(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.
It’s spring house tour time!
If you follow our Unexpected Philadelphia blog and website, you know we’ve visited nine inspiring, art-filled homes belonging to members of the Philadelphia Dumpster Divers – that warm and wacky band of artists and collectors who exhibit, socialize and produce witty, up-cycled art together.
Today we’re heading to South Street to visit the home, gallery and visionary art environment of the couple who initiated us into the Divers’ magic circle: famed mosaic artist Isaiah Zagar and his wife Julia Zagar, owner of South Street’s iconic Eye’s Gallery.
(And, yes, if you guessed that Isaiah and Julia have a few mosaic walls in their home then, well, you guessed right….)
First, take famed architect R. Brognard Okie, who designed a Colonial Revival masterpiece for a young married couple in 1902. (Paid for by the groom’s father, of course….)
(This wonderfully inviting inglenook shows Okie’s love of woodwork and clever design. With those big windows on the landing, how did he hide the fireplace chimney?)
Next, take Ann and Ev Keech, who stumbled on the fixer-upper home just outside Philadelphia in 1977, and began administering tender loving care while raising three children there.
(Did we mention the elaborate woodwork? And, yes, Okie carefully designed the fireplace columns to match those seen outside on the porch.)