Gannon University: Purposeful Placemaking, first mural unveiled along Safer Walking Route to School

Erie Arts & Culture, United Way of Erie County, Our West Bayfront and supporters and community members from the Gannon and Erie communities gathered at the site of the first completed mural in the Purposeful Placemaking project along Strong Vincent Middle School’s Safer Walking Route to School.

Launched in 2020, United Way’s Safer Walking Routes to School initiative aims to ensure our students have a hazard free way to get to school. This effort is being implemented thanks to a Shaping Tomorrow grant from the Erie Community Foundation, Lake Effect Leaders, and the work of Gannon University’s GIS students who worked to photograph, document and map the safest routes for students to walk to school, in partnership with the City of Erie, Erie’s Public Schools and members of the Blue Coats initiative. Read more and see the routes.
Miami-based artist Nicole Salgar completed the first mural in the series planned assisted by a team of Erie-based artist assistants including Sarah Howard, Raina Harden, Katherine Peters and Precious Thompson, with the eventual shared goal of 50 murals completed along the Safer Walking Routes to School.

Learn more about Gannon’s work with the Safer Walking Routes to School and follow along on social media for much more. See photos of the entire project from United Way of Erie County on Facebook.

More from United Way of Erie County and Erie Arts & Culture:

Erie Arts & Culture has made efforts to be more strategic in the approach to future mural initiatives. With that in mind, the partnership with United Way and other partners involved in the Community Schools Model resulted in conversations to strategically locate murals along the identified Safer Walking Routes.

“So many members of the community have stopped by as the mural takes shape. It’s fulfilling and uplifting to hear neighbors talk about how much they love the addition of color and how incredibly happy they are that their neighborhood was selected to receive this mural,” said Patrick Fisher, Erie Arts & Culture executive director.

What’s next: additional artists slated to be a part of the Purposeful Placemaking project planned for this summer include Emily Ding painting the Remnant Store along Pfeiffer-Burleigh Elementary’s route from July 17-24. Emily will be assisted by Erie residents Cally Paparelli and Doug Bailey. Ana Balcazar will paint Curry Point from July 22 through August 5. Her four assistants will be Calie Maloney, Precious Thompson, Raina Harden and Jamarion Hobson. Curry Point is also along the Pfeiffer Burleigh Elementary route. Several Erie-based artists including Antonio Howard will also be starting their murals towards the end of July. Howard plans to paint Atkinson’s Barber Shop along McKinley Elementary’s route from July 25 through August 8. o Alex Ann Allen will paint 801 East Avenue August 20-30. This property is owned by Johnson Real Estate Properties. Alex’s assistants will be Jessica Borcher and Bella Fried.