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International Four-way Collaboration Installed on Fabric Row

November 15, 2022

Words and photos by Streets Dept Contributor Eric Dale

An empty storefront on Philadelphia’s historic Fabric Row (4th Street between Bainbridge and Queen Streets) is now home to a large-scale wheatpaste collaboration between four artists: the New York-based City Kitty, the Baltimore-based Cheer Up, the London-based Neon Savage, and Philly’s own Sean 9 Lugo.

After messaging the artists on Instagram, I learned that City Kitty was the main driving force behind the piece. “Many of my collabs start with pieces people have given me,” he told me. “I then use them as inspiration or a jumping off point for the collaboration. This one started with a head that Cheer Up had given me and a silkscreen collab between me and Neon Savage that he silkscreened in London.”

So this piece is not only a collab made from another collab, it’s also kind of a collage! The progress shot below, sent to me by City Kitty, shows how he cut up and arranged the other pieces and then sketched in a design to unite them into one composition.

And here’s another photo from City Kitty, which shows a different version of the Neon Savage screenprint that he cut up for the Philly install. “I’ve known City Kitty for a while,” Neon Savage told me. “We have done quite a few collabs, but this is the first that I mashed our designs together—his infamous kitty and my cockney sparrow, both 3-eyed creatures.”

As for Cheer Up, he met City Kitty at Tattooed Mom’s Characters Welcome sticker show a few years ago. As Cheer Up has started visiting New York more frequently, the two have become friends, and just recently started creating collaborations.

“City Kitty is a master of his style and an extremely talented artist,” Cheer Up said. “This is actually a more elaborate version of another wheatpaste he created and put up in Lisbon, Portugal. It’s a fun concept that I hope we will further build on in the future!”

How did Sean 9 Lugo get involved? He picked the spot! “City Kitty was coming into town and we were going to link up at Mom’s,” he wrote. So to save City Kitty some time, Sean did some scouting while installing his own pieces earlier in the day. One of the pieces he put up is a new portrait of Chutatip Suntaranon, AKA Chef Nok, the owner of Kalaya Thai Kitchen, with her dog Tong, who passed away in April. It’s one of eight portraits in season four of Sean’s Clones of Illadelph series, and it’s located… right next to City Kitty’s new piece.

“I reached out to Sean when I was headed to Philly to meet up and asked him if he knew of a spot for this piece. He showed me this spot and had made these flying boxes to add on to the scene,” said City Kitty.

The boxes, which Sean admits are super random, are repurposed from a design he created for the Philly company Fishbox last year. “Thought it would be fun to add it to this amazing collaboration,” Sean said. “When I linked up with [City Kitty] at Mom’s, I gave him the fish boxes and told him about the window if he was interested. The rest is history!”

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