Dirty Franks a local dive bar in Philadelphia that dates back to prohibition. Geoffrey and I countered it as a stop on our hours-long walk of the city’s Mural Mile tour, which takes you through many different neighborhoods in search of unique street art, public artworks and memorable landmarks. Dirty Franks stands out for the murals painted on its multiple façades, which depict the likenesses of famous Franks. The mural was designed by David McShane, painted originally in 2001, and restored with additions in 2015.
Philadelphia has no shortage of impressive public artworks and engaging street art scattered all over the city, and it’s fun to spend a day just wandering the different neighborhoods and checking it all out if you happen be visiting. Continue reading Claes Oldenburg’s Monumental Paint Brush Sculpture in Downtown Philadelphia!
In the 1920s, Charles Demuth (1883 – 1935) painted a remarkable series of “Poster Portraits” depicting friends and fellow artists. Rather than capturing a physical likeness, these works conveyed the subject’s character through arrangements of commonplace objects rendered in the crisp style of advertisements. While Demuth did not include a self-portrait in the series, My Egypt (1927), produced during the same period, suggests a parallel effort to distill his personal and artistic concerns in symbolic terms. This depiction of a newly built grain elevator in the artist’s native Lancaster, Pennsylvania, was the apex of his quest to develop a dynamic geometric style that would herald America’s industrial prowess. By titling the painting My Egypt, Demuth equates the grain elevator with the ancient pyramids, but he also invites a more poignant, intimate reading. When he made this work, Demuth was confined by debilitating illness to his home in Lancaster. Calling the image his Egypt links his hometown to the Biblical narrative of Egypt as a site of involuntary bondage.
Photographed in the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City.
South of Scranton (1931) gathers various scenes that artist Peter Blume (1906 – 1992) encountered during an extended road trip in the spring of 1930. Setting out from his residence in Pawling, New York, Blume drove through the coalfields of Scranton, Pennsylvania, and then headed south toward the steel mills of Bethlehem. Blume then traveled further south to Charleston, South Carolina, where he witnessed several sailors performing acrobatic exercises aboard the deck of a German cruiser ship in the harbor. In an account of the painting’s origins, the artist stated, “As I tried to weld my impressions into the picture, they lost all their logical connections. I moved Scranton into Charleston, and Bethlehem into Scranton, as people do in a dream.” Blume’s crisp technique heightens the painting’s surreal appearance.
Photographed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.
Artist Bruce Munro created the remarkable and eye-catching installation, Waterlilies — located on the Large Lake in Pennsylvania’s Longwood Gardens — from 65,000 recycled CDs secured atop floating foam discs. While this installation is best viewed by day, you can see from the photo below that it looks pretty cool at night as well. Continue reading CD Waterlilies By Bruce Munro