It’s Dumpster Diver House Tour Time: Meet Susan & Patrick Moloney

A major perk of belonging to the Philadelphia Dumpster Divers – that merry band of artists who have played,  exhibited and produced witty,  found-object art together since 1992 – is that we get to hang out in the area’s most creative homes.

Today our  Unexpected Philadelphia  website takes you on another Dumpster Diver photo tour – this time to the inspiring home, studio, and garden of Susan and Patrick Moloney.

16_08_15 1 Susan & Patrick Moloney DC_3787Patrick and Susan Moloney with one of their ever-ready coffee makers


Susan earned her BFA in painting and drawing at Philadelphia’s University of the Arts in 1996.  She painted for a few years,  but wanted to add another dimension to her art – one that would incorporate the intriguing found objects she loved to collect.

16_08_15 2 Susan Moloney Artist DC_3903Susan in the beautifully refurbished basement studio that Patrick built with help from her and a friend.   “It was a scheme against Patrick,”  she laughs.

Following a year off to think about her art,  she began creating assemblages with paint,  wood,  clay,  and found objects ranging from furniture legs,  plumbing supplies and pool balls,  to doll parts,  birdcages and glass eyes.

16_08_15 3 Susan Moloney Art CM_0205Susan’s “Rowing” assemblage was inspired by the Soundgarden song of the same name:  “Don’t know where I’m going,  I just keep on rowing…”   She built the boat and waves from found wood and added discarded treasures from a boat yard.

“I love looking for cool finds at flea markets,  thrift shops and other Dumpster Divers’ homes,  or even beside the railroad tracks,”  she says.

16_08_15 4 Susan Moloney Art CM_0322A close-up of Susan’s tenacious one-armed rower.   She creates her signature people from Sculpey clay or paper clay – a technique she learned from fellow Dumpster Diver Linda Lou Horn.


Patrick was born in Limerick,  Ireland,  and toured that country as a bass player for a heavy metal band,  before coming to America in 1993 to play with the metal band Frostbite.  Now director of plant services for the Acts retirement communities,  he plays on a traditional Irish hurling team.

Patrick on his way to a hurling match – and as he appears in Susan’s  “Sanctuary”  in his role as protector against toxic people and situations.

The couple met in 1999 at Philadelphia’s The Plough and the Stars pub,  where Patrick recalls,  “Susan was the hostess with the mostess.”  They were engaged two months later,  and married in Ireland in 2001.


They purchased their Montgomery County home in 2002 near Patrick’s job,  and started their on-going remodeling process.

16_08_15 7 Patrick & Susan Moloney DC_3761Patrick and Susan in their refurbished living room.   When Patrick took down the bad brown paneling ,  Susan meticulously replaced it with a rag-rolled paint finish.

 Patrick ripped out the kitchen’s brown metal cabinets on Day 1,  along with its drop ceiling and fluorescent lights,  and they added upcycled cabinets,  a handbuilt countertop,  and new flooring.

16_08_15 8 Patrick & Susan Moloney DC_3877The playful dining area features vintage furnishings and a white pantry cabinet that Patrick built and Susan painted.

In true Dumpster Diver fashion,  Susan notes that their furniture is a mix of trash and thrift store finds and inexpensive Ikea purchases,  expertly blended with original art by Susan and others.


So join us as we explore Susan and Patrick’s home and her treasure-filled studio…

16_08_15 9 Susan Moloney Studio DC_3929Susan’s clay modeling and sewing area.   Is any work area ever this neat – even for the photographers?

16_08_15 10 Susan Moloney Art CM_0526A detail from Susan’s  “Deadeye”  nails those days when you feel like everyone’s target.


And don’t miss the couple’s backyard greenhouse,  created from dozens of donated – and stripped, glazed and painted – window frames….

16_08_15 11 Susan Moloney Greenhouse CM_3343Susan designed the fun and practical greenhouse,  prepped the windows,  and built it with Patrick’s help.


Click here to see dozens more photos of Susan and Patrick’s home on our  Unexpected Philadelphia  website.

Once there,  you can click on any thumbnail photo to scroll through much larger versions of all the photos.   You will also see a caption under each photo if you are on a non-mobile device like a laptop or PC.

16_08_15 12 Susan Moloney Art CM_0184         16_08_15 13 Susan Moloney Koo Koo DC_3968“Captive” (left) and “Koo Koo the Bird Girl”:  Two more of Susan’s assemblages that deal with relationships,  growth and otherness.


So, did we mention that a major perk of being a Dumpster Diver is that we get to hang out in some pretty great homes and yards?   Susan and Patrick have the perfect backyard for grass-starved South Philadelphians like us….

16_08_15 14 Dave Hammock CM_9919Dave test drives the backyard hammock during a recent Dumpster Diver meeting.

 ….although Dave characteristically handled it with a bit more aplomb than Kate….

16_08_15 15 Kate Hammock DC_9922Fail!

And,  yes,  you can sign up to follow our blog by clicking the black “Follow” button at right,  near the top of our blog.



The Great Photo Album Adventure (Part 12): South Phila. Movers & Shakers

This past year,  we’ve told you the continuing story of a magical 1960s photo album compiled by South Philadelphia nightlife writer and photographer Arthur Tavani.

And we’ve shared dozens of Art’s celebrity photos on our Unexpected Philadelphia website.


Today,  we’re publishing a new set of images showing mid-century business owners and government officials from right here in the neighborhood – and we need your help identifying everyone.

16_07_30 1 060 Verna Trombetta EspositoArt Tavani shakes hands with local photographer Carl Verna.  Mildred Trombetta was the editor and publisher of the South Philadelphia American newspaper,  for which Art was a columnist.  Louis Esposito  (right)  still reigns as a second-generation owner of Esposito’s Meats in the Italian Market.

Continue reading

Live from the Magic Gardens: Linda Lou Horn’s Cast of Curiosities

Linda Lou Horn always dreamed of becoming an artist.

So when the long-time nurse,  elder care activist,  and gestalt psychotherapist decided to radically change up her life at age 50,  she marked the occasion with a two-mile free fall from an airplane.

16_07_08 1 Linda Lou Horn DC_5561Linda Lou with “Going Nowhere Fast” in her polka-dotted dining room.

 Now the much-exhibited, found-object artist – whose art-and-imagination-filled home we profiled last summer – has landed in a one-woman show at Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens through August 28. Continue reading

A Return to the Garden: Michael Martin Mills & Randy Dalton

It’s been five years since we left the Jersey shore for South Philadelphia,  and we have only one regret.   And,  no,  it isn’t the loss of parking or even the beach,  which is always there waiting for us.

It’s our beloved garden,  complete with luscious Kwanzan cherry and Hinoki cypress trees,  bamboo,  river rocks,  dragonflies and those cheeky,  incorrigible weeds.

Fortunately,  we know people – and our blog gives us the perfect excuse to invade their Philadelphia retreats.

16_06_19 1 Michael Martin Mills Randy Dalton DC_8650Michael Martin Mills and Randy Dalton in their summer garden,  2015.

Last fall,  we introduced you to the magical, art-filled home and garden of Philadelphia Dumpster Diver Randy Dalton and his partner Michael Martin Mills. Continue reading

Time for a New Dumpster Diver House Tour: Meet Len & Judy Davidson

Ready for another great artist’s house tour?   Today we’ll meet Philadelphian Len Davidson,  owner of Davidson Neon,  and his wife Judy.

Len is a neon artist and restorer,  writer,  collector,  20th-century cultural observer,  and co-founder of the Philadelphia Dumpster Divers,  that merry band of artists who have played,  exhibited and produced witty,  found-object art together since 1992.

16_06_11 1 Len & Judy Davidson DC_4741(Always up for fun:  Judy and Len Davidson)

Judy Davidson,  his partner in adventure for 50 years,  is a retired counselor familiar to 35 years of students at the Community College of Philadelphia. Continue reading

The Great Photo Album Adventure (Part 11C): Linda Hoffman & Bobby Rydell

(Continued from Thursday,  May 26.   Click here to see Part 1,  or here to see Part 2….)

It was 1964,  and still-shy Linda Ferrino  (now Linda Hoffman)  had just been appointed Bobby Rydell’s National Fan Club President.

16_05_31 1 Bobby Rydell Linda Hoffman 2014(Linda Ferrino Hoffman and Bobby Rydell in 2014)

So when Bobby was invited to appear on the nationally syndicated Mike Douglas Show,  she did what any responsible chief executive would do:  She had her mom call school and say she’d be out sick that day.

Continue reading

The Great Photo Album Adventure (Part 11B): Linda Ferrino Hoffman & Bobby Rydell

(Continued from Tuesday,  May 24.   Click here to see Part 1….)

It was Easter weekend,  1960,  and young Linda Ferrino was pouting – big time.

She and her young-at-heart mom had both been smitten by Bobby Rydell when he sang “Kissin’ Time” on American Bandstand.   It had even been her mom’s idea to watch.

Now her mom was insisting that they couldn’t attend Bobby’s Steel Pier show,  because they were expecting Easter guests at their Jersey shore house.

16_05_26 1 Steel Pier(Atlantic City’s Steel Pier flaunts its star power on an undated postcard.   That’s Mr. Peanut tipping his hat at the far left.)

Continue reading