Sprocket Mural Works has hit a milestone, producing its 50th mural in Harrisburg in a large-scale work of art that celebrates pets and their adopters.
The 50th mural also emphasizes Harrisburg’s diversity during these final days of September’s Hispanic Heritage Month.
Sprocket’s 50th mural pairs an accomplished mural artist of Hispanic heritage—Justin Suarez of Rochester, N.Y.—with a mural site at Anastacia’s Restaurant & Bar, owned by Ricardo Suarez (no relation to Justin), which specializes in Puerto Rican cuisine.
The summer-long 2021 Harrisburg Mural Festival launched in May and has produced a handful of murals every month since. On the heels of the nonprofit’s largest mural project ever, covering one side of the Mulberry Street Bridge in murals, four additional murals are planned for this fall.
“All of this year’s murals collectively celebrate the city’s diversity in a beautiful way, including these final four murals,” said Meg Caruso, Sprocket’s president and co-founder. “This year’s festival features many artists of color, as well as subjects that speak to diverse neighborhoods that we surveyed, along the established and expanded Harrisburg Mural Trail, which is now more established in Allison Hill and stretches into Steelton and Penbrook.”
Caruso reflected on what the milestone 50th mural means to her personally.
“When I set out to create Sprocket, I couldn’t imagine that we’d reach our 50th mural in Harrisburg within seven years,” she said.
Including Sprocket’s murals produced in York, the total number of central PA murals is now around 75.
“It is extremely humbling, because none of it would have been possible without tremendous community support, sponsors, grants, and hundreds of generous donors and volunteers who believed in the vision of uplifting Harrisburg through art,” Caruso said.
Animal Adoptions, Captured in Art: 1535 N. 6th St.
Sprocket is collaborating with the Humane Society of the Harrisburg Area to produce its 50th mural, now through Oct. 3, located at Anastacia’s Restaurant & Bar.
Mural artist Justin Suarez has painted hundreds of murals throughout the country—many of them focused on wildlife and nature scenes.
“To me, the way to convey the mission of the Humane Society is to show an adopted pet with its owner, to illustrate that special relationship,” said Suarez, who’s known for his vibrant use of color. “When people see the mural, it’s my hope that they’re able to perceive the feeling and emotion captured in the image.”
About 1,000 animal adoptions—including between 350 and 400 dogs—are facilitated through The Humane Society of the Harrisburg Area annually.
“The Humane Society of the Harrisburg Area is thrilled to bring awareness to the importance of animal adoptions through this community mural,” said Amanda Brunish of the Humane Society. “We assist over 10,000 animals a year through our residential care and adoption program, low-cost veterinary clinics, pet food bank, and counseling services. At any given time, there can be close to 500 animals under our care. Our mission is to build a better community for pets and people through compassion, protection, education, and collaboration.”
The mural project also “contributes towards community pride,” said Ricardo Suarez of Anastacia’s Restaurant & Bar.
“As a Latin American business within the community, it is excellent that both the artist and the model [in the mural] celebrates such diversity—especially during Hispanic Heritage Month,” he said. “As a result, it is rewarding to have such a visual representation of art within the city of Harrisburg.”
Celebrating Black Culture: 928 James St.
Beginning this weekend (Oct. 2 to 3), Sprocket launches a much-anticipated and thoughtfully planned mural project on the side of a James Street apartment building that faces the 3rd Street mural corridor.
“We are grateful to many community members who came together and formed a steering committee to oversee this vital mural project—artwork planned as an uplifting celebration of Harrisburg’s Black community and culture,” Caruso said.
Harrisburg-based artist Bryan “King Prolifik” Hickman, 31, is creating the mural after serving as a mentored artist under professional muralist Ian Potter on Sprocket’s Mulberry Street Bridge mural. Hickman described the opportunity to create the James Street mural as a dream project and “supreme honor.”
“A mural is the ultimate statement piece,” he said. “It’s a little scary but also rewarding.”
He described the mural design as “Afro-inspired,” depicting a Black woman who’s a friend and Harrisburg resident, and incorporating themes of African American strength, appreciation for youth, and the importance of education.
Allison Hill Landmark: 1260 Market St.
Beginning Oct. 8, Sprocket will return to Allison Hill to create a landmark mural, on the side of Pizza Boli’s, at the corner of 13th and Market streets, in partnership with corporate sponsor The GIANT Company.
“It’s a massive mural that will be like a beacon, welcoming people at an entrance to the vibrant Allison Hill neighborhood,” Caruso said.
The mural’s scene—children, flowers and color—were among the top themes requested by neighborhood residents. It’s being created by partners Katerina Santos and Juan Travieso, who create art together under the name TRATOS, based in Miami.
“At The GIANT Company, we’re committed to supporting and enhancing our community as we bring our purpose of connecting families for a better future to life, and our sponsorship of this Sprocket project is a symbol of that commitment,” said Aaysha Noor, who leads diversity, equity and inclusion at The GIANT Company. “We look forward to contributing to the beauty of Harrisburg and celebrating the city’s rich culture and diversity through art.”
TRATOS’ artists will lead a paint day with team members from the company contributing their brushstrokes.
The project is located across the street from Capital Area Head Start, site of a previous Sprocket mural project by artist Jacintha Clark that includes floral art covering the windows of a repurposed bank building.
Modern Mural Expands at Millworks: Sayford & 4th streets
A 2019 Harrisburg Mural Festival artist, Brandon Spicer-Crawley of the Philadelphia area, returns to Harrisburg during the second week of October to extend his contemporary mural on the Millworks Lumber Storage Building. Sprocket is proud to provide a platform for this talented and intellectually disabled artist, whose mural is sponsored by Pennsy Supply, Inc.
“Pennsy Supply, Inc. has been in the heart of Central Pennsylvania for 100 years. We believe that art is fundamental to our humanity to inspire us, foster creativity, and bring us all together—regardless of our differences,” said Christina Edgerton, company president. “We’re excited to be a part of supporting Brandon’s artistic journey and we’re proud to sponsor the beautification of the city that Pennsy Supply calls home.”
Several additional murals are being planned with production dates to be determined: Two murals located at Strawberry Square, sponsored by nonprofit real estate development organization and longtime Sprocket supporter Harristown, and a mural at 3rd Street’s Carpets and Draperies Building, where renovations are underway.
The mission of Sprocket Mural Works is to uplift Harrisburg through art. Sprocket Mural Works is a citywide mural project that works with neighborhoods, artists and organizations to create vibrant community murals across Harrisburg, with creative action serving as a catalyst for increased community pride and civic engagement in Harrisburg. The organization’s roots go back to 2014.
For more information, visit sprocketmuralworks.com, @sprocketmuralworks on Instagram and Facebook and @SprocketMurals on Twitter.