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Exhibiting Philly Street Art Photos at PHL International Airport

February 27, 2018

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Philadelphia International Airport’s exhibition program, Art At The Airport, and I’m so pumped to announce today that my photos are apart of this year’s exhibition! Read more…

New Philly Mural Celebrates Queer Femme Identity

June 18, 2018

Awesome new mural collaboration this week by queer, Philly-based artists Santiago Galeas and Eva Wǒ on Hamilton street between 10th and 11th streets in Spring Arts!

“The mural is an effort through imagery to express pride in who we are and what we stand for.” Eva responded when I reached out to the artists for an interview, “Since its commission and installation came in conjunction of Philly Pride Week, I wanted us to choose a femme figure as queer femmes are often invisibilized and/or left out of LGBTQ representation.”

“This mural is actually a re-imagination of a painting I was working on already [which you can see here.]” Santiago continued, “The subject is the coordinator for TrueQué Residencia Artistica, a residency I attended last year in Ecuador. Last year’s theme celebrated the 20th anniversary of the decriminalization of homosexuality in Ecuador. It was a really intense experience that changed the way I think about the work I make. He’s silhouetted because we wanted the figure’s gender not to be a given. By societal standards, his clothes are expressing one gender, and his body perhaps another. Being queer can extend to not fitting these stipulations. I think both of our work has a lot to do with representation, so we felt it was important to have this figure out in the open. This concept can’t be seen as normal if it’s never seen at all. Which is why I had to paint it again! But this time on a wall.”

“Like Santiago said, it’s important to have images out in the open that challenge and expand upon the possibilities people are given for their gender expression and queerness.” Eva added, “We imagine the image as a homage to our queer ancestors who paved the way for us to exist as we do today while affirming gender nonconformity. The location of the mural on the edge of Chinatown is important too… the the neighborhood is being threatened and the culture erased by gentrification, so I included Chinese characters as a way to speak directly to residents and passersby, as a reminder that they’re not invisible.”

The mural is Santiago’s first, and the first outdoors for Eva (who’s very first mural is indoors, and you can check that out here.) It was made possible by The City’s Office of LGBT AffairsArts + Crafts Holdings, and InLiquid to have ready for this year’s Art for the Cash Poor as well as to coincide with Pride month. The collaboration itself came about through the recommendation of a mutual colleague, Wit López, who Santiago and Eva both met while participating in the 40th Street Artist in Residence Program and who was working with the Office of LGBT Affairs recommending artists for this project. 

Both artists are eager to create more murals in Philly’s public spaces – and I for one would LOVE to see their work and the work of more queer artists around our city. So, if you’re interested in commissioning them, you can contact Santiago here and Eva here.

In the meantime, here’s how you can support both artists now: Check out Santiago’s current exhibition with Meg Wolensky, titled ‘Being Seen,’ that’s up at the 40th Street AIR Gallery (4007 Chestnut street, see gallery hours here – there’s only a few days left.) And check out the free music video screening that Eva is curating on Thursday, August 9th at the Rotunda (check their calendar here in August.) Eva will also be showing work as part of the Leeway Foundation’s 25-year anniversary exhibition at Moore College this Fall, so stay tuned for that!

Thanks so much for the interview, Santiago and Eva!

WHO THE F*&K Approved This: Center City Turned into One Big Ad for Garry Barbara Autoland

June 15, 2018

WHO THE F*&K approved this?… Y’all, I’m seriously heartbroken for Philly today.

Overnight it seems, the art that has wrapped the trash and recycling receptacles around Center City for the last few years disappeared, replaced by ads for Gary Barbera Autoland.

What a gigantic step back for Philadelphia. Our public spaces are too damn valuable to be littered with “CHEAP!” ads at every intersection of our city’s most walked streets.

Who is ultimately responsible for this? Mayor Kenny? City Council President Darrell Clarke? The Center City District? The (other) Philadelphia Streets Department? Who do we hold to account?

We can not let this bullshit stand. As I’ve written about in my Purpose Statement, from ads created to convince us to purchase something to colorful murals created to elevate our moods, I believe the butterfly effect is real and what we view/experience in our public spaces affects our behaviors and state-of-mind. And I think Philadelphians deserve much better than these thoughtless ads in our faces as we try to enjoy our city.

This post represents my first flush of frustration about what I saw walking around Center City today. I wanted to write it because I’m sure I’m not alone in this feeling… I will be updating this post as I start to investigate this more. I want to know how this happened. Why this happened. Who let it happen. And how we can quickly turn it around. You have any insights, please comment or email. Read more…

Artist Paints Mural to Philly Students Across from Demolished West Philly School

June 8, 2018

A new mural this week by Philly-based artist NDA honors Philly students, “the future of our city,” across the street from a demolished West Philadelphia elementary school that’s currently being redeveloped… Good God I love some subversive art!

Located at the intersection of 46th street and Woodland avenue, facing the site of the former Alexander Wilson elementary school, NDA’s new mural is a portrait of his young neighbor Diamond. He wrote the following on his Instagram about the mural’s inspiration:

“Your future is unwritten. Finished up this mural in West Philly over the weekend. [It’s a] portrait of my neighbor, Diamond, who is a good student and athlete with a bright future. There was a school across the street, and it was demolished to make way for University of the Sciences dorms and shops.”

“Although higher education is important, I think more emphasis needs to be put into funding k-12 education in city neighborhoods. This piece aims to honor young, driven students like Diamond that will become the future of this city.”

Absolutely love this, great work NDA!

See pervious work from NDA around Philly here, including his most recent sculptural street art installation from April!

Popular Philly Brunch Spot Teams Up with Street Artist Duo to Take Aim at Betsy DeVos

June 6, 2018

(Photos by Streets Dept Contributor Eric Dale)

Perhaps you’ve noticed that one of Philly’s most popular brunch spots has been getting political lately. Over the last year, Sam’s Morning Glory Diner at 10th and Fitzwater streets in Bella Vista has been hanging signs in their windows and rotating banners from their roof that criticize President Trump’s policies and administration.

The banners are the collaborative effort of Philly-based street artists YOMI and DENIED, and their latest takes aim at Trump’s widely criticized Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.

I chatted with YOMI and DENIED about their installation over email:

“The inspiration for this piece comes from our belief that a country like the U.S. (and the world for that matter) can be full of intelligent, healthy, and free people provided that they receive sufficient education and equal opportunities regardless of their skin color, nationality, or economic status.”

“The birth of such a world of intelligence and innovation is possible but not out of capital, property, or special interests that serve only the rich.”

“We knew Secretary DeVos’s nomination hearing made it clear she does not have the experience or expertise to run the Department of Education in a way that will help students. Following the Trump administration’s model, instead of surrounding herself with advocates and experts she left many key positions unfilled and allowed controversial and unfit individuals to serve without undergoing Senate vetting process.”

“At a time when teachers, students, and public life in general are under assault by the juggernaut of commodification and capital accumulation, we think it’s crucial that educators, parents, and youth be offered a language in which politics, power, justice, and social change become central to any notion of educational reform.”

Announcing ‘Art At Mission,’ A New Streets Dept Curated Exhibition Series at Mission Taqueria

June 5, 2018

So excited to announce today a brand new partnership with Mission Taqueria: Art at Mission!

#ArtAtMission is a new project that will transform Mission Taqueria’s courtyard (photographed above) into a rotating outdoor arts space curated by me, StreetsDept.com’s founder Conrad Benner.

And we couldn’t be more thrilled to tell you that the first Art at Mission artist to takeover the courtyard will be none other than Philly-based artist and muralist, Calo Rosa! Born in San Salvador, Calo lives and works in Philadelphia where he has created some of our city’s most beautiful, eye-catching murals. (Evidence here, here, and even this little guy here!)

Calo comes from a family of artists with diverse media including graphic design, Brazilian percussion, oil painting, and cake-making. He holds a degree in Fine and Visual Arts from the Centro Nacional de Artes (CENAR) and a degree in graphic design from Don Bosco University. And after becoming frustrated with the exclusivity of the San Salvador gallery scene, he began to define his own street art style. Calo’s colorful pieces portray the vibrant Latin American culture, and mirror the sounds, roots, and forms of the urban-tropical lifestyle.

Calo’s exhibition begins on Wednesday, June 13! And it will be open through August (exact closing date to be announced soon.) Grab a margarita – or two – and come check it out any day/time that Mission Taqueria is open! You can see their hours here.

Now this post will be updated on the 13th with final photos of the mural. But in the meantime, there’s a little preview of one piece of Calo’s four-piece mural photographed below. And yes, all four panels will be for sale: If you’re interested in purchasing any of Calo’s Art at Mission panels, or otherwise commissioning him, please reach out to Calo directly at CaloStreetArts [at] gmail [dot] com!

And y’all, don’t forget to tag Calo (@caloblacksand,) Mission (@MissionTaqueria,) and myself (@StreetsDept) using the hashtag #ArtAtMission on Instagram when you go to see the exhibition. I’ll be sharing some of my favorite photos that you take to my Instagram Stories all summer long!

Joe Boruchow and Philly Students Create New ‘Smoke Signals’ Mural in Spring Arts

June 4, 2018

New mural this month by Joe Boruchow! Titled Smoke Signals, it was created with students from Mural Arts Education‘s after-school program at North East High School led by Brad Carney.

I talked with Joe briefly about the inspiration behind the mural, located at 10th and Buttonwood streets in the Spring Arts neighborhood, as he was putting some finishing touches on it: “[The mural] is essentially about how the artist tries to put out a message to the world and hope that it gets interpreted or received. It’s also a commentary and rehabilitation of some of the distressed buildings in the area and gentrification in general.”

Joe added the following over email, “I created Smoke Signals as a response to the students’ work for Caryatids (the paste-ups on the other side of the building that the students created the previous semester). While working with the students we discussed how, even though it was a collective effort, their piece was a chance to express themselves as individuals within the architecture of the project. Smoke Signals is a reflection of that.”

“The image of a forlorn man trying to communicate from an abandoned temple on a cliff is a metaphor for the artist at work. Who will see their message? Who will respond, if anyone? And does it matter? Facing oblivion, the artist continues to produce. What is the force that drives him/her to do so? These are the types of questions I hope to bring up with the students while working on the mural.”

“Using perspective, the mural creates a fantasy window within the landscape that comments on the reuse of dilapidated architecture and the sense of an abandoned space calling out for new life. The mural is also a reminder of our place in an ongoing cycle of decline and rejuvenation.”

New Wire Installation by REED Floats Above Fishtown

June 2, 2018

New work from Baltimore-based wire artist REED in Fishtown today!

You can find the new piece that reads “I <3 U Neighbor,” hovering above the intersection of Girard and Columbia avenues… See past wire installations from REED around Philly here, here, and here!

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