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Announcing Our 2022 Streets Dept Membership Benefits

February 3, 2022

Today we’re excited to announce our 2022 Streets Dept Patreon membership benefits! Direct support from you, our readers, helps us maintain and foster this journalism effort. And in return, we’re offering you exclusive content, printed Streets Dept publications, and access to walking tours/events! 

Who should subscribe to our Streets Dept Patreon:

  • Longtime followers who want to show us some support!
  • Lovers of independent journalism
  • Anyone who’d like to continue to see less advertising across Streets Dept 
  • Folks who want to gain access to exclusive content, printed Streets Dept materials, and walking tours/events

Why we’ve chosen Patreon: We launched our Patreon in May of 2021 as a response to the loss of advertisers during the pandemic. And in moving from a more ad-support journalism effort into a more reader-supported one, we’ve been able to create so much more reporting, commentary, and resources—and even our very first print magazine! Moving into 2022 and beyond, we see direct support from you, our followers, as key to building our sustainability and growing this blog to eventually invite more journalists, writers, and photographers to contribute. In short, the more we can count on you, our readers, the more we can offer!

Our 2022 Member Benefits: We’ve learned a lot from our first 9 months on Patreon. And thanks to a recent survey we sent to our members, we have a much better sense of the kinds of benefits you’re most interested in receiving from us. So like any creative effort, we’ll be refreshing benefits periodically to refine what we do best and continue to offer new and exciting things!

How To Become A Member: Simply click on this link, choose a membership tier, and Patreon’s platform will get you all set up!

We love exploring, celebrating, and reporting on Philadelphia’s street art, public art, and public space, and we’re excited to continue to do so with your support. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you! 

Conrad Benner + Eric Dale

Upstairs At TMom’s – Fall 2022: An Ongoing Photo Essay Documenting Philly’s Unofficial Street Art Museum

October 3, 2022

Words and photos by Streets Dept Contributor Eric Dale.

Welcome to the second entry in a new periodic series we’re calling “Upstairs At TMom’s!”

Tattooed Mom, the restaurant and bar that’s been a [counter]cultural fixture on South Street for 25 years now, is widely known as Philly’s officially unofficial museum of street art. That’s because the entire upstairs is filled—FILLED—with graffiti and street art. Not just from local artists, but also from artists around the world, who make it a point to stop at “TMom’s” when they pass through Philly.

Naturally, we love Mom’s. It’s great to see the walls change over time, but I get serious FOMO thinking about all the pieces that artists put up that get immediately covered before I’ve seen them. That’s what this new series is all about: checking in on a regular basis to see what’s new. TMom’s just hosted their second “Thirsty Walls” event, which is all about getting artists to come put up new work, so I showed up too.

Some folks seem to have recognized that the Thirsty Walls events are a kind of a stopgap measure until Mom’s has the capacity to bring back their international sticker art show, Characters Welcome. Accordingly, the pool table started filling up with stickers much earlier than last time, and the bar’s owner, Robert Perry, periodically seeded it with stickers mailed in from out-of-town artists, just like he would during CW.

Once again, I didn’t stay for the full six hours, but here’s what I did see during my visit.

Read more…

There’s A Free Scavenger Hunt/puzzle Event On South Street Built Around Yarnbombs!

September 10, 2022

Words and photos by Streets Dept Contributor Eric Dale.

Four new yarnbombs were just installed in the South Street Headhouse District—and they’re part of an interactive event! Participants are invited to respond to the installations by doing a scavenger hunt (for kids), solving a themed puzzle (for adults), or writing on the sidewalk with chalk (for anyone). If you do participate, you can even win your own crocheted heart to take home!

The “South Street Happy HeArt Hunt” is a collaboration between Barcelona-based (but Philly-born) fiber artist Greta Shanley, who goes by WEFOMB, and Philly creator Eric The Puzzler. (Yes, this is the same Eric who’s writing this post and contributes regularly to Streets Dept.) WEFOMB, by the way, stands for “With Every Fiber Of My Being.”

Read more…

Reflecting On irregular’s Mirrored Collabs with Philly Street Artists

September 8, 2022

Words and photos by Streets Dept Contributor Eric Dale.

Conrad first posted one of the innovative mirrored installations created by Philly street artist irregular (stylized all lowercase) in July. This artist is doing some amazing work, so now it’s my turn to post about him!

(irregular also worked with Streets Dept Walls for one of our Wawa Welcome America 2022 mini-murals that’s located at The Oval for the summer. And he was featured in this year’s Tiny Room For Elephants festival.)

If you’re wondering, yes, this is the same artist who has been spray-painting the word “irregular” around town. He’s shown canvas works informally at Rittenhouse Square for years, but has recently started popping up with street art pieces. There’s the aforementioned spray paint stencils, but now he really seems to be doubling down on his mirror work.

Mirrors appear to have played a role in irregular’s art for some time. Now, they’re a part of a collaboration with Philly artist Nomad. Here’s what the artist told me via Instagram DM:

“My ongoing collab with Nomad should be seen as two deeply rooted street artists choosing to explore and reflect emotion together through our work. The work is a study of what a Basquiat/Warhol/Haring collaborative work would have looked like, without money and fame. The streets are the source. So instead of scavenging the ground for change, we pick up all the dropped energy and carry the spirit through raw reflection.”

Here’s what Nomad had to say: “It’s a learning process and basically a creation in real time because at any moment we can decide to do whatever we are feeling. I think my messaging with [irregular’s] imagery is the perfect combination.”

This isn’t irregular’s first street art collaboration. He’s also worked with Lami in the past, and a few weeks ago, he installed pieces of mirror in the shape of stikman near Rittenhouse Square. “It was your interview with stikman that I read just before I did the piece,” he told me!

The mirrored stikman was buffed shortly after installation, but in a hilarious twist, it turns out that paint is very easy to scrap off of glass! A few days ago on Instagram, irregular posted a video of himself doing just that, leaving stikman’s mirrored pieces good as new. So buffed and scraped is the state I caught them in this week.

The stikman installation wasn’t exactly a collaboration with the legendary artist, who also happens to style the name of his creation in lowercase. Rather, it was “a nod to my very first memory of street art here in Philly,” irregular told me. “I recall seeing a stikman on a crosswalk maybe fifteen years ago before I ever started creating. I’ve been having many full circle moments as I continue to evolve my work, so to honor stikman was a must for me. His team/associates showed great appreciation of the work as well which felt great! Maybe a collaboration of sorts will arise some day!”

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from interviewing Philly street artists, collaboration is core to the culture. So prepare to see more mirrored collabs from irregular in the near future!

“There is no end goal, just remain devoted to the work and trust the evolution. To remain undefined.” —irregular

Philly Scientist Uses Street Art To Deliver Facts

September 7, 2022

(Most photos in this post courtesy of the artist)

If you’ve been around Philly recently, there’s a good chance you’ve come across a new street art project aimed at delivering facts about a specific sea creator. Created by popular Philly-based scientist, Sarah McAnulty, this “SquidFacts” project installs small hand-drawn squid wheatpastes around Philly that prompt its viewer to text a number or scan a QR code to get facts about squids. Yes, squids!

“I’m all about making science accessible to everyone in positive, silly, and interactive ways,” Sarah wrote to me over email. “The SquidFacts project is all about bringing delight into people’s experiences with science. Especially in the last two years, a lot of science-associated information we’re getting is an extreme downer. Climate change is here, and our governments aren’t doing enough to address it. Covid is still everywhere and killing more people than it had to. Monkeypox is coming, and again, our governments aren’t doing enough to address it. I want SquidFacts to balance that negativity out and remind everyone that there’s still plenty of wonder left in the world to experience.” 

So why a street art project? “Social media silos us so badly and it’s really hard to break through to new people. I love street art for that reason. You don’t need an instagram to play with the squid facts hotline. It reaches anybody walking by the pole I just glued a squid to. I love that. Squid for everyone.”

“I want people to feel like they’ve found a little invitation just for them when they see a SquidFacts wheatpaste or the SquidMobile [Sarah’s car that’s decked out Squid Facts painted in liquid chalk]. So much playful science content is for kids–this one’s (mostly) for adults. Like this Squid Fact: During mating, Bigfin Reef Squid display ‘accentuated gonads’ where they make their skin see-through so their reproductive organs are more visible. What a bunch of creeps! I love that Squid Fact. If the SquidFacts project reminds people that there’s still good things to explore in our world, I’ve succeeded. I’ll never know it, but I hope some of them watch a squid video when they get on the El and text some weird thing they learned to a friend.” 

“Squid are my absolute favorite thing to talk about,” Sarah added. “Nothing makes me happier than witnessing the joy of discovery when people learn something surprising about the weird, cool, badass, and totally gorgeous squid in our world. Also (this is kinda stupid) BUT, there’s so much octopus art and not enough squid art out there. It’s my personal mission to fix that. It’s not capital-I ‘Important,’ but it’s still a motivator.”

And what Sarah is learning with this street art project, she’s taking back to her larger education work: “At my day job, I’m the Executive Director for an informal science education nonprofit called Skype a Scientist. We’re all about making science accessible to everyone, and the SquidFacts Project is a little playground for me to see what works and what doesn’t when doing informal science education on the street.”

What a fun project! I can’t help but wonder if Sarah’s working to bring any SquidFacts murals to the city. Time will tell! 

Streets Dept Podcast: Terrill Haigler Makes A Big Announcement

September 3, 2022

Welcome to YEAR 5 of the Streets Dept Podcast, y’all!

The Streets Dept Podcast features conversations with the creative minds shaping the world around us from street artists to poets, activists to politicians, small business owners to content creators. The podcast is produced and hosted by Streets Dept founder, Conrad Benner. Episodes are mixed and edited by our brilliant audio engineer, Mike Mehalick.

To kick off this 5th year of the podcast, we have a very special guest who’s making a big announcement. That guest is Terrill Haigler, but there’s a chance you know him better as “Ya Fav Trashman!”

Terrill Haigler is an author, business coach, and content creator with over 31K followers on social media. He is the Founder and Executive Director for YaFav Hauling Service, a company he developed to supplement the city’s sanitation department and to deter illegal dumping. He is also the founder and president of Trash 2 Treasure, a non-profit organization dedicated to environmental justice. 

Terrill earned a significant social media audience in 2020, when he started an Instagram account to help Philadelphians better understand the challenges of sanitation work at the start of the pandemic. And with that social media fame, in just the last few years he’s worked to organize 84 clean-up events that have mobilized 5,608 volunteers to remove 415 tons of trash. Terrill has been recognized by the Waste Management Industry for his advocacy and influence being honored with the rising leader and change maker awards, as well as being recognized as one of the 40 under 40 people you should know in the waste industry.

On today’s podcast we talk about the impetus for starting that now beloved Instagram channel and how he grew it into a much bigger effort working to address some of the city’s more systemic issues related to our public space, namely the streets of Philly’s neighborhoods. But we begin the episode with the big announcement that he made today and how that might further impact his career and ultimately the future of Philadelphia. 

Check out the episode below, or on any major podcast streaming platform by searching “Streets Dept Podcast”!

The Streets Dept Podcast is created with support from our amazing Patreon members. Have you ever wanted to watch one of my podcast interviews live? Through our Patreon you can now take a seat in to our virtual Zoom audience anytime we record a new episode! Show your support for the Streets Dept Podcast now and become a Streets Dept Patreon member today(There’s plenty of other perks too!)

And be sure to subscribe to the Streets Dept Podcast on SpotifyAmazon MusicApple PodcastsSoundCloudStitcherRadioPublicDeezer, or any major podcast streaming platform to receive new episodes as soon as they’re published. And we’d love it if you could rate and review the podcast on the players that offer that, because great ratings and reviews help us to reach an even bigger audience.

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