June 21, 2004
AS OUR CITY struggles with an uncertain future and a shaky economy, the first budget casualty of 2004 reveals a great deal about where we might be headed. The mayor's decision to eliminate the Office of Arts and Culture is a short-sighted attempt to save mere pennies that could cost the city large dollars in the years ahead. Philadelphia needs an Office of Arts and Culture because it's good public policy. Most comparable cities - including Chicago, Boston, L.A. and New York - have a substantial department of cultural affairs.
June 11, 2015 |
The L.A.-based street artist WRDSMTH wanted to come to Philly. To do some installations - to put up some work. So he called Conrad Benner. Of course he did. Who else would he call? For four years, Benner has tirelessly showcased Philly's robust street art scene though his enormously popular blog and Instagram feed, Streets Dept. He grew up in Fishtown enamored of graffiti and street art - from the Philly tradition dating to graffiti pioneer Cornbread through the Mural Arts programs and the new pieces he saw popping up all around him on an endless canvas of abandoned homes and factories.
January 22, 2012 |
MIAMI - Beyond this gateway city's endless stretch of beachfront condos and restaurant-lined avenues, in what was once a desolate warehouse district, street art and graffiti have been elevated to a new level in a park named Wynwood Walls. Often called the Museum of the Streets, this urban gallery featuring murals by renowned artists from all over the world has no admission fee. Its creator, real estate maven Tony Goldman, had an epiphany after visiting midtown Miami's Wynwood neighborhood with his son, Joey, in 2005.
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.
August 11, 2016
ISSUE | DEMOCRATIC CONVENTION Arts can help us get past anger, prejudice During the Democratic National Convention, the arts and culture community's museums and performing-arts venues showed off the beauty and vibrancy of Philadelphia. More importantly, cultural groups stepped up with messages of unity, justice, and civic duty through pop-up performances on Broad Street, a youth art contest to inspire future voters from Fleisher Art Memorial, an issue-based voting display at the Free Library, and political street art. Hundreds of engaging community events and activities allowed locals and convention-goers to use their voice, share their beliefs, and offer social and political solutions.
June 26, 2016 |
There are no graffiti on the quiet East Germantown block of redbrick rowhouses where Darryl McCray lives. His home is modest, with a pink hydrangea bush out front. A black-and-white cat sleeps beneath a beige patio chair. For McCray, 62, it's a subdued existence, considering that at one time he had celebrity status due entirely to the nickname he spray-painted all over Philadelphia: Cornbread. Legend has it that at age 17 he hopped a fence at the Philadelphia Zoo to spray-paint "Cornbread Lives" on the hind side of an elephant, a stunt to disprove a newspaper article that had mistakenly declared "Cornbread Shot to Death" about a murder outside a bar at 40th and Filbert Streets in West Philly.
December 7, 2011 |
A DRAWING of a naked woman scrawled with the catcall "Damn Girl You Thick," Beyoncé song lyrics spray-painted on a wall, a small sticker with the scribbled message "osama is a muslim. " The funny, the political, the colorful, the arresting: These are the images that catch Conrad Benner's eye as he walks around Philadelphia, camera in hand. Benner, 26, posts pictures of street art to his blog StreetsDept.com, which averages about 1,000 page-views a day, and sends on-the-fly pictures out on his Twitter account, @streetsdept, to his 2,636 (as of yesterday)
August 12, 2012 |
NEW YORK - In torn jeans and saddled with a black backpack, Andrew Witten glances up and down the street for police. He then whips out a black marker and scribbles "Zephyr" on a wall covered with movie posters. He admires his work for a few seconds before his tattooed arms reach for his daughter, holding her hand as he briskly walks away. Witten and a generation of urban latchkey kids who spray-painted their initials all over Manhattan in the 1970s and '80s and landed in the city's street-art scene are coming of age - middle age, that is. And like Witten, a 51-year-old single father, some street artists considered now to be graffiti elders are having trouble putting away their spray-paint cans.
April 22, 2010 |
"Exit Though the Gift Shop" is a funny romp through the art world, and while I don't know if it's a bona fide documentary, I know what I like. The movie is the purported record of a friendship between notorious U.K. street-art renegade Banksy and a goofball camera bug named Thierry Guetta. They met as Guetta assembled a video archive of the street-art movement in Europe and the United States. Or so says Banksy, who does not inspire confidence as a reliable narrator. He lives an anonymous life and appears on camera in shadow, underneath a hoodie.
December 21, 2014 |
Graffiti crawl up exterior walls like webs of ivy, bending and twisting around rows of shuttered windows. At some street corners, layers of posters pile unevenly over this graffiti like papier mâché, stitching together urban blocks. When I traveled to Greece this year, my original itinerary focused on ancient history sites: the Parthenon, the National Archaeological Museum, and the Agora. These places all tell valuable Greek stories from centuries past through classical busts, orderly columns, and symmetrical ruins.