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NJ-Based Street Artist Pays Tribute to 9 Philly Creatives with Life-Sized Installations Around Town

April 26, 2018

Over the last two weeks, a New Jersey-based street artist with some Philly roots has been quietly installing life-sized wheatpaste tributes to Philly creatives all around town!

The artist is Sean 9 Lugo. According to his Instagram bio, Sean is an Asshole, a Brown Boy, and a Creator, in that order. He is also one of my favorite street artists to regularly visit Philadelphia!

Sean has been coming through Philly to install his signature humans-wearing-an-animal-mask wheatpastes around the city for at least a few years now. His artist statement reads: “Brown boy representing the duality of both Latin and American culture and experiences through masks that can either misconceive or stereotype perceptions.”

I was lucky enough to photograph Sean putting up a couple of wheatpastes one afternoon about two years ago. I was also lucky that Sean had my cell phone number, because last week he started to text me about this new series titled Clones of Illadelph, which is inspired by some (potentially) recognizable Philly creatives.

“It was based off people who motivated, inspired, and showed me love.” Sean responded, when I asked why he chose to create and install wheatpastes about nine Philadelphians.

On his website, Sean explains the project’s inspiration in more depth: “It was the fall of 1996, and I was starting my sophomore year of high school. One day after school I went to my homie Rene Figueroa’s house where he told me I had to listen to this track, ‘Clones,’ and after the first 4 bars I was hooked – a Roots fan for life. As the years passed my love for hip hop and art grew stronger. The moment I started putting up art in the city of Philadelphia I was shocked by how welcomed I was. I come from Hudson County, New Jersey where there are way more haters than supporters so I didn’t expect to get so much love from a city that I wasn’t from. William Penn knew what was up by calling it the City of Brotherly Love. That being said, Philly has a special place in my heart, and I wanted to give back to those who have motivated, inspired, and showed me love.”

So, who are these Philadelphians that Sean just wheatpasted around Philly? Here they are in the order that they appear in this post, along with their locations:

1) Sara McCorriston (Co-founder of Paradigm Gallery + Studio) with mask inspired by Dennis McNett (aka Wolfbat, artist,) at 2633 Poplar street in Brewerytown/Fairmount
2) Conrad Benner (aka me!,) at 540 South Street in Queen Village
3) Calo Rosa (artist,) at 1033 North 3rd street in Northern Liberties
4) Mike Supermodel (Owner of Jinxed Philadelphia,) at 3144 Richmond street in Port Richmond
5 + 6) Jeremy Hush (artist) and Sophireaptress (designer,) at 2622 Frankford avenue in Kensington
7) Yis Goodwin (aka Nosego, artist,) at 1310 South Front street in Pennsport
8) Drew Leshko (artist.) 1314 Frankford avenue in Fishtown
9) Robert Perry (Owner of Tattooed Mom,) at 216 North 13th street in Center City [Not yet photographed for this post, but hope to get soon!]

If you’re interested in looking for any of these pastes, please note that it’s more than possible that some of these have already been taken down/buffed before you’ve read this post because it has taken me about a full week to try and photograph all the installations. As you’ve likely noticed, they’re installed all over Philly! I asked Sean about why he pasted them where he did:

“I strongly believe that placement is key when putting up work in the street. My wife and I explore Philly often and wanted to put up things in places I’ve been. I drove around 3 hours just to find one of the spots.”

Each wheatpaste was drawn from a photo Sean found of us online, “It was based on images that spoke to me. I wanted the series to be a surprise, so I had to work with photos of people that I really liked and could envision as a wheatpaste.” And a surprise it was! I can hardly put into words how honored – and excited – I was to find out that I had been included in this series with a group of fellow Philly creatives that I respect so much.

Thank you so much, Sean. Can’t wait to have you back in Philly soon!

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