Craig Turner was one of the original six members of the Mural Arts Program staff.
My interest in Craig’s work was sparked a recent weekend afternoon when I stumbled, and I do mean stumbled upon a small garage sale type set-up on the sidewalk, down on Cresson St behind Main in Manayunk. Some of the contents of the sale caught my eye immediately. Beyond the overflowing crates of vinyl, and two expensive antique-looking train sets. There were posters, an abundance of prints, and other works on paper of what was clearly some original professional art work. After approaching and beginning to have a closer look at the works one of the two gentlemen hosting approached and introduced himself as a brother of late mural arts pioneer Craig Turner, as I was showing interest in the art. The younger sibling sorted out the originals from the prints and priced the available merchandise as he told me more about Craig Turner.
After graduating from Matbaum in 92’ Turner pursued his adolescent passion of drawing and painting with a scholarship he earned to the Arts Institute of Philadelphia. Once completing some additional academic ventures at CCP, Turner was hired by the Philadelphia Anti-Graffiti Network.
After hanging out a bit and checking out the organic industrial style and imagination of some of Craig Turner’s work I vowed to return and make a purchase. I was feeling somewhat cheap after looking at so much of the work and then passing on my initial discovery, so I elected to buy some of the water ice the Turner camp was also selling. I began to have suspicions that the ice was purchased very close to the Cresson St location where they had set up, and was not going to get a deal. But the generously doubled capacity of the 8 ounce cups they were using to serve (for just one dollar!) was a good sign that I had wandered upon an opportunity greater than the water ice.
I was already compelled to make a purchase after meeting Craig’s younger sibling and seeing some of his works. Then after researching Mr. Turner further I was inspired to see his personal quest to improve the visual landscape of the city. With just a small amount of research, coupled with the drawings I saw, it was clear that Turner had simple philanthropic visions and aspirations that he was able to fulfill through the Mural Arts program.
Turner worked on many of the thousands of Mural Arts murals around the city as well as being apart of the creation of the actual content of several of the murals. The following weekend after discovering the sale I returned and bought one of the prints. I also went for more of the water ice. It’s been a couple of weekend talented individual who was a big part of the beauty, pride and enjoyment that the mural arts program has brought to Philadelphia and its residents. I will cherish my Turner piece for years to come as one of the favorites in my personal collection of local artist.
R.I.P. Craig Andre Turner August 26, 1970 – September 1, 2011