Penn Street Bridge gets community makeover

Jason Addy
York Dispatch

A group of local artists shut down a portion of North Penn Street on Saturday, July 29, to celebrate the launch of a new public art “gallery” in York City.

Jimmy Purkey, co-founder of the UpCollective, sprays paint on a Pennsylvania Dutch distelfink at the Penn Street Art Bridge Block Party Saturday, July 29, 2017. The York Time Bank hosted the block party at North Penn and Smyser streets to kick off the Penn Street Art Bridge project. Bill Kalina photo

The York Time Bank hosted a block party from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m., at North Penn and Smyser streets to kick off the Penn Street Art Bridge project. 

North Penn Street between the bridge and Smyser Street closed from noon to 8 p.m., according to a news release. 

By allowing residents to create their own art on the bridge as part of a “community makeover,” project organizers said they hoped to turn an unsightly bridge into a point of pride for the neighborhood.

“The York Time Bank is establishing the Penn Street Art Bridge to transform an ongoing offensive graffiti issue into a community asset by cultivating a space where budding urban artists are able to develop and display their craft in a legal and more positive and artistically rigorous environment,” the project’s mission statement reads.

Jimmy Purkey and Copper James, founders of the UpCollective, christened the new “art bridge” by painting a Pennsylvania Dutch distelfink “with street-art flair,” while others joined in on two family-friendly collaborative murals, according to a news release.

Dickey’s Barbecue Pit was on hand, giving away sandwiches.

The York Time Bank coordinated with local artists and art collectives to oversee the first weeks of the Penn Street Art Bridge, but eventually, the bridge will become a self-directed art space with limited oversight, the news release states.

The art bridge gallery was inspired by similar “Graffiti Alley” art spaces in Baltimore, Toronto, San Francisco and other cultural hubs, according to the project’s website.

More information about the Penn Street Art Bridge and block party can be found on the project’s website, www.pennstreetartbridge.com.