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Philadelphia’s Top 10 Street Art Moments of 2016

December 22, 2016

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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 Public 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 street art-related StreetsDept.com posts of 2016! Ok, without further ado…

10) HAHA x Paradigm + Jim Bachor’s ‘Pothole Mosaics’

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The HAHA x Paradigm project continued to delight in 2016 with (among other things) this smile-inducing series of installations by mosaic artist Jim Bachor!

9) Binding Things’ Textile Installations

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“Growing” from a square of dirt in the concrete on Frankford avenue in Fishtown, I absolutely fell in love with the very first Binding Things installation I ever stumbled on and I’ve been following the artist’s clever work since.

8) REED’s Hanging Wire Installations

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This past summer saw Balitmore-based wire artist REED installing a number of his brilliant creations around Philly… Many are still around too, if you’re patient enough to look around!

7) Aubrie Costello’s Silk Graffiti

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If you’re like me, you entered 2016 completely unaware of silk graffiti and are leaving 2016 completely in love with it and its creator Aubrie Costello… Particually love this installation Aubrie did on a Delaware County rail bridge this past November on the eve of the election!

6) Pussy Division’s ‘End Street Harassment’ Installations

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In their 3rd consecutive year using street art, guerrilla activism, and online outreach to call attention to – and demand action on – street harassment in Philadelphia (among other issues), Pussy Division created a series of flowered installations across the city that called for just that!

5) Ishknits’ ‘Feel The Bern’ Yarnbomb on Top of the Reading Viaduct

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Less than a year ago, fuck what a more hopeful time. God bless all the artists who created work in support of Progressive Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders in 2016, including Ishknits, Brooks Bell, Leah Kauffman, Old Broads and Disto. Fuck :(

4) Kid Hazo Pokes Fun at the DNC with Ad Takeover

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“Dat ass”, a message and design so cleverly crafted that one of Kid Hazo’s playful ‘Ad Takeovers’ during the Democratic National Convention this summer actually lasted through the convention (the one at 19th and Walnut streets, no less)… Nothing beats good design, y’all!

3) Amberella’s ‘Goth Hearts’

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To say it might have been impossible for you to walk around Philly anytime in 2016 and NOT run into one of Amberella‘s brilliant ‘Goth Hearts’ would be an understatement. Amberella was street art in Philadelphia in 2016! Period.

2) Ishknits’ ‘The Next Time You Raise A Hand to Me…’

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Two Ishknits pieces in the Top 5? Heyyyy!

Inspired by a Daenerys Targaryen (Game of Thrones) quote, Ishknits’ yarnbomb on 11th street (at Callowhill) in early December read boldly: “The next time you raise a hand to me will be the last time you have hands.”

1) Joe Boruchow’s Donald Trump Paper Cutout Wheatpaste Series

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Over the course of the Primaries and General Election, local street art legend Joe Boruchow created a series of three anti-Trump paper cutout wheatpastes. And one wheatpaste calling for the removal of the Frank Rizzo Statue across from City Hall, because as Joe wrote: “Frank Rizzo’s legacy of racial divisiveness and thuggery is no longer one that Philly should endorse. Like an effigy of an authoritarian dictator, the statue looms over our provincial politics and is a symbol of our dysfunction.” Perhaps needless to say, Joe (along with many other Philadelphians) saw similarities between these two divisive politicians.

After Trump won the Electoral College, Joe created two more powerful wheatpastes titled ‘Inauguration’ and ‘Transition’… FUCK 2016, y’all :(

Final thought: There’s no doubt in my mind that Philly artists are only going to continue to create amazing work – particularly amazingly pointed political work – through 2017, and I can’t wait to see what brilliant art comes from these otherwise pretty bleak times!

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