More Culture:

June 23, 2015

Does gambling addiction mural send mixed messages?

South Philly mural 'Fables of Fortune' to be unveiled July 1

The Arts Murals
FablesofFortune City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program/for PhillyVoice

"Fables of Fortune" mural by Eric Okdeh.

The Mural Arts Program will unveil a new mural Wednesday, July 1 which speaks to the problem of gambling addiction among the city's Asian immigrant communities. The mural, "Fables of Fortune," is located on Wolf Street near 7th Street in South Philadelphia, just a few blocks from a trolleybus route to SugarHouse Casino. 

The mural is a response to the local casinos that were using targeted promotions to attract Asian-American patrons, making the community especially vulnerable to gambling addiction. Riders of the casino-bound trolley will see a message of hope and recovery in the mural's images of families struggling with addiction. At least, that is artist Eric Okdeh's intent.

Before designing the mural, Okdeh met with members of Philly's Asian-American community to discuss their cultural stories of gambling. He also shared his own experiences with a family member who is a problem gambler. The mural, which follows a path of addiction through recognition to recovery, is meant to explain that help is always available for gambling addicts in Philadelphia. 

At least one writer, the author known as Smitty at Barstool Sports Philadelphia, thinks the mural sends the opposite message. He writes, 

That’s supposed to keep people from the tables?  Fat chance.  That damn mural looks wayyy too bright and uplifting for a gambling PSA.  If they want to keep people out of the casino it’s going to have to be a lot darker and degenerate than that.  I’m talking rock bottom.  What’s rock bottom, you ask?  Try riding the Sugarhouse Express at 3am with $24 you just cashed in at the nearest Bottom Dollar Coinstar.
When taking a good look at the mural, passerby will see a strong anti-addiction and pro-recovery message. For instance, the words "denial, awareness, contemplation, motivation, recovery, resilience" are painted below the building's windows. However, it's possible the cheery colors and inviting road paved with money could give passerby the wrong impression at first glance.

Do you think the mural's message is clear? Tell us below in the comments.