In 2011, in the height of our recent depression, I found myself in the position to buy a house. I knew I wanted to live in a small town—somewhere within walking distance to restaurants, coffee shops and parks. After a long day of disappointing house hunting my realtor suggested we look at one more home on the “north side” of Phoenixville. Immediately I was on edge by the negative connotation that the “north side” implied. However, I was interested in seeing the full gamut of homes so I agreed to see it. I had a particular set of expectations for my home, something with high ceilings and preferably a lot of space that was somehow affordable for a single woman in her twenties. This home was half of a double, brick and built in 1900. As soon as I stepped inside I was flooded with positive thoughts about the space but when I climbed up to the third floor to find two unfinished rooms with workspaces and bookshelves already built in I knew this was where I belonged.
During the process of putting in my offer I received a lot of negative feedback about the area. I drove around the neighborhood at all times of the day to see how I felt. I spoke with the neighbors and walked through the town. I found the more I came to visit the more I fell in love. At any moment I could have allowed the negative comments to affect my decision to move here but instead I followed my heart. In the process I’ve met so many interesting individuals. I feel that Phoenixville, especially the north side, is very eclectic. I’m more inspired as an artist than I’ve ever been in my life. I feel strongly that I owe it to this house, more specifically the north side, and the people I’ve met since living here. When you judge someone or something prematurely you deprive yourself of the opportunity to love that person or thing.
I’ve grown to appreciate my neighborhood for all of its idiosyncrasies—beautiful and quirky. I’m also proud to be a resident of the “north side”—despite what some people may feel. It was through this realization that I was inspired to give back to the community. I contacted the Beautification Advisory Commission for The Borough of Phoenixville to see how I might be able to get involved artistically. I never would have guessed they would ask me to participate in a mural project that was located on the north side, just a quarter mile from my home. The mural, an ornate depiction of a phoenix, can be found on Route 113 as you are heading north out of town.
A big thank you to Lou Beccaria, the head of the Beautification Advisory Commission and a prominent member of the Phoenixville community, for allowing me to meet with the committee and discuss my ideas; Jeanne McNamara for all of her work to secure the location for the mural, for gathering volunteers from Villa Maria Academy, and spending the time to paint the mural alongside me; and finally Kimberton Whole Foods for purchasing the supplies to make this project possible.