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Ash Ryan Finishes Her Lil Nas X Mural in Philly’s Gayborhood, Lil Nas X Takes Notice

June 9, 2021

Ash Ryan‘s new mural celebrating artist and musician Lil Nas X has been completed in Philly’s Gayborhood! The mural was painted with permission by the wall’s owner Ram Krishnan, owner of Writer’s Block Rehab, and is located at 1338 Cypress Street.

The mural was inspired by an Instagram Stories post by me, no less, which playfully called for a Lil Nas X mural in Philly after the release of their wildly popular single, MONTERO (Call Me by Your Name). Any longtime reader of this blog will know I’ve long wished there was more LGBTQ+ representation in our public art, so Philly being able to so quickly turn around this fun mural to celebrate a contemporary icon and one of the world’s biggest pop stars who is part of the LGBTQ+ community is so great to see!

The mural was funded by the artist herself with support from Writer’s Block Rehab via a crowdfunding campaign, which you can still go support if you’d like. And as of this post, the mural’s been shared to international audiences by the likes of Variety Magazine and even posted by Lil Nas X on their Instagram account!

Two New Center City Murals Honor Community Leaders and Activists in Philly

June 5, 2021

There’s now an incredible new pair of murals around MSB Plaza in Center City from artist Russell Craig and Mural Arts Philadelphia! Tilted Crown: Freedom and Crown: Medusa, Russell’s murals pay tribute to Black women activists as well as to the collective movement to heal the BIPOC community through yoga and meditation, with a focus on health and well-being. All murals in the series are set against a backdrop of names of Black people killed by police in the United States.

The mural on the west side of the building, Crown: Medusa (pictured first and third), honors SpiritsUp! founder Sudan Green (front, center), as well as (from left to right), Max Ho, Debora Charmelus, Christina Jackson, Aaliyah Michelle, and Gregory Coachman.

And Crown: Freedom (pictured second), the mural on the east side, pays tribute to Black women activists. The individuals featured in this mural (from left to right) are Dr. Ala Stanford, Sajda “Purple” Blackwell, Ajeenah Amir, Krystal Strong, Kezia Ridgeway, YahNé Ndgo, and Pam and Ramona Africa.

These new murals sit where countless protests have taken place over the years. And where a statue to Philadelphia’s former police commissioner and most divisive mayor, racist Frank Rizzo, used to stand before it was taken down soon after the nation’s historic Black Lives Matter marches of 2020. Now in its place rise portraits of contemporary Philadelphians who are working in any number of ways to make our city a better place for its people, along with the names of victims of police violence nationwide. A reflection of our time, and in my opinion a reminder of the work our elected officials must do to demilitarize our police and fund our communities.

Streets Dept Walls Presents “BLOOM” Mural Exhibition at 2021 Philadelphia Flower Show

May 23, 2021

So excited to announce today that Streets Dept Walls will be presenting a trio of new artist murals at the 2021 Philadelphia Flower Show!

If you haven’t heard the news yet, for the first time in its 193 year history the Flower Show is outdoors this year in a section of FDR Park in South Philly! The nation’s largest and longest-running horticultural event, the PHS Philadelphia Flower Show is a stunning and educational look at the world of floral design and gardening. Annually, the event features breathtaking displays by the world’s premier floral and landscape designers. And now, three new murals from us!

Streets Dept Walls: BLOOM is a celebration of the power of nature and our public space. Through this pandemic year, for many it was our local outdoor public spaces that routinely nurtured, focused, and connected our hearts, minds, and bodies. For “BLOOM,” curator and founder Conrad Benner has invited three Philly-area artists to creatively interpret the role of nature in our lives.

Artists A’Driane Nieves and Dora Cuenca are both returning for “BLOOM” after creating murals for our very first Streets Dept Walls at the Fashion District in 2019. (A’Driane’s 2019 Streets Dept Walls mural was eventually sold to Queer Eye‘s Jonathan Van Ness, if you hadn’t heard that exciting news!) Le Josh will also be joining us, an artist whose work I’ve admired for years but yet to have a chance to work with. I’m so excited to see what these three create for “BLOOM”!

Click here to get your tickets today to attend the 2021 Philadelphia Flower Show kicking off from June 5-13! If you’re unable to attend for any reason, our three “BLOOM” murals will be moving to one of the PHS Pop Up Gardens for the rest of this summer, which is free to check out, and we’ll have more info on that after the Flower Show.

A’Driane Nieves, “Lilly’s Garden”

ARTIST STATEMENT: My great grandmother Addie B. Lilly Rhodes was a businesswoman and patron of the Philadelphia arts community who loved helping North Philadelphians access the resources they needed to take care of themselves and their families. She also deeply loved making and growing flowers. Every Mother’s Day, she would make beautiful bouquets of paper flowers that my grandmother Glendola and her sisters Gypsy, Joyce, and Charlotte would then sell to neighbors. She purchased the empty lot next to her home and turned it into a garden full of rose bushes and a variety of flowers she doted on. Pink roses were her favorites. I created this piece in honor of her memory, legacy, and all she gave to both her family and community. She was our matriarch; I am one of the many flowers blooming today because of her love.

Le Josh, “Fruition”

ARTIST STATEMENT: Sitting in the park one day I found myself gazing at a single tree. As my eyes explored the shapes and patterns of its long branches and dancing leaves the vision continued to evolve as hidden and harmonious patterns revealed themselves. That moment was an inspiration and reminder to appreciate this natural beauty wherever there is life.

Dora Cuenca, “Flower Grown”

ARTIST STATEMENT: Plant a seed in live soil. Give it water, but not too much. Let some light shine through. Patience is the game. Perseverance is the lesson. Once it blooms, beauty isn’t the only gain…for you too have grown.

Announcing the Streets Dept Podcast “Sidebar” Series

May 16, 2021

Welcome to the first Streets Dept Podcast “Sidebar” series, where we’ll explore different topics and issues with multiple people over several episodes!

For this first Sidebar series, Sidebar: A New View – Camden, we’ll be talking with artists Don Kennell and Lisa Adler, along with the Vice President of Cooper’s Ferry Partnership Meishka Mitchell, to begin a conversation about public art, public space, and the $4 million problem of illegal dumping in Camden, New Jersey.  

Check out the episode below, or on any major podcast streaming platform by searching “Streets Dept Podcast”!

Be sure to subscribe to the Streets Dept Podcast on Apple PodcastsSpotifyStitcher, 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 much, so thank you for doing that.)

The Streets Dept Podcast is part of the RADIOKISMET family of podcasts. Each episode is mixed and edited by our brilliant audio engineer, Mike Mehalick.

Subscribe to Streets Dept’s Patreon Now for Access to Extra Content and Events!

May 12, 2021

So excited to announce that Streets Dept will be creating extra content and hosting new events all exclusively for our new Patreon subscribers! 

Why Patreon? Using Patreon to earn support directly from you, our readers, allows us the freedom to focus on the content. We have a lot we want to create for you, and your direct support will help us to sustain that effort. 

What do you get? Oh boy, a lot! We’ve thought a lot about this. We even surveyed y’all a few months ago to sense check our intuitions. Depending on which level you support, you’ll gain access to a new monthly newsletter with local art histories, tips on what Philly gallery shows to check out that month, and new helpful public art walking maps that you can use to give yourself and your friends a tour of some of the city’s most exciting permanent public artworks! We’re also developing a new kind of talk show just for our Patreon subscribers that’ll host freewheeling monthly chats with local artists (think more fun talk show vibes than art lectures). Not to mention a longer-form Local Tourist photo guide to cool spots around Philly, our first-ever year-end magazine to be created with local artists, Streets Dept Excursions (formerly tours) and more.

Check out our Patreon page now to see all the benefits!

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