Skip to content

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

New “Milkscapes” Public Art Project Invites Conversation Around Invisible Labor, Reproductive Healthcare, And Choice

August 11, 2022

Photos by Steve Weinik

So thrilled to announce Milkscapes this week, a new public art project from artist Aimee Gilmore created in collaboration with Maternity Care Coalition, Mural Arts Philadelphia, and Streets Dept Walls!

A series of flags that line the exterior of Maternity Care Coalition’s Early Head Start building at 20th and Mifflin Streets in South Philadelphia, Milkscapes is part of an ongoing series that Aimee started in 2016 after the birth of her first child. Made by pouring a small amount of her breast milk onto a sheet of glass (the first instance of this stemming from an accidental spill after laborious pumping), these Milkscapes are created when the milk dries in abstract shapes, highlighting an otherwise invisible labor.

Not so incidentally, we decided to install this project in August, which is National Breastfeeding Month. And the flags will stay up for a least one year through August 2023.

These flags provide an opportunity to reflect on the power of the human body from a unique perspective, scale, and presentation. This is the first time Aimee’s Milkscapes are being presented as flags in this public installation, providing a timely and urgent starting point for conversations adjacent to mothering including the necessity of the care economy, the right of choice, paid family leave, and parent-student rights.

“As an artist, my work is a constant meditation on love, memory, and transitions of time,” Aimee wrote in a blog post for Mural Arts’ website. “Channeled through the lens of motherhood, my primary artistic concerns are with the personal and collective stories that shape our everyday lives and often go overlooked. Working across mediums, my practice questions how the images, issues, and objects closely associated with motherhood inform the social-political structure of the care economy.” I encourage you to read that full blog post here.

This project ultimately became the public art project you see now after a fateful artist visit I made to Aimee’s studio about nine months ago. We talked about her work, her goals, and while we went through a lot of her incredible artistic portfolio together, we both kept coming back to the idea of bringing her Milkscapes to the streets of Philadelphia. Then I pitched the idea to Mural Arts to work with us as a funder, and Aimee reached out to Maternity Care Coalition to gauge their interest in collaborating with us as well. Both organizations enthusiastically said yes, and after many months of Zoom calls and location meetings, what we all originally thought would be a mural project transformed into this dynamic flag Milkscapes installation.

We dedicated the project this week, with Gabriella Nelson from Maternity Care Coalition, who consulted with Aimee and I throughout the project, along with Maternity Care Coalition’s CEO, Marianne Fray and Mural Arts’ Executive Director, Jane Golden.

About our partners: Since 1980, Maternity Care Coalition has partnered with more than 145,000 families throughout Southeastern Pennsylvania, focusing particularly on neighborhoods with high rates of poverty, infant mortality, health disparities, and changing immigration patterns. The mission of Maternity Care Coalition is to improve the health and well-being of pregnant women and parenting families, and enhance school readiness for children 0-3. And for over 35 years, Mural Arts has united artists and communities through a collaborative process, rooted in the traditions of mural-making, to create art that transforms public spaces and individual lives.

These flags are provocative. They are meant to grab your attention and inspire conversation. And we invite you to join that conversation on August 31st (12:30 PM EST) at our Milkscapes Zoom town hall titled, The Great American Let Down Town Hall for which you can register here!

Everything You Need To Know About The 3 New Adult Swim Project Murals In Fishtown

August 4, 2022

Last week we announced that Streets Dept Walls will be working again with our regular collaborator, Ginger Rudolph, to curate three new murals for the latest edition to the Adult Swim Mural Project. And today we’re excited to announce that the murals are finished! 

As a reminder, the Adult Swim Mural Project is an ongoing partnership between the public arts organization, Living Walls Atlanta and the massively creative cable TV channel, Adult Swim. The project was created to bolster the work, message, and careers of American Black artists. The project started in December 2020 in Atlanta, and has since produced 15 murals by artists across Atlanta, New Orleans, and now Philadelphia.

For this Philly edition of the project Living Walls reached out to Ginger Rudolph and myself to curate and find the walls we needed in Fishtown. The three Philly-based artists selected for the project are Nazeer Sabree, Branche Coverdale, and Zeinab Diomande

I feel like I can’t say this enough, but this is the very first Streets Dept Walls project to create permanent public art. Most of the projects I work on or curate are temporary. So it’s meant a lot to me to not only work with Ginger again to co-curate a project as well as find homes for the artworks of these three artists, but to do it all in the neighborhood I grew up in and my family still calls home. 

I want to send a huge thank you to Living Walls Atlanta, Adult Swim, and Ginger for being incredible partners on this project. And big thank you to all the assisting artists: De’von Downes, Ashley McNamara, Sammy Kovnat, Kristen Consuegra, and Angela Bortone! If you’ve yet to get your tickets, this is where I love to remind you, dear reader, that the 2022 Adult Swim Festival is taking place in Fishtown this weekend (from August 5th through the 7th). And we’d love for you to support the folks who supported this effort!

Below, please find more info on each of the artist’s brilliant new Fishtown mural: 

Deli Delight by Zeinab Diomande (aka “Z The Rat”)

Location: On Richmond Street between Frankford Avenue and Shackamaxon Street

Artist Statement: “Blackness is not linear nor should it be narrowed down to one way of existing. Through this painting, my intention is to cast some light on other ways of existing. An existence that we have decided for ourselves, an existence that most of the time isn’t televised and shown to the world. Being Black young or old is not always about trauma, hardship, and repeated cycles. There’s joy, there’s celebration, there’s existing as everyone else is: as the person one has decided to be. Through the realm of mixed media, high key colors, and child like depictions, I deliberately chose to show a side of the Black experience that is progressive, fun, reclaiming back its innocence, and being itself in all its authenticity. I want the Black youth to have fun, I intend to. I want the Black youth to be silly, be quirky, weird, passionate, and most importantly move as who they want to be. The sky’s the limit and we need to hear that more. We have the potential, the tools: we can do anything.” 

Monee by Nazeer Sabree

Location: On Palmer Street between Belgrade and Thompson Streets

Artist Statement: “I dedicate this mural to women who have not only inspired me but influenced the world around me. May this piece not only serve as a reminder of how influential Black women are but also as a reflection on their excellence. Not only do Black women influence culture undeniably, but Black women also contribute to and cultivate community. In this piece not only am I highlighting cultural icons but the women here in our community. A reminder that your voice, presence, and experiences don’t go unnoticed regardless of social-economic status.” 

Fuzzy Slippers by Branche Coverdale 

Location: On Canal Street right off Laurel Street

Artist Statement: “Living in an urban environment can be stressful and chaotic at times, however I try to find the moments where I can convey relief and ease. In this mural I capture that moment of joy and relief from unpleasant realities by seeking entertainment in fantasy. The butterflies move from one side to the other representing the embrace of transformation. The characters channel a childlike liberation and cartoony elasticity. I hope the viewer can see themselves here, in this city, surrounded by buildings, trying to find happiness and lightness within the concrete city.”

Streets Dept Partners with The Adult Swim Mural Project For New Series of Murals In Fishtown

July 25, 2022

Very excited to announce that Streets Dept Walls will be working again with our regular collaborator, Ginger Rudolph, to curate the latest edition to the Adult Swim Mural Project, which is coming to Fishtown this August! 

The Adult Swim Mural Project is an ongoing partnership between the public arts organization, Living Walls Atlanta and the massively creative cable TV channel, Adult Swim. The project was created to bolster the work, message, and careers of American Black artists. And over the next couple of weeks, we’ll be creating three amazing new murals in Philly’s Fishtown neighborhood with three incredible Philly-based artists: Nazeer Sabree, Branche Coverdale, and Zeinab Diomande. Our murals will be completed just in time for the 2022 Adult Swim Festival that’s taking place in Fishtown from August 5th through the 7th! The murals’ locations will be kept secret until that time.  

“Adult Swim has stood for authenticity, creative freedom, and the championing of artistic voice from its start,” Living Walls Atlanta writes. “Through their partnership with Living Walls, artists are trained in the process of mural-making as they gain experience in the full scope of creating public works of art and start meaningful conversations with the community at large.” The project started in December 2020 in Atlanta, Ga, and has since produced 15 murals by artists across Atlanta, New Orleans, and now Philadelphia. 

By fate or chance, while Ginger and I pitched a number of local artists for this project, the three selected ultimately ended up having one big thing in common. And that’s that they’ve all been part of the Mural Arts Philadelphia Fellowship for Black Artists! This is an annual fellowship of which Ginger is one of the curators and that I support with promotion and social media consulting. If you’re a Philly-based artist whose Black and you’ve yet to consider this opportunity, definitely check it out next year.   

Y’all, we can not wait for you to see the murals our artists are creating. In the meantime, here’s more about the artists: 

Nazeer Sabree

Nazeer Sabree is a contemporary visual artist from West Philadelphia. Nazeer’s work is generally and most notably focused on depicting the dichotomy of everyday life in black culture. The themes explored in his works are individual and shared cultural experiences, identity, personal narratives, literature, philosophy, social constructs, mental health, belonging, and African American history.

Branche Coverdale

Branche Coverdale is an artist based in Philadelphia. Originally a New Yorker, Branche works in an expressive and playful manner inspired from cartoons of his childhood with elements of the fantastical. Before moving to Philadelphia, he was a full time studio assistant for Takashi Murakami in NYC and studied at Rhode Island School of Design. He is currently working as a full time artist/illustrator.

Zeinab Diomande

Zeinab Diomande otherwise known as “Z The Rat” is a Philadelphia-based multidisciplinary artist. Diomande was born in 1999 in Virginia. Her family left the United States to relocate back to their home in the Ivory Coast where she grew up and spent most of her life. In 2018, she moved to Philadelphia where she is currently studying, majoring in Fine Arts Painting and Drawing at The University of The Arts. Zeinab was a 2021 AXA Art Prize finalist, and she has been a part of exhibitions internationally and across the country, in Abidjan, London, New York and Los Angeles.

This is the first Streets Dept Walls project to create permanent public art, most of the projects I work on or curate are temporary. So it’s meant a lot to me to not only work with Ginger again to co-curate a project as well as find homes for the artworks of these three brilliant artists, but to do it all in the neighborhood I grew up in and my family still calls home. 

Be sure to follow the artists (Nazeer, Branche, and Zeinab), follow Adult Swim and Living Walls, and of course Streets Dept Walls on social media to see sneak peeks of the murals as they continue to go up. And see past Streets Dept and Ginger Rudolph collaborative projects here: Love + Grit Storefronts Project, Sisterly Love Project.

Black Voices At The Center Of New Art Project In West Philly

July 19, 2022

Guest Post by Kristin Kelly and Brittni Jennings

As two Black Philadelphia-based teachers we always encourage our students to “celebrate yourself on a daily.” After the murder of George Floyd we started a small initiative to create spaces of joy for our students. Our school communities were struggling with unpacking their feelings and emotions regarding police brutality against Black bodies, and we wanted to reaffirm to our students that they matter. We chose to redirect the grief, rage, and frustration of our communities and pour into Black joy curating thoughtful proclamations to encourage and empower our learners. Our positive affirmation series, Daily Afromations is a means to promote self-love, Black culture, and voice.  

In August of 2021, we took it a step further and developed a public arts initiative “Afromation Avenue.”  Afromation Avenue is a collection of curated positive affirmation street signs personalized by predominantly Black/African American communities throughout the city of Philadelphia. We want to create spaces for reflective thought and conversation while honoring the cultural identity of each community. Street signs are used to guide and regulate the traffic flow of people; they assist in helping others get from one familiar place to another. Afromation Avenue lends itself as a social emotional guide in hopes of cultivating spaces where community members feel encouraged, valued, and respected.

Afromation Avenue will pilot in the West Philadelphia area in three locations. Each area was chosen because of its historical significance to West Philly’s Black community.  

1) Malcolm X Park, named after the influential human rights leader, is the epicenter for community engagement. The park continues to uplift the community by offering access to a wide variety of resources, activities, and events. 

2) 52nd Street Commercial Corridor, also known as “the strip” was once a center for Black arts and culture and is still home to many Black entrepreneurs. The Buy Black movement has encouraged reinvestment in this area in hopes to strengthen the Black dollar.

3) Laura Sims Skate House was the first U.S. ice skating rink designed by an African American architect for a predominantly Black neighborhood at a time when many doubted the necessity of Black children ice skating. Laura Sims continues to offer equitable access to ice skaters in the neighborhood.

Afromation Avenue supports the city’s “Read By 4th” early literacy movement, the School District of Philadelphia’s social emotional learning focus, and furthers the city’s beautification initiatives. We hope to drive tourism to less visited areas in order to continue the strengthening of communities struggling economically. We welcome a celebration of Black joy, self-love, and community!

Through a partnership with Mural Arts Philadelphia and Media Manager, Conrad Benner of Streets Dept, we have been purposeful in seeking to work with two local Black artists, Marian Bailey and Lindsay Bedford. Marian is a self-taught illustrator and muralist. Her work has been exhibited in public spaces such as East Market in Center City Philadelphia, Terminal D of the Philadelphia Airport, and The People’s Fridge located outside of Mina’s World Cafe. Lindsay Bedford is a Mural Arts Black Artist Fellow and is currently exhibiting work with the Percy St. Project. Her work has also been seen in the Philadelphia Ballet, “Behind the Stage Door.” 

In efforts to engage the community with our arts initiative, we are hosting two events, “Community Speaks.” Our first event will be at Malcolm X Park ( Saturday, July 23rd from 11:00am-2:00pm) and our second event will take place at Cobbs Creek Park (between Laura Sims and the Recreation Center–Saturday, July 30th from 11:00am-2:00pm). Afromation Avenue is a collaborative arts project and we want to hear from you! Join us for a day of connection and conversation.

If you’re a resident of West Philly and unable to attend either event, we’ve compiled a series of survey questions allowing you to share your experiences in your neighborhood (survey available here). While the affirmation street signs are for everyone to read, enjoy, and feel inspired by, this project is geared specifically toward members of the diaspora, we are looking for Black/African American community members to participate.

Through this initiative we want to amplify Black voices, cultivate and empower community, and inspire action. As writer Roxane Gay once said, “no one is coming to save us” so we must save ourselves by curating these spaces. Afromation Avenue is more than an intellectual exercise for visitors, it is a message from the neighborhood to the neighborhood. These positive affirmations will serve as a reminder to Black lives we are loved–our voices matter–our lives matter. 

We will not continue to allow others to create images of us, only we can define how we see ourselves.

Now Underway: Tiny Room For Elephants 2022

July 16, 2022
(Artist: TAME)

Words and photos by Streets Dept Contributor Eric Dale.

Philly, it’s time to get your butt down to Cherry Street Pier, because Tiny Room For Elephants 2022 is in full swing!

Since its inception in 2014, TRFE has grown from a small, underground art and music event into a large and spectacular festival—as well as an artist collective, agency, and creative consultancy. This year, 43 visual artists and dozens of DJs and music producers are participating, and each is bringing the huge energy and passion that we’ve come to expect from TRFE.

(Artist: Philly Custom Rugs)
(Artist: Adam Crawford)

This week, I had the pleasure of visiting the space and chatting with some of the artists, who are currently working on painting/installing/creating their pieces. This is something you can and should go see for yourself—part of the excitement of this festival is getting the chance to see some of Philly’s most talented artists painting live! You can walk right up and talk to them, even—just remember that they’re there to create, so be respectful of their time.

Read more…
%d bloggers like this: