August 27, 2016 |
Recently, some have noted that a statue of Frank Rizzo — police chief, law-and-order mayor, and lifelong South Philly scrapper — makes for a charged presence , looming nine feet tall on the steps of the Municipal Services Building. Rizzo - whose enduring image may be rushing to quell a riot, nightstick in his cummerbund - is a complicated fixture in the public square. But his likeness is just one quirk of a public art collection that looks very little like Philadelphia today, and a lot like a Main Line country club circa 1950.
August 13, 2016
The biggest hits of the Democratic National Convention - besides the Clintons, the Obamas, Cory Booker, and Gold Star father Khizr Khan - might have been the 57 colorful Donkeys Around Town. The fiberglass figures, each representing a state, U.S. territory, or Democrats living abroad, attracted both conventioneers and area residents. Coupled with a scavenger hunt app that had 2,213 participants combing the city Pokémon GO-style, the donkeys dressed up and showed off Philly, drawing thousands to shops, restaurants, museums, and public squares that visitors otherwise might have missed.
July 23, 2016 |
Murals in Philadelphia have been created, variously, to uplift underserved communities, honor local leaders, fight blight, and amplify grassroots causes. Now, in a swath of the city's Callowhill area, they're advancing a new goal: rebranding a neighborhood. Artists commissioned by the city's Mural Arts Program are installing nine permanent and temporary murals that, collectively, create a revolving outdoor gallery billed as "Spring Arts District. " That also happens to be the identity that developer Craig Grossman, who sought and partially funded the project, is trying to cultivate in this gentrifying stretch between Eighth and 12th, from Noble to Spring Garden Streets.
April 8, 2016
ISSUE | MURALS Program's outreach invigorates Philly A recent letter suggested that Philadelphia is hampered by its abundance of murals, most of which are produced by the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program ("Art in moderation," Friday). As the board chair of the nonprofit arm of Mural Arts, I take pride in the organization's commitment to a robust and transparent community process that encourages input on future artworks. The figures and ideas depicted in the murals emerge from these crucial conversations.
February 22, 2016
A New York City high school senior is giving Gloucester City residents a chance to help create an imaginative work of public art on their downtown waterfront. Fish sculptures hand-painted by students and adults in the city will be affixed to a sinuous, 20-foot-long "wave wall" to be installed in Proprietor's Park along the Delaware River. The transparent, 7-foot-high wall is the first step in a $30,000, privately funded effort to improve the appearance of an imposing but rather stark waterfront landmark known as the Betsy Ross Pavilion, as well as its surroundings.
February 20, 2016 |
There is a great work of art in the center of Dilworth Park. Unfortunately, you can't see it right now. Called Pulse , the site-specific piece by Janet Echelman was commissioned in 2009, just as a major reconstruction was being planned for the City Hall plaza. Her idea was to use colored light and mist to trace the path of the subways as they rumbled under the park's surface. Ephemeral and magical, the piece was meant to be the capstone of the plaza's $55 million overhaul, a civic gesture that could be as captivating as the famous sculptures of Chicago's Millennium Park . But nearly 18 months after Dilworth reopened under the auspices of a private manager, the Center City District, Pulse is only half-finished.
January 21, 2016 |
The Queen Village Neighborhood Association said it had these ugly electrical junction boxes on every street. What could be done about them? On a recent Wednesday, Ryan Psota was the 15th artist to transform the nearly six-foot-tall metal boxes into works of art. Using brushes, a roller, a beaded paddle, and cardboard coffee-cup sleeve, Psota, 26, created a background texture for his line drawings at a box at Seventh and South Street - with the...
January 9, 2016 |
For fans of public art in Philadelphia, it still stings to think about that day in 1998 when word got out that an iconic wall sculpture by artist Ellsworth Kelly had been removed from the old Greyhound office building, quietly sold, and given to New York's Museum of Modern Art. It wasn't the first or last great work of public art to be lost to Philadelphia through some combination of intercity poaching, heedless development, and neglect. In fact, even as the Gallery mall closed for renovations Jan. 1, the fate of its public art remained unclear.
October 17, 2015 |
If you've wandered along North Broad Street lately, you may be scratching your head at the phalanx of stainless steel columns that have suddenly appeared in the center, marching single-file from Callowhill Street to the North Philadelphia station. Are they modernist WiFi antennas? Props for pole dancers? Or maybe just a vulgar gesture aimed at Center City? The answer is: none of the above. Folks, those 55-foot-tall poles are supposed to be art, of the iconic variety. This misguided project, which has cost the public $14 million, is the combined work of City Hall and Avenue of the Arts , the nonprofit established during the Rendell era to clean up and market Broad Street.
September 18, 2015 |
On Tuesday morning, atop the cinematic steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, officials will unveil a special loan, in honor of Pope Francis - a monumental bilingual version of Robert Indiana's famous LOVE sculpture. AMOR will overlook the Benjamin Franklin Parkway where Pope Francis will conduct his papal Mass on Sunday, Sept. 27. Officials at the Art Museum and the Association for Public Art, who arranged a four-month loan of the colorful six-foot sculpture, noted that amor means love both in Latin, the classic language of the church, and in Spanish, Francis' native language.