June 07, 2018
Just last week plans for a Will Smith mural in West Philadelphia – which, somehow, did not exist already – were revealed, and now we have a complete view of the 65-foot artwork honoring the Fresh Prince.
The artist, London-based Richard Wilson, told 6ABC he had long wanted to do a mural of the Philadelphia-native actor and rapper, presumably finding a canvas somewhere in West Philly, because, well, you know the song.
With some help from Google Maps, Wilson found a location for the mural – a warehouse not far from the Global Leadership Academy Charter School at 45th Street and Girard Avenue – and connected with Mural Arts Philadelphia to make it happen.
Though Smith served as Wilson's original inspiration, when it came to actually completing the work, he looked toward President Barack Obama, and his portraitist Kehinde Wiley, to compose the artwork.
Rather than depicting Smith straight out of a 1994 "Fresh Prince" episode, Wilson chose to show Smith seated in a wooden chair and wearing a clean suit (paired with Air Jordans) – sitting not unlike President Obama is in his National Portrait Gallery depiction, below.
Presenting the #ObamaPortraits: President @BarackObama’s portrait by @kehindewileyart and Mrs. @MichelleObama’s portrait by Amy Sherald.— Smithsonian (@smithsonian) February 12, 2018
Both will be on view starting tomorrow at our @NPG. About the artists: https://t.co/ed4LlI52Od #myNPG pic.twitter.com/Q3K9C5F7yI
To make the connection between the two portraits even clearer, Wilson added some leaf motifs for good measure. The mural took 12 days to complete.
Much of the portrait's progress has been shared on social media, including Wilson's Instagram. Take a look at the completed product below.
The Will Smith Mural is almost done 45th and Girard. #WestPhilly #philly.com #WillSmith #muralarts pic.twitter.com/BB9sMIP0m2— Patty Jackson (@MsPattyJackson) June 2, 2018
Will Smith is wearing Jordan 3's on his West Philly mural pic.twitter.com/7UkFc5CqVX— Joe Trinacria (@jtrinacria) June 6, 2018
Almost done!! The mural of Will Smith in West Philly is looking great! We’ll talk with the artist live at 9:30a. @FOX29philly pic.twitter.com/FHpZBbl3XT— Thomas Drayton (@thomasdrayton) June 6, 2018
This is the first mural solely dedicated to Smith in Philadelphia, though there is one smaller mural, painted in 2012 on a column at the 46th Street stop of the Market-Frankford Line, that depicts Smith and other noted West Philly natives, including Joe Frazier and Judith Jamison.
School officials are reaching out to Smith to coordinate a visit in the next few months, CBS3 reported.