The story of that huge pigeon mural on the Kensington-Fishtown border

“Pigeons,” artist Evan Lovett said, “are obviously the urban resident as far as nature goes in Philadelphia.”

Evan Lovett and fellow artist Gloss Black wanted to remind Philadelphians of nature in the city and how we fit into its grand scheme. The result is a 30-foot tall mural of a pigeon spanning an entire side of a residence just off the Berks El stop.

“Pigeons,” Lovett said, “are obviously the urban resident as far as nature goes in Philadelphia.”

The work of art, completed Monday, has been a sensation. An Instagram of the pigeon posted Wednesday has garnered 1,500 likes and counting. Conrad Benner, founder and editor of the Streets Dept. blog, wrote of the mural,You are, without a doubt, the best thing to ever happen. Thank you for existing.”  

“Even people who don’t like pigeons,” Lovett said, “seem to like the mural. So that’s pretty cool.”

Lovett and Gloss Black started Monday around noon. Five hours later, they were finished, eating Indian food at the nearby restaurant Tandoor, and the Fishtown-Kensington border at Front Street between Berks and Montgomery streets had a giant bird surveying the area.

The idea took a while longer to bring to fruition. Lovett, who lives in Fishtown, and Gloss Back have friends with a studio adjacent to the wall where the mural is now painted. They had talked about wanting to paint a mural and decided a bird would best fit the building.

Gloss Black and Lovett have teamed up on other murals in Philadelphia, including “El”evation in Kensington and “Philadelphia” near the Walt Whitman Bridge.

Lovett propositioned the owner of the residential building with the idea several weeks ago. At first, Lovett said, the man was reticent. He thought a mural might be tacky. Then Lovett explained he and Gloss Black’s idea of the pigeon.

“He looked at me sort of blankly and said, ‘I love pigeons’” Lovett recalled. “Then [he] got into the story about his connection to pigeons and how he drew some inspiration from them.”

Gloss Black and Lovett would like to see more murals being done this way in Philadelphia: as organic, representative of the environment and not exclusively addressing a community concern but just a fun idea.

“We get disconnected from nature,” Lovett said. “To bring you back to nature just a little bit and juxtaposition of the pigeon of being so large gives you the idea of how small you are, how small a role every initial person plays in the environment. From pigeons to birds to rats to squirrels they all play a role in the environment. It’s kind of social commentary in a way.

“Or they can just look at it and think it’s cool.”

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