Tag Archive | Public Art

The Spitting Fountains of Chicago

Millennium Park,
All Photos By Gail

Add this to the long list of Very Cool Things I saw on my recent Chicago vacation: Spitting Fountains. Well, the proper name for this distinctive piece of public art is Crown Fountain, located in Millennium Park, but if you were a tourist and you asked a Chicago local to point you in the direction of “The Spitting Fountains,” I bet they would know what you meant.

Opened in July 2004, Crown Fountain is an interactive work of public art and video sculpture designed by Catalan artist Jaume Plensa and executed by Krueck and Sexton Architects.  The fountain is composed of a black granite reflecting pool placed between a pair of glass brick towers.

Crown Fountain Smiling 2

The towers are 50 feet tall and use light-emitting diodes (LEDs) to display digital videos on their inward faces. While some of the videos displayed are of scenery, most attention has focused on its video clips of the faces of local residents. Here’s where the spitting part comes in: a powerful stream of water intermittently cascades down the two towers, spouting through a nozzle on each tower’s front face. Not coincidentally, the nozzle will line up with the mouth of whatever face is being displayed. Clever.

Crown Fountain Spitting

Here’s how you can best plan your photos to get a shot of the spitting. Each face appears on the sculpture for a total of 5 minutes using various parts of individual 80-second videos.  A 40-second section is played at one-third speed forward and backward, running for a total of 4 minutes.  Then, there is a subsequent segment, where the mouth is puckering, that is stretched to 15 seconds. This is followed by a section, in which the water appears to spout from the open mouth, that is stretched to last for 30 seconds.

Crown Fountain Smiling

Finally, there is a smile after the completion of the water spouting from the mouth, that is slowed to extend for 15 seconds. The water operates only from May to October.

Crown Fountain 2

Crown Fountain highlights Plensa’s themes of dualism, light, and water, extending the use of video technology from his prior works. Its use of water is unique among Chicago’s many fountains, in that it promotes physical interaction between with the public, and children especially appear to enjoy frolicing in the fountain’s water.

Crown Fountain Spitting

In fact, if you are on the street passing by and can’t even see the fountain, you can tell when it is spitting because you can hear the loud and delighted squealing of children.

Crown Fountain Smiling 3

Crown Fountain is adjacent to another famous Chicago landmark, Anish Kapoor’s Cloudgate (aka The Bean), so you can see them both next time you visit this beautiful city!

TATS CRU Presents The Mural Kings at the Houston Bowery Wall

Tats Cru Mural Full
All Photos By Gail

Well, if you haven’t had a chance too see the above iteration of the Houston Bowery Mural Wall, it’s officially too late, because the colorful piece, by Bronx-based graffiti consortium, Tats Cru, was painted over during the Memorial Day Weekend. And that’s why I’m here: to tell and show you what you missed. You’re welcome.

Tats Cru Mural Detail
Keith Haring

The Mural Kings went up in late January of 2019 as an homage to NYC and the Lower East Side, including a shout out to the late Keith Haring (who, back in 1982, was the first artist to create a site-specific mural for the now legendary street canvas). Tats Cru is the first full graffiti crew to paint a mural here.

Liz Christy Sign

The mural also honors green activist and advocate Liz Christy (19501985), who created NYC’s first community garden, which still thrives just across the street from the mural.

Tats Cru Mural Detail

Tats Cru has spearheaded the battle to change the public’s perspective of graffiti as an art form through their respected work.Their murals adorn the walls of major corporations, museums, schools and iconic New York City Institutions

Tats Cru Mural Detail

Tats Cru Mural Full

Derek Fordjourm, Half Mast

Half Mast Derek Fordjour
Photos By Gail

With Half Mast, Derek Fordjour debuts a new work that reflects on the current national reckoning with mass shootings, and the relentless threat of violence against Black and Brown bodies. A portrait of this divided moment in U.S. history, Half Mast presents law officers, students, and ordinary civilians in one compressed, shared space. Alongside teddy bears and balloons reminiscent of street-side memorials, some figures appear marked with targets while others have been reduced to silhouettes.

Fordjour’s image holds no one person or group responsible for the violence, even as it speaks to loss and abuse of power. Painted brightly in his signature graphic style, the work points to possibilities of a future civic movement or celebration. Derek Fordjour first made Half Mast as a painting; here, in his first solo museum exhibition, it is presented as a public art installation in the form of a large vinyl print, located outdoors at the intersection of Gansevoort and Washington Streets, across the street ands down one block from the Whitney Museum, and directly across from the end of the High Line.

Half Mast Derek Fordjour

Mark Manders Tilted Head at Doris C. Freedman Plaza

Tilted Head Front View
All Photos By Gail

Mark Manders’ Tilted Head is a work of fiction. It has the appearance of unfired clay combined with everyday objects but in fact is made entirely of cast bronze. The cracks and fissures that cover its surface imply an organic process of drying and decay, yet its metal form is fixed.

Tilted Head 1

It might suggest an incomplete model, abandoned in the artist’s studio, if not for the fact that its colossal size and civic location lend it the air of a grand monument. Eyes shut, the androgynous figure’s mask-like features are at rest, undisturbed by an abrupt slice through a third of its face. The unfinished side of the head is held as if in a splint by wooden planks, one tied with rope.

Tilted Head Rear View

At the back, chairs and a suitcase, all slightly reduced in size, protrude from a mass of formless material. These shifts in scale, unexplained objects, and trompe l’oeil bronze effects alter our perception and spark the imagination.

Tilted Head Back Detail
Back of Sculpture, Detail

Mark Manders (b. 1968, The Netherlands) has been interested in the human figure throughout his career, and is particularly fascinated with the head, which he sometimes depicts detached from the body and juxtaposed with different elements. These heads are always stylized representations rather than individualized portraits.

Tilted Head Side View

His approach creates a paradoxical sense of both immediacy and timelessness, of something newly made with fresh clay yet belonging to the traditions of classical statuary. With Tilted Head, Manders has rendered a compelling fiction of human form that inhabits a poetic space between representation and abstraction, serenity and rupture, life and mortality.

Tilted Head Right Side View

Mark Manders’ Tilted Head is Curated by Public Art Fund Director & Chief Curator Nicholas Baume. It Will be on Display at the Doris C. Freedman Plaza, Fifth Avenue and 60th Street, Adjacent to Central Park, Through September 1st, 2019.

Update: I was near the Park over the Memorial Day weekend and got this new shot of the sculpture with Summer’s lush greenery in the background!

Tilted Head in Summer


Push Pin Pumps By Laura Escamilla!

Push Pin Pumps
All Photos By Gail

Beautiful shoes can certainly be considered works of art, and in the case of these Hot Pink beauties created from ordinary push pins, that is exactly the case.

Push Pin Pumps

These striking Push Pin Shoes (1981), designed by Laura Escamilla, were part of a Public Art Installation called Obsessorize: Common Objects Uncommon Accessories, a joint venture between Madison Avenue Business Improvement District (BID) and students at the SVA 3D Design department.

Push Pin Pumps

These shoes were spotted somewhere along Madison Avenue in the upper 70s. The exhibit was co-sponsored by Marie Claire magazine.

Push Pin Pumps

Dorothy Iannone’s I Lift My Lamp Beside the Golden Door On The High Line

I Lift My Lamp Beside the Golden Door
All Photos By Gail

Dorothy Iannone is a Berlin-based artist whose works focus on eroticism and the female sexual experience. Inspired by Egyptian frescoes, Byzantine mosaics, and ancient fertility statues, Iannone depicts the act of lovemaking not as an act of taboo, but rather as an act of spiritual union and transcendence. While now commonly lauded as transgressive and radical, her work, which often portrays her love affair with the late artist Dieter Roth, has been subject to frequent censorship since the 1960s. Iannone and Roth began creating work side-by-side after Iannone moved to Europe in 1967, and the two artists influenced each other’s works greatly for almost a decade. Overlooked for much of her career, Iannone’s magnetic and highly influential work finally began to receive widespread recognition in the late 2000s.

For the High Line, Iannone created a new, large-scale mural installation featuring three colorful Statues of Liberty. Between them runs the words, “I Lift My Lamp Beside the Golden Door,” which is the final line from Emma Lazarus’s poem The New Colossus, the ode to the freedom promised by immigration to America engraved on a bronze plaque mounted inside the statue at Liberty Island. Iannone’s piece was conceived before the recent months of upheaval in the United States around immigration, an already contested topic; these recent debates have raised the Statue of Liberty anew as a symbol of the openness of New York City and the United States to those seeking asylum, freedom, or simply a better life. Iannone’s vibrant Liberties bring a bit of joy to an often exhausting and demoralizing political debate.

Dorothy Iannone’s I Lift My Lamp Beside the Golden Door Will Be On Display on the High Line at 22nd Street Through March 2019.

I Lift My Lamp Beside the Golden Door Detail

Psychedelic Christmas Tree Forest at The Standard Hotel

Colored Christmas Trees
All Photos By Gail

If you happen to be planning an outing to the Whitney Museum to see the new Andy Warhol exhibit, From A to B And Back Again, why not make a day of it: do some shopping, walk the High Line, enjoy a delicious lunch at Bubby’s, and stop by the outdoor Plaza at the Standard Hotel to check out their amazing Psychedelic Christmas Tree Forest!

Colored Christmas Trees

Colored Christmas Trees

As you can see, these trees are decorated with oversize sweets such as  Gummy Bears, Candy Canes and Gum Drops! Fun!

Colored Christmas Trees

Colored Christmas Trees

While you stroll among the trees and take assloads of selfies for your Instagram feed, you can also enjoy a hot beverage!

Find This Forest of Colorful Holiday Trees at The Standard Hotel Plaza, Located at 848 Washington at 13th Street, New York 10014

Colored Christmas Trees

Monumental Dalmatian Statue at NYU Langone Health

Dalmatian with Cab Statue
All Photos By Gail

In New York City, you can discover something new and surprising every day! I was on my way to a party on East 34th Street near the FDR Drive when I found myself face to face with  a 38-foot-tall statue of a Dalmatian balancing a bright Yellow NYC Cab on her nose. Yes, I just typed that.

Spot From a Distance

The site-specific sculpture of a female Dalmatian puppy called Spot is the work of artist Donald Lipski.
Rising to the height of a three-story building, Spot serves as a lighthearted greeting for patients of the new Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at NYU Langone, which opened on June 24th, 2018.

Balancing Act

Spot was constructed with fiberglass and steel beams in a large factory in Wisconsin before she was trucked to the city, and brought in by crane to the 34th Street construction site. The taxi cab is a real Prius (sans motor) which was donated by Toyota. When it rains, its windshield wipers will activate.

Aerial View of Spot

Spot is the perfect playful figure to introduce adults and children to Hassenfeld,” NYU Langone said in a statement. “Spot contributes to the hospital’s uplifting atmosphere, part of our commitment to helping families feel welcome, supported and at ease from the moment they walk through the doors.

Spot Can Be ‘Spotted’ on the Strip of Lawn Just Out Front of Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital Entrance at NYU Langone Health,  Located at 424 East 34th Street (East of First Avenue), NYC.

Spot the Dalmatian

New Photo Added July 2020!

Dalmation Statue

Tristan Eaton’s Intermission Mural at Houston and Bowery

Tristan Eaton Intermission Mural
All Photos By Gail

Tristan Eaton’s Intermission Mural up now at Bowery and Houston Street is one of the more colorful and accessible installations to take up the space at that revered corner in recent memory. The mural went up in June of 2018.

Tristan Eaton Intermission Mural

Geoffrey and I happened to walk by it on a very overcast day, but Eaton’s signature bright colors and pop art references made the day a little bit brighter.

Installed adjacent to the mural is a small black plaque where you can read these words about the artist:

Born in 1978, Triston Eaton spent his childhood moving from Los Angeles, London and Detroit to Brooklyn, where painting graffiti, skateboarding and comic books became his obsession.


Eaton devoted his artistic career to spray paint after 15 years of experimentation with motorcycle painting, toy design, silk-screen work and graphic design.

Intermission Mural Detail

His diverse background informs his now iconic painting style. Eaton’s large scale mural work features a meticulous visual collage of pop imagery, all executed with freehand spray paint on a colossal scale to tell human stories through iconograpohy and metaphor.

Intermission Mural Detail

Eaton’s murals can be found in dozens of cities across the globe from Paris to Shanghai a well as the Museum of Modern Art’s permanent collection.

Street Art Map Detail

The above photo shows a detail of the mural where Eaton has drawn a rough map showing where you can find works by other prominent street artists in the surrounding neighborhood.

Intermission Mural Detail

Intermission Mural

Let’s Go: A Day Trip to Philadelphia and The Barnes Foundation!

Barnes Foundation Exterior Shot
All Photos By Gail

Well, New York City really has it all (oh yeah); that much is true. One of the many millions of reasons that living in Manhattan totally rules is that, should you wish to seek adventure beyond the city limits, it is possible to make an awesome Day Trip to another city located in an entirely different state! You can’t do that from LA, that is for sure. The NYC Day Trip is a thing to be taken advantage of and enjoyed as often as possible. Because sometimes, if you do your homework, you can experience an entire lifetime in one day.

Barnes Foundation Exterior Shot

For a couple of years, my Art Husband Geoffrey and I have yearned to visit the Barnes Foundation, an art museum in downtown Philadelphia with an amazing backstory that we learned all about from watching the highly polarizing 2009 documentary The Art of The Steal — a film that we both absolutely loved. When a friend of Geoffrey’s posted on FaceBook about taking a day trip from NYC to The Barnes, we decided to do some investigating of our own.

Surprisingly, a ticket to downtown Philadelphia from Port Authority via Peter Pan Bus Lines is just $40 round trip, including fees, and the journey is a quick 2 hours each way (depending on traffic). We were super excited by this discovery and scheduled our trip for an upcoming Sunday. Departing from Port Authority at 8:30 AM and arriving — 20 minutes ahead of schedule — at 10:10 AM, our return trip home was booked for 7:30 PM, giving us a full day to explore the City of Brotherly Love. Day Trip!

Barnes Foundation Exterior Shot

Barnes Foundation Exterior Shot with Reflecting Pool
Reflecting Pool Adjacent to the Museum Entrance

We didn’t have our ‘city legs’ yet, so we grabbed a waiting cab from the bus station to The Barnes ($10) and arrived shortly before it opened at 11:00 AM, ready to begin our adventure! Here’s some background information on the Barnes Collection, so that you can get an idea of why this place is so special.

Glass Installation
Detail: Faceted Glass Installation In The Barnes’ Lobby

The Barnes was founded in 1922 by Dr. Albert C. Barnes, a chemist who made his fortune by co-developing Argyrol, an antiseptic silver compound that was used to combat a variety of ailments. He sold his business, the A.C. Barnes Company, for $6 Million Dollars just months before the stock market crash of 1929. The artworks you see in the museum represent Dr. Barnes personal collection, which he meticulously curated during his lifetime. As we learned from eavesdropping on several tours we passed during our visit, many paintings in the collection were commissioned by Barnes from famous artists whom he developed personal friendships with.

Originally located in a residential neighborhood in Merion, located about five miles outside the city, the art collection was moved en masse in 2012 to a new building on Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia. In its new home, the art is on permanent display exactly as Barnes intended, in a series of galleries meant to recreate the house in Merion. Today, the foundation owns more than 4,000 objects, including over 900 paintings, estimated to be worth about $25 billion. These are primarily works by Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, and Modernist masters, but the collection also includes many other paintings by leading European and American artists, as well as African art, antiquities from China, Egypt, and Greece, and Native American art and jewelry. The paintings collection is most notable for its inclusion of 181 Renoirs, 69 Cézannes, 59 Matisses, 46 Picassos, and 16 Modiglianis.

Lobby Area Separating the Temporary Exhibit Galleries from the Permanent Collection

In addition to its vast permanent collection, The Barnes also hosts temporary, rotating exhibits. On the day we visited, they were just wrapping up an exhibit of artworks by Pierre-August Renior and his filmmaker son, Jean Renoir. I admit that neither Geoffrey nor I had realized that the two were related.

Jean Renoir as Pierrot
Jean Renoir as Pierrot By Pierre-August Renior

We were surprised to see so many paintings in which Jean served as his father’s model. In this painting from 1901, Jean is dressed as the sad clown Pierrot, a character from the popular Italian theater known as Comedia Dell’Arte.

Jen Renoir Film Sketch By Jean Andre

Sketch  of Scenery for the Jean Renoir Film Elena and Her Men, or Paris Does Strange Things (1955)By Jean Andre

Ceramics By Jean Renoir

In addition to his films, which often referenced motifs from his father’s paintings, Jean Renoir also created simple but beautiful ceramics.

Matisse Ceiling Piece

Matisse Triptych in Main Gallery, With Detail, Below

Matisse Ceiling Piece Detail

After enjoying the Renoir exhibit, we moved on to explore the series of many galleries housing the permanent collection, where this Matisse triptych is installed.

Collection Gallery Installation View
Gallery Installation View

The Barnes Collection is arranged in a manner that is different from any other museum or gallery. Albert Barnes taught people to look at works of art primarily in terms of their visual relationships, including colors, lines, light and space. Therefore each gallery can contain an eclectic mix of artists and styles. Although the museum building is just six years old at this point, it lacks a modern ‘White Cube’ design because it is meant to emulate the collection’s original setting inside a suburban residence.

Collection Gallery Installation View

Barnes also collected wrought-iron objects. Spatulas, door handles, hinges, keyhole coverings and the like are interspersed among the paintings throughout the galleries.

Collection Gallery Installation View

The collection includes many pieces of antique furniture, which are placed to enhance the gestalt experience of whatever gallery they are in.

Gallery with Furniture

Chest with Painting

Even the small table top items, such as dishes and vases, are part of Barnes‘ collection.

William Glackens
Painting By William Glackens

One of Barnes‘ close friends was an artist named William Glackens, whose works he also collected. When Glackens went to Paris in 1912, Barnes gave him money to purchase some paintings for him while he was there. One of those first works was Van Gogh’s The Postman, (which you will see later in this post). It was those first works that Glackens bought on Barnes’ behalf that created the start of The Barnes Collection. However, after that, Barnes primarily relied on his own eye to select works for his collection.

Portrait Of Albert C Barnes By Giorgio de Chirico

This Portrait Of Albert C. Barnes circa 1926 was painted by the Italian proto-Surrealist Giorgio de Chirico, who is one of my very favorite painters. There are many de Chiricos in the collection.

Giorgio de Chirico

I enjoyed spotting them!

Giorgio de Chirico

Amadeo Modigliani

The Barnes has one of the worlds’ largest collections of works by Italian Jewish painter Amedeo Modigliani under one roof. His style of portraiture, which was influenced by African masks, is highly recognizable. See if you can spot the Modigliani in the following two photos.

Amadeo Modigliani

Amadeo Modigliani

Van Gogh Postman Portrait of Joseph Roulin

If you know much about the work of Vincent Van Gogh, then you will likely recognize the painting above, on the lower right, which is one of the series of portraits painted by Van Gogh of Postman Joseph Roulin in 1889, and one of the first major works purchased for the collection. Imagine being wealthy enough to own this painting in what was once a private collection. Now, try to wrap your head around having the wealth that enables you to own hundreds of paintings this valuable. As an aside, my brother-in-law owns a production company in Los Angeles that worked on the Opening Gala for the new Barnes. He told me that there is a painting in the collection that is worth more than the entire new museum building cost to build! Wow!

Blue Picasso

On the right side of this room you will see an excellent example of Picasso’s work during his Blue Period. And look, there’s another Modigliani. Because he is everywhere.

Paul Cézanne  

Of the 69 works in the collection by French Post-Impressionist painter Paul Cézanne, the ones above and below are possibly my favorites.

Paul Cézanne

Here a few other paintings that really caught my eye.

Henri Rousseau

A vase of flowers by Henri Rousseau. Stunning.

Henri Rousseau

Here’s another one by Rousseau, which I love a lot. Albert Barnes had phenomenal taste, no question.

Henri Matisse

This exquisite vase of flowers is by another Henri — only this time it’s Matisse!

Claude Monet

Here’s a young lady in a blue dress by Claude Monet. I can’t even stand how beautiful this is.

Life Imitates Art

In this photo Life Imitates Art: as a man wearing a red shirt sits on a bench near a painting of a man wearing a red shirt while sitting on a bench! Art!

Random Art

I enjoy this painting of a woman’s face by Paul Klee, and the one below it, whose artist I do not know. You can see though how the two paintings are linked thematically. While Geoffrey and I love to explore Art Museums on our own terms, I definitely recommend joining at least part of one tour while you are inside The Barnes, as the docents are incredibly knowledgeable. And don’t be afraid to start up a conversation with another visitor, either. Many Philly locals have been to the original Barnes and are happy to fill you in on its rich history.

We had an amazing time at The Barnes, and if you love art as much as we do, you simply must plan a trip. You can get a pretty good feel for the lay of the land in a couple of hours, but of course you can say much longer if you are really into pausing to study and appreciate every single painting. On the other hand, if you don’t have much time, I’d say two hours is going be the bare minimum span of a visit to have quality experience. I am looking forward to future visits!

Robert Indiana Amor
Robert Indiana, Amor

This sculpture by the late Pop artist Robert Indiana is located at 210 N 18th Street, just a block from The Barnes. We passed it as we made our way south to begin the art adventure that would occupy the second half of our trip: a self-guided walking tour of Philadelphia’s many public murals. Our direct route took us along Benjamin Franklin Parkway, a scenic boulevard which runs for one mile between the Philadelphia Museum of Art and City Hall. The Parkway is home to many examples of historic architecture, parks, fountains and public art, and it is also the spine of Philadelphia’s Museum District. It is worth noting that the only reason we did not run up and down the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art — as Sylvester Stallone’s character does in the film Rocky – is that we had to head in the opposite direction. Another time!

Ben Franklin Parkway
Ben Franklin Parkway, With Its Colorful Flags of Many Nations, Looking Towards City Hall

Logan Square Swann Memorial Fountain

If you have no fixed agenda, you could spend the entire day just exploring the sites, shops and attractions along  Ben Franklin Parkway. Make sure you stop at Logan Circle, also known as Logan Square, which is a large traffic circle with a park. This is where you will find the very beautiful Swann Memorial Fountain.

The three river figures in the Swann Fountain are by sculptor Alexander Calder.

Free Library of Philadelphia
Free Library of Philadelphia Located Just Across from Logan Square

Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul

Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul (Above and Below)

Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul

Love Park Placard

Another urban oasis located nearby is JFK Plaza, which is known as Love Park.

View from Love Park to City Hall

There’s a fountain in Love Park also, but for some reason I neglected to get a photo.

Love Sculpture in Love Park

The plaza is nicknamed Love Park after this Robert Indiana sculpture, which I am guessing you are already familiar with. It is likely featured in every tourist snapshot and selfie taken in this park.

Building Perspective Shot

Philadelphia City Hall

We finally reached City Hall!

View from City Hall Pathway

At this point we were ready for lunch, and popped in to the Philadelphia Downtown Marriott for directions, a quick AC break, and a cup of refreshing cold water available for free in the lobby! Their friendly concierge advised us that the best Cheesesteaks in town can be found at Steve’s Prince of Steaks, which has locations all over the city. The Steve’s closest to us was the City Center location at 41 S. 16th Street. It took us about ten minutes to walk there.

Man with Duck on Head

As we walked to Steve’s, we saw a man walking down the street carrying a large stuffed Duck on his head.

Man with Duck on Head


Steves Prince of Steaks Neon Sign

All the locals go to Steve’s Prince of Steaks, and you can see why.

Steves Prince of Steaks Sandwich

Behold: The Steve’s Steak sandwich loaded with lean, sliced grilled steak with grilled onions, and oozing melted provolone cheese — plus tomatoes that Geoffrey rejected from his sandwich because they did not meet his standards of ripeness — his loss! This cheesesteak sandwich cost around $10 and it was worth every cent. It made me feel very full and satisfied, but I would have gladly eaten a second one had it been offered to me for free. Because it was fucking delicious.

Public Art Sculpture

There is so much great public art in the city that I was stopping every block to take a photo of one thing or another.

Oldenburg Clothespin Sculpture

This monumental sculpture of a Clothespin (1976) in Centre Square is by Claes Oldenburg. Philadelphia is home to four Oldenburg public artworks; more than any other city in the world!

Start from Here Plack
Some of the Murals Have Plaques Like This One Located Near Them, But Others Do Not

Having refueled with our delicious sandwiches from Steve’s, we were ready to walk off our lunch and immerse ourselves in local culture with an epic street art adventure: a self-guided walking tour of Philadelphia’s epic outdoor murals, which is known as the Mural Mile. As preparation for our tour, I had already downloaded an easy-to-follow street map at This Link. The city is laid out on a gird so, as long as you have your bearings, it is very easy to navigate. Depending on how much time and energy you have, you can choose from two routes on the map. Mural Mile South covers the area south of Market Street to Lombard Street and back, along the recently revitalized 13th Street corridor. Mural Mile North will take you by murals and other public artworks north of Market Street into Old City, through Chinatown and around City Hall. We did both routes in about 2 hours and change. Here are a few of my favorite murals, and other sites, that we saw on our walk!

Start From Here

This colorful abstract mural is called Start From Here, by Isaac Tin Wei Lin, and it wraps around two sides of a large parking lot.

Start From Here Detail
Start From Here, Detail

Ladder 23 Chinatown

Mural Outside the Fire Station for Engine 21, Ladder 23 in Chinatown

Work Unites Us Mural

Work Unites Us Mural and Detail, Below

Work Unites Us Detail

Flowers with Burtterfly

Be sure to pause and observe any nature you may pass on your walk. You might get a nice  surprise!

Philly Cam

This is the office of Philly Cam Community Access Media. The building façade features this vibrant tile mosaic pattern with a Pop-Art look. Very nice!

Garden on House

My favorite murals were the ones that took over an entire side of a building or row of houses, creating a unique suburban camouflage.

8 Bit Garden By David Guinn

This 8 -Bit Flowering Trees design is by artist David Guinn.

Outside Dining Mural

Mural Mile ID Sign

If you find a sign like this, it will tell you how to dial up an audio tour on your cell phone! Helpful!

Women In Progress

This piece, Women In Progress, honors the accomplishments of women. Yay!

Black Guy

This dude is having some kind of interesting dream, I think.

Ceramic Tile Mosaic Mural in Alleyway

This Ceramic Tile Mosaic Mural, which includes many found and recycled objects, is located in an alleyway. Check out some details, below.

Ceramic Tile Mosaic Mural Detail

Very cool!

Ceramic Tile Mosaic Mural Detail


Kenny Scharf Mural Above Graffiti Bar

Close to the end of our art walk, we recognized this piece by one of our favorite NYC-based street artists, Kenny Scharf! It’s on a building adjacent to the Graffiti Bar (124 S 13th Street).

Graffiti Bar

Take a quick walk down the narrow side alley that leads to Graffiti Bar’s back patio, which is dense with the written wisdom of customer’s past, to find some good Instagram fodder, like the piece below.

Graffiti Bar Alley Graffiti

Heavy. Needless to say, but you can see I am about to, I enthusiastically recommend the Mural Mile walk as a top activity to do while visiting Philadelphia. Not only do you see lots of amazing art, but you get to visit many different parts of the city as well, which is always more fun than driving around in a bus. However, if your mobility is impaired, a variety of curated Trolley Tours are can be booked for $28 to $32 per person by visiting This Link. Whatever you have to do, just make sure you go!

El Vez Oscar De La Hoya Bike

We still had 2 hours to kill before we had to be back at the bus station, so we retreated to the air-conditioned haven of El Vez Mexican Restaurant, located at 121 S. 13th Street, for a tasty snack and a refreshing cocktail. They have a fancy Oscar De La Hoya custom bike mounted above the bar, and the bar stool seats all have Charo’s face on them! Festive and fun!

Charo Bar Stool at El Vez Bar

“Cuchi Cuchi!”

El Vez Blood Orange Margarita

I ordered a Frozen Blood Orange Margarita, which tasted just as good as looks.

El Vez Guacamole and Chips

When was the last time that you shared an order of Guacamole and Chips with a friend that was so huge you could not even finish eating it? Never, you say? This was a first for me as well. Geoffrey and I noshed on this luscious guac and crispy chips for over an hour and never hit the bottom of the dish. At just $14, it was quite a good value! While we got a little buzz on, we enjoyed sharing stories of our day’s adventures with the locals we met while sitting at the bar. Philadelphia is a very friendly city. When it was time to head out to the bus station, the bartender pointed us in the right direction and it turned out to be just a ten minute walk from the bar. It could not have been easier!

We had all kinds of crazy fun in Philadelphia, and I can’t wait to go back again. If you plan a trip, I hope that the tips in this post will help you to have a super fun time!

Love Park