Octavius Catto’s Quest For Parity

3.C

Philadelphia unveiled its first public monument to an African-American in September 2017.  “A Quest For Parity” is located on the south apron of Philadelphia City Hall.

Who was Octavius Catto?  He was an athlete: He established the first successful African-American baseball club in Philadelphia.  He was an activist and a key figure in the protests that led to the desegregation of streetcars in Philadelphia.   He was an educator, teaching at the Philadelphia Institute for Colored Youth.  He was a soldier: when the Confederates invaded Pennsylvania in 1863, he raised a company of Black soldiers, one of the first volunteer regiments of volunteers in the Commonwealth.   He served as a  Major and raised a total of eleven regiments during the war.  

 

I ‘ve always thought of Octavius Catto as a Philadelphian even though he was born in South Carolina.  He settled in Philadelphia and met his fiance Sarah Le Count here.   The building that housed the Philadelphia Institute for Colored Youth still stands on Bainbridge  Street a few blocks from my home, as does the spot on South Street where Catto was gunned down in an election day riot in October 1871.  He was 32 years old. Too soon for his work to be done.

The statue of Catto is beautifully rendered by sculptor Branly Cadet who designed and executed the monument.  The picture at the top of this post shows the gleaming metal ball that sits in front of the statute and reflects Catto, Philadelphia, and the passers-by. 

5.E

The twelve-foot bronze statue is imposing and lifelike; Catto seems about to tip off the pedestal.   Is he running?  Is he making an impassioned speech?  Cadet aptly portrays   Catto as a man of action, an activist, passionate and relentless.

 

If you find yourself in Philadelphia, go see the monument.    To read more about the monument and the artist, press here.  To see a documentary film about Octavius Catto, press here.

 

 

Where I Work

I am getting ready to retire. Yes, retire from what I call my 38 year detour. (Includes professional school) I don’t regret the time I’ve spent because I made changes long ago that enabled me to take care of myself and make a living and I was fortunate to have wonderful co-workers who were sane for the most part and who cut me slack when I was not. For the past few years, one of the perks of my job has been working in one of the most interesting buildings in the United States. I never tire of walking its halls and taking pictures. Here are some of them

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

 

Franklin Flea Holiday Market and More

If you come to Philadelphia to do Holiday Shopping this year, be sure to check out the Franklin Flea. They’ve set up on the first floor of the old Strawbridge and Clothier store at 8th and Market and the vendors offer a great selection of eclectic funk.

Six Saturdays, 10am – 5pm
Nov. 15, 22, 29
Dec. 6, 13, 20

image

Shopping under the chandeliers

 

wpid-img_20141122_141753blog_wm.jpgThe Picasso repro is in needle point.  How ’70s can you get?

 wpid-img_20141122_173908blog_wm.jpgLots of re purposed items including clothes

 

wpid-img_20141122_142228blog_wm.jpg

Vintage belts and look at those Coach bags

 

wpid-img_20141122_142211blog_wm.jpgThere’s some older stuff too

 wpid-img_20141122_142145blog_wm.jpg

image

If you can’t come in person, most of the  ever changing selection of  vendors sell on line

 

Reclaimed Crafts
 

Found RW

 

Earth and Iron

 

This Pretty Life

 

Hoof and Antler


For more information on the Franklin Flea Holiday Market press here.

But wait!  There’s more.  If you’re in town during the week, check out Christmas Village (also open on weekends) which pops up in Love Park  every year after Thanksgiving and stays open until the last Sunday in December.    You can go ice skating at Dilworth Park after you’ve finished shopping.


 

Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts

More than 1500 visual and performing artists will participate in the first Philadelphia International Arts Festival which takes place from April 7 to May 1, 2011.  To get a schedule of events,  click here.  What’s special about the Festival is that it partners local artists with artists from across the globe and  offers events for every age group and area of interest.   It even has a two week science festival within the main festival with collaborators as diverse as the Academy of Natural Sciences and the Monell Chemical Senses Center,.  There really is something for everyone.

I trolled through the PIFA website and  pulled a few things that looked interesting to me.  In no particular order,   they are an April 8 Couture fashion show at the Kimmel Center showcasing local designers and student   designers from local colleges and universities. The evening will culminate with Temple grad Ralph Rucci receiving the Visionary Award for Fashion.

And if you’ve always wanted to see what goes on  behind the scenes at the Kimmel Center, treat yourself to a tour.

Gallery night on April 15 showcases galleries all over the city with exhibits prepared specially for PIFA.   If you’re interested in pottery, visit The Clay Studio.   You can see cutting edge crafts at the Snyderman-Works Gallery. The Seraphin Gallery will offer artist talks, music and a video.    For a map with the locations of all participating galleries, click here.

I could not begin to list all the festival has to offer.  Please be sure to visit the web site and see for yourself.

Madame Butterfly-The Philadelphia Connection

Giacomo Puccini’s opera Madam Butterfly has a  Philadelphia connection. John Luther Long, a Philadelphia Lawyer, wrote the original story in Center City.  You can read more about  it here.

There’s also a recent  Philadelphia connection.  The two 12 foot high bronze statues below, currently on display in City Hall courtyard,  are on loan from artist   Jun Kaneko  to mark the Philadelphia Opera Company’s  upcoming performance of the opera.   Kaneko originally created brass heads for the  Opera Omaha’s spring 2006 performance of Madame Butterfly.     See more of  Kaneko’s breathtaking set designs  here.

 

Brass Heads in City Hall Courtyard

Here’s a portion of the Philadelphia production.

Fifty Years of Public Art in Philadelphia

Philadelphia is celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of its Public Art Program this year! It had one the first “percent for art” public art program in the United States when it passed an ordinace in 1959 that required that a percentage of construction costs for municipal projects be set aside for fine arts. Read more about the program’s history here.

The pictures below are a sampling of some the public art in Center City Philadelphia. I’m sure you’ll recognize some of them. Yes, those are huge dominoes and Monopoly pieces! One of my favorites has always been Claes Olbenburg’s Clothespin in Centre Square. That’s a reflection of City Hall in the building behind it in the picture below.

You can find out more about the great public art in Philadelphia here and here.

Inspiration is Everywhere

I find inspiration in the strangest places. I spent a day in a boring seminar at the Philadelphia Convention Center staring at the patterns in the carpet and spent the night making geometric canes. The outside light sconces on a neighborhood apartment building are evolving into a pair of earrings in my brain. Patinas on weathered metal gates and fixtures make me think of new ways to finish metal. Bark on a tree can look like nubby raw silk fabric. Plaster ornamentation on old buildings makes me wonder about the workers who put it there and what their lives were like. I like to roam around taking pictures of odd bits of Philadelphia. I see something new whenever I look. I love to travel, but there’s plenty of inspiration in my own back yard. Maybe these pictures will inspire you to start looking more closely at your everyday surroundings.