Philadelphia is honoring music star Lil Nas X with a mural.
Did you know that Philly is the unofficial mural capital of the world? This is because in the last 30 years, Mural Arts, a nonprofit that started as an anti-graffiti initiative, has supported art citywide. In fact, Mural Arts Philadelphia is the nation’s largest public art program. It has engaged with artists and neighborhoods/communities to create nearly 4,000 artworks in the past three decades. And now, a mural of Lil Nas X has joined the list.
Chart-topping artist Lil Nas X has had a truly successful past few years. After his record-breaking song “Old Town Road” was all said in done, there was concern that Nas would be unable to reach similar success again. But, he’s so far proved the fear wrong, as “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)” has become another juggernaut hit. Lil Nas X has stabilized himself as a celebrity artist, and Philadelphia took note.
A 36-foot-tall mural outside the Writer’s Block Rehab bar in Philadelphia’s Gayborhood was created over the past few weeks. The three-story mural is mirrored after Lil Nas X’s iconic looks from the popular and controversial music video to “Montero (Call Me By Your Name).” It also carries a soothing cool color palette full of blues, purples, and soft pinks.
But it wasn’t Mural Arts that initially pushed for this project. Instead, it was Ram Krishnan. Krishnan is the owner of the Writer’s Block Rehab bar, and he commissioned artist Ash Ryan to create the piece.
As Krishnan told Variety, “Three years back, we painted a mural on one side of the bar featuring Alain Locke, the great Harlem Renaissance leader, who also happened to be queer.”
He then added, “One hundred years after Rock’s time, I wanted another mural of someone who had made an equal name for himself in Black gay culture — someone who meant something to our community. As we looked at characters in today’s media with similar import, Lil Nas X revealed himself as that artist, one who is living his best self, was also an innovator, and an artist who best represented Black culture and queer culture.”