POST at Bok 1

Last month I visited the Bok Makerspace which was on the South Philly list of participants in the Philadelphia Open Studio Tours (POST).  

Bok Technical High School was a vocational school that opened in South Philadelphia in 1938.  Thousands of students passed through Bok’s doors learning trades like brick laying, plastering, plumbing, machine building, tailoring, and hairdressing until the school closed its doors in 2013.

The Bok building is massive. That’s a cardboard model in the above picture. It takes up an entire city block and the interior is 340,000 square feet.   The surrounding neighborhood is made up of  mostly residential row houses.   The  residents were understandably concerned about what would happen to the building.

They need not have worried.  In 2014, a developer named Lindsey Scannapieco proposed converting the former high school into a  space for creative entrepreneurs.  The neighborhood liked her ideas  and her efforts were lauded by Inge Saffron, the Architectural Critic for the Philadelphia Inquirer.   Read more articles about the transformation of Bok here and here.    

While Bok  is thought of as a space for artists, it is really so much more as I learned on my visit for the POST tours.  All of the artists I talked to came from the surrounding neighborhood and almost all of them were business people in creative fields. 

I hope to profile some of the artists I met during the tour and show you some pictures of their spaces.

Haunting in South Philly

This week, I started watching the new Netflix series The Haunting of Hill House. I read the book when I was barely into my teens  and it made quite an impression on me.  Later on, I saw a film adaptation, The Haunting, which is one of the scariest movies I have ever seen.  Black and white and not a bit of gore or violence in it.  I wasn’t as fond of the remake which seemed  formulaic, and more funny than scary.

South Philadelphia has some haunted history too, although you won’t find a lot of information on tourist sites.  Serial killer H.H. Holmes met his demise at Moyamensing Prison which is now the site of the Acme Market at 10th and Reed Streets.   I don’t know whether he wanders the store after it closes for the night, nor do I want to know.

On the brighter side, South Philadelphians take any occasion as an excuse to decorate their front windows and Halloween is no exception.  From pumpkin painting festivals to pots of chrysanthemums sprouting up in curbside planters, South Philly is ablaze with the colors of  Autumn this time of year- just in time for Halloween.  Here are some pictures.

 

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Bob’s Garden Spring 2017

They say that everybody  always complains about the weather but nobody ever does anything about it.    If you are at all into gardening, this Spring’s crazy weather has made things a challenge: Flowers opening early and freezing; buds opening up icing over and and falling off; rain and chilly weather that has made May seem more like  Fall than Spring.  

So Bob has faced challenges in the garden this spring and it’s not as full and lush as it usually is at this time of year.  Even so, there are four turtles in the Koi pond and sometimes they sit in the sun stacked up on one another.  Turtles really do that.  I don’t have any pictures because they are camera shy, but you can see many examples here.  And the turtles come out on the so far rare sunny days to bask in the sun and enjoy the flowers.

 

 

Color Wheels

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I volunteered to help in the ColorWheels mobile community art program  run by the Fleisher Art Memorial and participated in my first program on Saturday outside the Donatucci branch of the Philadelphia Free Library. After helping to set up the ColorWheels tent, I and other volunteers helped  the neighborhood kids make Gelli prints using leaves we found on the sidewalk and supplies from the ColorWheels art van.  It was a lot of fun and the kids jumped right in picking out paint and leaves, and turning out prints that twe hung up to dry for them.

We ended up closing a little early because it started raining.  Still, it was a great way to spend a Saturday.

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Bob’s Garden, Summer 2016

Bob’s Garden has really taken off this year! Three new turtles are swimming in the pond and a new banana tree has taken root in one of the wooden barrels sitting out on the south Philly sidewalk. The cacti have come back to life and are are throwing off scores of yellow blossoms.  The water lilies are doing swimingly (pun intended) and Barbra the Macaw is keeping a watchful eye over it all.  Here are some pictures.

 

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Jim Loewer, Glass Artist and Teacher

I met glass artist and teacher Jim Loewer earlier this month on the  POST tour of  1241 Carpenter Street.  He studied fine art in college and graduated with a degrees in teaching and painting but always had a fascination with glass.  After spending a few years as a teacher, however, he decided to  follow his passion and became a full-time glass artist.   He taught himself by trial and error and now he is a  a successful wholesaler of his work.  If you take a look at his on-line gallery, it’s not hard to understand why.

Even better,  Jim has decided to go back to his roots as a teacher and give lessons in lampworking and glass blowing!  Here are some pictures of him demonstrating how to make a multi-colored  glass sun catcher.

Jim Loewer1. Jim’s torch.

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He has heated the end of a glass punty, added colors and has blown it out.

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Plunging on a graphite surface

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After some additional steps he breaks the disk off the glass punty and puts it the kiln.

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The finished product.

Jim offers regularly-scheduled pendant design workshops, and glass blowing lessons for one or two people.  You can contact him here for more information.   Click here to read some reviews from people who have taken his classes.  And check out his Etsy and Facebook pages.

Summer’s End in Bob’s Garden

Bob’s urban oasis is still going strong into September.  A new turtle has taken up residence in the above-ground  koi pond along with two smaller deputy turtles who paddle around furiously.    Bob has put a few catfish in the bottom of the pond to keep it clean.  The dahlias and gardenias have stopped blooming but the banana tree has started to sprout little babies.  

The water lilies have always been my favorite of the flowers but I am partial to the papyrus that grows in the pond.  It looks so elegant!  

Here are some pictures. 
BG Sept 2015 (14)

BG Sept 2015 (17)

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And how could I have forgotten Turtle?wpid-wp-1441221231691.jpeg

For prior posts on Bob’s garden, press here.

Flirty Flowers and Macro Lens Mischief

Bob’s garden is growing full force this summer. One of the Koi fish is as big as a whale but refuses to be photographed.

Copy13 copyFortunately, the flowers are not so shy.

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I didn’t have any problem getting them to open up for the macro lens

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I don’t know what this flower’s called – it’s from Seger Park down the street and I take pictures of it every year.

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Even Plumpton got into the act despite the fact that he is now a grumpy old cat of 19.

The View From My Front Door Bob’s Garden Summer 2014

I live in South Philadelphia where there’s not much greenery. But I’m lucky because my neighbor Bob turns the hot and gritty summer landscape into an urban oasis every year. Here are some pictures from this years’ garden.

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The Hawthorn tree

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The Koi pond

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Banana tree

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 Flowers bloom, die and

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New flowers come up to take their place

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Lotus

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The Banana tree and koi pond

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Bob’s BFF Barbra keeps watch over everything.  Sqwalk!

If you want to see posts about  of Bob’s garden from summers past, click on the links below.  Not all of the slide show links work on the older posts but they will give you an idea of how the garden has changed over the years. 

2007 

2008

2009 

2011

2012

2013

How Do You Say Passyunk?

The weather this weekend was beautiful for walking.  There was lots happening on East Passyunk Ave. so I headed on down.IMG_20140427_115109Passyunk Square.  How do you pronounce Passyunk?   It’s Pashunk.  Two syllables, not three.

IMG_20140427_115001The fountain

IMG_20140427_115333Mama Maria’s Restaurant

IMG_20140427_115233The Crafty Balboa   artists were selling their wares up and down the street

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Flavors of the Avenue set up a big tent and lots of people were sampling offerings from the Avenue’s restaurants.  

But but it was a good day for just hanging out and people watching.

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This cat does not seem pleased that I  took his picture.  Purrhaps I should have asked him purrmission.

For more information on East Passyunk Avenue, press here.