The Beginnings

The Beginnings


The faded but still proud mural on the wall of the PEPCO substation adjacent to the Marie Reed Community Learning Center was created as a summer youth project under the supervision of the late Allen Carter (“Big Al”), and Ligia Becker, a Columbian artist with ties to Centro de Arte.

Creator’s Gift

Creator’s Gift was the first public mural “east of the river,” painted on the wall of a bakery at Division and Nannie Helen Burroughs Aves., N.E. (then Dean Ave.), in the far-northeast neighborhood of Deanwood (Ward 7). Jerome Wheeler created the massive allegorical piece during the summer before beginning high school at Ellington School for the Arts.

Un Pueblo Sin Murales

Un pueblo sin murales (“A people without murals”) also known as the Adams Morgan Mural or the Riggs Mural, is the oldest piece remaining in place from the beginning phase of the contemporary mural cycle in Washington.


The mural impetus came to fruition at Howard under the leadership of Jeff Donaldson, Ph.D., the artist and scholar who joined the Department of Fine Arts in 1969. Donaldson had been a major participant three years earlier in creating the Wall of Respect in Chicago, the work widely credited with sparking the contemporary public mural cycle.

Fine Arts, Art Music, Drama, Past and Present

This piece by James Padgett was among the first contemporary outdoor murals painted in Washington, D.C., one of several done in the late 1960s and early 1970s in the wake of student protests that shut the campus down. The opportunity to paint socially conscious murals apparently grew out of student demands for a more relevant curriculum.