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Philly Sculptor Installs Temporary Rainbow Monument in Fairmount Park

May 8, 2020

I am in LOVE with this new (well, not exactly new) installation by Philadelphia-based sculptor, Sarah Peoples!

Located in Fairmount Park’s Lemon Hill, Sarah installed the piece street-art-style (aka non-commissioned) as a reaction to our time. “I had seen the symbol of a rainbow in my neighborhood of Brewerytown grow into a universal emblem of hope in the pandemic and the idea struck me how ‘real’ symbolic imagery truly is,” Sarah mentioned to me over Instagram direct message. “I remembered that this rainbow was sitting in storage. Watching things unfold during this global pandemic had left me feeling particularly useless/helpless and I wanted to do something. I put the piece up to support the essential workers, the doctors, nurses and everyone working in the hospitals, the grocery store workers, etc.”

While the placement is new, Sarah had actually created the artwork years ago before pulling it out of storage for its current iteration: “The original 2013 piece was entitled Plastic Rainbow, Incorporating Thomas Doughty’s Morning Among the Hills wherein I enlarged a Hudson River School painting as a 16′ x 14′ canvas backdrop and placed the assemblage of plastics into a rainbow formation in front. I was considering symbolism in art within a very specific American painting genre – Hudson River School landscapes.”

“I think we need anything that will bring us together, especially in light of the spectacular mishandling and inexplicably selfish response of our federal government to the crisis,” Sarah added. “I placed it on Lemon Hill because it is very close to my studio/house and I wanted to be able to check in on it for upkeep. Moreover I have long viewed the plinth it sits upon as a perfect place for a temporary sculpture. It is an empty former pedestal to what I assume was a large stone or bronze statue which fell into dis-repair and was removed.”

Thank you, Sarah!

City-wide Street Art Project is Filling Walls with Hopes for Our Post-COVID Future

May 7, 2020

Over the last several weeks a new multi-artist street art project called Fill the Walls with Hope has emerged on walls and temporarily boarded up windows across Philadelphia. Organized by Mark Strandquist and created with submissions by dozens of artists, the project features a series of thoughtfully collaged artworks wheatpasted together, the individual artworks each containing messages related to our COVID-19 moment. Those messages are a mix of public health information, like reminding people to remain 6ft. apart with a diagram of what that looks like. As well as messages of thanks for the essential workers leading us through this moment and hopes for the society we rebuild moving forward.

You know, it’s been widely refreshing to see so many artists use what they have to thank essential workers in this moment, and you just have to go look at the last number of weeks of this blog to see examples of that. But with this project I find it equally inspiring to see messages that also speak to the systemic issues COVID-19 has put a magnifying glass on. Messages around deincarceration, confronting racism, valuing all immigrants, housing and healthcare as human rights, and the fight for trans, queer, and femme futures, among other messages standing together calling for a more just and equitable future for all.

Read more…

Streets Dept Podcast – SN 3, EP 12: Tattooed Mom’s Robert Perry, Our Unprecedented Moment and An Iconic Philly Bar

April 28, 2020

Welcome back to the Streets Dept Podcast, y’all! The Streets Dept Podcast is one-on-one interview podcast where I, your host Conrad Benner, sit down with the creative minds shaping the world around us, from Philadelphia and beyond. Creative minds like street artists, poets, activists, politicians, small business owners, and community organizers.

And thanks for your patience as I paused this season to adjust to our new COVID-19 normal. For this podcast, that new normal includes recording our interviews over a phone/internet connection, which is something I was trying to avoid because as listeners of this Streets Dept Podcast road trip season will know I highly value in person conversations. Alas, the moment calls for social distancing, so that’s how I’ll be recording these interviews for the time being.

Today’s guest is the owner of the beloved Philly bar and restaurant Tattooed Mom (aka “Tmoms” or “Mom’s”), Robert Perry. Robert was scheduled long before the Coronavirus pandemic, we booked for a March interview last November, in fact. But the measures taken in recent weeks to slow the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic here in the U.S. have added an entirely new frame for our conversation.

Robert and I recorded today’s episode just over a week ago, on April 18th. At that time, more than five weeks into closing Tmoms for everything but take-out service, Robert had received no help from the local, state, or federal level. So, as you might expect, we use the first half of our conversation to dive into the challenges and fears of this unprecedented moment for him and his small business that has been one of the anchors of South Street for now 23 years. But we also talk about the history of Mom’s, about the ever-changing nature of South Street itself, and Robert tells us more about growing up in Hawaii.

Check out my conversation with Robert Perry below, or on any major podcast streaming platform by searching “Streets Dept Podcast”!

Streets Dept Podcast · Robert Perry

Be sure to subscribe to the Streets Dept Podcast on Apple PodcastsSpotifyGoogle PlayStitcher, or any major podcast streaming platform to receive new 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. (Truly, rating and reviewing podcasts, particularly on Apple Podcasts, helps us so SO much, so thank you for doing that.) Read more…

Meg Saligman is Painting A “Hugging Pile” Mural in Bella Vista Because That’s What We All Want Right Now

April 21, 2020

Last week, a new mural inspired by our Coronavirus quarantine started to emerge on the outside of Meg Saligman’s Bella Vista studio!

Meg is, of course, one of our city’s most legendary public arts makers, creating such iconic Philly murals as Common Threads (1998) and Philadelphia Muses (2001). Meg’s studio, which is located on Bainbridge Street between 8th and 9th Streets, has hosted a number of rotating murals over the year including this much beloved one predicting the Philadelphia Eagles 2018 Super Bowl victory. That Eagles mural, by the way, is still there! This wall is pretty long. But, closer to the 9th Street side of the building, a new work of art featuring people and animals huddled close together has started to be painted.

Curious about the new additions, I called Meg Saligman. With the working title of, Hugging Pile, Meg told that she was inspired to create the mural in response to how she was feeling in this moment as the entire city is under stay-at-home orders to help slow the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic. Meg’s studio, usually bustling with staff and projects, is a one-woman-workshop while all non-essential work is halted. She wanted to paint what she was longing for, Meg said: human touch, a hug, togetherness. So she got to painting for herself and for her neighbors to enjoy.

The mural is going up slowly as Meg works cautiously in these times. But I’ll be sure to update this post as it’s finished.

In the meantime, thank you, Meg!

Forget the Handful of Protesters in Harrisburg, These Are The Only Protest Signs Worth Reading Today

April 20, 2020

A new series of wheatpastes by Philly-area street artist Sean 9 Lugo thanks healthcare workers and reminds us that we’re all in this together!

The new artworks feature one of Sean’s classic animal headed figures holding a cardboard protest sign with different text. And for this series the figure featured was inspired by @DudeWithASign, the viral Instagram meme generator that’s earned over 7 million followers. The wheatpastes photographed for this post are installed at Broad and Jackson Streets and Broad and Wharton Streets, respectively, in South Philly. And they read, “Thank you doctors, nurses, and medical staff,” and “We’re in this together.”

Sean wrote in an Instagram post about his new series, “In times like these we have to show love and appreciation to those fighting everyday to save lives.” And I couldn’t agree more!

Ironically, Sean’s new series of wheatpastes that depict a dude holding protest signs that thank healthcare workers and remind us we’re in this together come the same week we’re seeing images come from small protests outside a few state capitals of people protesting for an end to the sorts of public health safety measures that are keeping our hospitals from reaching capacity and keeping us all safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. This thought occurred to me as I started writing this post. So, please, if you’re reading this right now don’t give those other protesters the attention they so desperately crave. Give it to this series instead!

See past installations by Sean 9 Lugo around Philly here! And browse Sean 9 Lugo’s web store here!

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