LOOK! Public Art Project Transforms Vacant Storefronts on Lancaster Avenue
September 29, 2011
Artwork by Paul Schultz for LOOK! public art project
The public art project LOOK! on Lancaster Avenue will open on September 30 with the unveiling of 16 visual and sound art installations, which will transform storefronts and windows of 13 vacant buildings along Lancaster Avenue through November 30. The multifaceted project also includes group art shows and public performances in existing galleries and public spaces along Lancaster Avenue, starting at 34th Street and extending westward to 41st. More than 200 artists competed to be among the 16 chosen to realize their storefront/window installation projects.
The project is sponsored by Drexel University, in partnership with the University City District, the People's Emergency Center and University City community arts groups, and is funded in part by a $30,000 grant from the City of Philadelphia’s "Restore Corridors through Art" program.
The official LOOK! reception on Friday, September 30, begins at 6 p.m. at 3850-52 Lancaster Avenue. The storefront windows will be decorated with a work by Paul Schultz, a professor in Drexel’s Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design, entitled "Celebrate the Uncelebrated." Complimentary refreshments will be available, along with detailed information about the various projects, shows and performances.
As Drexel University embarks on an extensive program of urban revitalization in Powelton and Mantua, LOOK! provides a unique opportunity for West Philadelphia residents to come together in a celebration of creativity and innovation, and promote a sense of civic pride and community spirit. The City of Philadelphia is seeking to revitalize commercial corridors through the arts, and LOOK! will showcase this re-emerging retail zone.
More information on the project, maps and updates on receptions, performances and opening hours may be found at www.LancasterAvenueArts.com.
The 16 storefront/window installation projects include:
- 3529 Lancaster Avenue—Two youth empowerment organizations, the Agatston Urban Nutrition Initiative (UNI) and Positive Minds, will collaborate on "Lancaster Ave: Inside Out." Positive Minds instructors will teach four UNI students from University City High School and four UNI Senior Citizen Volunteers to use digital photography to make, print and hang black and white, large format self-portraits celebrating themselves as urban farmers.
- 201 North 36th Street—Claire Marcus will install "Window Dressing," a wrap-around corner configuration in the eight-foot windows and door panels. The work will be composed of openwork hand-knit panels with brightly colored mason's line and binding cord.
- 3601 Lancaster Avenue—Erin Murray will paint a grated window in the manner of a wall with many layers of painted-over graffiti, with the words "Value Added" blending with the background at points.
- 3820 Baring Street—Jesse Kudler will install a multi-channel sound piece that will play audio through eight small transducer speakers attached to window panes.
- 3826 Lancaster Avenue—Russell Mahoney and Emil Crystal will install a temporary architectural "armature" on the façade of the building.
- 3848 Lancaster Avenue—Nicole Herbert will use thin white tape to trace the outlines of reflections in windows and doors.
- 3849 Lancaster Avenue—Kay Healy will wheatpaste life-size furniture screenprints onto the boarded windows to create the illusion of an occupied building, and George Apotsos will use plastic bottle caps collected by area school students for recycling to create a giant tassel that will hang over the building.
- 3850-52 Lancaster Avenue—Paul Schultz will convert more than 10,000 plastic bread bag clips into a creative backlit display. Valerie Huhn and Karen Smith will create two installations consisting of a sculpture and an accompanying video. One video will feature water enclosed in man-made structures and containers, complementing an abstract and organic sculpture. The second video will use abstracted imagery from television crime dramas, with the sculpture's surface hindering the search for clues to the video's original source.
- 3854 Lancaster Avenue—Melissa J. Frost will install a visual from an event at the punk rock venue Killtime, which was located at this address from the early 1980s until 2003.
- 3860 Lancaster Avenue—Trevor Reese will work with the existing storefront façade by installing a sculptural work against the garage door. This will be a text-based piece, with individual letters cut and constructed from the word “architecture.”
- 3870 Lancaster Avenue—Ava Blitz will place black and white digital images of horses in the windows, recalling the building's former use as a stable.
- 3911 Lancaster Avenue—Derrick Wesley McNew will use the visual languages of sales literature and advertisements to engage viewers' sense of commercialism, with painted words placed at multiple levels, skewing the baselines of each individual word.
- 3939 Lancaster Avenue—In the first and second floor windows, Joe Boruchow will design paper cutouts to create a subtle black and white, backlit installation that treats the windows like Japanese screens. In a windows of the third floor, Jack Sloss will render a Quaker aphorism in neon. The proverb, "Busyness is not our Business," originated with William Penn.
Two large group exhibitions have been curated for LOOK!, one featuring a dozen artists with neighborhood roots in a beautiful historic building currently being restored (3820 Lancaster) and the other highlighting the women artists of the neighborhood, in the storefront space of the innovative Fattah Homes (4017 Lancaster).
Nine exhibitions in total will be open, free to the public:
- Projects I Gallery, 3820 Lancaster Avenue—Randy Dalton, artist-in-residence at West Philadelphia's Community Education Center (CEC), will curate a group exhibition “Discover a Dozen” with James Dupree, James Evans, Tony Fink, Diane Keller, Angela Klarner, David Slovic, Victor Thompson, Suzanne Wheeling, Lane, and the lady from the train. Carolyn Healy and John Phillips will create a sculptural installation with video and audio. Also on display will be "Neighborhood Narratives" work by the students of Hana Iverson's course at Drexel University featuring visual and audio portraits of Lancaster Corridor residents.
- People's Emergency Center (PEC) Chaka Fattah House, 4017 Lancaster Avenue—Powelton artist, author and educator Bonnie MacAllister will curate a group exhibition of women artists from the Powelton, Mantua, and Belmont neighborhoods, “The Women of Lancaster Avenue.” They include: Maria Anasazi, Wendy Graves-Papadopoulos, Mandy Katz, Liddy Lindsay, Virginia Maksymowicz, Rebecca Rose, Ellen Tiberino and Ana Uribe.
- Community Education Center (CEC), 3500 Lancaster Avenue—Randy Dalton's "The Blue Grotto" will involve more than 100 blue light sculptures, models, and memorabilia as part of "Do Blue," a public art campaign to award the Philadelphia region a "blue ribbon" for arts and culture.
- Viorel Farcas Gallery, 3806 Lancaster Avenue—Sculpture by Powelton artist Viorel Farcas will be on display.
- Art on the Avenue Gallery, 3808 Lancaster Avenue—Blaise Tobia, a Powelton artist and professor in the Art & Art History Department at Drexel University, will curate a group exhibition “Queries” that will include artists Tom Gartside, Dan Loewenstein, Virginia Maksymowicz, and John Woodin.
- Intersections Gallery, 3933 Lancaster Avenue—Powelton artist and gallerist Clayton Sweeney will curate a survey of Neo-Burlesque Fashion Design.
- Photo West Gallery, 3625 Lancaster Avenue—Philadelphia documentary photographer Laurence Salzmann will exhibit his work.
- Upstairs Gallery at 3809 Pearl Street - New work by Emil Baumann will be exhibited.
On September 30, LOOK! will present performing arts across various disciplines—music, dance and theater—in various locations along the Lancaster Corridor:
- CEC Meeting House Theatre (3500 Lancaster Avenue)—Modern dancers, roving musicians, and poets will perform at 6 p.m. Additionally, seven of the eight exhibitors of burlesque fashions at Intersections Gallery will present a fashion show. Participants in the fashion show will then promenade from CEC to Intersections Gallery, providing information to onlookers.
- Art on the Avenue Gallery, 3808 Lancaster Avenue—The musicians, poets and dancers from the CEC will continue their performances here in a round-robin format.
- Bodyrock Bootcamp, 3858 Lancaster Avenue—The up-and-coming contemporary band Killer Whale, of which Bodyrock owner Nate McIntyre is a member, will perform two or three sets in rotating shifts until midnight.
- Intersections Gallery, 3933 Lancaster Avenue—A speaker will make a presentation on the history of burlesque fashions at 8 or 9 p.m., in conjunction with Clayton Sweeney's exhibition of Neo-Burlesque Fashion Design.
- New Angle Lounge, 3900 Lancaster Avenue—A band will perform.
- Tiberino Museum, 3819 Hamilton Street—Gabrielle De Burke, a former artist-in-residence at the CEC, and her band Plum Dragoness and the Elements will perform a set in rotating shifts until midnight.
- PEC Chaka Fattah House, 4017 Lancaster Avenue—Bonnie MacAllister, curator of the exhibition of Corridor women artists, will perform.
- 40th Street and Lancaster Avenue—Powelton resident and gallery owner Joel Spivak will speak about the history of the Lancaster Corridor.
Additional performers along Lancaster Avenue include Anne-Marie Mulgrew and Dancers Co. and the street performance duo Sidetracked.