Saying it by spraying it: In Strip District, a Marvel-ous new mural rises

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You can’t miss it: If you’re heading toward Downtown on Penn Avenue, an explosive 20-by-50-foot battle in bright colors is now raging between the Incredible Hulk and Wolverine (and do we detect a hint of Ghost Rider?) just before the 31st St. Bridge.

Street artists and Pittsburgh natives Jeremy Raymer and Matt Gondek debuted the new collaborative mural in the Strip District on Tuesday. It shows each of these iconic characters rendered in the artists’ respective styles.

This freshly painted mural lines one side of the newly opened Heirloom Superfood Market.

While Pittsburgh-based Raymer and Pittsburgh-born Gondek (who is currently based in Los Angeles), have several murals around the city, the new work is a rare, purely creative work for the duo.

Artist Matt Gondek at work on his collaboration with Jeremy Raymer.  Photo by Tracy Certo.

When a previously planned commission for the two artists fell through earlier this week, they decided to follow through with a project elsewhere. “This wall came available in a matter of 24 hours,” Raymer says, and the concept quickly came together.

According to PGHmurals.com, there are more than 370 public murals located in the greater Pittsburgh area, dozens of which have only gone up in the last several years. Among the most recent is Raymer’s depiction of Roberto Clemente.

“I’ve been doing it here for five years now and demand is definitely increasing … especially the last two years,” says Raymer. “It’s been surprising me.”

According to the two artists, the surge in interest is being driven by both community groups and local businesses that want a quick way to beautify their neighborhoods. That, and booming social media groups dedicated to street art, make it a “great time to be an artist.”

“So many cities want that little cool part of town that’s hip and trendy. And so many of these people are realizing that the most inexpensive way to bring that vibe is to have muralists or street art,” said Gondek. “I’ve been gone about five years and just the transformation from then till now as an artist is incredible.”

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