BRISTOL BOROUGH >> Another mural is coming to Bristol Borough this spring thanks to Raising the Bar and William Penn Bank.
Throughout the spring, Raising the Bar and Kenneth J. Stephon, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Bank, are slowly rolling out the details via RTB’s Facebook page and a series of two minute interviews.
So far the community has learned that the mural will have a pop art/pop culture theme. They have also learned the identity of the artist who will lead the project.
“A lot of the murals around town celebrate Bristol’s rich history. We wanted to bring a little variety to the process,” said Stephon, of the bank’s choice in themes.
“This is going to be well received,” predicted RTB’s Bill Pezza. “The feedback from our earlier murals is that they were very nice and well received. But also people like pop art. We’re excited to see what you have in store for us.”
Last week Stephon revealed that borough native Tony Napoli artist will be leading the mural project for the Bank.
“We went through a very challenging artist selection process, which was incredibly difficult because there are so many talented artists in the area,” said Stephon.
Napoli recently led a hugely successful mural project in downtown Yardley. Through Experience Yardley, he designed the “Greetings from Yardley” mural, which was painted onto the side of Firehouse Cycles at Buttonwood Plaza.
“I’m very excited to be chosen for this project and very honored,” said Napoli. “I grew up on Wood Street watching my father paint signs. One of the first jobs I helped him with was lettering the Bristol Wharf. I was a very young man. I’m sure he’s going to be watching us do this mural.”
For the project, Napoli will be collaborating with John Ennis, who he calls “an amazing portrait artist,” and also one of his former students and Bristol Borough resident. “I think we’re going to have a very successful project,” he said.
Napoli is retired from the Pennsbury School District where he chaired the art department for many years. For nearly 30 years, he coordinated the renowned Pennsbury Prom, transforming the high school in Fairless Hills every spring into an evening to remember with eye-popping murals and breathtaking displays.
“I’m so thrilled to hear that Tony is the artist for this project,” said Pezza. “His enthusiasm has been infectious. And also it’s great to know that every artist who will be working on this is Bristol-based with Bristol roots.”
The next installment, scheduled to run this week on the Raising the Bar Facebook page, will provide more details and insights into the project itself and more about the artist.
In other Raising the Bar news, after a delay due the the pandemic the 2021 facade improvement project is officially underway in the borough.
In 2020, RTB and the Redevelopment Authority of Bucks County were awarded an unprecedented third round of commercial district facade grants through the Keystone Communities program, which is administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development.
The pandemic put the projects on hold for a year, but now work has begun in earnest, announced Councilman Michael Gorman.
It is anticipated that the $50,000 grant will allow 10 to 12 properties in the borough’s commercial district to be renovated, bringing to more than 30 since the program began.
“These projects will better the lives of thousands of Pennsylvanians through infrastructure, beautification, and quality of life improvements in cities and towns across Pennsylvania,” said Gov. Tom Wolf in announcing the grants last year. “These projects complement the priorities set forth by the administration to improve infrastructure and communities across the commonwealth.”
The Keystone Communities program is designed to support local initiatives that grow and stabilize neighborhoods and communities, foster effective public-private partnerships, and enhance the overall quality of life for residents.
“Supporting initiatives that encourage revitalization and business development in our communities is critically important to the economic prosperity of Pennsylvania,” said DCED Secretary Dennis Davin. “The Keystone Communities program is so vital to improving people’s lives, pushing our business sector forward, and growing Pennsylvania’s economy.”