A New Mural Rising to Honor John Coltrane

Sep 12, 2017

A 12-year-old mural of John Coltrane near his North Philadelphia house was destroyed in 2014 to make way for real estate development. WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports on a new mural now rising just blocks away, restoring the jazz giant to his old neighborhood.

I wanted the mural to reflect his humanity, more than anything else.- Ernel Martinez

Radio script:

Music: Coltrane, My Favorite Things

Susan Lewis: Coltrane bought a home on North 33rd street in 1952, when the area was populated by jazz clubs. A mural created in 2002 by John Lewis showed a contemplative Coltrane in front of dreamy blue images of his house and music-making. It was beloved, and mourned when it disappeared.

The original John Coltrane mural, designed by artist John Lewis, was created in 2002.

Jane Golden: When the mural went away, there were people who reached out to me, scholars from Los Angeles, Chicago. There was a universal outcry.

SL: Mural Arts Executive Director Jane Golden partnered with the developer to raise funds for a new mural at 29th and Diamond. Artist Ernel Martinez built on the original composition, with background images depicting the neighborhood outside, and in the clubs.

Music: Coltrane, Giant Steps

Ernel Martinez: I wanted it to be rich and vibrant, similar to his music, but also layered and complex.

SL: Martinez used bold colors to depict a confident Coltrane with his shining sax, his figure looming large in the warm light of a setting sun.

When the mural went away, there were people who reached out to me, scholars from Los Angeles, Chicago. There was a universal outcry.-Jane Golden

EM: I wanted the mural to reflect his humanity, more than anything else: his eyes, the love of this music and his instrument. I wanted to evoke that warmth, that emotion, that glow you get through his music in the mural.

Music: Coltrane, My Favorite Things

SL: The mural also depicts a historical marker telling Coltrane’s story. Pictures and words—conjuring timeless music and the man who made it, and who for a time called this neighborhood home.  

Check out all of our amazing content about John Coltrane at the bottom of this post!