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

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.

Dear Fleisher

Dear Fleisher, 4 X 6 Inches of Art is the Fleisher Art Memorial’s biennial exhibition and sale of original artwork. The invitational exhibit features postcard sized (4″x6″) art in a wide range of media. Each piece is signed on the back to preserve the artist’s anonymity and sold for $50.00. I heard Fleisher raised almost $55,000 this year.

Some of the more than 150 contributing artists this year were Jill Bonovitz, Burnell Yow!, Signe Wilkinson, David Brewster, Isaiah Zagar, and Eliza Auth.

I was asked to participate in the last two exhibits and have chosen to work in polymer clay. Here are my pieces from 2006 (left) and 2008 (right). The Fleisher Art Memorial is a neighborhood and City treasure to which I am glad to contribute.

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?

Beading from Las Cruces to Cape Town

It’s a long way from Las Cruces, New Mexico to Philadelphia where I live, and an even longer trip from Philadelphia to Cape Town, South Africa. I like to bead on long plane rides, so I started a bracelet on the Las Cruces trip, making a base then starting to embellish it with beads of many colors, shapes and sizes. I finished the bracelet on the trip to Cape Town. Then I submitted it to the Bead-A-Day Beading Calendar for 2009 and it was accepted! You’ll have to wait until the calendar comes out to get the instructions for making the “Las Cruces to Cape Town Bracelet.” You’ll also find many other beautiful beading projects in the calendar-one for every day of the year.

Here is a slide show of some of the things I saw in Las Cruces and Cape Town.

Bob’s Urban Garden 2008

I wrote about my neighbor Bob’s Urban Garden last year.
Since then, he’s built a wooden Koi pond complete with solar lights that keep it lit at night. Three of the Koi fish from last year are back and bigger (literally!) than ever. They have smaller Koi fish and two turtles to keep them company. Bob’s added a new ceramic fountain, Lilly pads, and an additional wooden tub of flowers in front of our house to give it badly needed curb appeal. Loki the cat is still around checking under cars for hapless pigeons. Barbara the Macaw had a good time mugging for the camera. While I was taking pictures, several people stopped by to admire.

Enjoy the slide show.

I’m Not a Real Artist but I Play One on T.V.

Yes, I am a featured crafter on the third season of the HGTV show, That’s Clever, demonstrating how to make a polymer clay Keepsake Memory book and a polymer clay Festive Pen.  You can read the whole dirty back story in the Spring, 2008 issue of PolymerCAFE.  Ok, OK, so it’s not Britney running from the paparazzi while shaving her head, but it will have to do.

That’s Clever is known for having its crafters engage in  amusing physical antics in the first part of each segment.   They wanted me to do the same. I live in South Philadelphia where my garden is of a blade of grass growing under my front stoop, and drivers who barrel  45 mph down a one way street don’t think they have violated the law if their car is pointing backwards.    I wasn’t gonna be hula hoopin’ on my front lawn, that’s for sure. 

 

Here’s how this part of the production planning went down:

After we finished talking about the step outs, the producer started discussing ways to showcase me in wild and whimsical ways that have become the trademark of That’s Clever.

“We like to film crafters doing something physical for the intro,” she  explained, “Do you play a sport?”

Running from muggers, I thought. “No,” I replied.

“What about hopping on a pogo stick?”

I mentally flash forwarded into the future and had a startling vision of myself hanging over a hospital bed in traction. “I have a herniated disc,” I replied, “and the doctors have put me on a strict no pogo stick diet.”

“What about a scooter?” she pressed.

“Oh, no,” I gasped. If I didn’t fall and smash my head on the pavement, some driver would get me. Even if he had to come up on the sidewalk to do it. They make them tough in South Philly.

She paused. “Do you do anything?” she asked hopefully.

“I use to play jacks,” I offered. “I was pretty good, too.” In fact, I was even better than Margaret Mary who had hands the size of Montana and could suck up jacks like a magnet crane.

Maybe that will work,” she sighed, “I’ll see if I can find jacks somewhere.”

They never came up with anything physical for me to do which is how I lived to write this Blog entry.

To check out PolymerCAFE, press here. If you want to buy a pen like the one I made on the show, drop by  The Jurus Gallery in Baltimore, Md.

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