At Americans for the Arts, we know that public art instills meaning—a greater sense of identity and understanding of where we live, work, and visit—creating memorable experiences for all. Throughout the United States, businesses are participating in public art projects as a way to partner with the whole city.
Philadelphia’s Center City Shake Shack and the city’s Mural Arts program joined forces in summer 2014 to bring a large public mural to the previously blank wall above the restaurant. Mural Arts has been the official charity partner of the Shake Shack location since it opened three years ago, with 5 percent of the sale of the Center City Pretzel frozen custard concrete going to Mural Arts, but through this project, the partnership reached new heights.
David Guinn, a Philadelphia based artist, was commissioned to create the mural entitled Summer Rendezvous, which depicts a colorful green-space featuring a young boy on a ladder handing an ice cream cone to a girl in a window. Guinn drew inspiration from the original wall of greenery that surrounded the location during Shake Shack’s construction and the plants that grow on the restaurant’s roof. Shake Shack’s press release states, “Reinforced by the plantings that decorate the roof year-round, the mural presents a fantasy of plants growing up the building wall, framing the whimsical encounter between the children.”
According to Mural Arts’ website, the organization “was first established in 1984 as part of the Philadelphia Anti-Graffiti Network’s effort to eradicate the city’s graffiti crisis. Artist Jane Golden was hired to reach out to graffiti writers and redirect their energies to constructive public art projects. In addition to addressing the problem of graffiti, Mural Arts’ collective mural-making processes proved to be a powerful tool for generating dialogue, building relationships, empowering communities, and sparking economic revitalization.”
Shake Shack’s arts and business partnership brought community members together. Philadelphians were invited to take part in a public paint day to help create this new must-see destination in the city, and a public dedication ceremony was held in December.