Competitive Space Built on Common Ground: Specter Center Welcomes New Mural

Artist Scott Albrect in front of the completed mural.

A message of ‘Positive Sportsmanship’ will forever be woven into the Arlen Specter US Squash Center’s eastern entrance, thanks to a collaboration with Mural Arts Philadelphia.

Philadelphia is a city of murals, boasting more than 3,600 throughout the city–the second most murals in any U.S. city only behind Los Angeles. One of the city’s newest murals lines the eastern entrance of the Specter Center, drawing inspiration from the sport of squash, importance of sportsmanship and creation of a new facility.

Mural Arts brought in artist Scott Albrecht–a graduate of the Art Institute of Philadelphia–to envision and paint the piece.

“After meeting with the US Squash team, the sentiment that really resonated and found itself in this piece is competitive space built on common ground,” Albrecht said. “That has a couple meanings. One is the meaning for the sport itself, if you’re playing squash you’re in a confined space and are reliant on your opponent to compete in a meaningful and respectful way. The other meaning is descriptive of this brand new facility, and the idea that a positive foundation makes it a better structure. The important theme of positive sportsmanship really stood out to me compared to other sports and organizations. Within my work I play a lot with abstracted typography, so there’s a message within it that informs all the relationships, and in a way forces the viewer to spend more time with the piece and message because the letter forms are abstracted.”

Mural Arts Philadelphia is the nation’s largest public art program, dedicated to the belief that art ignites change. For over thirty-five years, Mural Arts has united artists and communities through a collaborative process, rooted in the traditions of mural-making, to create art that transforms public spaces and individual lives. Albrecht, who is based in Brooklyn, New York, completed the piece over the course of a week in April.

“Mural Arts Philadelphia have a really big impact on the visual arts community and public works throughout the city,” Albrecht said. “They pair artists with mural opportunities whether it’s outdoor public works on buildings, private building owners, or in this case something indoors with more of a thematic plan. Most murals you see in Philadelphia are going to be tied with Mural Arts in some way. It’s been rad being back in Philadelphia after a challenging year. It’s good to see the city slowly returning to some level of normalcy.”