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Fundraising underway for new mural in Scranton

The Office Mural
Scranton Tomorrow
Scranton Tomorrow
Rendering of The Office mural set to be painted in downtown Scranton

Within the next year, fans of The Office will have another landmark in Scranton to visit. Scranton Tomorrow has plans for a large-scale mural featuring 17 The Office cast members.

Editor's note: A portrait of Steve Carell, who played Michael Scott for seven of The Office's nine seasons, will also be included in the mural. In an earlier version of the story, WVIA reported he would not be featured.

Within the next year visitors to Scranton will be able to stop for a photo with Jim, Pam and Dwight.

Scranton Tomorrow is fundraising to create a 30-foot-high and 120-foot-long mural dedicated to The Office. The popular television show set in Scranton aired on NBC from 2005 to 2013.

The mural slated for the eastern wall of 503 Lackawanna Avenue will be painted by West Philadelphia-based artist Kala Hagopian. The 3,600-square-foot mural will feature realistic black and white portraits of 17 of the show’s characters. Memorable quotes from the show like “Bears, beets and Battlestar Galactica” will be inscribed in the mural. It will also feature painted images like a Dwight bobblehead and a soft pretzel in pastel rainbow blocks behind the portraits. The Electric City sign will be featured prominently in the center of the artwork.

Rose Randazzo Pizzuto is chair of the Scranton Mural Arts Program for Scranton Tomorrow. The nonprofit is the city’s economic development organization. Around a year ago, Pizzuto contacted NBC Peacock to ask for the rights to create the mural. The company received approval from the 17 actors including John Krasinski, Rainn Wilson, Ed Helms and Mindy Kaling, who will be featured to use their images.

“We wanted the full endorsement of NBC Peacock, we didn't just want this to be street art, but really faithful to the TV show because of its popularity and how it reflects on the city," said Steve Ward, Scranton Tomorrow’s team leader for safe, clean and green design programs. "So it's probably been over a year process to work through all this.”

The mural is called "The Story of Us: The Office’s relationship with Scranton." It’s a play on the last episode of The Office, said Ward. Pam, played by Jenna Fischer who will appear on the artwork, paints a mural in the paper company’s warehouse of the employees' time together.

“History implies that it's an event in the past. But a story is something that's continual...the city and the TV show...are integral and continue to grow in popularity," Ward said. "There really is no end to our story with The Office.”

The mural is set to cost more than $85,000. Scranton Tomorrow is crowdfunding online at Indiegogo. That total does not include the donated wall by D&D Realty, who own the Lackawanna Avenue building. The developers will prepare the wall for painting and will light the mural once it’s finished.

Pizzuto helped start the mural arts program in Pittston. She has been working with artists for 15 years and knew of Hagopian’s work as a “fine-art muralist.”

"This particular mural needed someone who could paint the characters as if they were photographed. And that's a very difficult thing to do," said Pizzuto. "So she brought together the combination we needed to pull this off."

Pizzuto said Scranton’s connection to The Office is a multi-million dollar asset to the region.

"It needs to be taken seriously, whether you watch it, you like it, you don't like it," she said "It's an economic force in Scranton, and it's known all over the world as connected to Scranton.”

Ward said Scranton should be proud that, of all the cities in the country, the show's creators chose Scranton.

"It's not average by any means. But it is a middle class, midsize city that you can you can relate to it, no matter where you are," he said.

Ward added that the actual cast is also relatable.

"That's the charm because no matter what level you are in life, you can relate to either the location, or the cast of characters," he said.

Pizzuto hopes that the mural will be the beginning of bringing other The Office related programs to Scranton like The Office experience. The tour is headed to Washington, D.C., and features set recreations, original show costumes and props.

She said that while the mural is getting a lot of corporate donations what they really want is for the funding to be fan driven.

“We need the fans here, we need the fans across the country to say we want this," she said.

Kat Bolus is the community reporter for the newly-formed WVIA News Team. She is a former reporter and columnist at The Times-Tribune, a Scrantonian and cat mom.