—>Roman walks the Frankford Avenue corridor of Fishtown and points out ten works of art that adorn the buildings and gardens in the arty neighborhood. –the artblog editors____________________>
I previously wrote about Fishtown’s public art that vanished. This time I present a walking tour of Fishtown’s current public art. Frankford Avenue of the Arts is the journey’s main path. You will see more than ten different works, from funded murals to spontaneous works by some named and unnamed artists.
Begin at Rocket Cat Cafe
Begin at the corner of Frankford Avenue and Norris Street. The landmark is the Rocket Cat Café with its own huge mural by international street art super star Shephard Fairey.
Walk East on Frankford Ave (towards the river) and pass the empty lot. Just there past the lot is the first stop at the Philadelphia Sculpture Gym, 1834 E. Frankford Ave. “Invisible Art: An Exploration in Color” by Brad Carney and Michael Konrad, a new and unique lenticular mural adjoins the wall of the Sculpture Gym. The artists designed and constructed the mural with the assistance of the Mural Arts Program’s Art Education Department.
Go inside the planned sculpture garden to see the reverse side of the mural panels to get the full meaning of its title. Also in the garden you may find the word “Peace” spelled out with bricks. To see the mural from its best vantage point cross the avenue.
Continue one block down Frankford Avenue to Berks Street to find the next mural, “The Vegetable Garden” by Jane Dagenhardt Kutzer, which is appropriately placed across from the North Kensington CDC Garden Center.
Now cross over Frankford Avenue and walk to the middle of the block to find an un-named painting on a picket fence. This work, which adjoins House Gallery 1816, was created by the joint effort of Eder Muniz and LeJosh (Josh Smith). The House Gallery 1816 is the residence of artist Michelle Marcuse and Henry Bermudez who are two engaging and welcoming people. They’re hoping to finish renovation work to re-open the gallery by October of this year.
Continue down Frankford to Montgomery Avenue, which is the next intersection. Cross Frankford Avenue and continue on Montgomery to near the middle of the block on the right hand side. You’ll come upon the Angler Movement Arts Center. Behind the tall wooden entry door are ten magnificent life-size metal sculptures of dancers adorning the fence. (I’m hopeful that a reader can provide the name of the artist.) It’s best to contact the center to view this art in full.
Return to Frankford Avenue and cross over. Continue to the last house (2000 block) and carefully look for an artful design of a fish in the pavement. A tattoo artist named Hoode and operator of the Black Vulture Galley on Girard Avenue, created the work when a new pavement was being laid. There is also a stained glass fish in the front door transom.
Keep the noise down. They just had a baby.
Keep walking to the next intersection, Palmer Street, and you’ll find Fishtown’s largest and most iconic mural.
I never concerned myself with the title of this mural until an employee of the business on which the mural appears pointed out the title and credits: “You Can Be Stronger Than Diabetes” by Kristin Groeveld of the MDO Mural Arts Program. Many neighborhood people are confused and disappointed by the title because it has nothing to do with Fishtown. They are surprised that the Fishtown Neighbors Association and NKCDC, who are acknowledged for special thanks on the mural, seem to have missed this point.
Cross back over the avenue by Palmer Park. You’ll have a good three to four block walk around the bend to the next location. You’ll come to tiny Mercer Street. Lola Bean Café is there and across from it is the long-standing sculpture garden. Multiple works by sculptor John Boyce are on display: “Three Kings”, “Utah Noon” “Plato’s Cat” (pictured), “Three Fishes” and an ornate garden gate.
Walk down Mercer Street and in an empty lot is a mural. Neighbors call it “The Honey Comb.” The actual title may be hidden by the thick growth of weeds. You will be able to see that it was dedicated “For Jason and Haley Best Wishes.”
Come see this while you can. Neighbors told me that there are plans to build a house on the lot. This will soon be art that vanished from Fishtown.
The end – Fishtown steps, figures on telephone polls and the Palmer Cemetery
Keep walking on Mercer Street and then turn left onto Crease Street and walk to the corner. Turn right on Belgrade Street and maybe you’ll see Flossy and Mike (Michelle) sitting on the step. (Not stoop! You’re in Fishtown)
Cross over Marlborough Street and look at the first telephone poll. You’ll find three metal figures of people on the pole. These figures have been up for ten years or even longer. Several neighbors said that artist use to live in that apartment house but no one knew who they were. Maybe some reader can shed some light on this one too.
That’s the end of the walking tour. You can walk down Belgrade Street for two more blocks and visit Historic Palmer Cemetery and stop in Anne’s store for refreshments.
–All photos by Roman Blazic. Roman is the second of three generations to participate in the arts: photography, songwriting and musical performance. Roman is a Board Member of the Friends of Penn Treaty Park and member of the Fairmount Park Commission Rodeo Development Committee. Roman is an active supporter of the Fishtown art scene. He also contributes photographs to the local community groups and newspapers.