Fishtown once was home to solid middle and lower income families. This started to change in the early 1980’s when I purchased my home. Thirty years later the real estate value of my house has increased by 600%. Every possible open lot and non-functional building is highly sought after for new housing, business and institutional construction and re-construction. Fishtown and nearby Kensington gradually, through the years, also became a home and hub for art and artist. There is much to be said of its economic and cultural effect but I’ll focus on public art that has vanished. Shissler playground, also ... More » »
How many times have I passed by a demolished row house in Philadelphia, and stared at the wallpaper exposed to the elements on the neighboring brick wall. The weathered map of the rooms and stairs outlined on the standing house’s side tells a story of loss and memory and survival.
A post about the terrific new mural at Feltonville School for the Arts just perked me right up. Check out the tree trunk!!!! Hats off to all who participated, including lead artist Michael B. Schwartz and assistant Erika Matyok and all the kids and teachers at the school. (I do believe this is part of the program that has been cut!!!! Are they nuts?)
mural Inheritors of the Dragon, mosaic, created by Mike Smash with DHS kids in 2002. The building owner has now covered the head of the dragon to prevent it from bringing bad luck to business. I don’t know when this picture was taken, but the dumpster in front of the mural is a sure sign of earlier disrespect. Maybe that’s why the dragon has brought bad luck! The mural is a project of the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program. A casual conversation with muralist Mike Smash at a party Saturday at the home of good friend Deborah Zuchman on the subject ... More » »
Students at the William Dick Elementary School paint a mural Walking into and around two of Philadelphia’s public schools recently, I got a sharp reminder of the barren oppressiveness communicated by bad, utilitarian architecture and unrelieved flat blacktop school yards. But help is here–murals, art, color, more–or at least was here for 20 schools a year for the past three years. Alas, the program has been cut!!!! In a school district that has been excising art from the curriculum, art teacher by art teacher, school by school, this would be a counter-intuitive decision. I stopped by a couple of school ... More » »
Philadelphia Stars Memorial Park, landscape designed by Synterra, Ltd. While we’re on the subject of murals and public art and taste, the Negro Leagues baseball monument, which includes a sculpture, a mural and a pair of green plazas has been catching my eye each time I drive by 44th and Parkside on my way to points north of West Philadelphia. The monument, which went up this past year, is where the Philadelphia Stars ballpark used to be, at 44th and Parkside. The Stars played there from 1933 to 1952. A list of all the Negro League teams of the time ... More » »
Book Review by Andrea Kirsh Cover of More Philadelphia Murals and the Stories They Tell The Philadelphia Mural Arts Program (MAP) has come out with a second, fully-illustrated book: More Philadelphia Murals and the Stories They Tell ( by Jane Golden et al, published by Temple University Press; available here ). The program is justly proud of its more than two decades of work which has covered more than 2600 walls in Philadelphia. Its success reflects a clarity of purpose highly unusual among public art programs. It began under the auspices of an anti-graffiti program when Jane Golden, the artist ... More » »
I’m always looking for treasures for my thrift art collection so Stella and I hunted a little while we had some down time in Pacific Grove. For some reason, PG — population 2.2 residents and 2,000 tourists — has four thrift shops and they’re all pretty good. I found the hand-painted Romanian plate (image above) at the PG Episcopal thrift shop. The plate is made of wood and dated 1979. And if Fodor’s rated thrift stores, this one would be right up there. Meanwhile in San Francisco my day of art looking down-shifted to an hour at SF MOMA and ... More » »