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Looking up and down and finding art

1hrparkingAbout two years ago I noticed an anonymous street beatification project at the corner of 17th and South. Somebody had put up a landscape painting on the 1 hr parking signpost. The scene of mountains and valley is painted on a thin sheet of metal cut to the dimensions of the official city signs above it. It’s a nice, brushy painting and it’s weathered well outdoors. I like to think of it as a kind of anti-mural– a gift of art that’s not sanctioned, not photoshopped and just humbly hanging out.


Anyway, I consider this painting on a post a found object even though I can’t put it in my pocket and bring it home.

Speaking of found objects, my editor at the Weekly, Liz Spikol, is organizing a writing/exhibition project called Philly Phound based on found objects in Philadelphia. Apparently there’s an entire universe of finders out there (see foundmagazine)weaving stories around objects they’ve found in their neighborhoods. (If Joseph Cornell were alive I think he’d approve. His mystery boxes have found object appeal.) By the way, any writers out there interested in participating in Liz’s project, email her at


There’s something about the intersection of South and 17th that brings out the street art. I was walking up 17th St. with Stella the other day and she stopped abruptly at Kater and 17th and pointed down to a mystery piece of stencil art on the sidewalk. I can’t make out the star depicted (Val Kilmer, maybe? or some other slick frat boy type). But it’s a nice, two-color stencil, right there at your feet.


Crossing Kater, the sidewalk on the north side of the intersection has another — equally mysterious — piece of stencil art, this one of a madonna and child, all stylized and curvy-roundy. Is this a group stencil show? Could these two images be the work of two people responding to each other? They’re stylistically very different and yet that blue ink/paint’s pretty consistent.


Speaking of blue, here’s a small sticker I found around the corner on South St. between 16th and 15th (on a favorite postering and stickering wall on the south side of the street). It’s notable mostly for the relationship between the curling edge and the image which seems to relate. It’s a nice small moment on the street.


I don’t often brake for art but I pulled over for this Philadelphia Independent honor box on 22nd and Lombard. The Independent commissioned a couple of artists to paint their boxes a while back. I hadn’t seen this one before and its pop art, bubblegum pink and drippy yellow design appealed.


Painted by alt-illustrator Hawk Krall, the box has a nice, edgy, R. Crumb-iness going on that fits the corner and fits the publication to a t.

Any other Philadelphia found art stories, anybody? Or found art elsewhere in the universe? I’d love to hear them.