Philadelphia's Mural Arts Program has teamed up with German artist Katharina Grosse to make Amtrak's journey through Philadelphia a little less bleak. Grosse has been legally tagging the line's corridor with a project called "psychylustro" thanks to $291,978 in contributions from various organizations including Amtrak itself.
It's an interesting enough idea. Amtrak's northeast corridor winds through some of the nation's most unsightly slums and industrial arteries. And it's high time that the Mural Arts Program ventures into new territories while revisiting their original vision: transforming blight through art.
But still, much like the Favela paintings of Brazil or similar efforts along Germantown Avenue's abandoned storefronts, "psycholustro" is art speak for hiding blight by jingling a set of shiny keys. People don't avoid Amtrak because of the view, they avoid it because of the cost.
Were Grosse's paintings to be maintained with the same level of effort that maintains the murals throughout the city, it might be worth the nearly $300,000 investment. But the paintings will not be applied with the same standard as other murals throughout the city, and after six months they'll be left to the elements. Perhaps if the Mural Arts Program pairs the exhibit with information about the city's huge collection of public murals, it may attract a bit of attention from passengers incidentally paying attention to the view.