Last fall – when pre-election angst and anger were at their peak – Dave and I contacted over two dozen Philadelphia artists, writers and performers, and asked them to pose for our windows holding upbeat signs with words like create, collaborate, envision and, yes, VOTE….
Twenty-eight smiling artists lit up our South Philadelphia windows last October to remind us that we really do have more in common than not.
As you may recall, participants included everyone from singer Bobby Rydell and comedian Jennifer Childs, to jazz pianist Alfie Pollitt and sculptor Miguel Antonio Horn.
But there was one window, front and center, that was reserved for my earliest role model.
IN PHILADELPHIA, NEARLY EVERYONE READS….
Like today, the late 1960s were a confusing and complex time to be a teenager and, three days a week, I’d rush home from high school, tear open the Philadelphia Bulletin, and read Claude Lewis’ column.
Philadelphia’s first black newspaper columnist, Claude Lewis, during his Philadelphia Bulletin days. (Photo courtesy of the Lewis Family.)
(Continued from Wednesday, March 29. Click here to read Part 1…)
While Philadelphia artist Lou Hirshman first became known in the 1930s and 1940s for his witty three-dimensional caricatures of public figures, his subject matter evolved with the decades.
By the 1960s, he was using his found-object constructions to comment on social types ranging from psychiatrists and dictators, to pot smokers and TV viewers.
Hirshman’s 1962 “The Duel” shows two combatants – deftly outlined in long strands of string – locked in eternal combat by the children’s scissors that bind them. Their matching physiques and identical button faces hint at a different type of duel – an internal one.
A major perk of writing our Unexpected Philadelphia blog and website is the connections we make with intriguing Philadelphians, past and present.
In October, 2016, we led you on a photo tour through the art-filled home and garden of Philadelphia Dumpster Diver Randy Dalton and former Inquirer editor Michael Martin Mills. Among their treasures was this 1963 portrait of then-President John F. Kennedy by the late Philadelphia artist Lou Hirshman….
Artist Lou Hirshman transformed coconut and peanut shells, matzo, peas and Chiclets into this witty caricature of JFK. Note the fish-shaped tie.
BIRTH OF AN ARTIST – AND AN ART FORM
Which is what led us last week to a fun phone conversation with Hirshman’s son and daughter, William (Bill) Hirshman and Deborah Donnelly.