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Fishtown’s New (Temporary) Monument About Gentrification and Displacement is Beyond Timely

October 8, 2017

A temporary monument has popped up in Fishtown’s Penn Treaty Park standing as a mirror to this (and many Philadelphia neighborhood’s) massive scale development and the seen and unforeseen consequences that relate to it. Created by the pair of artists Lucia Thome and Billy Dufala who comprise RAIR (Recycled Artist in Residency), the monument is one of 20 such “prototype monuments” on exhibit right now around Philadelphia through November 19th as apart of Monument Lab.

Monument Lab is a public art and history project, led by curators Paul M. Farber and Ken Lum and produced with Mural Arts Philadelphia, that operates around a central guiding question: What is an appropriate monument for the current city of Philadelphia? (Full disclosure: as I’ve announced, I’m also on the Curatorial Team of Monument Lab.)

Lucia and Billy (aka RAIR) decided to answer Monument Lab’s guiding question with this prototype monument in Fishtown, titled Plainsight Is 20/20. As they write in their artist statement, “[We’re] exhibiting a sculpture consisting of two parts: an uprooted tree salvaged from a waste stream and a large excavator wrapped in reflective chrome film. Set along the margin of Penn Treaty Park, the sculpture absorbs the passing activities and surroundings in its reflective surfaces. In effect, it becomes hidden in plain sight.”

“RAIR sees the two parts of their project as dialectically tethered, with the earth-moving machine representing industry spurred by the economy while the tree signals depletion and displacement. The tree as a part of nature converted to culture can also symbolize growth and prosperity, as well as grassroots histories and community perspectives.”

“RAIR’s art is centrally concerned with the question of waste and recuperation. Their proposal is a monument to this moment of intense change in Philadelphia due to developmental pressures, demanding an interregnum in terms of a questioning of the assumption that growth is always for the better. They see this work as a microcosm of Philadelphia’s changing green urban landscape.”

Learn more about all the Monument Lab prototype monuments around Philadelphia here!

World’s Happiest Raccoon Finds World’s Biggest Philly Pretzel in Port Richmond

October 8, 2017

This week, the world’s happiest raccoon found the world’s biggest Philly pretzel in Port Richmond, and I’m living for it… This is thanks to a new mural at Thompson and Sergeant streets by V.U.R.T., with fundraising help by Natalie Shaak!

The latest mural in their Local Critter Project mural series, V.U.R.T. wrote the following about this cheerful addition on Instagram: “The raccoon is a medium-sized mammal native to North America. The raccoon is the largest of the procyonid family, Its grayish coat mostly consists of dense underfur which insulates it against cold weather. Two of the raccoon’s most distinctive features are its extremely dexterous front paws and its facial mask, which are themes in the mythologies of the indigenous peoples of the Americas. These animals co-exist with us everyday in philly and are often overlooked.”

The funds for this new mural were raised by Natalie Shaak, a resident of Port Richmond who created a Go Fund Me page to support not only the creation of V.U.R.T.’s mural but also to raise money for the playground that the mural sits in: “Once we raise the initial funds, all additional money will go into the park for repainting benches, adding secure trash recepticles and signage and eventually replacing the broken equipment with items that kids will want to play on.”

That means that while the mural is now complete and fully funded, Natalie is still seeking to raise a bit more money for the rest of the repairs to the playground. If you’d like to support, please click here to learn more!

See pervious work from V.U.R.T. around Philly here!

Unboxing Timberland’s Latest Collab

October 6, 2017


Y’ALL: So excited to announce today that I’m partnering with Timberland to highlight their green cities initiative, in which they’re working to green five cities in five years!

They started last year in the South Bronx, and this year they’re in Philly working with the Center City District Foundation. I’ll be joining the Timberland team all day next Friday to lend a hand in helping to build Philly’s next great green space: the Rail Park… More to come soon, stay tuned! 

Have You Seen This Huge Cockroach on Frankford Ave?

October 2, 2017

New Cockroach yarnbomb this week by Binding Things, in what the artist describes on her Instagram as the first in a new series of beetle installations we can expect to start popping up around Philly… Just in time for Halloween (intentional or not,) no less!

This new piece can be found on Frankford avenue between Girard avenue and Thompson street in Fishtown, right under that Shepard Fairey (Obey) piece.

See pervious work by Binding Things around Philly here and here.

Welcome to the Streets Dept Podcast!

October 2, 2017

Y’all, over the last several months I’ve been working to develop a Streets Dept podcast, and I’m so happy to officially announce today that it will launch in ONE WEEK!

What is the Streets Dept Podcast? The Streets Dept Podcast will be a bi-monthly (that’s twice a month) interview podcast. I’ll be interviewing artists and creatives from around the world. From street artists to poets, activists to politicians, small business owners to community organizers. The podcast will feature one-on-one, 30-minute-ish interviews with the creative minds who are shaping the world around us.

Here’s a short introduction episode we put together to explain a bit more about the podcast and why I’m doing this now:

Stay tuned for Episode 1, an interview with dramedian and Senior Staff Writer for, R. Eric Thomas, premiering on Tuesday, October 10th!

Subscribe to the Streets Dept Podcast on iTunes, SoundCloud, or Google Play to receive episodes as soon as they’re published, and please feel free to rate and write a review of the podcast on those platforms to help others find it.

Season One of the Streets Dept Podcast is brought to you by our sponsors at The Navy Yard and Indy Hall

Each episode of the Streets Dept Podcast is mixed and edited by our Producer Mike Mehalick, and recorded at Indy Hall. (The art in the recording studio we’re using, which you can see behind me in the photo above, is a collab by Sean Martorana and Saul Rosenbaum.)

The View From Above the New Comcast Building, Part II

September 24, 2017

As I announced last week, this month’s Streets Dept + WeFilmPhilly collaboration video is a two-parter that explores the heights of Philly’s growing skyline with the addition of the new Comcast Technology Center. And today, we’re thrilled to share Part II!

Check out Part I here, and learn more about my new year-long partnership WeFilmPhilly that will be documenting Philly’s public art and architecture from new angles here!

Philly’s Streets Are Slowly Filling Up with Protest Street Signs

September 22, 2017

All around Philly, protest signs in the form of street signs have begun popping up. I saw the first one in person (photographed above) on North Broad street last week, then another posted by a friend on Instagram located in Fishtown. Each had the hashtag #ActivismAtWork on it.

The sign I saw read, ‘Hurry: Our Rights Are at Risk.’ After checking the hashtag on Instagram, I saw other signs posted which read, ‘Build Bridges, Not Walls,’ ‘Do Not Give Up,’ and ‘Resist.’

Searching the hashtag on Google, I found that the signs were all available for purchase on the Philadelphia-based clothing company Feminist Apparel‘s website. So, I reached out to Feminist Apparel’s Executive Director, Alan Martofel, to learn more. His response follows:

“The campaign is still very much in its infancy. We’ve created a series of #ActivismAtWork street signs for folks to put up around their communities. The idea behind the campaign and offering the street signs is in line with our ongoing mission of sparking dialogue surrounding intersectional feminist issues. We enjoy using street signs as a medium (a well we’re going back to after the successful campaign we did a few years ago with Pussy Division on the ‘No Catcalling Anytime’ street signs) because of the fact that they represent a form of communication typically handed down to us by our legislative bodies with the intent of guiding our actions for the sake of our protection and safety. That being said, we think that with the current state of governance in our country, there are a few sentiments that are as crucial for our safety that we need to be just as explicitly reminded of now, such as ‘Build Bridges, Not Walls,’ ‘RESIST,’ and ‘Hurry, Our Rights Are At Risk.’ You should start seeing more of these street signs pop up in the coming weeks, and hopefully beyond just Philadelphia.”

So whether you can/want to purchase your own #ActivismAtWork street signs, or just enjoy them as others install them around Philly (and beyond,) I definitely count myself as a fan of this project, and I’m excited to see where it goes!

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