West Philly windows


Neil O'brien in window at Urban Outfitters
A view of some of Neil O’Brien’s work in the Urban Outfitters window on Sansom and 36th

The corner of 36th and Sansom–that would be right across from the ICA, which may or may not be a hint of some kind–is full of surprises. First I passed by an Urban Outfitters window on Sansom Street, filled with work that looked vaguely familiar, although I’m still not sure why. I peered into the window to see the artists signature; there was none. But when I stepped back, paint spelled out in giant orange letters across the bottom of the window the website of the artist–neilobrienart.com. I still don’t know where I saw the work before–maybe online?

Caroline Santa in window at Urban Outfitters
Caroline Santa hanging her work in the window at Urban

Then I saw someone installing work that I instantly recognized as Caroline Santa’s. I knocked on the window, mouthing, Are you Caroline Santa? After some nodding and some finger pointing and some body English, we met in the front of Urban Outfitters and talked. She sent out a mass email this morning with this info:

Caroline Santa in window at Urban Outfitters
Caroline Santa in the window, in front of her work

Some recent work which I made while in Colombia, South America last year is now on view in the exhibition window of Urban Outfitters, directly opposite the ICA (36th and Sansom Streets in Philadelphia). …It will be up until April 24th.

Michael B. Schwartz in window on 36th...
Michael B. Schwartz, some of his work hanging in the old EMS store on 36th near Sansom.

Then I turned the corner and saw mural artist Michael B. Schwartz’s paintings of endangered creatures on recycled plastic, plus some roughly stitched objects like cereal bags painted with green globes. A couple of his paintings he bagged in other recycled plastic; one of them was sparkling with condensation from the hot-cold weather cycle in the window–a product of unintended consequences. I thought the droplets were glass beads at first. Best was a painting of a frog.

Michael B. Schwartz work at 40th Street AiRspace
Michael B. Schwartz work at 40th Street AiRspace

I had also stopped by Schwartz’s show at 40th Street AiRspace. I liked how the plastic “canvases” became layers that allowed you to see through to the original, printed words and markings. Although the content was expected, the execution–the plastic transluscency and the painting–made for some easy looking.


airspace, caroline santa, michael b. schwartz, neil o'brien



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