Jack Whitten video, Hydroponic gardening in Reading Terminal, Artseeing booklet and Common Field sunsets

In this short News post, we bring you stories of: a hydroponic herb and greens farmette in Reading Terminal; a small book with self guided tours of Philly's street art; a link to a terrific 9-minute video featuring Jack Whitten in his studio in 2018, the year he died; and a shocking and surprising announcement by Common Field of their imminent demise as an arts and culture organizer known for their annual convening.

NEWS – Common Field closes up shop

Announcing it is “sunsetting” in December, 2022 — as a result of organizational dysfunction brought to light (and confirmed in a highly critical independent audit) — and an insurmountable financial hurdle from inadequate financial oversight, the organization is closing down operations and publicly admitting deep flaws in structure and with personnel. Read the statement with links to the audit. Common Field held its signature annual convening in Philadelphia in 2019. Artblog received a small grant from the organization to create the Artblog Map as part of the convening program.

ICYMI – Hydroponic Garden grows in Reading Terminal!

Christina, a Black women with medium-length black hair, leaning on a counter and holding up a peace sign in front of a hydroponic garden and art, primarily portraits, hanging on the wall behind them.
Christina McCoy inside her Sustainable Farm by Custom Cuisine stall at the Reading Terminal Market. Photo: Mike D’Onofrio/Axios. Courtesy

From Mike D’Onofrio for Axios (via Harriett’s Bookshop):

Inside one of America’s oldest public markets, Christina McCoy tends to a high-tech, vertical garden.

What’s happening: McCoy is the owner of the Sustainable Farm by Custom Cuisine, a hydroponic farming stall that opened in Reading Terminal Market in November.

  • She grows kale, rosemary, rainbow chard and dozens of other herbs and greens on a pair of vertical farming systems.
  • “If you can make a cup of coffee in a Keurig … you can grow a plant,” she said.

How it works: The Philly native, who’s also a chef, had been involved in community gardening for years. But the pandemic helped thrust her into hydroponic farming, a technique to grow plants indoors — without soil — using a nutrient-rich solution.

  • She said it allows her to grow crops faster and in small spaces without the need of large plots of land, which are a rarity in the city.

The big picture: McCoy views her shop as a community space, and she uses it to boost other Black women business owners, particularly those in the health and wellness space.

  • Her store’s shelves are lined with art, wellness products and other items from nine local Black-owned businesses. McCoy also sells her own skin care products, like body lotion and soaps.
  • “I want to intentionally uplift some women who are around me immediately in Philadelphia,” McCoy said.

Zoom out: Black-owned businesses account for 10 of the more than 80 merchants inside Reading Terminal.

  • Three Black-owned businesses, including McCoy’s, opened in the market over the past year or so.

What’s ahead: McCoy hopes to eventually expand her growing operation, potentially to a warehouse. .

  • That would allow her to “maximize my output so that I’m having an impact and not just giving people vegetables one time or even one plant, but able to continue that in the future.”

Visit: 51 N. 12th St., Suite D5. Open 11am-6pm, Wednesday-Sunday.


Streets Dept has a booklet for you!

It’s called Artseeing, and it’s full of self-guided tours.

Booket cover for "Artseeing" from Streets Dept., featuring an image of Conrad Benner walking in vans skate high sneakers and holding the booklet, with the same picture inside of that booklet, and so on and so forth until it's too small to see.
Artseeing, a Philly street art self-guided tour booklet created by Streets Department. Image courtesy of Streets Department


Streets Dept is releasing a printed booklet of self-guided tours this summer! We’re calling it Artseeing.

It’s not just murals—it’s monuments, shops, galleries, and more! It’s sightseeing, but for art of all types.

How can you get your copy of the first edition of Artseeing? Join the Streets Dept Patreon!

  • If you’re already a member of the Paper ($10), Events ($35), or Benefactor ($50) tiers, thanks for your support! You’re all set to automatically receive Artseeing in three months.
  • If you’re already a member of the Content ($5) tier, thank you for your support as well! To receive Artseeing in three months, all you have to do is upgrade your membership by the end of April.
  • If you’re not a member of the Streets Dept Patreon yet, join the Paper ($10) tier now to get Artseeing after your third month. You’ll also receive a bunch of other membership benefits!

Direct support through Patreon from fans like you makes new projects like Artseeing possible. We’re so happy to be creating this new publication for our Patreon members and we’re beyond thrilled to share it this summer!

Thanks as always for the continued support,
Conrad + Eric


For your viewing pleasure

For your viewing pleasure (and truly it is a pleasure,) I’m sharing this 2018 short video (9 minutes long) from Art21, of Jack Whitten in his studio working and talking about what influenced his abstract, materials-driven paintings. Among other things, you hear Whitten tell of his involvement in Civil Rights protests as a student in the South, and how the violence and horrors of that era propelled him to move North, to New York, where he attended Cooper Union and began his painterly journey, meeting and talking with Romare Bearden, Norman Lewis, Willem DeKooning, Arshile Gorky and others. It’s a fantastic video short, uplifting and filled with Whitten’s no nonsense talk about art and life. Artblog’s Andrea Kirsh wrote about Whitten’s works here in 2018; and Justin O. Walker wrote about Whitten’s works here in 2017.

Painting of a black abstracted silhouette of resembling a semi-formless figure, in tile-like squares of Black, tan, red, and green; on a mint green-blue background also painted in tile-like squares.
“Black Monolith II (For Ralph Ellison),” Jack Whitten (American, Bessemer, Alabama 1939 2018), 1994, Acrylic, molasses, copper, salt, coal, ash, chocolate, onion, herbs, rust, eggshell, razor blade on canvas. Credit: Brooklyn Museum, William K. Jacobs, Jr. Fund (2014.65).