By George Kevin Jordan, AFRO Staff Writer
The District of Columbia is known for many things: politics, Go-go, cuisine and culture. On historic U Street, public art is also another staple of the community and one of the District’s most important pieces of art is being returned to its rightful place.
The Duke Ellington mural, which was on the historic True Reformer Building– which was constructed for the True Reformers, an African American organization- has been the talk of the District for years.
The staple former Duke Ellington mural on the side of the True Reformer Building is set to make a return to the U Street corridor. (Courtesy Photo)
Alise Marshall, director of Strategy and New Ventures with the Public Welfare Foundation, which is housed in the True Reformer Building, gave this statement to the AFRO:
“Public Welfare Foundation has been working in coordination with D.C.’s Commission on the Arts & Humanities on the restoration of the Duke Ellington mural and we are eager to welcome the piece back to its home at the historic True Reformer Building in the heartbeat of the U Street Corridor. We are targeting a Spring 2019 return, but this all depends on having the necessary weather conditions. We share the community’s excitement and anticipation for the Duke’s return to U Street.”
The return of the Ellington mural is almost as legendary as the art itself.
On Thursday, May 31, 2012 the D.C. Commission on Arts and Humanities offered this statement.
“Two weeks ago, the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities took the first steps in restoring the famous G. Byron Peck / City Arts mural of Duke Ellington on the True Reformer Building (1200 U Street, NW) to its original condition.
“The artwork, which was painted on cement panels, was taken down due to elemental decay over the last eight years,” the statement said.
Referring to the mural “an iconic artwork in Washington,” the statement explained that the mural was a U street staple and that Commission on Arts and Himanities would be working diligently, “to ensure that the mural is returned to the community in its original conidtion.
According to the statement, the mural was originally created and installed on the side of Mood Indigo, an antique vintage and clothing shop at 12th and U Streets Northwest in 1997 and then relocated to the True Reformer Building in 2004.
In 2013 Popville reported that a restoration was not likely but that a replica would be the best option and plans were underway for the completion to coincide with Ellington’s birthday sometime in April of 2014.
The original artist G. Bryon Peck the founder of CityArtsDC wrote about his experience of creating the piece om the National Endowments for the Arts Art Works Blog. In the blog entry he discussed his initial conversation with the owner of Mood Indigo. He spoke about the process of working with several artists and students over a six week period to create the piece.
Peck’s other murals are sprinkled all over the city from the Liz Taylor piece at 1600 7th Street, N.W. to the Dunbar Mural at 1507 9th Street NW.
It is yet unclear if Peck will be working on the new project. Both Peck and a representative from the DCCAH could not be reached at press time.