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June 18, 2024

Mural in Washington Square West will stay despite one disgruntled neighbor's complaints

A community survey spared the installation at Tuck Barre & Yoga from being taken down. It was painted by Ukrainian artist Yuliya Semenova.

Arts & Culture Murals

Ukrainian artist Yuliya Semenova's "Home Is Where We Are" mural will stay on the wall of Tuck Barre & Yoga at Seventh and Rodman streets, Mural Arts Philadelphia said Tuesday. The mural's fate was put in jeopardy by the complaints of one neighbor who doesn't like it.

Backed by popular demand, a colorful mural in Washington Square West will remain for the rest of its planned one-year installation against the wishes of a lone neighbor who lobbied to have it removed.

Mural Arts Philadelphia said Tuesday that Ukrainian artist Yuliya Semenova's "Home Is Where We Are," painted on the wall of Tuck Barre & Yoga at Seventh and Rodman streets, will stay put based on the results of a community survey to address its fate.

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The mural became the subject of a battle on social media when residents learned it could be taken down because of one person's objections to the painting, which is meant to represent the experience of an immigrant whose home country has been ravished by war. After its installation in mid-May, Mural Arts received a string of emails from an unidentified neighbor who disliked what he called the graffiti style of Semenova's work.

In an Instagram post late last month, Tuck Barre & Yoga called for the community to rally behind the mural. The unhappy neighbor "wrote and complained to every city representative he could" to get them on board with removing the mural. Among other objections, the neighbor felt the painting contributed to the "ghetto-ization" of the city, the Instagram post said. The studio mistakenly stated that the decision had already been made to remove the installation, which Mural Arts officials said caused some confusion. 

"Home Is Where We Are" is part of Mural Arts' Small Walls program that highlights the work of artists debuting their first murals in the city. The program supports temporary murals that are rotated in and out of chosen locations.

Mural Arts officials acknowledged last week that the organization's canvassing for the mural had not been thorough enough before the decision was made to install it. Although there had been discussions with Semenova to relocate her work, Mural Arts opted to first provide neighbors with flyers that included a QR code for a survey. Mural Arts didn't share the details about results of the survey and how many people participated. 

Tuck Barre & Yoga celebrated the outcome of the survey on Tuesday afternoon, posting another picture of the mural on Instagram.

"I hope that mean neighbor learns a little namaste from this," one supportive commenter wrote.