Rudy Daniels located on the exterior of Methodist Towards in Downtown Erie. This mural was created by international artist Evoca1. Erie-based artist Corey Thompson and Deirdre Keane worked as paid assistants on that project.
The Graff’s generosity is continuing in 2020. The couple have pledged another gift to Erie Arts & Culture as part of the 2020 Erie Gives campaign. This year’s gift will fund a mural project that also serves as a CHROMA Guild led community service and engagement initiative. Current discussions around this project involves members of the CHROMA Guild outlining a mural on the surface of a basketball court located in the City of Erie’s urban core, and then inviting members of the community to help add color to the mural like a giant coloring book.
Interested in joining or learning more about the CHROMA Guild?
We ask that all cultural and creative professionals of color residing in Northwestern Pennsylvania who are interested in CHROMA complete the PRO Network census survey, even if they previously enrolled in past registry and communication initiatives implemented by the Erie Arts & Culture.
Please contact Chanel Cook at [email protected] or call 814-452-3427 x 102 if you have any questions.
The CHROMA Guild holds strategic meetings on the 2nd Wednesday of every month. As a result of COVID-19, all meetings are presently being hosted via ZOOM. Meetings start at 6:00 PM and conclude at 7:30 PM. Upcoming meeting dates for 2020 include: