Mural Arts gets more than 1,000 responses on Rizzo mural's future

Hundreds of people have spoken up about what they think should happen to the controversial mural paying homage to former Mayor Frank L. Rizzo in the Italian Market.

Wednesday is the last day for people to submit their input to Philadelphia Mural Arts Advocates, which began soliciting ideas for the artwork’s future earlier this month. Options on the form include keeping the mural, altering it, replacing it, or removing it. There is also an open-ended option.

Mural Arts had received more than 1,200 responses as of Wednesday morning. Cari Feiler Bender, a spokeswoman for the organization, said the group couldn’t release information on the results thus far.

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But Mural Arts won’t make the final call on what will happen. The ultimate decision is in the hands of the building owner — David Neukirch — who previously said he wanted nothing to do with the situation. Mural Arts Advocates is still on track to give its recommendation to Neukirch by the end of April, Feiler Bender said.

The mural was commissioned in 1995 and painted by Diane Keller, according to Mural Arts.

Serious discussion on what should happen to the mural along the 900 block of South Ninth Street, as well as the 2,000-pound bronze statue of Rizzo outside the Municipal Services Building, began in late summer after a violent rally in Charlottesville, Va., sparked a national conversation about monuments. Rizzo, also a former police commissioner, served as mayor from 1972 until 1980. His reputation for many was that he was tough on crime at the expense of race relations.

In a similar move, the city also fielded recommendations for the statue’s future. The city received about 3,600 responses that ranged from using the statue as scrap metal to leaving it where it stands.

The ultimate decision on the statue is expected to come from the city’s Art Commission.

Those interested have until 5 p.m. Wednesday to submit an idea to Mural Arts.