Skip Navigation

Produced by the Office of Marketing and Communications

Subscribe Now
Arts & Culture

Windows on Local Art

Installation Brightens Empty Storefront on Block Soon to Make Way for New City Hall

By Dan Novak M.Jour. ’20

Woman walking in front of murals in storefront windows

Photos by Chris A. Wright

Six 4-by-8-foot murals sit behind the windows at the old MyCellPhoneRepair location at the corner of Knox Road and Baltimore Avenue, the latest installation by the art collective Living Artists and Co.

What could have been a darkened storefront at the corner of Knox Road and Baltimore Avenue has become a very public canvas for local painters.

The latest installation by the art collective Living Artists and Co. sits behind the windows at the old MyCellPhoneRepair location. The six 4-by-8-foot murals painted on wooden panels together celebrate sustainability and art in the community.  

“Rather than fill the space with a short-term tenant and avoid having a boarded-up storefront, we thought it would make it more interesting and dynamic to add public art for a short-term basis,” said Katherine Gerbes, development manager for the Terrapin Development Company (TDC), a venture supporting the $2 billion revitalization of Greater College Park.

The murals will remain on display until the block is demolished to make way for College Park’s new city hall. The project, a joint venture between the city of College Park and TDC, will have two floors dedicated to City Hall, two floors for UMD office space, ground-floor retail and a large public plaza. 

Living Artists organized the installation in collaboration with the Terrapin Development Company by commissioning the murals.

Murals in windows along Baltimore Avenue“We wanted our artists to connect how the community would be backing up the arts and how the arts would be backing up the community,” said Camila Tapia ’19, who founded the collective.

Tapia, who majored in studio art with a minor in innovation and entrepreneurship, wants to help create a flourishing art scene in Greater College Park, but said few artists understand how to turn their creativity into a profession. 

“Our mission is to provide artists with training, opportunities, and resources in practical business skills so that they may learn how to become more sustainable entrepreneurs,” she said. 

Among the new murals, “Wasteland,” by Hunter Jones, displays a woman sitting atop a discolored Earth, a chunk of it missing. “Wealth,” by Simone Skerritt is an explosion of colors and shapes, in what looks like a warning against an economic system based on consumption. The last two murals, by Boma Tende and Nicole Wandera, are more hopeful, with scenes of an ethereal Mother Earth protecting the planet and, in what could be a nod to Michelangelo’s “The Creation of Adam,” a reach to a portal beyond the physical world. Jones, Skerrit and Tende are UMD students, and Wandera is based out of Virginia. Other artists include Emma Weisbaum and Tapia who together with Living Artists organizer Jasmine Garcia painted one of the panels.

In addition to the pieces on display at the storefront on Knox Road, Living Artists has shown work at the Cambria Hotel and has a monthly series at Vigilante Coffee, both on Baltimore Avenue.  

In a society that often doesn’t prioritize arts funding, Tapia hopes her organization can change that, both by educating artists and engaging with local businesses. 

“We see the arts as being integral to any fully actualized community,” she said. “It’s just another element of culture.”  

Maryland Today is produced by the Office of Marketing and Communications for the University of Maryland community on weekdays during the academic year, except for university holidays.