Perry Frank, Ph.D., Project Director, began documenting the outdoor murals of Washington in 1996. She has photographed scores of murals and interviewed artists, sponsors, and neighbors to uncover the rich history and meaning of this treasure trove of public art. Over the years she has organized a number of mural events and presentations. Dr. Frank credits her Ph.D. program in American Studies George Washington University with the inspiration to for this project. A Washington resident since 1973, as president of American Dreams & Associates, Inc., she has written and edited on topics of American culture and public policy for organizations including the Humanities Council of Washington, DC, the United States Information Agency, and the National Capital Planning Commission.

Joanna Baker Capps, Project Associate/Historian, is an M.A. student in history at American University. She brings to the project experience in public history, including use of new media, designing tours, and visual culture. Joanna conducts oral histories and creates captions interpreting the murals and their neighborhoods to the public. She also assists in project management.

Mark A. Thomas, Project Associate/Photographer, a senior at Catholic University, teaches photography for the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission; he is also the founding president of the Catholic University of America Photography Club. Mark has professional level skills and will photograph new murals in their neighborhood contexts. He also manages the team’s social media platforms.

Kelsey Chatlosh, Remote Project Associate, signed on in August of 2013 and has made major contributions to the project. She has acted as a community liaison, adding and managing our social media and serving as project manager for updating the website in 2014. She provided invaluable support for our public events, creating our informational brochures and handling logistics. A graduate of George Washington University with a double major in American Studies and Anthropology, she is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in cultural anthropology at the City University of New York.

Louis Panarale, Project Photographer (Emeritus), joined the team in 2010 to work on our Special 30th Year Anniversary Humanities Council Grant. Lou began his career as a journalist and photographer for United Press International. As Chief of Publications for the Peace Corps in the 1970s, he selected photos of volunteer activity in more than 35 countries. While a reporter for Catholic News Service, he worked on location at the Vatican. Now retired, he has exhibited his photographs in gallery shows and is creating a series of images depicting the Korean War Memorial.

Emilie Udell and Frank Tepper, Project Web Designers and Architects



Haley Clouser, an undergraduate in history at George Mason University, interned on the project during the Fall semester of 2013. She supported our public programs and helped organize the mural archives.

Joanna Capps and Mark Thomas began their work with the team as interns during the summer of 2014.


George Koch has been a force in Washington’s cultural community for more than 40 years. A former DC Arts Commissioner, he founded Artomatic, Inc., an annual cirtywide art show. As part of his long career with the U.S. Department of Labor, he administered 15 case studies documenting public art programs sponsored by the Comprehensive Employment and Training Administration. An artist himself, George has mentored scores of artists and muralists. He is currently the CEO for the Center for the Creative Economy, an organization that seeks to spark enterprise and development within DC’s large and diverse creative community. The Center organizes brown bag lunches and communal breakfasts bringing thought leaders together to exchange ideas and develop a common vision. (See more at the TEDxWDC Video Channel,, with speaker background at

Tara Tappert, Ph.D., is a cultural historian, freelance curator and archivist, and an adjunct professor for various institutions throughout Greater Washington. Her business, Tappert and Associates, Archives, and American Art Consultants, offers research, writing, and collections management services to arts and cultural organizations and to private individuals and families. She received her doctorate in American Studies from George Washington University. Her clients include the Smithsonian Institution, Goucher College, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Williams College, and the Detroit Institute of Art. She is currently a David B. Larson Fellow in Health and Spirituality in the John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress, and is the founder and co-director of a nationally recognized project, The Arts & The Military.



We are especially grateful this year to Emerson Preparatory School, a private academy founded in 1852, for its generosity in allowing us to store and organize our archives in its building at 1324 18th Street, N.W. Over the years the mural documentation project accumulated dozens of cartons of photographs, notes, transcripts, secondary materials, and memorabilia. Emerson’s public service has allowed us to bring some order to this important collection. Many thanks to School Head Jonathan Glick and Forrest Malone, American Studies and Academy Support, for their continuing assistance.



Judith Smith, president of Soleil Associates, Inc., created our original website. She helped articulate our approach to the material and created a dramatic and flexible frame to showcase the murals. Judy was with the project from the start; over the years she created informational brochures and promotions for our events and research. She tirelessly re-sized and re-formatted our photographs, slides, and electronic files, often donating her time. We could not have done the documentation project without her. A prominent DC artist and graphic designer, she founded Soleil Associates in 1979. Her clients include The World Bank, Washingtonian Magazine, and the German Marshall Fund.

Susan Lamont, D.Ed., award-winning artist and former Program Head for Communication Design at Northern Virginia Community College, architect-ed the first edition of the website in 2010.

Dennis Crayon, artist and web architect, took the site to the next level by transitioning the hosting from Dreamweaver to Word Press.

Buck Downs, web content and publishing consultant, kept us on track and uploaded a large volume of material in 2012.

Luke Atkinson, web designer and artist, helped refine our navigation structure and worked with us on our neighborhood context photos.

City Arts, Inc., served as the nonprofit partner for our grants from the DC Humanities Council and the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities from 2012-2014. Founded by acclaimed muralist G. Byron Peck in 1997, City Arts has operated outstanding mural training programs for youth. Byron has been a great friend to the project and continues to assist us.

Many and diverse groups and individuals have come together to support and advise this project. Teresa Grana, MA, Museum Studies, George Washington University, was an inspiration and source of information from the start; she served as an official project advisor for a number of years. The Humanities Council of Washington, DC, and the DC Commission on the Arts and the Humanities have both provided grant funding for the initiative, including development of this website. In particular, Joy Austin, Executive Director of the Humanities Council, has enthusiastically boosted the endeavor and offered practical guidance and advice. We are proud that the Council included our mural site in the Special 30th Year Anniversary grant award presentations of 2010. Jasper Collier, the Council’s Curator of Digital Collections, helped us in creating exhibition files, hosting team meetings, and uploading material. Mark Smith, the Council’s Director of Grants and Special Projects, steered us through the application and reporting process. DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities public art staff, especially Sherry Schwechten, Deirdre Ehlen, and, most recently, Tonya Jordan, have generously shared historical records on the city’s mural programs with the project and assisted us in developing grant applications.

This website dedicated to showcasing the contemporary public murals of Washington could not have been imagined or realized were it not for the team of colleagues who helped launch the documentation in 1997. The Historical Society of Washington, D.C., was our first nonprofit partner, in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Under the guidance of then-director Barbara Franco and former Board Chair/DC historian Kathryn Schneider Smith, the Society was important in validating our concept and providing venues for mural programs.

Susie McFadden-Resper, then a student at American University and now with the DC Government, kept us on track and conducted oral histories. Bruce Preston, a local architect, was the first photographer for the project; he set a very high standard and his work has influenced our approach to the website. Important advisors in the project’s earlier phases include Bernard Mergen, Professor Emeritus, American Studies, George Washington University, as well as Claudine Weatherford and James Deutsch, both graduates of the George Washington University American Studies doctoral program.

We owe special thanks for primary source information on the origins of the mural cycle in the black community to James Phillips, Ph.D., professor of fine arts, Howard University; James Greggs, founder and director of Sign of the Times Cultural Workshop and Gallery in Deanwood; and the late Warren Robbins, founding director of the Smithsonian’s Museum of African Art. For information on Latino influence, in addition to Project Advisor Teresa Grana we relied on Olivia Cadaval, Curator, Division of Folk Life, Smithsonian Institution; muralist Jorge Somarriba; arts administrator Carlos Arrien; Lori Kaplan, Executive Director, Latin American Youth Center; and Marie Moll, Art + Media House Director, Latin American Youth Center. We are also extremely grateful to Mazi Mutafa, Executive Director, Words, Beats & Life, Inc., and Peter Krsko, Executive Director of Albus Cavus, for helping us understand and document the dramatic street art that they have brought to the city.


DC Murals by teslathemes