In the fall of 1973, Baltimore’s iconic mayor William Donald Schaefer had a “bright” idea. The same man who would pull the Inner Harbor from the sludge of industry to become a tourist destination a decade later wanted to do something about the city’s walls. They were “dull and drab,” he told The Sun at the time. So the “Do It Now” mayor helped secure a $10,000 grant, Sears donated the paint, and the mission to brighten up Baltimore’s neighborhoods was on.
City Paper got together with Open Walls organizer and contemporary street artist Gaia and early aughts-era muralist Ernest Shaw Jr., and took a driving tour through a number of the city’s neighborhoods, looking for Baltimore’s original murals. Read on.