'Martin Luther King' mural

8. "Martin Luther King" by Kyle Holbrook, Chris Savido and George Gist, Wood Street and Franklin Avenue, Wilkinsburg.

Pittsburgh: City Of Murals

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Out of the 200 murals Kyle Holbrook has painted in Pittsburgh, there is one in his childhood neighborhood of Wilkinsburg that means something special to him.

What was once a high-crime area at the intersection of Wood Street and Franklin Avenue is now an explosion of color that covers five walls. Located in the middle is a gazebo with a floor mosaic, which serves as a place where support groups meet.

Mr. Holbrook wanted to transform and beautify the place, not far from where a few of his childhood friends were killed. Now, he said, it is symbolic of positive change in a community.

With the theme of African-Americans past, present and future, the mural is a mix of familiar faces, including Martin Luther King Jr., Tupac and Malcolm X, but it also includes complex images depicting the pressures of society that warrant more than a glance.

The entire project took three years, during which time Mr. Holbrook also worked on other murals in the city. He and two other lead artists, Chris Savido and George Gist, were helped by 40 young assistants and 15 ex-inmates.

Mr. Holbrook started the mural in 2005 with about $50,000 in grants from Strength Inc. After becoming CEO of the nonprofit MLK Community Mural Project in 2008, he raised about $200,000 for the Wilkinsburg mural. The young painters were paid with grant money, $1,000 each.

This summer, Mr. Holbrook is working on about 18 murals in several neighborhoods around Pittsburgh. He also helped to lead the mural painting at the Point Downtown during the Three Rivers Regatta earlier this month.


First Published August 17, 2013 4:00 AM


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