Street Art

As evidenced by yesterday’s rhetorical screed against any and all who dare attack the value of Philadelphia’s murals, I’m a big fan of Philly’s public art.

But what I didn’t say yesterday is that some of my favorite public art in Philly is the “illegal” art. First and foremost and sitting high above all else in this category is the Toynbee tiles. Not the (probable) copycats glued to streets now, but the old originals.

The best example left in Philly is at 4th and South. (pictured) Unfortunately this tile, which has endured for more than a decade is in grave danger. The streets from front to 8th are set to be repaved in the next few weeks. Write your local congressman, call City Council, chain yourself to a bulldozer, or sneak out there at 4AM with a jackhammer and carve the fucker out. Or just head down to South street and take a look at it before it’s gone. It’s Philly’s last real tile and it’s a true work of art.

Aside from the tiles, Philly is full of sticker art. The community here has really exploded over the last few years. It’s great to walk around and see something new and interesting every on every block. I’m a big fan of this illegal expression and believe it should be actively encouraged. What back of a sign, newspaper box, sheet of plywood or alleyway dumpster looks better without a dozen beautiful wheatpaste signs or stickers? Pictured below is a tiny sample of what’s around.

As I took the photo of the second piece down, a homeless man took a break from panhandling and told me how much he liked it. He looks at all the public art and said that this was his favorite. He told me that it appeared just before Christmas and that he’s been stopping to admire it ever since. How its vandalism to put a beautiful, thought provoking and inspirational piece of art on the side of a dumpster is beyond my understanding.

Toynbee Tile
4th and South
wheatpaste on Sansom
sticker art

2 Comments on “Street Art

  1. i fucking love the illegal art here in philly. as much as i love nyc’s spraypaint graffiti [and i continue to miss it here in philly], the stickerart is amazing. i’ve seen each one of the art pieces above. #2 is by an artist who has recently come out of the shadows – the same one who puts up the images of that black & white girl giving a blowjob [she _is_ an ex-girlfriend but the art is not vindictive, she approves of it]. #3 is over on 15th st just north of sansom?

  2. #2 was probably pasted by the person you mention, but the artwork was created by a friend of his. The paster does A LOT around the city, including “the flower girl” under PA Avenue.

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