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JOIN ME: 2nd Saturday Philly Art Walks

March 30, 2019

Welcome to Streets Dept’s 2nd Saturday Philly Art Walk, a new kind of guided tour that aims to explore the art around Philadelphia’s public spaces one neighborhood at a time. Each month, join us for a two-hour walk around different parts of the city in search of some of Philly’s most inspiring murals, street art, independent galleries, exciting exhibitions – and more! Each tour is hosted and led by’s founder Conrad Benner.

Get your tickets for one of our next tours now at the links below…

April 13 – Center City West
May 11 – Spring Arts/ Eraserhood
June 8 – Queen Village/ South Philly
July 13 – Fishtown
September 14 – South Broad
October 12 – Gayborhood
November 9 – West Philly/ University City

Hope to see y’all soon!

Artist Jason Andrew Turner Creates Mural with Lutheran Settlement House to the Women Who Helped Build Fishtown

August 20, 2019

UPDATE (8/21): A few people on social media were asking why a woman artist wasn’t hired for this mural, so to offer as much info as possible I just want to add at the top of this post that the artist (Jason Andrew Turner) was hired to paint a mural portrait on that wall and he chose the idea/concept. To put that another way, it’s not that the idea was created, and then an artist was hired to execute that idea. The idea came from the artist. Hope that clears things up for people wondering!

Artist Jason Andrew Turner honors the past, present, and future women of Fishtown’s Lutheran Settlement House with gigantic new mural, titled Persistence, created with Mural Arts Philadelphia and located on Frankford avenue at Master street!

“Persistence​ is an imagined portrait by artist Jason Andrew Turner that was created in collaboration with women at the Lutheran Settlement House (LSH) in 2019,” project curator Ryan Strand Greenberg explained over email. “The portrait does not portray an existing person in the present, but rather one deeply inspired by the oral history of long-time community members and the history of LSH. In 1902, LSH was started by women in service to women and families through social, advocacy, and educational services.”

“The portrait does not depict an existing individual but rather one that is inspired by the community of the neighborhood and the history that gave it light,” Jason chatted with me about his new mural over text. “The figure is central to the wall, looking over her shoulder to engage with the past and moving forward to embrace the future. Her expression is firm and hopeful; she has helped build this community with dignity and determination. As the neighborhood grows and evolves, it is important to acknowledge what came before and to carry the rich history of our past forward.”

Read more…

Pure Nonsense: Philadelphia Museum of Art Announces Record-breaking Fundraising, Then Ends Free Admission for College Students

August 18, 2019

Over the last several weeks, the Philadelphia Museum of Art (PMA) has made news with two strikingly different announcements. On August 7, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that the PMA had announced a record-breaking fundraising campaign to support big changes coming to the museum. Then on August 14, Billy Penn reported that the PMA was ending its 40-year policy of allowing local college art students into the museum for free. These opposing announcements make me wonder, who exactly is the museum changing for?

The Philadelphia Museum of Art is currently in the midst of some big transformations. So far they’ve raised more than $455 million to pay for those physical and program changes. It’s awesome that the PMA has the connections and support to fund these sorts of exciting updates. It’s a great thing for the museum and the city. I only wish they took that same spirit of fundraising to inspire their donors to support programs that create greater access to the museum.

Honestly, I’m not sure how anyone at the PMA could have taken a look at the world right now and seen, for example, the majority of the top-polling Presidential candidates talking about the undue financial burdens on students and then thought that it’d be a good idea to add to those burdens by eliminating a program they’ve had for 40 years. And frankly, I’m surprised there’s not been more pushback, but I suppose that may come when school is back in.

As the Billy Penn article sites, many students rely on this policy because their courses require museum visits. And at least one student only found out about the change when she went to the museum for a visit. That’s because the announcement of the policy change came out at the beginning of the summer when most students are away. The PMA goes on to explain their thinking in that article, which you can read in full here, but it just seems like a lame excuse to me. And the fact that they buried the announcement in the summer shows me they know it’s a lame excuse too. In short: too many students needed or wanted to use the program, so instead of finding ways to expand it they’re eliminating it.

It deserves to be noted that, at least for now, the museum will still allow grade school students from the local area in for free.

The Philadelphia Museum of Art will be changing a lot over the next few years, I just hope those changes work to bring more Philadelphians into the museum, not create more barriers for entry.

I am rooting for you, PMA. We are all rooting for you. Please, do better!

Mexican and Mexican-American Artists Invite You to Break Down Walls with New Interactive Art at Kimmel Center

August 16, 2019

In LOVE with this new pairing of temporary public artworks, installed this week at the Kimmel Center located at Broad and Spruce streets in Center City!

Above, you’ve got Karina Puente’s Look Up! Look In. Karina is a Mexican-American artist based here in Philadelphia. Karina’s modern Papel Picado installations reflect the Mexican cultural heritage of the Santa Ynez Valley where she grew up. Her Kimmel Center installation includes 53 hand-cut Papel Picado that are 5-feet wide and range in length from 6-feet to 12-feet long will be suspended in the air!

“My custom, hand cut patterns root my practice in tradition and keep me connected to ancestors,” Karina says. “Weekly family calls with my ​Tias​ in Santa Barbara always result in an AHA! moment. Through the exhibition, Look Up! Look In, my aim is to articulate the spark of a new idea, arrive at solution-oriented thinking, and fly high during this important cultural moment.”

Y’all might remember that Karina is also the current exhibiting artist for our Streets Dept Art at Mission series in partnership with Mission Taqueria!

On the ground, you’ve got Los Trompos, designed by contemporary Mexican designers Héctor Esrawe and Ignacio Cadena! Read more…

New Wheatpaste Series Calls For A Revival of Philly Handmade Stickers

August 12, 2019

Post and photos by Streets Dept Contributor Eric Dale

Have you seen me? A new series of wheatpastes calling for a revival of Philly handmade stickers went up over the past couple days in various street art hot spots, and IT’S THE BEST THING EVER.

Full of tongue-in-cheek commentary and insider references, these missing posters are a veritable who’s who of the early sticker art scene in Philadelphia. Somebody wants to bring back the good old days, and I’m here for it.

The creator of the series wishes to remain anonymous, but a source informs me that they are not a street artist (well, until now!) The same source says there are now posters representing a total of 19 different sticker artists, with possibly more to come. I’ve only seen 12 so far, so I’m definitely going to be keeping an eye out for more of these!

BONUS: Click any of the following names to read Eric Dale’s pervious interviews with each sticker artist: Darkmeal, Aviz, FaithsFunnn, Void Skulls, Under Water Pirates,Taped Off TV, Sixteen Cats, and Bob Will Reign.

Philly Street Artists Takeover New Construction Wall at 40th and Chestnut

August 11, 2019

A new large construction wall went up last month at the intersection of 40th and Chestnut streets in West Philly, and not long after a group of Philly street artists began doing what they do with such spaces: filling it with art! Who knows if the owners of this building will be as good with allowing street art as say the folks at 5th and Bainbridge, for example, but one can hope!

Photographed above there’s wheatpastes from Doug Nox (aka Harleqvin,) Sean 9 Lugo, and Symone Salib. And photographed below we have an installation from Hysterical Men.

Read more…

Philly Street Art Interviews: SEPER’s Metamorphosis from Old-School Graffiti Writer into Abstract Muralist

August 7, 2019

(Photos by Streets Dept Contributor Eric Dale)

Welcome to Season 2 of Streets Dept’s newest series of street artist interviews, created in partnership with Philadelphia’s own unofficial official street art museum, Tattooed Mom. Each month, Streets Dept Contributor Eric Dale will sit down with one local street artist to ask them about their work. Together, we’ll learn more about the incredible artists getting up around Philly.

Anthony Torcasio, better known by his graffiti name, SEPER, got in trouble a lot when he was a kid. It didn’t really faze him. When he was sent to his room, he would draw; when he was arrested for graffiti, he would go out tagging the next night. But when he reached adulthood and got his first job, he quit graffiti—and all forms of art—cold turkey.

Eleven years later, he burst back into the art world with a new signature style. Now, he’s regularly collaborating with Philly schools, he’s a member of the art collective Tiny Room For Elephants, and South Street is a veritable portfolio of his colorful and distinctive abstract murals.

Anthony likens his growth as an artist to the life cycle of a butterfly. Writing graffiti as a teenager was his caterpillar phase, when we was hungry for experience, reputation, and the graffiti culture. His subsequent hiatus from all forms of art was his chrysalis phase, during which his pent up creative energy morphed his graffiti experience into something new. Finally, after an inspiring experience with his daughter triggered his emergence, he began his butterfly phase, now painting as much as he possibly can.

Streets Dept’s Eric Dale: Thanks for joining me for this interview!
Anthony “SEPER” Torcasio: You’re so welcome, man. It’s a big pleasure.

SD: You started writing graffiti in 1989, at the age of 10. I know a lot of writers start young, but that seems… really young! How did you get started at such a young age?
ST: Well, a friend of mine, Christopher—he writes DK. We just grew up together and he was already writing. I would be playing tag, and jailbreak, and 10-year-old games, and he would come around and invite me out writing graffiti. I was like nah, I’m playin tag, man. I eventually gave in and went, and it started my graffiti adventure. It was really really cool.

SD: By the time you stopped doing graffiti in 1999, you had been arrested 15 times. Why did you keep going out after arrests 1 through 14?
ST: It’s highly addictive. You kind of go from being a normal kid in the neighborhood to sort of like a little neighborhood celebrity. You get addicted to that. You grow up playing cops and robbers, and now you’re really doing it. You’re breaking the law. That extra adrenaline rush; the fame you get off it; the credibility you get off it—it becomes addictive, and the culture becomes addictive. You start to thrive off it. When I got later in my graffiti career, it was more of a reason not to stop, because I’d put in so much work. You don’t want to waste all your efforts. We planned on writing for the rest of our lives. So it’s kind of against the rules to quit on your culture like that, you know?

SD: Do you feel like that’s what you did when you stopped writing?
ST: In a way, yeah. It took a lot for me to stop. Read more…

Go See It: Justin Tyner’s “Light as Memory”

July 29, 2019

Longtime readers of Streets Dept might remember a number of blog and Instagram posts we did starting in 2013 about a stained glass street artist named Justin Tyner. His installations on the street were unlike any other artist’s I’ve seen before or since. And now Justin has a solo exhibition at the Magic Gardens that showcases a beautiful collection of his street art and gallery work!

In Light as Memory: Recollections through Stained Glass, Justin mixes salvaged and repurposed glass to explore and manipulate the effects of light. “He uses the bottoms of discarded and recycled bottles and fallen stained glass from abandoned Philadelphia churches to create new psychedelic works,” the exhibition website reads. “Tyner often takes to the streets to hang his finished pieces in the urban landscape from where they came. Pieced together poems, kaleidoscopic patterns, and geometric forms make up his compositions, all of which filter natural light to create limitless color combinations. Tyner’s stained glass pieces pay tribute to the history behind the materials he uses and express the artist’s own personal feelings and memories. The works displayed in this exhibition are a reminder that inspiration can come from even the most forgotten places.”

Check out Justin’s exhibition now through September 8; a General Ticket will need to be purchased to enter. Go to the Magic Garden’s website here for more information on hours and ticket pricing.

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