Deck the (South Philly) Walls With Neighbors – And So Much More!

Family responsibilities have kept us from blogging regularly this year,  but there’s one tradition we can’t abandon:   lighting up our South Philadelphia corner with smiling neighbors and their irresistible dogs.

So,  if you’re dining or playing near the restaurant-packed “Singing Fountain” between now and January 6,  check out our well-decked windows at East Passyunk Avenue and Tasker Street….

18_11_29 1 Neighbor Windows DC_0177We’ll keep the lights on for you ’til 2 a.m.

DECK  THE  WALLS

It all started  in 2013 when we sat in our third-floor kitchen,  waving to neighbors who couldn’t see us.

“Maybe we should put life-sized photos of ourselves in the windows to let people know we’re here,”  Kate joked.   “Then we wouldn’t feel like we’re spying on them.”

Within seconds,  it morphed into something bigger.

“Wow – what if we took photos of the neighbors and put them in the windows, too?   We could do it for the holidays!”

18_11_29 2 Dave Holiday Windows CM_3953Another family tradition:  Kate captures Dave’s best side as he lifts a photo into our windows.

And so,  15 months after moving to South Philadelphia,  we found ourselves explaining to people we barely knew why we wanted to photograph them.

Fortunately,  South Philadelphians have a sense of humor – even if they did roll their eyes after we left.

That first year, we signed up 26 neighbors,  4 dogs and a baby.  The baby moved on,  but – this being Passyunk Avenue – our dog population has grown….

17_12_01 3 Dog WindowsClockwise from top left:  Lucia,  Barney (twice),  Amelie,  Bella,  Milli and Maizy show off some favorite humans.

And after worrying that it’d be a total bust (you mean we need to clean our windows — and light them?),  we landed on the front page of the Philadelphia Inquirer on Christmas Eve and a family tradition was born.

DON’T  MISS  THESE  HOLIDAY  STARS!

While you’re here,  don’t miss these truly fabulous displays that make South Philadelphia the city’s hottest holiday neighborhood:

  • 1600 block of South 13th Street,  between Tasker & Morris (2 blocks from us)

15_12_09-02-miracle-on-south-13th_9828Click here to read about the annual  “Miracle on 13th Street”.   (And,  yes,  they add new surprises each year!)

  • 2700 block of Smedley Street,  between 16th & 17 and Moyamensing & Oregon

2015_12_28-2-smedley-cm_0763The 2700 block of Smedley Street is always a traffic-stopper.   Click here to read our past post about it and Colorado Street.

  • 2700 block of Colorado Street,  between 17th & 18 and Moyamensing & Oregon

2015_12_28-6-colorado-cm_0797

Leave time to explore the whole area between Oregon,  Moyamensing,  16th & 18th Streets,  where you’ll literally find hundreds of homes and front windows festooned for the holidays,  each grander than the last.

GREETINGS  FROM  KATE  &  DAVE

Although we’re not posting as frequently,  we still have fun planned for the new year:   Kate is wrapping up her research on that great 1960s South Philadelphia photo album before handing it over to Temple University’s Urban Archives….

18_11_29 3 Fabian“Oh, wait – isn’t that….?”  Check out the 1960s album photos here on our website and read the stories behind them in this group of blog posts.

And we plan to unveil another improbable Philadelphia Dumpster Diver house tour this spring — this time featuring our own South Philly home….

18_11_29 4 Kitchen Ceiling Stars CM_8850We are definitely in a pre-home-tour improvement panic,  plastering stars on our kitchen ceiling and constructing a valence of toy cars and postcards for the living room.

AND,  YES,  MOM  WAS  RIGHT

To quote Kate’s mom, “You two always did have more guts than brains…!”

18_11_29 5 Catherine MellinaCatherine Mellina – 1922-2018  (Miss you, mom!)

Happy holidays to all!

Kate & Dave

 

The Dumpster Divers are back — and you’re invited!

Last fall,  we told you about a grand exhibit marking the 25th anniversary of the Philadelphia Dumpster Divers,  that predictably unpredictable band of found-object artists who have been re-purposing the city’s castoffs since 1992.

This year,  they’re back with an intriguing exhibit of all new work and you’re definitely invited,  starting with a First Friday celebration on Nov. 2 from 2-10 p.m. at the Dupree Gallery,  703 S. 6th Street.

18_10_30 4 Dumpster Diver ShowThe Divers and friends previewed “Re-Crafted”,  their new exhibit,  last weekend at the Dupree Gallery in Philadelphia’s Queen Village section.

Through Dec. 29,  thirty different Divers — including new members Tim Barton and Eve Hoyt — will offer witty,  smaller-scale assemblages — and,  yes,  that definitely says one-of-a-kind holiday gifts to us!

18_10_30 1 Dumpster Diver ShowClockwise from top left:  Work by Tim Barton,  Ellen Sall,  James Dupree,  Neil Benson,  and Eve Hoyt.

You can check out the complete artist list and all the gallery hours at the Dumpster Divers website, here.

18_10_30 2 Dumpster Diver ShowClockwise from top left:  Work by Burnell Yow!,  Eva Aanya Preston,  Carol Cole,  Bruce Gast,  Ann Keech,  and Lion Studio.  Center: Leo Sewell.

As an added treat,  the Divers are partnering with CraftNOW Philadelphia and almost two dozen local museums,  galleries and fine craft groups,  each of which is offering November events to celebrate our city’s innovative craft culture — including the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s prestigious contemporary craft show (Nov. 2-4).

18_10_30 5 Dumpster Diver Show“Look!  Up in the sky!  It’s…” an eyeball-covered mobile by artist Sally Willowbee  (second from left).

This year’s citywide craft theme is “Making a Difference” and the Divers have been doing that for 26 years – reminding us all that “trash is simply a failure of imagination.”

18_10_30 3 Dumpster Diver ShowThat’s artist and gallery owner James Dupree — Philadelphia’s own “Black Picasso” — in the white coat at center.  Click here to see our photo tour of his fabulous Mantua studio.

Information on all the November craft events can be found at the CraftNOW Philadelphia website, here.   And don’t forget to check the Divers’ own website  for a list of gallery hours between now and Dec. 29.

18_10_30 9 Dumpster Diver ShowWe’ll see you here!

Kate & Dave

 

 

Meet Randall Cleaver – The Dumpster Diver Who (Almost) Got Away

Cuckoo birds popping from mid-century waffle irons.   Icarus falling from the sky on a vintage heater stage with plexiglass curtains.   An elephant’s eye swaying with a clock’s movement.

Found-object clockmaker and Philadelphia Dumpster Diver Randall Cleaver’s home is a symphony of  light, movement and sound.

18_07_26 1 Randall CleaverTwo of Randall’s captivating time pieces: On “Angel in Time”  (left)  the wings glide up and down,  while the eyes open and close and fiber optic lights blink on and off.   A bagpiper’s legs  (right)  form a clock’s moving pendulum.

WELCOME  TO  OUR  LATEST  ARTIST  HOUSE  TOUR!

In the past three years,  we’ve visited 16 imaginative homes and studios of the Philadelphia Dumpster Divers – that merry band of found-object artists who have worked and played together since 1992.

And today we’ll lead you through the intriguing home, studio and garden of Randall Cleaver and wife Beth Richwine – with a side trip for lunch.

18_07_26 2 Randall CleaverRandall Cleaver with “Happy Feat”, his first animated clock.  The vintage Victrola case boasts a pinball game and foosball players kicking bells.  Famed tin-can artist Bobby Hansson also dances a jig.

WHERE  IT  BEGAN

A Philadelphia Dumpster Diver since 1997,  Randall earned his BFA in sculpture at Penn State University,  and created art while working as a museum preparator and packer at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

He began incorporating clocks into his sculptures as a humorous creative challenge in the 1980s,  after noticing that clocks were showing up on every appliance he purchased.

18_07_26 3 Randall Cleaver CM_0402Randall built the copper airships that swing around the Eiffel Tower on “Aerotime” (left).  “A Pig in the Polk” (right) features spinning figures of President James Polk,  while a fake flame crackles in the old heater base.

 LONG-DISTANCE  DUMPSTER  DIVER

But clocks weren’t the only happy fate awaiting Randall:  After a long-distance courtship,  he married Beth Richwine – a conservator at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History who he met at a friend’s wedding.

And,  yes,  some things were obviously meant to be:   When the couple bought their Takoma Park,  MD home in 2006,  it was located on  (where else?)  Philadelphia Avenue.

18_07_26 4 Randall Cleaver DC_5396Does anyone really know what time it is?  Randall and Beth certainly do:  An animated display of Randall’s clocks light up a living room wall beneath a shelf with Beth’s handmade pottery.

MASTER  OF  TIME…

In 2008,  Randall’s obsession led him to the School of Horology in Columbia,  PA,   where he learned clock repair and restoration,  a skill that helped refine his art.

He also repairs clocks for private,  business and government customers,  including the U.S. Supreme Court,  House of Representatives and Smithsonian Institution.

18_07_26 5 Randall Cleaver DC_5653Pieces from Randall’s antique clock collection share space with his own creations.  And,  yes,  he made the white oak mantelpiece.

…AND MORE

Randall also enjoys making found-object lamps, particularly from vintage kitchen items like coffee pots and blenders…

18_07_26 6 Randall CleaverA collection of Randall’s unlikely lamps made with (from left) an electric kettle,  a pair of metal colanders,  an antique porcelain doll head,  and an electric coffee pot.

…and he’s been experimenting with hand-cranked automata using mechanical parts that (as with his clocks) he often constructs himself.

18_07_26 7 Randall Cleaver CM_0358“Migration” was inspired by “The Birds”,  Alfred Hitchcock’s classic horror film.  When cranked,  the birds go up and down,  the phone booth revolves,  and Hitchcock’s TV theme song plays.

THE  TOUR  STARTS  HERE!

So,  click here to take our complete photo tour of Randall and Beth’s fun-filled home and studio.

As always,  when you arrive at our Unexpected Philadelphia website,  click on any thumbnail image to page through larger versions of all the photos.    You’ll also see a caption under each large photo if you’re on a non-mobile device like a PC or laptop.

18_07_26 8 Randall Cleaver DC_5626Randall in his art studio and clock workshop. Check the Internet for videos of his animated clocks in motion!

 P.S.  You can follow our blog by clicking the black “Follow” button near the top right of the screen.

Increased family responsibilities mean that we can’t post as often,  but we’ll unveil another great house tour around year’s end.

Enjoy!

Kate & Dave

Visit the Inspiring Studio of Artist (& Dumpster Diver!) James E. Dupree

Spending a dreary winter afternoon with Philadelphia artist James E. Dupree is like winning a trip to the tropics:   He’s warm,  funny,  gracious,  and full of fascinating stories about pinging – and getting pinged by – the conventional art world as an African-American male.

18_02_27 1 James Dupree DC_4938James E. Dupree – Philadelphia’s own Black Picasso

And visiting Dupree’s art-packed,  8,600 square foot studio in Philadelphia’s Mantua section is like exploring an inspiring alternate universe.

18_02_27 2 James Dupree StudioThree rooms in the marvelous maze that is Dupree’s West Philadelphia studio Continue reading

Home for the Holidays – With 2 Dozen Neighbors (& More!)

Last night was East Passyunk Avenue’s annual tree-lighting ceremony,  and over two dozen South Philadelphia neighbors,  shop owners and dogs smiled down from our windows in what has become our annual holiday salute to the neighborhood.

So,  if you’re dining or playing near the restaurant-packed  “Singing Fountain”  between now and New Year’s Day,  check out our well-decked windows at East Passyunk Avenue and Tasker Street….

17_12_01 1 Linn Street 2017 CM_9017We’ll keep the lights on for you ’til 2 a.m. each night.

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Dumpster Diver Exhibit Extended to November 4!

In our last post,  we told you about “DUMPSTER DIVERSions”,  our 25th anniversary pop-up exhibit by 46 members of the Philadelphia Dumpster Divers,  that predictably unpredictable band of found-object artists and their painter/photographer/performance artist friends….

17_10_16 1 Dumpster Divers Exhibit DC_4073Some of the more than 125 works you’ll find behind our purple door.

TOO  MUCH  IS  NEVER  ENOUGH

Based on the encouraging feedback we’ve received in our first two weeks  (hey, we can never predict what will happen when we schedule one of our unlikely projects!),  we’ve extended the exhibit to Saturday,  Nov. 4.

17_10_16 2 Dumpster Divers Exhibit DC_4077aCollage,  fiber and found-object art by Eva Aanya Preston,   Ellen Sall,  I. George Bilyk, Burnell Yow! and  Bruce Gast

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DIVER WINDOWS ARE UP – EXHIBIT OPENS OCTOBER 6!

The Philadelphia Dumpster Divers’ 25th anniversary exhibit opens this Friday,  and we’ll have Divers on the inside,  Divers on the outside  (check out our new window display,  below)  and Divers on our website  (don’t miss our two-part anniversary album of Diver art).

But first,  we’d like to invite you to visit….

“DUMPSTER  DIVERSions”

The Divers,  of course,  are that merry band of found-object artists and their painter-photographer-performance art friends who have worked and played together since April Fool’s Day,  1992.

17_09_30 1 Dumpster DiversAmong our 46 featured Diver artists are (clockwise from top left):  Leo Sewell,  Ellen Sall,  John Jonik,  Hugo Hsu,  Smokie Kittner and Harry Anderson

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