Views Erie Street Art Festival Brings 37 New Murals to Erie, Pennsylvania

The festival is a way of beautifying the city and bringing art alive for everyone on the shores of Lake Erie.

A colorful new mural in Erie, Pa.

What began as a way to keep kids safe on the way to school will culminate in the Views Erie Street Art Festival (June 1-13) — an event that’ll fill the city with murals, hip hop and even an exhibition for sneakerheads.

It all began with Erie Arts & Culture’s public arts initiative to create 13 murals along paths the United Way of Erie County mapped out as the safest routes for students to get to the five community schools in Erie.

This year, Erie Arts & Culture is taking that initiative to a new level with Views, a two-week street arts festival that will create 37 more murals across Erie, bringing museum-quality work to the streets of Erie.

“This is a great opportunity for our community members to see themselves reflected in the cultural offerings and creative events that are hosted in the city,” says Patrick Fisher, who helped plan the event in his position as the executive director of Erie Arts & Culture before becoming the CEO of the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council at the beginning of May.

In other words, this festival is for everyone.

“There’s never been a festival like this in Erie,” he says. “This is very much a new model for the city of Erie, but it's one that's built around inclusivity and collaboration.”

Here are three things to know before you go.

1. It’s happening all at the same time!
Last year, the 13 murals were created throughout the summer and fall. This year, the remaining 37 murals will be created at once during the two week-long event. “People are going to be able to see the visual landscape of Erie impacted positively in a very short period of time,” Fisher says.

Fisher described this year’s event as a “pilot,” saying that he hopes its all-encompassing scope inspires Erie residents to think about festivals in a different way.

2. It’s going to feature a wide range of artists.
This year’s festival will feature 28 lead artists and 50-plus contributing artists, with members hailing from places as close as Erie and as far as Australia. That diversity will be extended in the work created, as the art processes represented in the group ranged from painting with a traditional brush and roller to photo realism.

“Our goal and objective is to ask ‘What type of range of visual work would you see in a museum setting, and how do we replicate that and create a similar experience at the street level so that work is accessible to everybody?’ Fisher says. “We worked to commission a range of diverse artists because we recognize that by engaging and commissioning diverse artists, we wind up seeing a result that is diverse in its nature.”

3. It helps serves Erie Arts & Culture’s mission.
From 2008 to 2010 the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation worked with Gallup to conduct a study to determine the factors that attract residents to their communities, with one of the main takeaways being that public art helps people feel connected to their community. Fisher and Erie Arts & Culture built this festival with that principle in mind in the hopes that the range of artwork will help Erie residents feel invested in their community.

It's called Purposeful Placemaking and you can read more about it here

“We’re specifically focusing on buildings and neighborhoods that have suffered from disinvestment, in hopes that, if we make these investments in visual art we can start to improve the visual aesthetics of the place,” Fisher says.

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