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.

Pictures from the Streets of Philadelphia.

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Some interesting pictures from my walks around the city.

Bob’s Koi Pond

DSCF28 Bob’s urban garden is up and running!  He added a few banana trees, a  palm, and   lots of flowers and vines.   A new crop of  turtles have have moved into the Koi pond, but they are frustratingly camera shy.

Bob kept  Koi fish in the pond all winter-even when there was snow on the ground.  A heater kept them from freezing, but they weren’t very lively.  This spring he added a lot of minnows and for a couple of weeks, they all swam around happily.  But there wasn’t enough oxygen for the big guys, so they are now swimming in the great hereafter.  The little guys have taken over and will be big guys this time next year.

The lotus blossom sprang up  unexpectedly one day.  I got curious about lotus blossoms and found this interesting link. Enjoy the slide show.

An Unexpected Paradise

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.

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Happy Holidays South Philly Style

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People live in rowhouses in South Philadelphia and they decorate their front windows and doors when someone has a baby, someone gets married, someone graduates, someone gets paroled or the Flyers win the Stanley Cup.  In other words,  people here don’t need much of an excuse to decorate.  You can keep your fancy suburbs with your large expanse of lawns, triple car garages and gabled roofs.  We’re just fine with our flat roofs, front stoops and double parking.  The constraints just make for more creativity, as you can see from the pictures I took on one frozen night. Heathen’s Greetings.

Dancik with the Stars

 
 

 Dancik was Riveting

 

I mentioned last week that I took a two day class called Forming Lasting and Meaningful Attachments with Robert Dancik and sponsored by the Philadelphia Area Polymer Clay Guild. We learned all about cold connections in jewelry making including riveting, tabbing, gluing, fold forming, and fastening with miniature hardware. We also learned about different types of resins, epoxies, alternative art materials, and how to use them.

Want to learn more about cold connections? Some of my favorite books on this topic are Wrap, Stitch, Fold & Rivet by Mary Hettmansperger, Making Metal Jewelry by Joanna Gollberg, Making Connections by Susan Lenart Kazmer and a book on the Godfather of cold connections, Alexander Calder, Calder Jewelry by Mark Rosenthal.

And here’s a good illustrated article on how to make rivets by Patty Fleishman.

To see more pictures from the Dancik class, go to the Philly Area Guild’s Flickr site.

Isaiah Zagar’s Walls

One of the things I love about Philadelphia are its tiny streets and lanes located off the main avenues. These thoroughfares date from long ago when servant’s quarters and horse barns (now desirable and expensive living quarters) were situated in the back alleys, and houses had boot scrapers near their doors so people could clean mud off their shoes before entering.

I didn’t discover these little streets until I stopped taking the bus everywhere and started walking. One of the most attractive features of the little byways in the Bella Vista neighborhood of Philadelphia are Isaiah Zagar’s tile and glass mosaics. They cover the facades of selected buildings waiting to surprise you as you turn a corner.

Here’s a slideshow of pictures I took on a walk through the neighborhood.

The End of Summer

I know that summer is at an end when I start seeing pumpkins at the supermarket and I have to start thinking about pulling out warmer clothes. Things change and we have to readjust.  Fall never fails to remind me of the passage of time.

Bob’s garden has taken over the the front of his house and is starting on mine. Soon the fish and turtles will come inside and the  plants will whither away.  I hope the garden returns next year.  In the meantime, here’s an end of summer look at the garden.  Hasn’t it grown since June?

African Beads

To me, the words Africa and beads go together like Romulus and Remus, Baskin and Robbins or Damon and Runyon. In fact, I started working in polymer clay because I wanted to replicate millefiore African trading beads.

So last year, when I was lucky enough to travel in South Africa
I bought beads and bead work in dinky little stores, outdoor markets and anywhere else I could.

I found the beads you see above at a wonderful store in Capetown called Bead Merchants of Africa.  The beads are are brass Abijas, blue glass, amber/copal, and millefiore trading beads. Most of these beads are not native to South Africa, but Bead Merchants carries everything!

I have designed a necklace with them and just need to put it together. Alas, it sits unfinished in my workshop! When it is finished, you’ll be the first to see it.

My Lust For Rust

I came upon Altered Curiosities by accident. It’s not the kind of book I would usually buy. But boy, I am so glad this book made it to my door. Don’t pass it by like I almost did. It’s packed with information on all kinds of crafts that seemingly bear no relation to one another. Yet author Jane Ann Wynn pulls them all together, with unconventional materials, and makes art. I didn’t try any of her projects, but I read through the book more than once and am taking inspiration from it for my own work.

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For example, I love the look of rust (but not on my appliances, please! ) and patinas. I picked up a rusty washer on the street the other day and struck up a conversation with it. When I was finished, I had this pendant. I added a silver plated spoon hammered flat, gold filled wire, turquoise and copper. I think that Altered Curiosities got me thinking in a new way.

While running errands today, I found all these cool rusty bits on the sidewalk. These are going to end up in something. I’ll wait for them to talk to me first, like the washer did.

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If any of this appeals to you, check out the art of Annette Tacconelli’s Urban Artifacts. If little washers talk to me, bridges and pieces of buildings talk to her. Not only is her art beautiful and hard to forget; it will stoke your creative juices even more.