Flip the Script (Part 2): Meet Our Window Artists & Join Them on our Blog!

Earlier this month, we told you about our upbeat new South Philadelphia window exhibit – a non-partisan response to the soul-draining divisiveness and election angst in the news right now.

16_10_21-1-vote-tasker-side-dc_8280Show me a sign:  28 local artists share positive messages from our windows at the corner of E. Passyunk Avenue and Tasker Street.

After all,  if we can’t come together to make things better here,  then who in the world can?


Starting today, and continuing through Election Day,  we’ll introduce you to the artists who generously agreed to help us “flip the script”.

We’ll also share dozens more photos of good-hearted Philadelphians who grabbed a sign and added their optimism to our campaign.   (And,  yes,  read on to learn how you can join them on our blog between now and Election Day.)

16_10_21-2-miguel-horn-karen-benson_5563Artists Miguel Antonio Horn and Karen Benson help light up our lives – and the corner across from South Philadelphia’s “singing fountain”.


So meet the first dozen artists whose images appear in our windows – many of whom volunteered even though they’d never met us before….


16_10_21-3-alfie-pollittdc_7838  Alfie Pollitt is a celebrated jazz and R&B pianist,  composer and music teacher who has played with everyone from Sister Sledge and the Four Tops,  to Teddy Pendergrass and numerous jazz greats.


16_10_21-4-julia-lopez-dc_7703  Julia Lopez,  who introduced us to Alfie,  is the program manager for the Philadelphia Jazz Project.  A social activist,  poet and performer,  she is a member of Las Gallas,  the visual and performance art collective that also includes Michelle Angela Ortiz, another artist in our windows.


16_10_21-5-fatu-gayflor-dc_7567 Princess Fatu Gayflor,  known as the “Golden Voice of Liberia”, is the artistic director of the Liberian Women’s Chorus for Change.  She has performed at music venues worldwide and recorded her third album while living in a refugee camp during the Liberian Civil War.   Now a U.S. resident,  she works with the Philadelphia Folklore Project.


16_10_21-6-heather-garden-halo-hair-dc_7073 Heather Garden is a punk rock bass player from Seattle and is the owner of South Philadelphia’s new Halo hair salon at 1728 E. Passyunk Avenue (215-463-2200).   And, yes, she still creates the best turquoise,  magenta and purple highlights in the city.  (Just ask Kate!)


16_10_21-7-miguel-antonio-horn-dc_7334 Miguel Antonio Horn is a painter,  sculptor and PAFA alumnus who studied with Mexican sculpture master Javier Marin.  A member of the Traction Company art collective,  his large-scale biodegradable commissions have been exhibited in  the United States and Mexico,  and he is the creator of permanent public sculptures in both countries.


16_10_21-8-karen-benson-dc_7288  Karen Benson is a graphic artist and witty street photographer with an eye for quirky details.   Click here if you haven’t seen our May blog post about her work!


16_10_21-9-mark-palmer-dc_7384  Mark Palmer is a percussionist and dancer who has performed at the Clef Club of Jazz,  the Settlement Music School,  and Grover Washington Middle School.   He has also danced with the Canaan Christian Arts Ministry.  He is a senior at the Science Leadership Academy at Beeber.


16_10_21-10-arielle-pina-dc_6520 Arielle Pina is a director,  dancer,  actor and choreographer whose performance piece,  “Unarmed” was a highlight of the 2015 Philadelphia Fringe Festival.  “My artwork deconstructs my body,”  she writes,  “an American,  woman’s, patriotic, black body.”


16_10_21-11-tom-torosian-dc_6769  Tom Torosian is a poet,  painter, and ordained Presbyterian minister who spent 40 years serving inner city residents.  His book, “Someday Yonkers: An Armenian-American Odyssey”,  tells the story of his parents’ escape from the Armenian genocide and his life as the child of immigrants.


16_10_21-12-lynn-denton-dc_6826  Lynn Denton is a filmmaker,  painter,  mosaic artist,  sculptor,  writer  and enthusiastic voter.  Her community mosaic and sculpture projects can be seen everywhere from the Edward Heston School at 54th Street and Lancaster Avenue to the Susquehanna-Dauphin subway station.


16_10_21-13-dolio-durant-gangstagrass-dc_7961 Dolio Durant (aka Dolio the Sleuth) is a new media artist,  engineer,  and member of Gangstagrass, the genre-breaking,  nationally acclaimed band that improbably and successfully combines hip hop urbanism with bluegrass banjos and dobros.


16_10_21-14-phylandra-mcfaddin-dc_7442  Phylandra McFaddin is a Temple University journalism major,  documenter,  story-teller  and videographer.  Click here to see her video of Philadelphia Dumpster Divers Burnell Yow! and Betsy Alexander, who we’ll profile next week.


Between now and Election Day,  we plan to photograph dozens more smiling Philadelphians holding our signs and post their images on our blog.

Would you like us to photograph you or your (non-partisan) group?

Join us here at the corner of East Passyunk Avenue and Tasker Street on Saturday,  Oct. 29 from 2-7 pm for a free VOTE exhibit by the Philadelphia Dumpster Divers art group.  And, yes, we’ll happily photograph you and your friends that day.

You can also contact us here by email.

It’s time to flip the script!

Kate & Dave

Sounds of South Philly: Mural Dedication & Nov. 4 Bandstand Book Party

Last week,  we told you about the planned dedication for the new “South Philly Musicians Remix” mural by Mural Arts Philadelphia.

16_10_18-1-south-philly-musicians-remix-dc_5127There’s a new crew hanging out at Broad and Tasker Streets.

And,  yes,  it features local luminaries  (from left)  Eddie Fisher,  Fabian Forte,  Bobby Rydell,  Frankie Avalon,  Jerry Blavat,  Al Martino,  Chubby Checker,  Charlie Gracie and James Darren,  along with tributes to Bob Horn’s and Dick Clark’s Bandstand shows.  (Click here to see our close-up photos of the mural.)


But Philadelphia mural artist Eric Okdeh had another surprise up his paint-covered sleeve last week when he revealed the final honoree….

16_10_18-2-danny-cedrone-cm_5726Guitar virtuoso Danny Cedrone

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Celebrate South Philly’s Music Legacy on Oct. 15!

When  Mural Arts Philadelphia announced it would retire “Sounds of Philadelphia”,  its crumbling homage to South Philadelphia’s mid-century music legends at 9th Street and Passyunk Avenue,  the opposition was….well, spirited.

16_10_11-1-original-mural-dc_0870The painted clock is running down for Peter Pagast’s beloved 2005 mural honoring Fabian Forte,  Frankie Avalon,  Bobby Rydell,  Chubby Checker,  Jerry Blavat,  Al Martino and Eddie Fisher.

 The building behind it had deteriorated,  and developers planned a four-story structure in front of it.

The cost of re-creating it elsewhere was prohibitive,  and there were hundreds of other mural projects already in line.

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Election Year Blues: Help Us Flip the Script!

This year,  we struggled with finding a new topic for our annual holiday window display.

We’d already displayed photos of our South Philadelphia neighbors and of local celebrities from the 1960s….


What was left?   South Philadelphia restaurant owners?    Current local celebrities?    Favorite Philly athletes?   (Way too controversial!)

But one topic kept intruding in our heads.


Like many people,  we’ve been beaten down by the soul-draining divisiveness in the country this year.

Violence.    Name-calling.   Corruption.   Terrorism.   Racial and religious divides.   Following the news – particularly the election news – you’d think that the country and the entire human race were sliding down that greased pole to hell.

16_10_02-2-kate-newspapers-dc_8245“Uhm,  Dave,  do you have the comics?”

 And,  yes,  it even has a name:   Election Stress Disorder,  and everyone we knew had symptoms.


That’s when we did a reality check:  Because,   in our five years here,   we’d met hundreds of good-hearted people.    And – despite life’s inevitable bumps and heartaches – things weren’t looking that hopeless from our windows,  particularly compared with the rest of the world.

16_10_02-3-joel-spivak-arielle-pina-cm_5600Two of the reasons we’re glad we’re here:  architect,  artist and tireless volunteer Joel Spivak and talented young director,  dancer and actor Arielle Pina

So we decided to flip the script and start our annual holiday tradition early,  with the help of the city’s art community.   (And,  yes,  our South Philadelphia neighbors will be back in our windows on Thanksgiving week.)

16_10_02-4-passyunk-windows-cm_5590The new view from our windows.  A tad corny,  perhaps,  but reassuringly true:  the apocalypse isn’t quite here yet...


 This summer,  we searched out a cross-section of Philadelphia artists:   writers,  vocalists,  dancers,  musicians,  visual artists,  a comedian,  a hip-hop singer in a bluegrass band ,  and even an internationally known piano-playing cat.


Half of them had never met us.   All but one readily agreed to appear in our non-partisan,  pre-election windows holding one of our upbeat signs…


Most were photographed in our Passyunk Avenue studio,  and some we happily chased:  We caught up with South Philadelphia singing idol Bobby Rydell at an Asbury Park concert and book signing for his compelling new autobiography…

16_10_02-7-bobby-rydell-dc_6500Bobby Rydell

And we photographed retired Philadelphia Bulletin and Inquirer columnist Claude Lewis – Kate’s journalism idol from her St. Hubert’s High School newspaper days – at his New Jersey home:

16_10_02-8-claude-lewis-dc_8000Claude Lewis

And,  yes,  we’ll introduce you to all of these big-hearted souls in coming posts.


This weekend,  we posted their photos in our windows at East Passyunk Avenue and Tasker Street,  across from South Philadelphia’s “singing fountain”.    They’ll be there through election week,  lit daily from 4 pm ’til 1:30 am:

16_10_02-9-tasker-street-photos-cm_5602Part of the Tasker Street view


Of course,  even 28 optimistic faces don’t seem near enough in this rough election year.

So during the month of October,  we plan to photograph hundreds more smiling Philadelphians holding the same signs,  and we’ll post their photos here on our  Unexpected Philadelphia  blog.

Greetings from Philadelphia (and Asbury Park!)

Would you like us to photograph you or your (non-partisan) group?   Contact us here and we’ll do our best to arrange it.

…..AND  JOIN  US  HERE  ON  OCT.  8  &  29

You can also join us here at the corner of East Passyunk Avenue and Tasker Street on Saturday,  Oct. 8 or Saturday,  Oct. 29 from 2-7 pm for a free VOTE exhibit by the Philadelphia Dumpster Divers art group.

And,  yes,  we’ll happily photograph you and your friends then for our blog.

No strings attached.   No ads.  Nothing to sell.

Just a reminder,  in this exceptionally unsettling election year,  of how much goodness and potential we still hold in our hands.

16_10_02-15-asa-maisie-cm_5576Student musicians and future voters Asa Schneeberg & Maisie Quinn

 Kate & Dave







It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time….

“You will do foolish things,  but do them with enthusiasm.”   Colette

After four years of postponing outside repairs on our South Philadelphia home,  we finally decided to bite the proverbial paintbrush.

Not because the building desperately needed painting,  but because our metal bump-out windows had so many leaks that birds were nesting inside….

16_09_27-1-linn-street-before-dc_6305“Besides,  I am so over this green and tan color scheme….”


So this summer,  we dug into our piggy bank and hired Mexcon,  the  cheerful, talented, and very popular local cooperative that has helped us with everything from kitchen cabinets to sidewalk repair…

16_09_27-2-linn-scaffolding-cm_3860Heaven bless those Mexcon guys,  who spent endless days in the 90-degree heat sanding and repairing our vintage bay windows

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Our Lucky 13th Dumpster Diver House Tour: Carol & Elliot Cole

What happens when a longtime potter with a background in teaching and television takes a papermaking class?

If it’s Philadelphia area artist Carol Cole – with a love of multicultural art and a penchant for found objects – the results probably won’t fit in your stationery drawer….

16_09_16-1-carol-cole-dc_6024Carol’s  “Turn of the Century: 500 Familiar Objects from 1999”  is made of paper pulp imbedded with – yes – 500 real objects ranging from a wristwatch to a wrench.   This outdoor version is cast in fiberglass.

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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

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