Postcard from Philladelphia: Mural Mile

I didn’t venture too far for my first trip of 2016. Philadelphia is just an hour and half away from New York by train and less than two hours from Washington, so my NYC bestie Caitlin and I met up halfway for a quick early January birthdays day-trip in the City of Brotherly Love. Neither one of us had visited the new Barnes Foundation so we had agreed to make the new-ish museum our first stop (purchasing tickets for timed entry in advance is highly recommended). Afterwards, however, we took a break from the Renoirs to explore the open air “museum” that is Philadelphia’s Mural Mile. 

With more than 3,000 murals, Philadelphia is one of the top cities in the US for street art (according to this Huffington Post ranking, it’s # 2 in the country!). Most of the edgier and more interesting work is located in neighborhoods that tourists rarely venture to, like the Market Street corridor in West Philly, Point Breeze or the up-and-coming Fishtown. But not all and there’s a concentration of 17 of them over a 2.5 miles route downtown that’s known as Mural Mile. The recommended route to see them all starts at 7th and Chestnut, steps away from the independence visitor center so you can easily combine it with a visit to the city’s most famous monuments like the Liberty Bell.

Philadelphia's Mural Mile Map

While organized tours are available,  you can easily walk Mural Mile on your own using the map above from the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program’s website or this curated Google Map. Caitlin and I leisurely meandered through the streets, admiring the architecture of the city as well as the murals. Good thing it was unseasonably warm that day 😉 

 

Philadelphia's Mural Mile: A Taste of Summer by Ann Northrup

This lush mural about food as art by Ann Northrup is on the side of Vetri Ristorante, a landmark northern Italian restaurant at 1312 Spruce Street

Philadelphia's Mural Mile: Winter-Crystal Snowscape by David Guinn

Winter: Crystal Snowscape by David Guinn, one of four murals in the “Four Seasons” series painted by the Philadelphia based artist around town

Philadelphia's Mural Mile: Meg Saligman's 'Philadelphia Muses'

Meg Saligman’s ‘Philadelphia Muses’ is located near Avenue of the Arts, Philadelphia’s cultural center

Philadelphia's Mural Mile: 'Women of Progress' by Cesar Viveros and Larissa Preston

‘Women of Progress’ by Cesar Viveros and Larissa Preston shows the progression of women in various roles and professions over time. It’s painted on the side of the New Century Trust, an organization that highlights the contributions of women to society.

Philadelphia's Mural Mile: Gimme Shelter by David Guinn

Philadelphia native David Guinn painted “Gimme Shelter” near the Morris Animal Shelter on Lombard Street

They may not be the edgiest – or even the most colourful – but all of the 17 murals of Mural Mile give an insight into Philadelphia’s history, its communities and their creativity. They also sure look better than plain brick walls … and I can’t think of a better way to discover a new city!

Art All Night Returns September 27, Expands Across the District

I’ve given up on D.C.’s Art For All ever being a cultural event of the scale and caliber of Paris’ Nuit Blanche, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not looking forward to it. The main event, Art All Night/Nuit Blanche DC, now in its fourth edition, will take place Saturday, September  27  and go beyond the Shaw neighbourhood to all four quadrants of the city.

Art all night, art all night 2014, art event dc, nuit blanche dc

Art All Night uses art to cast a new light on the city and one of the things I love the most about the DC version is that it allows me to explore both established art spaces and discover more underutilized venues. This year is no exception. Here are some of the highlights:

Activated! Art4All Launch Party ~ If you haven’t walked through the new City Center complex downtown (and seen its fun digital art feature the Gateway), now is your chance! D.C.’s newest development will host the official launch party for the 3 week festival on Friday, September 26 (6-8PM.) The $15 tickets include 2 tickets and appetizers, provided by recently opened DBGB DC and Del Frisco’s. That alone should sell you on it.

North Capitol Main Streets ~ That part of town is definitely not one that I would want to explore at 1AM on any other night, but during Art All Night 50 artists will turn 3 lots between 1514 and 1638 North Capitol into THE place to be on September 27. Curated by Art Soiree and the team that put the Wonderbread Factory on the cultural map, North Capitol Main Street will feature a silent disco, a commissioned graffiti mural, food trucks, projected video art and more between 7PM and 3AM.

north capitol

 

Dupont Circle ~ Here, Art All Night is mainly taking place in small, established galleries like Hillyer Art Space, Foundry Gallery or the Washington Studio School. Don’t miss an interactive movie making experience at the Heurich House Museum and Alex Braden‘s Outside and Play (Reprise), a 12-minute site, sound, and time-specific performance beginning promptly at 12:05am (it’s BYO headphones!) at Hillyer Art Space.

H Street NE ~ There will be a little bit of everything on H Street: golf at 3rd and H, dessert making at 646 H Street, DJs, film projections, an open house and preview of the new Ben’s Chili Bowl, live bike frame painting and custom bike making and a performance by an eclectic chamber collective at the Atlas Theater (between 8-10PM only.) Basically, a pretty typical scene for a Saturday night on H Street 😉

Congress Heights ~ Curated by Tendani Mpulubusi El., the area around the MLK corridor will host a sidewalk arts fest between 2700 – 2900 Martin Luther King Avenue SE, exciting lighting schemes and graphic projections as well as store front displays, readings, sip and paint and, of course, music.

IMG_4784Shaw ~ Shaw was the main host for all of the Art All Night events in 2013 and will be the main hub again this year. The area has changed SO much in the past 12 months though! If you want to see everything Art All Night has to offer in that part of town, start the evening at the Carnegie Library (live music) and zig zag your way up to the Popeye Building through 7th and 9th street. There’s too much stuff going on for me to list them all but I’m looking forward to the unveiling of a new outdoor mural by Kelly Towles at 1509 7th St. NW, abstract painting and sculpture (also much needed caffeine!!) at just-opened Compass Coffee, the return of Anienkan Udofia’s Marvin Gaye mural (which was recently lost to construction) at 1748 7th st. NW, and DJ + photo booth at the Watha T. Daniel/Shaw Library.

After the 27th, Art For All continues with two “PorchFests” on Rhode Island Avenue NE (October 4th) and Adams Morgan (October 18th). Inspired by similar PorchFest events across the country aimed at creating a family-friendly, neighborhood-based alternative to the nightclub music scene, these two events will celebrate local talent by turning the front porches of neighborhood homes into performance spaces.

So yes, D.C.’s version of Art All Night is more of a take on the Parisian concept, an (almost) all-night exploration and celebration of art that’s amplified through a 3-weeks long art festival. I think it mainly succeeds in showcasing local artists and bringing art within everyone’s reach in a fun, party-like atmosphere. But, in Paris, some of the major museums like the Louvre, Pompidou, the Grand and Petit Palais or the Palais de Tokyo open up to the public (free of charge and ALL night) for Nuit Blanche. Wouldn’t it be awesome if some of the Smithsonians or the Newseum could open their door for D.C.’s Art All Night? In Paris, Art Happenings take place in both unusual and underused locations as well as major buildings that are not typically open to the public. For example, this year, Motoi Yamamoto  will create an art piece using salt on the floor of the salle des Tapisseries in City Hall. Wouldn’t it be fun if we could get some of the government buildings to partake? Like all night readings of the Constitution to different music at the Archives, or something like this? Just my suggestions…