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In Trump’s First Year, Philly’s Public Spaces Transformed to Honor the Immigrant Experience

January 17, 2018

It’s nearing the anniversary of President Trump’s inauguration, a year that saw our president try to enact an illegal (and immoral) Muslim travel ban, threaten the status of Dreamers and people protected under DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) solely for political gain, and racistly refer to Haiti, African nations, and El Salvador as “shithole countries” in an attempt to argue that we should let less immigrants in from those places.

And through it all, Philadelphia used its public spaces to send a different message to immigrants, Dreamers, and refugees alike: that we respect their experiences and value their contributions to our city and our country. Let’s take a look at five of those public art installations that took place around Philly this past year:

Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture and Wendy Ewald’s An Immigrant Alphabet

Read more…

Philly Travels: Langston Clement Visits Miami’s Art Basel 2017

January 17, 2018


Post by Streets Dept Contributor, Langston Clement

If you’re looking to escape Philly’s unforgiving frigid weather in December, then Miami’s Art Basel just might do the trick. It’s one of the largest contemporary art fairs in the world that attracts an impressive roster of celebrities, artists and avid collectors from all over the globe. For a relatively cheap flight out of PHL, you can transport yourself from snow to South Beach with a travel time of roughly 3 hours. And if you’re a street art lover, it certainly will be worth every penny.

If you follow the international mural circuit, you’ll know that Wynwood Walls is the hot spot where some of the biggest names in the street art scene come to show off their latest and greatest. (Check out my previous article about Wynwood Walls here to get a bit of history.)

Inside the walls there were some incredible pieces by Tristan EatoneL SeedDasic FernandezThe London PoliceAlexis DiazJoe Iurato and more.

Read more…

Streets Dept Podcast, Episode 8: Chill Moody Talks Hip-Hop, Politics, and Reviving Philly’s Music Industry

January 16, 2018

Welcome to the 8th episode of the Streets Dept Podcast!

Today I’m joined by West Philly-based hip-hop artist, Chill Moody. Chill is without a doubt one of the top lyricists to hit Philadelphia in years. In fact, he was even named “Best Rapper” in Philadelphia Magazine’s annual Best Of issue back in 2014.

In addition to his breakthrough music career, Chill is also a businessman, a beer-maker, and Philadelphia’s official Music Ambassador working with The City to create pathways and connections for up-and-coming talent to work and thrive in Philly. His ultimate goal, to return Philly to its former status as a music mecca.

Listen to the episode here:

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

Subscribe to the Streets Dept Podcast on iTunesSoundCloud, 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. (It really, REALLY helps when y’all rate and review, so it’d mean the world to me if you could do that!)

Listen to past episodes here:
The Introduction Episode!
Episode 1, R. Eric Thomas
Episode 2, Philadelphia Councilwoman Helen Gym
Episode 3, Marisa Williamson
Episode 4, Swoon
Episode 5, eL Seed
Episode 6, Alex Hillman
Episode 7, Antoinette Marie Johnson

Season One of the Streets Dept Podcast is brought to you by our sponsors at The Navy Yard and Indy Hall! Each episode is mixed and edited by our Producer Mike Mehalick.

Keep Marching: Philly Celebrates MLK with Nine Student-Painted Sculptures Around Town

January 15, 2018


*This post is a part of a paid partnership with Comcast*

Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and over the weekend painted busts of Dr. King were installed around Philadelphia to honor his legacy and celebrate his dream.

These temporary additions to Philadelphia’s public art and monument landscape are a part of a community art project titled  Keep Marching that saw over 50 Philadelphia students from Art-Reach in partnership with the Overbrook School for the Blind, Big Brothers Big Sisters Independence Region, Philadelphia High School for the Creative and Performing Arts, and Girard College paint nine six-foot-tall busts of MLK inspired by some of the civil rights leader’s most influential and enduring quotes.

Keep Marching was commissioned by Comcast and is part of their ongoing Voices of the Civil Rights Movement program, a multimedia collaboration with the Equal Justice Initiative launched in 2013 that honors the legacy and impact of the men and women who championed racial equality in the United States.

And today I’m excited to announce that I’ve partnered with Comcast to document and explore Keep Marching and the work of these students over the coming weeks across Streets Dept’s blog and social media channels, so be sure to stay tuned (especially to my Instagram) to hear and see more about the people and inspirations behind this project! You can also learn more at the project’s website here.

Go see these, y’all! All nine of the sculptures will remain up through the end of February. Here’s where you can find them:

Read more…

Brilliant New Mural by Calo in Feltonville

January 12, 2018

(Photos by Streets Dept Contributor Eric Dale)

Absolutely in LOVE with Carlos Lopez Rosa (aka Calo)‘s new mural on the Feltonville Recreation Center at Wyoming avenue and Ella street!

Titled Blossoming Diversity, the mural was painted in November with Mural Arts Philadelphia. And in talking about his new mural, Calo wrote the following on his website:

“Flora, in her natural environment, blooms gracefully and peacefully, but when moved to a different one, needs more energy and effort to flourish. She may not bloom as many times, but does so with pride and honor.”

Blossoming Diversity represents this diverse neighborhood, where unique life stories can come together to create positive change. Like flowers from different environments around the world, we can all bloom together as a community, and in doing so create stronger roots for future.” 

See pervious work by Calo around Philly here and here!

Streets Dept Podcast, Episode 7: An Interview with Cohere’s Antoinette Marie Johnson

January 2, 2018

Welcome to the 7th episode of the Streets Dept Podcast! Today I’m joined by Antoinette Marie Johnson. Antoinette is writer, a former Army service member, and the CEO of Cohere, an urbanism-focused creative agency on a mission to build better cities through impactful brand experiences.

Today I talk with Antoinette about building Cohere out of her previous company At Media, on joining the U.S. Army to find structure and pay for college, and about focusing on fulfillment rather than happiness.

Listen to the episode now here:

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

Subscribe to the Streets Dept Podcast on iTunesSoundCloud, 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. (It really, REALLY helps when y’all rate and review, so it’d mean the world to me if you could do that!)

Listen to past episodes here:
The Introduction Episode!
Episode 1, R. Eric Thomas
Episode 2, Philadelphia Councilwoman Helen Gym
Episode 3, Marisa Williamson
Episode 4, Swoon
Episode 5, eL Seed
Episode 6, Alex Hillman

Season One of the Streets Dept Podcast is brought to you by our sponsors at The Navy Yard and Indy Hall! Each episode is mixed and edited by our Producer Mike Mehalick.

Philadelphia’s Top 10 Public Art Moments of 2017

December 27, 2017

(The world’s happiest raccoon eating the world’s biggest Philly pretzel mural by V.U.R.T. in Port Richmond)

Welcome to Streets Dept’s annual wrap-up of all the most talked about, engaging murals and public art created by artists and institutions around Philly this year!

This year, like last year, there was so much great murals and public art installations as well as street art work that I’ve decided yet again to create two separate ‘Top 10’ lists. So if you’re reading this be sure to also check out the Philadelphia’s Top 10 Street Art Moments of 2017 list!

And if you’re asking what’s the difference between street art, murals, and public art: murals and public art are commissioned, legal forms of art in the public space. And street art is not commissioned (aka illegal) but it’s usually (or at least often) either done on buildings/walls that are abandoned or on construction walls. And sometimes street art is even done in temporary ways that are completely non-destructive, like most yarnbombing for example.

This list and its order were primarily decided by you and your engagement with artists’ and artworks’ related posts on StreetsDept.com and Streets Dept’s social media channels (aka clicks, likes, comments, and shares,) with just a pinch of curation from me. So without further ado, here’s Philadelphia’s Top 10 Public Art Moments of 2017

10) Al-Bustan Honors the Experiences of Our City’s Young Dreamers, Refugees, and Immigrants with A Brilliant Installation in Center City

This Septmeber, Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture installed large banners all around the Municipal Services Building in Thomas Paine Plaza (at 15th street and JFK boulevard) that explored and honored the immigrant and refugee experiences of many young Philadelphians. The public art installation, titled An Immigrant Alphabet, which will now remain up up through February of 2018,  features the work of artist Wendy Ewald in collaboration with Northeast High School students.

See my video interview with artist Wendy Ewald and Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture’s Founder and Executive Director Hazami Sayed here!

9) More NDA Murals, Please!

Philly-based artist and muralist, NDA, painted his first larger-scale Mural Arts Philadelphia mural this summer at 10th and Brandywine streets, and it absolutely took my breath away! This joins the mural NDA painted on Honeygrow‘s Front Street Walls in the summer of 2016 (at the same time he painted this stunner of a mural on the inside of Honeygrow’s Head Office in Fishtown); and follows the first mural NDA ever created with Murals Arts, a temporary mural on the Fillmore in Fishtown in February of 2016.

Suffice it to say that NDA is one of my favorite artists living and working in Philly right now, and I’d love to see him get some bigger mural work in 2018!

See more photos of NDA’s mural pictured above here!

8) Revolutionary: A Pop-Up Street Art Exhibition

In December of 2016, at the same time I was working with other artists and organizers planning Collective Action and Signs of Solidarity, I got an email from Britney Norman of Visit Philadelphia asking if I might be interested in curating an outdoor exhibition with them that summer around Philadelphia’s Historic District. That project became Revolutionary: A Pop-Up Street Art Exhibition, a six-week exhibition of 13 contemporary Philly-based artists installed at 13 historic locations around Old City, Society Hill, and a section of the Delaware River Waterfront.

For ​Revolutionary​, I invited Philly-based artists who were using their art to examine the world around us and challenge our current political and social status quo. From Lisa Kelley’s weavings that connect the struggles, the despair, and the stories of hope surrounding addiction and the opioid epidemic installed at the Arch Street Meeting House. To Yasmine Mustafa and Monica O‘s collaborative poster at the African American Museum in Philadelphia about privilege and the Birth Lottery, the the idea that no one can choose the circumstances they’re born into, so why not work to recognize this more and engage each other with more empathy. To Shawn Theodore‘s installation on Elfreth’s Alley that serves as A Reminder that for those in this nation with ancestors who persevered under the tyranny of slavery before and after colonial independence, that change, that revolution, has truly yet to arrive.

With ​Revolutionary​, I wanted the juxtaposition of contemporary art with social and political themes over historic place and architecture to pull a thread through history to the hopes and challenges of our present day. It was the first large-scale exhibition I ever curated, and I was so honored to work with the caliber of artists and locations we worked with to create what I hope was a thought-provoking exhibition about how we can better use public space to step out of our bubbles, work to understand other people’s struggles and viewpoints, and to actively engage in looking at the people in world around us with empathy first.

Read and see much more about Revolutionary here!

7) Conquer: Amberella and Glossblack Collaborate On A New Mural

In 2017, two of my favorites collaborated for the first time, and I loved the result!

The mural was a collaboration by beloved Philly street artist Amberella and Philly-based graffiti legend Glossblack, and it became the latest of Honeygrow‘s Front Street Walls series of rotating murals in Fishtown. Read more…

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