In 1952 John Coltrane purchased a house at 1511 33rd street in the Strawberry Mansion area of Philadelphia. Coltrane purchased the house for his family after leaving the U.S.Navy and lived there until he relocated to New York City in 1958. He continued to use the house as an alternate residence to his New York home until the end of his life. In 2002 artist John Lewis completed a mural that adorned a wall close by Coltrane’s home.
In 2014 Lewis’s mural was destroyed to make way for development. The Coltrane mural was not the only one of Philadelphia’s iconic murals to be endangered by the developers wrecking ball as the district went through a program of redevelopment. In an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer in 2015, Jane Golden, the Mural Arts Program’s executive director stated that: “Women of Jazz,” where Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone and several others overlook an empty lot on Arlington Street near 33rd, is in danger of being destroyed by development.”
Well that’s the bad news, yesterday Philadelphia’s WRTI reported that a new mural, just blocks away, has been unveiled and once again John Coltrane is back to cast an eye on the area. In an interview on WRTI, Jane Golden, who partnered with the developer to raise funds for the new mural, stated:
“When the mural went away, there were people who reached out to me, scholars from Los Angeles, Chicago. There was a universal outcry.”
Artist Ernel Martinez was commissioned to complete the new mural. Martinez stated:
“I wanted the mural to reflect his humanity, more than anything else: his eyes, the love of this music and his instrument. I wanted to evoke that warmth, that emotion, that glow you get through his music in the mural.”
With the unveiling of the new mural WRTI’s Susan Lewis said,
“The mural depicts a historical marker telling Coltrane’s story. Pictures and words—conjuring timeless music and the man who made it, and who for a time called this neighbourhood home.”
Photo’s: via WRTI.
Here the WRTI Interview here