Weekly Update – New Alternative Spaces!

This week’s Weekly has my roundup of four new alternative art spaces bringing excitement to the scene. Below is the copy with some pictures. More photos at flickr.

Space Cowboys
Gritty new DIY spaces point to the future of Philly art.

Sprinkled around town in apartments, warehouses and storefronts from the Italian Market to Oak Lane are four new collectives and artist-run spaces that aim to transform Philadelphia into a mecca for cutting-edge art.


Little Berlin
Little Berlin, at 1801 Howard St., when I went up to look before they opened in September. The blue mats on the floor are for a martial arts class held in the space.

Someone told Kristen Neville and Martha Savery that with artists rehabbing buildings and starting up projects in a forgotten neighborhood, Kensington felt like postwar Berlin. Neville and Savery liked the notion, so they named their new space Little Berlin (1801 N. Howard St. 610.308.0579).

To create the gallery, they moved their own studios to the side, and tore down walls to put up new ones. Little Berlin’s skylit space has a wood-beamed high ceiling, exposed pipes and a mottled concrete floor. It’s just the kind of environment where experimental art and performance thrive.


Martha Savery
Martha Savery with the sign they made for their new Little Berlin in the 1801 Howard Street complex.

Little Berlin’s debut show in September was a hit with more than 100 people attending the opening (and Tyler alum Bill Covaleski, who owns Victory Brewing, donating beer). The ambitious pair hopes to have a Philly-Berlin exchange show sometime soon.

Katrina, Austin, Joe, Jen
Katrina Mortorff, Austin Lee, Joe Picone and Jen Fairchild at ! Gallery for their first exhibit last summer. The Oak Lane space is a block away from a Septa rail line–accessible to all regardless of car status!


Austin Lee and Katrina Mortorff’s storefront gallery Exclamation gallery (727 Oak Ln. 570.906.0766) doubles as their living room when it’s not given over to exhibitions. The couple decided to open the gallery in the 17-by-19-foot room as a way to keep in touch with friends and meet new artists.

exxcapes at !
exxcapes at Exclamation Gallery card. the show runs Oct 26-Nov. 9 with a reception Oct. 26 7-10 pm.

Their first exhibit in July—featuring themselves and nine artist friends—focused on armageddon, while a landscape show titled “Exxcapes” opens later this month. They’re a little poorer since the space’s debut, says Lee, but a little happier too

Joe DiGiuseppe and Chris Golas
Joe DiGiuseppe and Chris Golas, who, with Josh Kerner founded AMMS/Flux, where, in December, Oliver Herring will screen a new Philly-made video.

Class of ’06 Tyler grads Joseph DiGiuseppe, Chris Golas and Josh Kerner founded Art Making Machine Studios and FLUXspace (3000 N. Hope St. 508.341.4765) last year, taking over a North Philly warehouse and turning it into artist studios, a community work space and several exhibition areas. The group is interested in reaching out to the neighborhood (they hope to do children’s art programming), and wants to be part of the discussion about art in Philadelphia. To that end they recently launched a curatorial discussion group to foster better exhibitions.

Art Making Machine Studios/Flux Space
Studio space at AMMS goes for around $300/month. When I spoke with AMMS a week ago they had a vacancy or two.

Their own exhibit program is ambitious and provocative. The performance by the Belknap Brothers IN JUNE [Ed. note: corrected from “in September”] featured the brothers dressed as girls with large puppet heads dancing on a jumbo turntable to beats delivered by a cross-dressing drummer. In December FLUXspace will screen a new collaborative community video by Oliver Herring which will be projected on the outside of the building as well as inside all month long.


Lizzie Fitch and Brian McKelligott's installation at Bobo's on 9th a few months back.
Lizzie Fitch and Brian McKelligott’s installation at Bobo’s on 9th a few months back.

Drew Gillespie, Nick Payne and Phil Cote (whose art-performance band Bobo plays locally) moved to Philadelphia 18 months ago. The trio opened Bobo’s on 9th (1134 S. Ninth St. 770.330.0615) to show art, screen movies and host music nights. The fledgling space just got started, and this month’s show features recent Philly arrival Jesse A. Greenberg, whose interactive installations called “MegaBinxes” look like lobotomized video arcade robots—flashy but sweet and gentle.

Jesse A Greenberg Invitational Booth 3.jpg
Jesse Greenberg’s Invitational Booths which he calls MegaBinxes.

These and many other adventurous DIY spaces in town—all self-funded—will help the art sector move forward. They truly are the future. The next mayor should support this enterprise with funding and tax breaks. If he does he’ll help create the next generation of leaders in this vital sector of Philadelphia’s economy.

NOTE: I had some wonderful conversations and emails with the founders of these groups and will try to distill them into something coherent and run them some time soon.