Last summer, we joined artist Paul Santoleri and Roxborough and residents for a community painting event that laid the foundation for Watershed, the mural that now overlooks the neighborhood’s newest community green space–Roxborough Pocket Park.
Just in time for Earth Day weekend, Santoleri’s work is finished and will be celebrated with a dedication ceremony at 1 p.m. this Saturday, April 21st. Starting at noon, the “Art Is Life” event also marks the official opening of the park and will feature food trucks, live music, and local artisans.
As sponsors of the mural, we will join Roxborough Development Corporation (RDC) in welcoming Watershed, which draws attention to the green transformation of the once-vacant asphalt lot at 6170 Ridge Ave.
Working alongside Mural Arts Philadelphia and RDC, we commissioned Santoleri–a Roxborough native–to create a piece of art that captured the essence of the new pocket park and the community’s relationship with water. The result was a vibrant blend of history and nature that invites the community and visitors to take a closer look.
Water elements, like the waves and ripples woven into each section of the mural, are reminders of how closely water connects all forms of life. The ball-like mass of water rolling downhill acknowledges Roxborough’s location at the top of a hill. As the divide between the Schuylkill River and Wissahickon Creek, Roxborough feeds into two of Philadelphia’s seven watersheds.
Watershed is located within the Schuylkill watershed. On the opposite side of Ridge Avenue, most of the land drains into the Wissahickon Creek. In addition to Roxborough’s relationship with water, Santoleri pays tribute to the neighborhood’s connection to its past.
The mural includes historic folklore like the Cave of Kelpius, a local cave by the Wissahickon Creek that served as Johannes Kelpuis’ and his followers 1694 escape to wait for the end of the world. The red fox is a nod to those who claim Roxborough got its name from Kelpius’ writings describing the area as “where the fox burrows in the rocks.”
Watershed is also a complement to another exciting feature of the park – its green stormwater infrastructure.
The pocket park contains rain gardens and water-absorbing pavement that capture and filter polluted stormwater runoff before it enters our sewers and waterways. All of the species in the mural – from the red Bee Balm flowers to the red fox – are native to the Schuylkill and Wissahickon watersheds. The red salamander, which stands out thanks to a mosaic of tiles, is featured on PWD’s Wissahickon storm drain markers.
Storm drain markers are a fun reminder that every drain leads to a creek or a river. Philadelphia residents can participate in marking storm drains around their community by ordering a free wildlife marker kit for their specific watershed. You can monitor which drains need marking, check off the drains that you’ve marked, and report damaged or missing markers by using PWD’s storm drain marking app.
We hope to see you on Ridge Avenue!