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Holy (Freaking) Moly: Something Exciting Is Being Installed On Delaware Avenue [Updated!]

March 16, 2022

UPDATE (3/18): After posting this article I received more information on this artwork. At the bottom of this post, I’ve included that information!

Holy freaking moly, y’all: a super exciting new public artwork is being installed on the Delaware River waterfront between by Cherry Street Pier and Race Street Pier, and I am in love with it!

First, I want to tell you I have no idea (yet) what’s going on here. Most of the time with bigger public art installations like this, its installation happens but a press release isn’t issued until a designated press day. And that can often take place days, if not a week or more, after an artwork has been installed. But I don’t work like a normal news outlet, so I’m not waiting. This thing is being installed now, and I’m excited about it! (P.s. this same thing happened with Miguel Antonio Horn’s iconic 2021 Contrafuerte installation around Reading Terminal Market, as we talked about in my Streets Dept Podcast interview with him. That is, I got ahead of the press release. Sue me*, I love public art!)

Once I find out more I’ll be sure to share with you. I’ll also probably go shoot this again in the daylight. But upon first impression I’m loving it.

It feels joyous, like balloons at a birthday party. It’s one of those artworks that changes shape as you move around it observing it from various angles. I noticed more than one group of people stopping as I took these photos to move around the installation and check it out in all its forms. When you stand under it, it even gives off Chicago Cloud Gate vibes with its mirrored balls (kinda) showing you yourself looking at it (not necessarily with your naked eye, but with the zoom of your camera.)

I should note that the cones around this artwork and its many still loose metallic strings likely mean that it’s not even completely installed. Perhaps that means more mirrored balls, or something else. Time will tell!

*Please don’t sue me. Also, please email me about these kinds of installations before they’re installed: I’m still the only media outlet in Philly devoted exclusively to art in the public space! I’d love a heads up.

3/18 UPDATE:

This new artwork was commissioned by the City of Philadelphia, Office of Arts, Culture & the Creative Economy, Public Art Office and the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation through its Waterfront Arts Program. Design and fabrication group Ball-Nogues Studio was selected via a competitive process administered by the Public Art Office. The artwork will be completed in April, and I’ll be meeting with Ball-Nogues then to talk more about it.

In the meantime, the following is the artist statement I was kindly sent over from Red Balloon Public Relations:

“Situated on the Delaware River Waterfront, this artwork recalls the histories of the textile industry and cargo shipping that dominated the region for hundreds of years. The artwork’s title, Weaver’s Knot: Sheet Bend is comprised of two names traditionally used to describe the same knot. The ‘Weaver’s knot’ name derives from its historic use in textile mills. The ‘sheet bend’ or ‘sheet knot’ was used on sailing vessels for bending ropes to sails (traditionally referred to as sheets).”

“The artwork takes the form of a giant knot constructed in stainless steel spheres that are suspended overhead from tall poles suggestive of the sail and ‘cargo masts’ that once operated on the boats and wharves at the River Trail site. Further drawing from its setting, the blue tone of the poles is matched 1:1 to the paint of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge.”

“The work draws a connection between the industrial past and technological present of Philadelphia. Stainless steel (316L grade), polished to a mirrored finish forms the spheres that comprise the knot. This decidedly contemporary material reflects the surrounding landscape as well as the viewer’s own image; visitors will see themselves reflected within dozens of spheres.”

“Our aim is to call upon some of the history of the Delaware River site, however, the art work also evokes themes that are comprehensible to most individuals regardless of their historical knowledge.”

“Weaver’s knots and sheet knots are used to connect two different types of cord, the knot in our artwork, therefore, has two sizes of spheres to represent two different cords. While the artwork nods to history, the two knotted cords serve as a reminder of the fabric of individuals that are woven together to make up Philadelphia. Each culture and each history is held together, person to person, one knot at a time.”

5/1 UPDATE:

Excited to be invited by the artist to document the final day of installation for this artwork, which is photographed by Streets Dept Contributor Eric Dale in the photo series below!

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