Loyola Magazine

Bmore Birds

Community murals beautify York Road corridor

Members of the York Road and Govanstowne communities gathered on a sunny August afternoon to make their artistic mark on the facade of Loyola’s public safety and transportation building at 5104 York Rd., as the first mural of the York Road Mural Initiative came to life.

The project, called Bmore Birds, will appear along the York Road corridor between 43rd Street and Glenwood Avenue.

The murals will feature birds native to Baltimore, a subject chosen by community stakeholders—including the York Road Partnership and Govanstowne Business Association—for their connection to the local environment, their inclusiveness, and their universality.

All six murals have been designed by community artist and Maryland Institute College of Art graduate Iandry Randriamandroso, whose work appears in public art spaces across the country. Originally from Madagascar, Iandry Randriamandroso has lived in Baltimore since 2008.

“The pre-defined vision of this project was to beautify the York Road corridor with public art works. But my hope is that the project will also engage and educate people who live in or visit the corridor about native birds living in the local area,” the artist said.

“Birds play an important role in maintaining balances in our ecosystem. They add enjoyment to our lives with their beauty both in plumage colors and distinct songs. In ever-changing urban landscapes, they represent adaptation, resilience, and the continuation of life,” Randriamandroso explained.

The three-panel mural on Loyola’s property features a dove, a symbol of the Holy Spirit and of peace and a nod to the University’s Catholic nature, the artist said. The colors are also inspired by the liturgy: red symbolizes fire and blood; purple symbolizes humility and renewal; and yellow represents victory and joy.

A part of streetscaping efforts in the Govanstowne community in north Baltimore City, the initiative is funded by the Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts, the Govanstowne Business Association, and Loyola, which funded the mural on its building.

Randriamandroso’s second and third murals feature a blue jay and a black and white warbler on the facade of Academy Cleaners, located at 5219 York Rd., and an Oriole on the south-facing side of Riley’s Beauty Salon of 4333 York Rd.

Erin O’Keefe, ’03, director of the York Road Initiative, said she thinks the project will allow folks to see York Road differently than they have in the past.

Community members believe the murals will brighten the area and that the project is a good thing for adults and children in the neighborhood to be involved in. “This area looks better now than it has in years, and these murals give it some color and let people put a positive, colorful mark on it, “said a resident of Guilford, a neighboring community.

Randriamandroso said he hopes the project gives an identity to the area and attracts people to pay attention to the potential that the York Road Corridor has.

“The goal is to bring people from the neighborhood together to do this painting,” he said.

Photos by Brigid Hamilton.