Justin Tyner’s Beautiful New South Philly Glass Art Installations
Written by Brian G. Howard
I’ve been a fan of stained glass artist Justin Tyner since he and I sort of inhabited the same apartment building in the mid 2000s. So it was especially exciting when, last week, he invited me and Streets Dept.’s Conrad along to ride shotgun/document his installation of a couple of site-specific pieces in the Italian Market.
A little background. By day, Tyner works at Beyer Studio, a Germantown outfit that restores stained glass windows from decommissioned churches and then resells them. It’s this experience that’s informed his burgeoning and impressive body of work. From detritus at his day job (odd, unsalvageable pieces of stained glass like the Jesus head, pictured), and detritus from the city (the bottoms of broken bottles available almost anywhere one looks) Tyner creates gorgeous, kaleidoscopic mosaics. When glass is your medium, each broken bottle has the potential to be something transcendent. Tyner stores his material neatly in the basement workshop of the South Philly home he shares with his wife, Meghan Keary, and their son, Hendrix. (Tyner and I, as fate would have it, are now South Philly neighbors.)
Since taking part in Philadelphia’s 2012 Art In The Open program, for which he constructed his “Psychedelic Rose Window Kaleidoscope,” (see it in action, or check out the self-published book documenting the project), Tyner’s interest in putting art out into the public has blossomed. (Tyner’s first two street art works, including the stunning “The Outdoor Church,” went up on South Philly rec center cyclone fences.)
With an eye toward making something a little a bit more staying power, Tyner constructed two sun/flower-shaped pieces incorporating historic stained glass and recycled bottle bottoms, and then scouted out secure, high-visibility locations.
The first piece, a large circle of rose window glass framed in lead and ringed with jewel-like glass petals catches the morning sun from its perch top of the street-art gallery/wooden fence along the east side of Ninth Street between Washington and Ellsworth. (The one where Conrad found this “Hey Sexy” Pussy Division stencil.)
The second work, a clear piece of lead-ringed glass adorned with a leaf pattern and orbited by bottle bottoms went in atop the wall right next to the barren truncation of what used to be this tree, serving as a memorial/reminder of sorts.
We’re not sure how long these works will remain in place, but we sure like direction and vision Tyner’s showing with his street installs.
Tyner, Ishknits and Nosego will be featured in the upcoming episode 14 of French street art documentary series Streetosphere (for which Ishknits famously yarn-bombed Frank Rizzo into a bikini). Check the film crew’s photos from the Philly shoot.
—Brian G. Howard
Brian G. Howard is a Philadelphia journalist who’s fascinated with Street Art. He’s the former editor of City Paper and the incoming News Editor for phillymag.com. Read him here or follow him on Twitter @brianghoward.