On the Ave: Urban Canvases

By: Russell Swanson, Exec. Dir., VDID, Main Street Vineland

In an earlier column, I mentioned the trend in towns and cities across the country of putting murals on the walls of downtown buildings. These “urban canvases” reflect the community’s history, culture, and social make-up in a permanent way, as well as giving opportunities to talented artists and to community involvement.

Locally, the latest chapter in this trend is a mural to honor the active members of all five branches of the military, as well as veterans and POWs. We’ve commissioned celebrated artist George Perez—artist and illustrator for more than 40 years—whose works, done in a variety of media and ranging from caricatures, to portraits, landscapes, and murals, have been exhibited throughout the Delaware Valley. You probably read about him in last week’s edition of Follow Local News.

We’ve lined up number of grantees for the project, including the Cumberland County Cultural & Heritage Commission/Department of State, THRIVE South Jersey, BB&T, and Ace Hardware.

Additional money is needed, however, to finish the project, so we’ve created a fundraising campaign that you access at TheAve.biz, where different giving levels are outlined. All donations are appreciated and no donation is too small! This is about involving our community and honoring members and families of our military personnel. 

You are invited to a press conference we’re hosting this Thursday, June 20, at 10 a.m., at the southwest mini-park, in front of where the mural will be painted and where repair work to the wall has been taking place. In case of rain, the conference will occur in Landis MarketPlace, 631 E. Landis Avenue. We’ll roll out the project by introducing the muralist and showing a mock-up of the mural artwork. Also, plan to join us for a formal dedication of the finished mural on Veterans Day, November 11.

The brave men and women of the military will be honored with a highly visible backdrop for one of the iconic parts of The Ave. Since each of the mini-parks at that intersection has a military theme, this is extremely appropriate.

This is just the next chapter in a bigger mural project—our Urban Canvases on The Ave mural project—for which we have some buildings in mind. A mural on the side of the building at 616 E. Landis Avenue was a community project through Appel Farm Arts & Music Center in 2011. We can pick up where we left off. These future murals will be a combination of work by muralists and, like the 2011 mural, community projects. Come on out on Thursday and stay tuned for more “urban canvases.”


There’s still time to register for our first Running The Ave 5K this Sunday, June 23, rain or shine, starting at 9 a.m. We’re partnering with Second Capital Running, with Premier Orthopaedic Associates as major sponsor. Register by going to TheAve.biz, and clicking on the event link. 

Dancers, bands, jugglers, hula hoop dancers, and others are sought to cheer the runners on at stations along the way. The runners will vote for the cheer stations they find the most inspiring. To sign up, log on to  jdaforms.formstack.com/forms/rta_cheer2019.

This summer, Play Streets returns to downtown Vineland on five Fridays—June 28 and July 5, 12, 19, and 26. The first week will be a “pop-up” Play Streets at Roberto Clemente Park, Seventh and Humbert streets. Among the participating organizations are the Vineland Health Department, Vineland Municipal/City of Vineland, Calvary Chapel, Daniel’s Den, Vineland Public Library, and the Vineland Police Department. Sponsorships are available. 

Further sponsorship opportunities are available for all these events. Contact the Main Street Vineland office for more information. Keep watching for more information on these and the Food Truck Festival on The Ave on August 25. n


This is all the more reason to make The Ave your destination for shopping, dining, and entertainment needs. Save money on gasoline, avoid the long lines at the big-box stores, malls, and shopping centers, and take in the rich variety of fun things to do—right in your own backyard.

For more information on Main Street Vineland, call 856-794-8653, visit TheAve.biz or check them out on Facebook. You can also e-mail rswanson@vinelandcity.org.