Does progress on the development front mean that more iconic D.C. images are on their way out? This morning, U Street Girl reports that Douglas Development’s planned 30-unit apartment building on the empty Latino Auto Sales property will obscure the Black Family Reunion mural by G. Byron Peck at 14th and Florida.
Most D.C. residents should be familiar with Peck’s style, as his public murals decorate urban walls around the city. In an interview of the artist in 1997, he estimated that his paintings graced over 300,000 square feet of District space. And that number has only increased over the past 14 years. Perhaps most famous is his Duke Ellington portrait on U Street, which was produced with student painters hired under the city’s summer job programs.
As the ideal spot for urban street art is the side of a neighborless building, the development of empty lots always has the potential to obscure them permanently. In 2002, another Peck mural in Thomas Circle was lost when a luxury apartment building went up next door. The image of Fredrick Douglass, which originally adorned the wall of a now defunct boutique hotel at 12th near Massachsetts, NW, can only now be viewed through the teeny space between the two properties.
Peck painted Black Family Reunion in honor of the annual DC event. All of the pictures on the mural are reproductions of Peck’s friend’s family photos which had been stored in an old shoebox. The people depict multiple generations of one family whose roots go back over 100 years in D.C.
Peck has been approached by Douglas Development to design a new mural for the south side of the new construction.
Here are some more Peck murals from around the city: