Skip to content

Announcing Our Spring 2023 “Streets Dept Excursions,” Exploring Philly’s Art + Public Space

April 4, 2023

Streets Dept Excursions are guided tours of Philly’s art and public space!

Each month we lead curated walks around the “mural capital of the world.” While the focus and location of each month’s Excursion is always different, overall we explore three main themes: 1) public/street art, 2) public space/architecture, and 3) independent art spaces.

Learn more and get your Spring 2023 Excursion tickets here!

Streets Dept Magazine, Issue #2 (2023)

January 13, 2023

Our second annual issue of the Streets Dept Magazine is now available for purchase: Click here to get yours now!

New Freewall Goes Up In The Heart Of South Street Headhouse District

May 21, 2023

Words and photos by Streets Dept Contributor Eric Dale.

If you, like us, have been mourning the construction wall that resided at 5th and Bainbridge Streets for what seemed like a decade, we have some good news: there’s a new construction wall in the South Street Headhouse District that artists have explicit permission to display their works on! (In the biz, we call that a “freewall.”)

This new anything-goes wall is located at the intersection of 4th and South Streets, where Jim’s Steaks and Eye’s Gallery suffered a fire in late July 2022. Jim’s has begun to rebuild, and it looks like the renovations will be extensive. For one thing, the fire damage appears to have gutted the interior. For another, Jim’s has actually purchased the adjacent building from the owner of Eye’s Gallery, Julia Zagar, in order to expand their eating area! Eye’s has since moved across the street and reopened at 327 South Street.

So while we wish Jim’s Steaks a speedy recovery, it seems like this new wall may be up for a while. We’re calling it right now: this is going to be the place to see the latest and greatest street art in Philadelphia in 2023.

With some coordination from South Street Headhouse District and the South Street Art Mart, the wall was “seeded” with some initial artwork by Inphltrate, Doomed Future, Amberella, and Praise Dobler. Now, a few weeks later, it’s already been touched by at least 25 artists. The word is out!

Streets Dept wishes Jim’s Steaks all the best as they rebuild, and thanks them for agreeing to this arrangement! Philadelphia can always use another freewall to accommodate some of the creativity bursting from all of our artists. We can’t wait to see what crops up here!


Editor’s note from Conrad Benner: It’s worth it to emphasize that the South Street Headhouse District’s approach to creating this Jim’s freewall space is a direct reaction to, among other factors, the enormous effect that the 5th and Bainbridge “freewall” space had. As we wrote about in 2019, the 5th and Bainbridge “freewall” was a useful tool for local artists and much beloved by the community. If you have yet to read that article about the value of freewalls in Philly, I hope you’ll consider reading it here!

Philly Scientist Spearheads New Mural Connecting Philadelphians To Life In Our Delaware River

May 12, 2023

It’s the start of mural season, Philly! And what an incredible project to look at today, a new mural finished this week in the Fishtown neighborhood that’s connecting Philadelphians to their aquatic neighbors just a few blocks away in the Delaware River.

The brainchild of a Philly scientist and Vice President of The Fishtown Neighbors Association, Dr. Sarah McAnulty (yes, the local scientist who’s also a street artist) and created with Philly artist, Sean Martorana. The mural was painted on the 115-feet wide and 13-feet tall retaining wall of a neighborhood public park located at Norris Street and Trenton Avenue. It depicts the kinds of aquatic life found in Philly’s largest body of water.

In celebrating the biodiversity of the Delaware River, the project aims to encourage ecosystem stewardship. Which basically means to inspire people to think about our natural environment and the lovely little wildlife that inhabit it when making personal decisions (like not throwing away litter in the gutter) and when voting or advocating for more collective protections for our environment.

This project had many partners that helped bring it to life, including The Fishtown Neighbors Association (FNA) and Kensington Creative & Performing Arts High School (KCAPA). In fact, Sean worked with students from the local high school as a mentor sharing with them about his career as a working artist. And the students got hands-on experience too, helping Sarah and Sean to paint the mural!

Read more…

Philly: It’s Time To Rethink Mural Ownership

April 10, 2023


By Streets Dept Contributor Eric Dale

This article was originally published in the 2023 Streets Dept Magazine, released in January. You can get copies of our Streets Dept Magazine–both Issue #1 and Issue #2, for a limited time here.

In the last 12 months, Shira Walinsky has lost three murals in Philadelphia. Obviously, murals don’t last forever. But for one artist in one city over one year, that’s a lot.

“You couldn’t do this work if you were too precious about it.” Walinsky says. “But at the same time, you wouldn’t do [murals] if you didn’t feel that they were important or made some impact.”

Walinsky knows a thing or two about making an impact. She’s been a muralist with Mural Arts Philadelphia for more than 20 years, and has been the lead artist for their Southeast by Southeast initiative for the past 10. Through that program, she’s worked closely and extensively with Southeast Asian immigrant and refugee communities in Southeast Philadelphia.

Local residents really connect with her work. “Having a mural up is a reminder: this story is here, this community is here, our city is really diverse,” Walinsky says. “Our city has a lot of incredible history and dreams for the future, and it represents those things.”

But how can the Mural Capital of the World represent its residents and their history and dreams if the murals that capture and share those big ideas keep being destroyed?

Read more…

Streets Dept Visits: India with Eric Dale

April 2, 2023

Streets Dept Visits is a periodic series covering the street art that Philadelphians and their cameras find in their travels around the world. Today, we’re featuring a write-up by Streets Dept Contributor Eric Dale, who visited India in December of 2022:

Late last year, I took a trip to India. I ate a ton of great food, attended an Indian wedding, and, of course, checked out some street art. Here’s what I saw, and some themes I noticed (tiny sample size notwithstanding).

India loves murals—but they’re not on buildings as often as they’re on walls lining the roads. There are many places where you can drive at 30 mph for ten minutes and have a mural next to you the entire time. Sometimes it’s a single mile-long mural; other times, it’s a string of small murals one next to the other. Imagine if the walls of I-95 were painted from Fishtown to Fox Chase—that’s what India was like in some places! Retaining walls, underpasses, tunnels—nothing was off limits.

Sidenote: I saw a lot of murals about recycling and other environmental themes. I’m guessing that this is a government initiative intended to fight India’s massive waste and pollution issues.

Speaking of nothing being off limits, check out the size of this mosaic wall:

Read more…
%d bloggers like this: