I had some time after a visit to the hand doctor today, so I decided to check out the Philadelphia Fashion District.
The Gallery Shopping Mall in downtown Philadelphia has been completely renovated and reopened to the public in September as Philadelphia Fashion District. No one shops at malls anymore, so the developers couldn’t just follow the old model of retailing in a renovated space. So in addition to the standard mall retail therapy establishments, the Fashion District is offering some intriguing opportunities for artists, makers, and entrepreneurs.
The Fashion District has invested one million dollars for art installations geared to “making museum-caliber art more accessible to the city, while also elevating the beauty of The District.” The Bridgette Mayer Gallery has a display there with art for sale.
Conrad Benner, whose blog StreetsDept.com, chronicles street art in Philadelphia, has been charged with curating an exhibit of the work of Philadelphia street artists. These works are currently on display on the lower (concourse) level of the Fashion District through the end of this year.
The Fashion District has provided space for RecPhilly, an organization who provides co-working space, recording studios, visual labs & conference rooms for creatives. RecPhilly membership is financially accessible and has proven to so popular that there is now a waitlist. But new memberships are sure to open up in the future. Read more about RecPhilly on their website here.
The Fashion District is sponsoring more art-related events than I’ve written about here as well as planning to open up movie theaters, restaurants and performance spaces. They are trying to do a lot and we’ll see how it goes. Here are some pictures.
I’ve written about public memorials before on this blog, but I have never seen one quite like the Memorial to the Lost.
Philadelphia lost a lot of people to gun violence last year. Michelle Tamika Washington, Rasul Benson, and Steven Wallace are three names on forty t-shirts hanging outside the Church of St. Luke and the Epiphany on South 13th Street in Philadelphia.
Guns murdered 295 Philadelphia residents last year. There were many more shooting victims who did not die.
The organization behind the memorial is Heeding God’s Call to End Gun Violence, Their literature describes the point of the memorial: “Each shirt has the name, age, and the date of the victim’s death. Each name represents a whole human being, a child of God. Each one deserves to be remembered. Each death deserves to be noted and mourned.”
The Philadelphia Obituary Project has a similar philosophy,
If you are interested in the movement to end gun violence, you can follow Heeding God’s call on their Facebook page which also contains information on volunteering and donating.
I was going to write a post a few months ago about a wonderful visit I made in July 2019 to the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archeology and Anthropology. But one thing led to another as it usually does. The Penn Museum post went into the drafts folder and I went on to other things. I recently returned from Southern Spain(Seville and Granada)where I was overloaded with Spanish Baroque interiors. They are beautiful, but after awhile, you feel like you’ve eaten too much birthday cake. (At least I did).
“Where do you get your inspiration?” is a question I sometimes hear. And while I will not be making a Spanish Baroque wedding cake any time soon, I find inspiration pretty much everywhere. Which brings me back to the Penn Museum. There is certainly enough to inspire anyone who spends an afternoon (or better, the whole day) there.
The Mesopotamian jewelry collection is outstanding. Here are some pictures, but it’s better to see the collection in person.
The Near Eastern pottery collection is also very interesting. These pots are from Iran.
I was so taken with the pot shaped like an Erlenmeyer flask that I decided to make my own version using the tar paper technique, Here’s where memory and inspiration clash: I remembered the shape upside down.
But I think I love the Mexico and Central American collection best because it contains some striking Mayan artifacts as well as jewelry and pottery.
I love that turtle (I think) vessel and could see myself trying a colorful terra cotta version.
Where do you get your inspiration?
Jeweler’s Row is a Philadelphia treasure the future of which is being threatened by potential unbridled development. Jeweler’s Row, located on the 700 block of Sansom Street, was not always the seat of the Philadelphia jewelry industry, having been home to the printing and engraving trades before morphing into a jewelry district around the 1880’s. Many jewelry store proprietors from the Delaware valley and South Jersey made weekly trips to Jeweler’s Row to drop off and collect repair jobs, replenish their stock and to meet with their fellow jewelers to talk business.
A developer sold a brace of buildings to Toll Brothers Builders in 2017 and Toll Brothers got permission to tear down the buildings to erect a high-rise apartment building. There was plenty of opposition from the neighborhood and community groups but in the end it didn’t matter.
Last week, I got to tour 708 Sansom Street which is one of the buildings slated to be demolished. It is a cavernous four-story building with tin ceilings and ornate hardware. As I walked from floor to floor, I could see that the tenants, the majority of whom were manufacturing jewelers, were in the process of moving their equipment out of the building and finding new space for their businesses and studios.
I imagine that 708 Sansom Street supported many families over the years and that its tenants were a close-knit bunch. Now it is like a ghost town.
Most of the former tenants have found new space but it has not been easy. Many of them have had to relocate away from Sansom Street.
While it’s true that the only constant in life is change, and that the face of the jewelry business is changing, there is still room for places like Jeweler’s Row. These business districts and manufacturing centers still serve a purpose. But then again, you never really miss something until it’s gone.
I feel so lucky to live in a City where I am within walking distance from wonderful shopping districts with a genuine historical significance. Of course there’s the 9th Street (Italian) Market, Jeweler’s Row, and the Reading Terminal Market. But one of my favorite areas is Fabric Row is located on Fourth Street below South Street. Even though I don’t sew much, I love window shopping on this colorful street. There’s always something to see.
According to the Philadelphia History Museum’s web site, Philadelphia’s bustling fabric row on South Fourth Street ran through the heart of a Jewish immigrant neighborhood. Peddlers hawked dry goods from pushcarts and sidewalk stands. Successful vendors opened family-run shops. Dressmakers, shoppers, and tailors flocked to this area of the Queen Village neighborhood to purchase fabrics and notions for their customers and families.
There aren’t as many fabric stores on Fourth Street as there used to be. Times change. People are not sewing as much as they used to. (Although home sewing has moved into a new phase.) New businesses are popping up among the fabric stores including independent fashion stores, shops selling hand made goods and the wonderful Kawaii Kitty Cafe. It is still a thriving, vibrant area.
Visit Fabric Row the next time you visit Philadelphia. In the meantime, here are some more pictures I took on walk down Fabric Row when the weather was much warmer!
The Some pictures I took in December and January during Philadelphia walkabouts.
Two weeks ago, I hopped the Market-Frankford El to the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia in search of the Boston Street Gallery. The Boston Street Gallery is about a mile from the York-Dauphin El stop. I had occasion to visit this neighborhood on a regular basis in another life, but I had not back for many years. It certainly has changed.
I went to the Boston Street Gallery to attend the opening of a show called Lyrical Perceptions which includes work by Wayne Cambern. I met Wayne at the open pottery studio at Fleisher Art Memorial. Like me, he was getting back into pottery after a multi-year hiatus. But his primary interests are drawing and painting. So I jumped at the chance to see his other work when he told me about the show.
The urge to make art has been with me for as long as I can remember. I love color, design and craftsmanship in its many manifestations. I hope this quest to make something that qualifies as art speaks to the viewer. –Wayne Cambern
My big regret in writing this post is that my pictures simply cannot convey the mastery of Wayne’s drawings and portraits. In order to get the full effect, you will have to visit the show which runs until December 1, 2018. In the meantime, I will let the pictures speak for themselves.
The Atlas of Tomorrow is an interactive art installation located on South Street between Broad and Thirteenth Streets in Philadelphia. I’ve never seen anything quite like it.
This is how it works:
I had intended to write this week’s post about Beading Yoda’s lovely beaded flowers. But that will have to wait.
What a week this has been. Boris is almost recovered from the Benjimonster and is much less stressed. I cannot say the same for myself. It all started so innocently. My health insurance company decided to give its customers a discount on their premiums if they enrolled in a program called Active Health to learn about healthy habits, adiet, exercise, and so on. You get points for each module you complete. Collect 100 points and you get your discount. Easy, right? Wrongo Bongo!
I logged onto the program’s website and managed to enroll after numerous calls to customer service to learn how to navigate a website obviously designed by Dr. Mengels.
In the weeks that followed, I duly entered my blood pressure, my cholesterol, completed questionnaires, and studied health topics. As I completed each module, I was awarded a certain number of points. I was on my way to my discount.
Nor so fast.
Yesterday, I foolishly downloaded the Active Health iPad app for the program and completed more tasks. As I tracked my progress, I noted the app was not saving anything. And there was no option for me to save. I tried to contact customer service online. There was a place to write a message but no way to send the message. So, I called customer service.
I was referred to another number. Then a third number. Then I spent almost an hour with a service rep who tried to guide me through the website. But, as I repeatedly reminded her, I was using the app, not the website. Alas, she could neither help me nor refer me to someone who could. “And yet,” as the saying goes, “she persisted.” As I hung up I wondered where she got her stamina.
Later that evening, I decided to try again on the website instead of the app. I ran into the same problem. I called customer service again. As the conversation with a different rep wore on, I realized that he knew that the website did not work,and that tech support was non existant. But the rep was creative-I’ll give him that-he suggested that I abandon the online health education module altogether and opt for phone counseling in order to get my points So I agreed. We scheduled an appointment with a health counselor. Then the rep started to rattle on about the Philadelphia Eagles. Time to say goodbye.
The health counselor called the next day at the appointed time. “What health issues would you like to work on? ” she asked.
“Stress,” I replied, “I really need to work on my stress.”
“What gives you stress? ” she queried.
“I was doing pretty good before I enrolled in the Active Health program,” I admitted, “but broken website coupled with service reps who don’t have the resources they need to do their job has caused me a great deal of stress.”
The counselor suggested that I meditate and gave me a number I to call if the stress became overwhelming. “There are counselors there to help you,” she informed me.
“Is this covered by my insurance?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” she responded. “Let’s schedule another session.”
“How’d it go?” my husband asked me later that day. “Not as bad as I thought it would be,” I admitted. “In fact, I’ve decided to start smoking again so at our next session she can give me advice on how to quit.”
Only two more counseling sessions to go.
And now, to keep myself honest, here are pictures of flowers taken on my walks around Philadelphia.