A 3-D chalk mural appears in Old City

A 250-square-foot, 3-D sidewalk mural has popped up at Fourth and Market Streets depicting a Google Maps pin and currents of electricity “under” the sidewalk. It was commissioned by Deardorff, a branding studio, to mark its move to Philadelphia from Delaware.

Despite the occasional shower, the artists worked diligently to fill the mural in with 75 different colors of chalk with the help of a tarp. They started before dawn, projecting the design onto the sidewalk and tracing it with white chalk to make sure that the 3-D effect would be captured.

“We really want the mural to show us tapping into the energy of the city,” Wes Richards, associate creative director of Deardorff, said. “We’re trying to electrify the block.”

The mural will be visible for as long as the elements allow. With the drizzle Wednesday, the artists believe it can be seen until noon Thursday.

Camera icon TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer
Artist Alysia Mackenzie does a handstand to stretch as the Deardorff creative team waits through a rain delay that forced them to cover the chalk art.

Richards, who designed the artwork, reached out to Alysia Mackenzie, a graduate of the University of the Arts, to help fine-tune the design. They extended it on a computer and angled it into a grid before taking to the sidewalk. After chalking the design, the two artists began filling it in with a mixture of chalk and paint, adding dimension.

This project, which cost $5,000, was not without its challenges. The damp weather made it hard for the artists to work on the sidewalk for long stretches of time, and they had to take occasional breaks and cover the artwork to prevent it from being ruined.

“Peco showed up this morning, just when we were starting, and told us that they had a permit to dig up this section of the sidewalk,” Richards said. “But after talking to us, they were nice enough to say that they’ll just come back tomorrow. I totally thought we were done after that.”

Jill Deardorff, president and CEO of Deardorff, said that it was important to her to bring something artistic and engaging to the community the firm was moving into.

“People walking by get to see art in the making, and we wanted to mark our new location with the mural,” Deardorff said.

Although no one on the team had completed a chalk mural before, they powered forward with the idea, hoping to complete it by 4 p.m.  Wednesday.

“It’s not easy,” Richards said. “But we’re going to go big or go home.”

Camera icon TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer
Production assistant Josh Dobay works on the “Google Maps” pin image.