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Streets Dept Podcast, Episode 5: An Interview with Tunisian-French Artist and Graffiti Writer eL Seed

December 5, 2017

Welcome to the 5th episode of the Streets Dept Podcast. Today I’m excited to be joined by the world famous Tunisian-French artist and graffiti writer, eL Seed! eL Seed’s beautiful, intricate murals and artwork blend the historic art of Arabic calligraphy with graffiti to portray messages of beauty, poetry, and peace.

eL Seed has installed work on public spaces, galleries, and institutions on every continent of the world from the streets of Paris and New York to the Favelas of Rio di Janeiro and the slums of Cape Town. And he’s just created a large new mural here in West Philadelphia this past month with Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture! eL Seed’s contemporary approach works to bring people, cultures, and generations together. His goal, to create dialogue and promote tolerance.

Listen to the episode now here:

The Streets Dept Podcast is a bi-monthly (that’s twice a month) interview podcast. I’m interviewing artists and creatives from around the world. From street artists to poets, activists to politicians, small business owners to community organizers. The podcast features one-on-one, 30-minute-ish interviews with the creative minds who are shaping the world around us!

Subscribe to the Streets Dept Podcast on iTunesSoundCloud, or Google Play to receive episodes as soon as they’re published, and please feel free to rate and write a review of the podcast on those platforms to help others find it. (It really, REALLY helps when y’all rate and review, so it’d mean the world to me if you could do that!)

Listen to past episodes here:
The Introduction Episode!
Episode 1, R. Eric Thomas
Episode 2, Philadelphia Councilwoman Helen Gym
Episode 3, Marisa Williamson
Episode 4, Swoon

Season One of the Streets Dept Podcast is brought to you by our sponsors at The Navy Yard and Indy Hall! Each episode is mixed and edited by our Producer Mike Mehalick.

Um, YES: Giant, Magical Domes Have Just Been Installed on The Parkway!

December 11, 2017

This month, four dream-like domes appeared along Philadelphia’s Benjamin Franklin Parkway, and after the year this country has been having I am absolutely loving this little escapism right now!

The fiberglass domes located at Aviator Park, the Rodin MuseumPark Towne Place, and the Spring Garden Triangle display animated video projections by world-renowned video and new media artist and professor in UCLA’s Department of Design Media Arts, Jennifer Steinkamp. The animations, as the project’s website says, inspired by Benjamin Franklin’s electrical research.

Titled Winter Fountains, the project was commissioned by the Association for Public Art and is on view from sunset to midnight now through March 18, 2018. Read more…

Interviews with Street Artists: Darkmeal’s Explosive Abstract Stickers

December 11, 2017

Interview and photos by Streets Dept Contributor, Eric Dale

(Photos by Eric Dale)

Philly has one of the best, most active stickers scenes in the U.S. Hands down, period. I know it, you know it, and if you walk around Philadelphia for even just five minutes you can see it. Stickers are a vital part of street art here. But, they don’t often get too much attention outside of the small community of artists and writers who create them. And considering the amount of talent there is there, that’s a shame, if you ask me.

Well, Streets Dept readers, this is exactly why I wanted to start this new Interviews with Street Artists series: to build a better understanding of Philadelphia’s street art world and who’s building it! So today, new Streets Dept Contributor, Eric Dale, will be chatting with Darkmeal, a Philly-based artist who creates dense and explosive abstract stickers with a distinctly Philly texture.

Streets Dept’s Eric Dale: Hi! Thanks for chatting with me. So first of all, how would you describe your art to someone who’s never seen it?
Darkmeal: Probably as abstract graffiti – I incorporate Philly handstyles into what I do. Primarily it’s sticker art, but I’ve got some stuff on canvas and other materials that doesn’t go out into the public.

SD: As someone who is continuously exploring street art in Philly, I have to say your work has a pretty distinct look. How did you develop your style?
DM: I’ve been painting and drawing in a similar style for more than 10 years, but I never really felt like it was something that was completely fleshed out. I always photographed graffiti, but it wasn’t until I started to study Philly handstyle in earnest and got a little comfortable with it that I started incorporating that into the rough style I use now. I was working with regular letterforms and text previously, but once I brought in the handstyle things kind of clicked into place. From there, I thought, well if I’m going to reference this Philadelphia folk art and history, I should probably put it out in the streets. You know, to extend it closer to actual graffiti, because I have a lot of love and respect for the writers from Philly. I feel like if you do street art, especially in Philly, and especially if you’re from Philly, you kind of need to know that history, seeing as graffiti came from here. Read more…

Philly Brunch Spot Hangs Banner Encouraging You to Unfollow Trump

December 4, 2017

A new installation by a pair of Philly street artists outside a popular Philly brunch spot encourages everyone to unfollow President Trump. The banner is a collaboration by YOMI and DENIED, and it’s been installed with permission outside Bella Vista’s Morning Glory Diner at 10th and Fitzwater streets.

In matching Instagram posts announcing the installation last week, the artists wrote:

“In already divided nation, the class resentments, racism and xenophobia that became flash points during the 2016 election have hardened even further, not healed. The decimation that Trump has managed to inflict on this country in just 11 months will carry on far beyond his time in office. Can we wake up from the darkness? Can we see further and imagine what the next 3 years or…7 will hold?”

“This message is not only for hardcore Trump supporters, but for those who are still ‘undecided’ willing to give this man and his administration a chance. It’s time, (after 11 months of misconduct that has become so routine that is hardly noteworthy) to recognize the very fact that the direction America is heading is Far From Great. Enough Distraction – it’s time to act.”

See pervious work from YOMI around Philly here, and from DENIED here!

Miriam Singer’s 15-Story Center City Mural is A Yesssss from Me!

December 4, 2017

Absolutely love this 15-story banner mural by artist Miriam Singer on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Center City! (Exact location here.) Installed this past September, last week was the first time I got to see it in person and it is exactly the kind of scale and ambition of mural I personally wanna see more of in Philly… Shout out to Mural Arts Philadelphia for pulling this off!



See other works from Miriam Singer around Philly here!

We Need to Talk About Graffiti Pier

December 3, 2017


 
Welcome to the 4th installment of our yearlong, 12-part Streets Dept + WeFilmPhilly collaborative #PhillyMinute series! For this month’s video WeFilmPhilly and I headed out at sunrise to film one of my absolute favorite places in Philly, Graffiti Pier.

Graffiti Pier has a hold on Philadelphia. It’s used and visited by graffiti writers, street artists, photographers, neighborhood kids, tourists, families, college students, and the list goes on. It’s a beloved space in Philadelphia. It’s sacred. There’s nothing else like it here in the city, and I’d doubt there’s any place quite like it anywhere else in the world.

To measure the allure of Graffiti Pier you need to look no further than Instagram, where there are literally thousands more photos posted tagged #GraffitiPier than #RaceStreetPier, a fellow pier attraction in Philly. I mean seriously, think about that for a second. Race Street Pier, a beautifully designed and executed pier park that cost millions to build is, in at least one key measure, attracting less interest and excitement than an abandoned pier with graffiti on it.

Now, I don’t mean that as a criticism of Race Street Pier – I love that park. I just mean to illustrate that Graffiti Pier is a Philadelphia-defining space. It’s an icon, a landmark. But unlike other Philly landmarks, Graffiti Pier isn’t protected. It could easily be swept up into the development that’s transforming the neighborhoods around it and be sold to the highest bidder only to disappear like New York’s legendary 5 Pointz. That would be a painful loss not only to the people and communities that have made Graffiti Pier what it is, but to Philadelphia as a whole.

A few years ago I wrote about this in a blog post titled, The Case for Graffiti Pier. In it I insist that our city’s leaders (likely both public and private) should see the benefits of protecting, preserving, and fostering Graffiti Pier. Protecting it from development. Protecting it from becoming some sort of outdoor art gallery with curated murals. To truly preserve and foster Graffiti Pier as it is, a dynamic outdoor space that inspires creativity, introspection, and awe. And if our city’s leaders aren’t thinking about how to protect, preserve, and foster this space as it is, then Philly could soon be missing a piece of itself. A piece, I’d argue, that countless other cities would kill to have.

How do we protect, preserve, and foster Graffiti Pier? I reason in my blog post from 2014 that it starts by leaving it alone. By adding the infrastructure that makes the pier safe and accessible for all people, like guardrails for instance. But that in large, to just let it be. And I still agree with what I wrote then. The biggest hurtles right now are that Graffiti Pier is still owned by Conrail, who stopped using it in 1991 and who don’t seem too eager to sell it. And that even if they were, I’m not exactly sure who they could sell it to that would work to keep the pier as it is. But I’m hopeful. I’m hopeful that with enough time and enough public pressure that the right organizations and people will come forward to join the communities that built Graffiti Pier and work together to keep it the amazing place that it is.

See the rest of the Streets Dept + WeFilmPhilly collaborative #PhillyMinute series here:
Part I, Rush Hour at City Hall
Part II, Comcast Technology Center and Philly’s Growing Skyline
Part III, Rolling Through Philly on the Market–Frankford Line El

If you’re interested in collaborating with WePhillyPhilly, reach out to them here.

An Interview with Swoon: Come Listen to Episode 4 of the Streets Dept Podcast

November 21, 2017

(Photo courtesy of the artist)

Episode 4 of the Streets Dept Podcast is now live: Come listen to my interview with internationally renowned street artist, Swoon!

Caledonia Curry (aka Swoon) is a classically trained, Brooklyn-based visual artist and printmaker, and easily one of the best-known street artists in the world. Caledonia sits down with Streets Dept’s Conrad Benner today to talk about her career and her retrospective open now at the Contemporary Arts Centre in Cincinnati, Ohio.

 
The Streets Dept Podcast is a bi-monthly (that’s twice a month) interview podcast. I’ll be interviewing artists and creatives from around the world. From street artists to poets, activists to politicians, small business owners to community organizers. The podcast will feature one-on-one, 30-minute-ish interviews with the creative minds who are shaping the world around us.

Subscribe to the Streets Dept Podcast on iTunesSoundCloud, or Google Play to receive episodes as soon as they’re published, and please feel free to rate and write a review of the podcast on those platforms to help others find it. (It really, REALLY helps when y’all rate and review, so it’d mean the world to me if you could do that!)

Listen to past episodes here:
Episode 1, R. Eric Thomas
Episode 2, Philadelphia Councilwoman Helen Gym
Episode 3, Marisa Williamson

Season One of the Streets Dept Podcast is brought to you by our sponsors at The Navy Yard and Indy Hall! Each episode is mixed and edited by our Producer Mike Mehalick.

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