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A Vibrant Journey along the Harrisburg Mural Trail

To appreciate art that truly lives and is lived with, the Harrisburg Mural Trail in the heart of Pennsylvania’s capitol provides an abundance of colorful public art that one can experience free of charge–not to mention free of the restrictions and risks of indoor art galleries. Residents and visitors alike can encounter more than forty-four different murals nestled within the neighborhoods of Harrisburg, catching genuine glimpses of the living city on street corners, alongside timeworn buildings, and beside all variety of community hubs.

An initiative begun in 2014 by the Harrisburg nonprofit Sprocket Mural Works and funded, facilitated, and painted by countless Harrisburg natives, the murals tell a sprawling, larger-than-life story of the vibrant city. Each is composed out of history of the surrounding neighborhood and the unique perspective of the commissioned artist, incorporating anything from bright geometric patterns, to encouraging messages, to inspirational historical persons. One of the first murals, painted on the façade of a nonprofit bicycle redistribution center by local artist Ralphie Seguinot, depicts playing children amongst bicycle parts and gears on an uplifting hibiscus background. This successful mural birthed a series of subsequent projects designed to make Harrisburg the “mecca of public art.” Among these is Aron Rook’s mural on Third and Blackberry Street, where one can absorb a cascading multicolor design representing maternal care. At Midtown, utilizing a lost font resurrected by local designer Craig Welsh and the subject of a forthcoming film, one can find an intriguing mural representing the merging of city biomes and eras. The largest project to date, that of shimmering “bioforms” painted by local artist Crystal Wagner, has been featured in the New York Times, Architectural Digest, Hi Fructose, Complex Art & Design, and VH1. One of the most recent murals, painted by Sarah Fogg as part of the 2021 Mural Festival, adjoins a new children’s park and features the shining and hopeful faces of real Harrisburg children. 

Plan your route through this effervescent city, with scheduled detours to other Harrisburg sites or favorite dining establishments, by downloading the Harrisburg Mural Map or consulting the interactive Google Map. For the most recent news about projects undertaken this season, see the Sprocket Mural Works Facebook page.

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