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Celebrate 10 years of Amber Art & Design at The Icebox Project Space, Plus Mark Thomas Gibson, Isaac Tin Wei Lin and Dona Nelson

Many congratulations to people who make our community so great in Philadelphia - artists, teachers, community organizers, muralists. This News post shouts out several who serve the community. There are many more and we celebrate all the artists, designers, planners and organizations who generate thoughtful, beautiful, forward-looking works. Our city's arts and culture community is truly special. Take a moment to read about the folks mentioned below and give them your thanks, too.


PEOPLE IN THE NEWS (Three from Tyler School of Art and Architecture)

Mark Thomas Gibson, first solo museum exhibit at MOCA Detroit-Congratulations!
SEPTEMBER 29, 2023 – FEBRUARY 4, 2024

A young Black man dressed in a black suit coat and pants, black button down shirt and multi-colored sneakers, and wearing glasses, stands sideways and looks over his shoulder at the camera. He is surrounded by painting easels in a classroom at Temple University where he teaches. The room is congested with large works in progress on the easels, but ceiling-to-floor windows let in nice ambient daylight. The man looks at ease and in command of the classroom.
Mark Thomas Gibson, photo courtesy of Temple University, Tyler School of Art and Architecture

From Detroit MOCA…Americans are constantly inundated with information. We are tethered to the information superhighway, where various media platforms determine how we define our cultural values. When it comes to themes related to race, the opaque nature in which individuals decide what’s right or wrong, fact or fiction, is often subjective and mediated by mass media. This phenomenon causes a slippery slope wherein facts seem complicated but aren’t, and what might be shared experience becomes individualized. A Retelling presents multidisciplinary artist Mark Thomas Gibson’s extensive research and visual archive of race in proximity to American culture and identity. Through an ensemble of works that engage with the complex history of painting and caricature, Gibson explores the potentiality of retelling by creating a palimpsest of American history. Each work presented is evidence of memories that have resisted erasure.

A Retelling is anchored by excerpts of Gibson’s Town Crier series, works on paper that demonstrate his catalog of various historical moments through satirical gestures. Utilizing humor to emphasize the obscene, these drawings are delivered through a caricature that Gibson has aptly named Town Crier, a play on the 19th-century anchorman who acts as a public authority by making public pronouncements that society deemed true. Relying on appropriated headlines from various news sources, Town Crier delivers the news as a performative act of cathartic mimesis. The comedic cadence of Town Crier pokes fun at the way information is passed on, produced, and retold from news sources and how power structures and information technologies impact our collective reality.

This exhibition excavates facts, fiction, and the things in between that define and complicate our understanding of American history and humanity.
Listen to an Artblog Radio podcast from 2019 with Mark Thomas Gibson.

Isaac Tin-Wei Lin speaks about his installation at Temple Contemporary
Critical Dialogue: Isaac Tin Wei Lin
Wednesday, October 18
6-8 p.m.
More information here

A young, Asian man stands in front of bright-painted mural with abstract calligraphic repeat designs in various colors from red to yellow and green. His head is tilted, he is smiling, clasping his hands and wearing painterly comfortable clothes, a gray, long-sleeve t-shirt and black pants with paint spatters on them. Around his neck is a gold chain and circle pendant, and his long black hair, parted in the middle is braided braided, with the two braids encircling his neck and falling in what might be a continuous loop on his chest.
Isaac Tin Wei Lin, pictured at his installation at Temple Contemporary, photo courtesy of Temple University, Tyler School of Art and Architecture

Philadelphia-based contemporary artist Isaac Tin Wei Lin, whose densely covered surfaces of calligraphic, brushed and hand-drawn patterns immerse viewers in the logic and complexity of written language, discusses his new show at Temple Contemporary — Time Lines : First Words, a floor-to-ceiling exhibition of site-specific murals and sculptural works that explore the convergence of representation and vibrant abstraction.

Read Chip Schwartz’s 2013 Artblog review of Isaac’s show at Asian Arts Initiative

Dona Nelson organizes exhibit of Tyler graduates works from her collection
I Really Like That!
Oct. 25 through Oct. 31
Stella Elkins Tyler Gallery

I Really Like That! Dona Nelson’s Collection of Tyler Artists is a group exhibition curated by Tyler Painting Professor Dona Nelson from her collection of paintings and works on paper by Tyler graduates, on the occasion of her retirement after more than 30 years.
Read more about Dona Nelson on Artblog:
Katie Dillon Low’s 2022 review of Concordance amidst Variety, paintings by Dona Nelson, Emily Davidson and Zachary Rawe
Roberta’s 2013 review of Mixed Doubles, Dona Nelson, Kelly McRaven and Shanna Waddell, at Fjord.
Libby and Roberta’s review of the 2014 Whitney Biennial, which included Dona Nelson (and three other Philadelphia artists (Ken Lum, Josh Mosely and Terry Adkins)!


Amber Arts Turns Ten – Congratulations!
Common Space / Espacio Común
Ten years of practice with Amber Art & Design
Curated by José Ortiz-Pagán
Icebox Project Space, Crane Arts
1400 N American St, Philadelphia, PA 19122
October 12 – November 9, 2023

A large, 3-story mural adorns a side of a building fronting on a parking lot. The mural is multi-colored and has lots of design elements including circles and radiating lines. The colors are somewhat muted but happy and the cubistic swirl of imagery features members of “The Roots, a Philadelphia band, along with other legendary Philadelphia music makers.
“Legendary” by Amber Art & Design featuring Tatyana Fazlalizadeh. Photo by Steve Weinik. Courtesy of Amber Art&Design

Amber Art and Design (AAD), known for producing murals, public art installations, community engagement processes, educational programming, and arts and culture consultancies in Philadelphia and nationwide, believes in art’s capacity to serve as an inclusive platform for critical conversations led by and for community voices. The exhibition will explore themes of communality, history and memory, collaboration, investment in community voices, gathering, and the act of sharing a meal and exchanging ideas. The exhibition and program series offer another opportunity for AAD to showcase their diverse artistic endeavors, featuring visual works and performances by over 50
Philadelphia-based artists who have collaborated with AAD over the past decade.

Amber Art & Design: Featured Project Photos and text announcing Amber art & Design exhibition celebrating ten years of community projects and murals. Text says: 10 YR Amber Art&Design Opening Celebration, Icebox Project Space
Amber Art & Design: Featured Project Photos and text announcing Amber art & Design exhibition celebrating ten years of community projects and murals. Text says: 10 YR Amber Art&Design Opening Celebration, Icebox Project Space

The opening celebration will occur from 6 pm to 9 pm on Thursday, October 12th, at the Icebox Project Space. Attendees will have the chance to experience the works of AAD’s local and national collaborating artists, witness live performances, and participate in communal art-making. Entry to the event is free of charge.

Throughout October, a range of free programming will be offered, including workshops, panel discussions, artist mixers, and curated communal art-making opportunities. These events aim to uplift the work of BIPOC artists and cultural workers, provide learning opportunities in community engagement processes, and create a celebratory space for emerging artists, community organizers, and funders to connect and enjoy. A detailed program calendar will be made available soon.

A panoramic photo shows a large urban intersection with traffic lights, people walking, cars and trucks nearby, and a sprawling wall mural that bends the corner and goes down two streets, surrounding what looks like it might be a school building or office building.
“El Ritmo Del Centro” by Amber Art & Design. Photo by Bonfire Media Collective. Courtesy of Amber Art&Design

“This exhibition is an opportunity for us as a collective to reflect on the collaborative work we’ve been doing for the past 10 years creating public art and engaging people in the process, “ said Linda Fernandez, Co-founder of Amber Art & Design. “We hope this show brings people together to foster new ideas, relationships, and Collaborations.”

The exhibit will also feature a dedicated memorial space honoring the late Willis “Nomo” Humphrey, a founding member of Amber Art & Design and one of Mural Arts Philadelphia’s most prolific creators. Willis played a significant role in Philadelphia’s public art history, and his work continues to inspire young artists. “Willis Humphrey was an exceptional muralist in our city,” said Jane Golden, Executive Director of Mural Arts Philadelphia. “His artistic style was truly distinct. Not only was he a talented painter, but he also served as a role model and collaborator, embodying the essence of a public artist. Willis was known for his generosity, always giving, sharing, and creating. His passing created an immense void in our city, but I am so happy that his mission lives on through Amber Art & Design.”

A late-day photo of the Philadelphia’s longtime and now closed Police headquarters, The Roundhouse, an architecturally distinct Neo-brutalist building. There are people on the steps up to the round building, and tables and posters for a community event held to gather input on what people think the City should do with the building, a site of much controversy, fear, and anger when it was the police hq.
“Framing the Future of the Roundhouse”. Photo by Kenza Bousseloub. Courtesy of Amber Art&Design

This exhibit is generously supported by Icebox Project Space, Penn Treaty Special Services District (PTSSD), the Philadelphia Cultural Fund, and Mural Arts Philadelphia. To stay informed about the exhibit planning, please sign up for the Amber Art & Design newsletter at and follow them on Instagram at @amberpublicart.

Amber Art & Design
3525 I Street, Studio 406
Philadelphia, PA 19134