As rush-hour traffic presses through the intersection of 18th and Market in Philadelphia, the street artist MOMO peers over the side of scaffolding, several stories up. It looks like a construction site, but a banner on the scaffolding, along a windowless facade of a Sonesta hotel, says Mural Arts. Wearing a neon orange hat and a harness over his paint-covered clothing, MOMO slides down a metal ladder. At street level, he meets the project manager, who is dropping off some paint. They can only afford a few seconds together, as her car is holding up traffic.

MOMO will add that paint to a 22-story mural he’s creating for “Open Source,” a month long outdoor exhibition organized by the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program. The mural will be the largest MOMO has ever completed and the tallest Mural Arts has overseen since its roots started, back in 1984. The public-private Mural Arts has grown from a humble city initiative to a Philadelphia mainstay, with some 2,000 works currently on view and people calling in from around the world to learn how to run similar programs.

The Mural Arts Program is a Ballard Spahr pro bono client.

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