Beyond The Words: Robin Hiteshew’s Portraits of Irish Writers

 

It was 1989 and my friend Robin Hiteshew asked if I wanted to attend a poetry reading by Seamus Heaney at Swarthmore College.  I was familiar enough Heaney’s work to jump at the chance.  Later I got to meet him, but was too shy to do anything but mumble and shake his hand.

 

 

Thirty years later, at the opening of his show, “Portraits of Irish Writers” Robin compared  a photo portrait of Heaney he took during that visit to Swarthmore with one he took almost a decade later in Cambridge where Heaney was teaching at Harvard.  In the first photo,  a slightly disheveled Heaney struck a casual pose under a tree on the Swarthmore campus.  In the second picture, Heaney was wearing a tailored jacket  “Look,” said Robin pointing to the first picture, “his trousers are rolled.  That’s before he won the Nobel prize and the game got more serious.”

Robin Hiteshew has been photographing Irish writers (and musicians) for more than forty years and it has been a labor of love.  His portraits are personal and revealing in a way that is truly beyond the words.   And he has a story to go with each one.

Robin’s new show, “Beyond the Words: Portraits of Irish Writers” will run until June 26 at the McNichol Gallery which is located in the Thomas A. Bruder, Jr. Life Center at  Neumann University. Admission is free.  For directions, press here.

 

Jeweler’s Row

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.

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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.

89101114Most 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.  715

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.

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Spring Finally!

It happened while I was at Clayathon.  Dark chilly days and then POW!  I was sneezing and blowing my nose.  The allergy fairy took hold of me and fairly rattled my teeth, even though I usually don’t suffer from Hay Fever, the pollen levels were off the charts!

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Spring has come to Philadelphia and to my neighbor Bob’s sidewalk garden

 

Flowers are popping out all over my part of Philadelphia.  The tree  blossoms are only blooming for a few days before they fall from the tree limbs and collect on the sidewalk.  until then, every walk is glorious Spring.

December January in Philadelphia

The Some pictures I took in December and January during Philadelphia walkabouts.

 

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South Broad Street Townhouse
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Philip’s Restaurant, South Broad Street How many funeral lunches have I attended there?
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Near Broad and Ellsworth
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Near Broad and Ellsworth. Was this a club of some kind?
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Cigar factory converted to condos,  12 and Washington Streets
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Apartment House Steps.  Lombard Street
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Someone took a wrong turn here, 8th and Christian Streets
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Roots mural on South Street East of Broad. Hidden behind a chain link fence.  For a better view, press here.
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Avenue of the Arts, Broad ad Washington Streets
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St. Rita’s Church, South Broad Street. The huge structure dwarfs the buildings near it.
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Beautiful South Broad Street Townhouse.
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I took the next 4 pictures in the vestibule of a South Broad Street townhouse. The house has not been altered inside too much except for the obligatory paneled bar in the basement.

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The floor tiles resemble many of those in Philadelphia City Hall which were made at the Moravian Tile Works and date from the 1890’s

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More Townhouses on South Broad Street, very well preserved and the fronts colorfully painted.
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FMC Tower from the South Street Bridge
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The Liberty Bell one frozen night in December
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From the Rube Goldberg exhibition at the Jewish Museum in Philadelphia. Looks like his prediction came true. Down to the cat.
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I waited until the restroom was empty before taking this picture in the Jewish Museum. Why? I hate answering stupid questions.
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Ghost Bike Memorial, 11th and Spruce Streets. Emily Fredricks was killed on her bike when a trash truck crossed the bike lane without looking. I hope there will be less of a need for these memorials in the future.
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Looking North from Clymer Street roof deck.
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Christmas Day view from the South Street Bridge.
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South Philadelphia yarn bomb.
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Violin Maker 17th and Pine Street

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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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This Week

A bunch of pictures from this week

Wind Challenge Matthew
Matthew Borgen

Caught the  Wind Challenge Exhibition at Fleisher Art Memorial

Took pictures of the many mushrooms that have popped up in my neighborhood after last week’s rain.

Flowers are beautiful even when they’re dying

Helped kids paint pumpkins at Palumbo Recreation Center

Some Pottery in Progress

Saw some new (to me) Murals

And met some incredible artists and makers at Philadelphia Open Studio Tours at the Bok Building.  This deserves its own post.  Stay tuned,

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Last week, a reader warned about the application of a  toxic herbicide called glyphosate to wheat crops rendering all but organically grown wheat safe to eat.  I decided to read up on glyphosate.  The Food Babe blog  pointed out the dangers posed by this chemical, citing a report by a group called Food Democracy Now.  (Read the report here.) But the Snopes.Com site argues that the report’s information is false.  I am not a chemist and cannot do my own tests.  I will say that the discussion of the scientific methodology used in the report seems vague, (compare the testing done to determine the link between smoking and lung cancer), but I do not know whether this comes from an intent to deceive,  poor writing, or an editorial decision that the reader would not understand a more thorough discussion of the testing procedures used.    I have not come to a conclusion.  I am presenting this information so readers can draw their own conclusions.    

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Boris does not care about any of this apparently, 

Has Spring Finally Sprung?

It certainly looked like it in my neighborhood.  I took these pictures today on the walk home from the pottery studio.

 

And here’s one of the cacti from Bob’s garden.    I know it looks like a bunch of deflated balloons now, but its cactus pads will be stiff as soldiers come summer.

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I have been busy making mugs and  I’ll post a few pictures in the coming weeks.  In the meantime, here are some of my favorite pieces from the Fleisher Student Show.

Pictures of the Week

It’s always fun to post from your cell phone, but a handy option to have. I am under the radar this week but thought I would share some pictures from last week’s Flea Market at the Kimmel Center.

Summer Walks, Summer Flowers

  One of the things I love most about Philadelphia is the unexpected little streets and alley ways that stretch from Queen Village to Point Breeze and all the neighborhoods in between.   Here are some flower pictures I took on some walks around the city.1.SummerFlars0728_1417522.SummerFlars0728_1418043.SummerFlars0728_1418204.SummerFlars0728_1418235.SummerFlars4526.SummerFlars5077.SummerFlars5368.SummerFlars556

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.