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Streets Dept Podcast – SN 3, EP 13: Tayyib Smith and the Two One Five

May 19, 2020

Welcome back to the Streets Dept Podcast, y’all! The Streets Dept Podcast is one-on-one interview podcast where I, your host Conrad Benner, sit down with the creative minds shaping the world around us, from Philadelphia and beyond. Creative minds like street artists, poets, activists, politicians, small business owners, and community organizers.

Today, we’ll be chatting with Tayyib Smith! Tayyib is Principle of Meta Global, parent company to Little Giant Creative. He is dedicated to cultural competency and the ability to engage multicultural audiences. He co-founded Pipeline Philly to serve as an inviting and dynamic co-working space filled with professionals from various backgrounds and industries, creating one of the most diverse workspaces in the city.

Tayyib is also a partner S&R Holdings, a real estate company that engages and invites diverse stakeholders of neighborhoods to become part of a growing, multicultural and multi-socioeconomic tapestry. Tayyib has long been a successful conduit of professional and cultural ecosystems. He is a fellow of the Place Lab Ethical Redevelopment Salon at the University of Chicago and sits on the boards of the Kensington Corridor Trust, Prizm Art Fair in Miami, Memphis Slim House, Black Star Film Festival, and the Green Light Fund.

Check out my conversation with Tayyib Smith below, or on any major podcast streaming platform by searching “Streets Dept Podcast”!

Be sure to subscribe to the Streets Dept Podcast on Apple PodcastsSpotifyGoogle PlayStitcher, or any major podcast streaming platform to receive new 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. (Truly, rating and reviewing podcasts, particularly on Apple Podcasts, helps us so SO much, so thank you for doing that.) Read more…

Philly Street Art Interviews: JesPaints Stencils the Heroes People Want to See

May 14, 2020

Welcome to Season 3 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. (Photos by Eric Dale and Conrad Benner.)

From politicians to poets; athletes to icons; Philadelphia stencil artist JesPaints has been bringing portraits of local and national heroes to the streets for a little over a year now. With them have come hundreds of messages from fans who love seeing the likes of Kobe Bryant, Anthony Bourdain, and, of course, Gritty, showing up on the walls in their neighborhoods.

In addition to changing the venue of our interview (from Tattooed Mom to over the phone), the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the nature of the artist’s work. For one thing, JesPaints simply can’t afford to make as many pieces as before, given the economic situation. But, almost unavoidably, the content is changing too. “Miss America,” a recent piece featuring a nurse wearing a trash bag, which was “sponsored by Hefty,” garnered attention from several Philly news outlets. It also represented a new funding source for JesPaints: the piece was created entirely using GoFundMe donations.

Streets Dept’s Eric Dale: Hi! Thanks for your flexibility in doing this interview over the phone!
JesPaints: Yeah… You know, it’s the new world.

SD: So first of all, the question that now means a lot more than it used to: how are you doing?
JP: Uh, I guess I’m doing ok. I’m doing a lot better now, a couple weeks removed from the start of this, but, you know, everything’s a little topsy-turvy. Read more…

Announcing the “Art Ignites Change” Podcast by Mural Arts Philadelphia

May 28, 2020

Y’all, I’m very excited to announce today that I’ll be producing a brand new podcast for Mural Arts Philadelphia. We’re calling it the Art Ignites Change podcast!

As longtime followers of this blog will know, along with my sound producer Mike Mehalick I’ve been creating my own Streets Dept Podcast for three seasons now, since 2017. I can’t emphasis this enough, I love making podcasts! Podcasts offer the sort of intimate storytelling that allows listeners to tune in for extended periods of time while they walk, do the dishes, or workout. While folks might only be able to give you a few minutes to read a blog post, or even less time for social media posts including videos, 80% of podcast subscribers listen to all or most of each episode of a podcast. Best of all, 24% of the US population (that’s 68 million people) now listen to podcasts weekly, that’s up 22% from 2019! It’s a big and growing market, to say the very least. (Source: Podcast Insights)

And thanks to Mike, my guests, and my sponsors, the Streets Dept Podcast has been bananas successful. It’s literally one of the highest rated independently created podcasts to come out of Philadelphia and is to my absolute delight very often listed as one of the must-listen-to Philly-based podcasts! Its success has pushed me to wonder if I can work with non-profits and other organizations I love to help tell their stories, combining a growing interest of mine with promoting people doing great work. Mural Arts was a natural first step, so I reached out and they said yes!

I love Mural Arts for a million reasons. I mean, we live in the mural capital of the United States in large part to their leadership. I’ve also worked with them on a number of things over the years, including To the Polls, a 2018 mural exhibition I curated and produced with 10 Philly artists with the goal of exciting the electorate, a project I might add that even our Governor Tom Wolf found inspiring. And Monument Lab, a public arts project aimed at understanding and influencing the monuments we create for our public space. I’ve consulted and led tours for Mural Arts projects like Open Source. I’ve helped fundraise too, curating their annual Wall Ball two years in a row.

The Art Ignites Change podcast will work to build a greater understanding of the transformative power of creativity. To do that we’ll focus on three main areas of interest: 1) Exploring public art from a historical perspective, 2) Hosting conversations with public art makers from around the globe, and 3) Creating deep dives into past and present Mural Arts Philadelphia projects.

Our first episode dropped today, and for it I interview Mural Arts’ Founder and Executive Director Jane Golden to discuss the future of public art in the wake of COVID-19. You can listen and subscribe to the Art Ignites Change podcast here, on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or on any major podcast streaming platform!

And if you run a non-profit or organization that’s looking to get into podcasting, let’s chat! I’d love to work with more likeminded people to tell the stories of great work happening here in Philly, or elsewhere.

New Yarnbomb Bids Gender Roles A Final Farewell

May 18, 2020

New yarnbomb from Philly-based street artist,  Nicole Nikolich (aka Lace In the Moon)! Located at 10th and Spring Garden Streets, the piece depicts a tombstone with flowers and reads, “Gender Roles”.

Really delighted to see this new work. One, because I support the message. But also, just because there has been so much COVID-related street art over the last two month. So much of it I love of course and have blogged about. But, it was just kind of nice to see something new and unrelated to the crisis.

I reached out to Nicole over text to ask her more about it and why now was a good time to install: “It’s a tattoo I have that I thought would be a cool piece as something not Coronavirus related… Feels like when people go on walks it’s to get out if the house and NOT think about the virus, so I wanted to do something I would have done whether the virus was happening or not.”

Read our 2019 interview with Nicole Nikolich here; and see other yarnbombs from her around Philly here!

Help Spread the Word About Voting By Mail: Download Free #VoteByMailPHL Artist Posters!

May 11, 2020

PHILLY: Election Day has moved to June 2, and did you know that anyone in PA can now Vote By Mail? Help us spread the word, download posters for free here!

Streets Dept is very excited to partner with Jen Devor and a few Philadelphia nonprofit organizations today to launch the #VoteByMailPHL poster project to educate Philadelphians on how to exercise their right to vote during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The #VoteByMailPHL poster project will serve as one more tool for getting critical voting information out to Philadelphians before the June 2, 2020 primaries. Created by Jen Devor and curator Conrad Benner (aka me), this multilingual project is working with three of my favorite Philly artists to create the posters: Martha Rich, Marian Bailey, and Manuela Guillén!

“Given the circumstances around COVID-19, voting by mail is the safest way to vote. Without the state automatically sending everyone a mail-in ballot, we are concerned that people will be left out,” project creator Jen Devor puts into perspective. “Philadelphia is an amazing city of unique neighborhoods, and so what better way to share important information than through your neighbors.”

Understanding art in our public space as a powerful tool for communication, the project works to encourage Philadelphians to display local artist-created posters in their window that informs their neighbors about voting by mail!

Each artist’s poster will be available to download for free in English, Spanish, Vietnamese, and Chinese. The posters will also be distributed to local nonprofits that are still serving people in person, led by SEAMAAC. Wider distribution will be coordinated by organizational partners co-led by The Committee of 70, Ceiba, and All Voting is Local focusing on translation access for elections in over 10 languages.

And y’all, you know I say this all the time, but you don’t need to look far to see the power of art in our public space. From the millions of dollars marketers spend on outdoor advertising each year in efforts to influence consumer behaviors to the near immediate action by countless Philadelphians across the city to draw or paint rainbows for their home’s windows to inspire hope and togetherness as we stay at home during the Coronavirus pandemic. I hope many of you will join us in using art to promote voting in this election!

Download our #VoteByMailPHL posters for free download at and display in your windows today!

You can learn more and apply for your Vote By Mail ballot by calling 1-877-VOTESPA (868-3772) or visiting Applications due by 5:00PM on May 26 and you must mail your ballot back before June 2 (Election Day).

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