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Philadelphia’s Top 10 Public Art Moments of 2016

December 21, 2016

(Brad Carney + Mural Arts Philadelphia’s ‘Rhythm and Hues’ mural at The Oval)

This year there was so SO much great street art as well as murals and public art installations that I’ve decided to separate the two into two different ‘Top 10’ lists. Click here to check out the ‘Philadelphia’s Top 10 Street Art Moments of 2016’ list!

And if you’re asking what’s the difference, Jesus lord I’m not doing my job… Murals and public art are commissioned, legal forms of art in the public space. And street art is not commissioned – it’s illegal – but it’s usually (or at least often) either done on buildings/walls that are abandoned or temporary or done in ways that are non-destructive. If you still have questions, come to one of the talks I do. I do lots of talks, y’all!

This ‘Top 10’ and its order were decided by you and your clicks. It represents the most clicked-on/liked public art-related posts of 2016! Ok, without further ado…

10) #AmICutOut, A Pop-up Art Installation to End Youth Homelessness in Philly


#AmICutOut? was a one-day pop-up art installation in Dilworth Park that I helped to plan/organize with Covenant House Pennsylvania to raise awareness of youth homelessness in Philly and encourage donations so that Covenant House could expand their facilities and help more kids… Read more and learn how to donate here.

9) Nether Pays Respect to America’s Only All-gay and Transgender Gang


Fucking LOVED this mural by Nether paying tribute to America’s only all-gay and transgender gang… Too much here to try and shorten, just take a minute and read my original post here!

8) Kid Hazo’s Homage to Mural Arts on Front Street


In what turned out to be a bit of April Fools’ playfulness, this cheeky homage to Mural Arts Philadelphia painted by Kid Hazo on Honeygrow’s then new headquarters in Fishtown turned out to be sponsored by Mural Arts (though it was Kid Hazo and Honeygrow’s idea!) Cheeky squared.

7) James Daniel Burns’ ‘Sanctuary’ in the Gayborhood


Another amazing Mural Arts curated mural, James Daniel Burns’ ‘Sanctuary’ in the Gayborhood had a LOT of people double-tapping on Instagram!

6) Brad Carney’s Massive ‘Rhythm and Hues’ Mural on The Oval


Shout out to Mural Arts’ team for escorting me on a crane to get these shots of Brad Carney’s incredible 25,000 square foot mural at the Oval on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway this past summer… Hope they do this again next year!

5) Patrick Jacobs’ Center City Building Wrap


Planned and executed by The West Collection, this full building installation took a lot of people by surprise, including myself. With few clues about its purpose, many people who missed its small peephole mistook the building wrap as a sign of a new store or restaurant opening. Those who caught the peephole saw more.

4) Glossblack and Evan Lovett’s Gigantic Pigeon Mural in Fishtown


I mean, really though, this one just speaks for itself… God bless Glossblack and Evan Lovett for creating this ode to pigeon-kind in Fishtown! (**Cough, public art world: Not everything needs to be so serious, cough**)

3) Ann Hamilton’s ‘Habitus’ Installation on the Delaware River


While perhaps not “technically” public art, Ann Hamilton’s stunning ‘Habitus’ on the Delaware River next to Race Street Pier was a temporary art installation housed in a disused pier, free and open to the public. So, close enough! Also, did I mention is was stunning?

2) David Guinn and Drew Billiau’s ‘Electric Street’ Light Mural in South Philly


What began as a civic intervention on a oddly angled and unusually troublesome alley in South Philly turned into much MUCH more when David Guinn and Drew Billiau created this brilliant new electric mural on Percy Street in South Philly.

1) Kara Springer’s ‘White People. Do Something.’ Installation at Temple University


A simple message created by Kara Springer, one which I took as a rally cry to allies and a plea to all other empathetic human beings, became one of the most talked about public art installations in Philadelphia this year. It also became this blog’s most viewed post. In part because it was linked to by serval alt-right websites and forums (including Breitbart), something which will become evident if you’re unfortunate enough the read the comments on the original post.

For me, Kara’s installation was necessarily direct and overwhelmingly effective… CAN NOT WAIT to see what she does next!

Final thought: As I pulled this list together it kind of surprised me how many of the installations in my Top 10 were temporary. Like, 7 out of the 10 were temporary. Is it more exciting for y’all when public art, like street art, is more ephemeral? Comment if you have thoughts on that or anything else!

5 Comments leave one →
  1. December 22, 2016 3:13 am

    Great list! I also loved Mat Tomezsko’s 14 Movements on Broad Street!! I believe he’s taken pieces of it and reworked them into paintings. Interesting concept…street turned gallery art.

  2. August 2, 2017 3:29 pm

    Rhythm and Hues looks spectacular!


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