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Photo credit: Alec Smith

Free Paint is a series of free community painting events in public spaces. Participants are invited to paint freely and learn about color relationships and mark-making while creating a large-scale collaborative painting. 

 

The material produced during Free Paint events is re-worked into new compositions by lead artist, Mat Tomezsko. The resulting artwork is entirely collaborative and bears the mark of the community who made it. When the final compositions are publicly exhibited, all participants are credited on the wall label. 

 

Designed to be as accessible as possible, everyone is welcome to participate. No prior knowledge or experience is necessary. By using methods and materials that are entirely familiar and readily at the fingertips of participants, the work is intended to democratize art, empower, and remove barriers to understanding and appreciation. 


Free Paint events were developed by artist Mat Tomezsko during a community-based artist residency at the Tacony LAB through the Mural Arts Philadelphia in 2017. The first events took place in 2019 in high-traffic public spaces like Spruce Street Harbor Park and the Ben Franklin Parkway. In 2020, during the Covid-19 pandemic, a socially distanced Free Paint provided connection at a time of isolation. The collaborative element became more heightened and participants provided thoughtful and heartfelt contributions. 

Community partners have included the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation, the City of Philadelphia Parks Department, the Barnes Foundation, the Fairmount Park Conservancy, Manayunk Development Corporation, Blick Art Supplies, and the Golden Seconds Program.

 

Final compositions have been exhibited at Cherry Street Pier and Wexler Gallery. The 2020 collaboration was installed as a series of 10 small murals outside Pretzel Park in Manayunk. 

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Participants painting at ​Free Paint​ events at Spruce Street Harbor Park  5/11/2019, 

and Ben Franklin Parkway 8/3/2019 

 

Photo credit: Alec Smith

Free Paint Composition 5/11/2019, acrylic and paper, repurposed material from community paint event, 48" x 48", 2019

Image by KeneK photography courtesy of Wexler Gallery

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Free Paint Composition 8/3/2019, acrylic and paper, repurposed material from community paint event, 24" x 36", 2019

Image by KeneK photography courtesy of Wexler Gallery

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This composition is made entirely from community paintings produced during

Free Paint on the Ben Franklin Parkway in partnership with Philadelphia Parks Dept., The Oval+,  and the Barnes Foundation on Saturday, August 3, 2019. Tomezsko was invited to take a tour of the collection to inspire the color palette for the event. He chose Blue Still Life by Henri Matisse (pictured left).

Free Paint Composition 5/11/2019 (2), acrylic and paper on panel, 20" x 16", 2020

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Free Paint Murals, acrylic and parachute cloth on columns, 132" x 26" each (10 total), 2020

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