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

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.

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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

The Great Photo Album Adventue (Part 11A): Linda Ferrino Hoffman & Bobby Rydell

You can’t make this stuff up….

Last June,  we told you about a magical,  12-pound photo album that a friend gave us as a housewarming gift when we moved to East Passyunk Avenue.

Inside were over 200 photos of local and national celebrities,  politicians and “just plain folks” from the mid-1960s,  collected by South Philadelphia columnist and photographer Arthur Tavani.

16_05_24 1 Arthur Tavani Album(Art Tavani’s magical photo album.  Click here to see a sample of what it contains.)

WOW – CHECK  THIS  OUT….

Among the instantly recognizable faces,  of course,  were three photos of South Philadelphia heart-throb Bobby Rydell…

16_05_24 2 Bobby Rydell Mike Douglas(Singer Bobby Rydell with Art Tavani,  left,  and Philadelphia-based TV host Mike Douglas,  center,  around 1964.)

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Welcome to Our New Dumpster Diver House Tour: Isaiah & Juia Zagar

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.

16_04_25 1  Julia & Isaiah Zagar DC_1778_(And,  yes,  if you guessed that Isaiah and Julia have a few mosaic walls in their home then,  well,  you guessed right….)

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Tracking Philadelphia’s Trolley Lama: Joel Spivak

Last summer,  Unexpected Philadelphia toured the home and studio of architect,  artist,  author and community activist Joel Spivak and his artist wife Diane Keller.

16_04_11 1 Joel Spivak & Diane Keller DC_4227(Joel and Diane in their art-and-imagination-filled South Philadelphia home.)

Joel,  a co-founder of that merry band of found-object artists known as the Philadelphia Dumpster Divers,  is also the inspired originator of Philadelphia’s National Hot Dog Month celebration, leading tours to classic hot dog stands and giving away hundreds of hot dogs each July to confused-but-happy pedestrians around the city.

INTRODUCING  THE  TROLLEY  LAMA

But Joel has another avocation:   Known among the Dumpster Divers as the “Trolley Lama”,  Joel is the co-author of two photo-packed books on Philadelphia trolleys and trains:

16_04_11 2 Joel Spivak Books(“Philadelphia Trolleys” and “Philadelphia Railroads” by Allen Meyers and Joel Spivak for Arcadia Publishing)

  Continue reading

South Philadelphia Classics: A Man’s Image

When we moved to increasingly trendy East Passyunk Avenue four years ago,  we were delighted by the great classic shops still in the mix:    The King of Jeans.   Frankie’s on the Avenue.    Tom’s Prime Meats.

Then,  one by one,  they disappeared.

“DON’T  IT  ALWAYS  SEEM  TO  GO….”

16_03_24 1 A Man's Image CM_1189

Still,  one of our favorite storefronts – A Man’s Image – remained,  its eye-catching sign visible a block away.    And,  oh,  those windows,  lovingly updated for every occasion….

16_03_24 2 A Man's Image DC_1569

16_03_24 3 A Man's Image DC_1564           16_03_24 4 A Man's Image DC_6452  (Windows decorated for Valentine’s Day 2016,  top and bottom left,  and an “everyday” sale window from fall,  2015.)

That’s why we mourned when the “Going Out of Business” signs appeared in March.

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The Great Photo Album Adventure (Part 10B): John the Barber

(Continued from Monday, March 14.   Click here to see Part 1…)

When word got around that South Philadelphia nightclub musician John Valente, Sr. had a local barbershop,  visiting stars began dropping in.

16_03_17 1 John the Barber Valente DC_4068(John the Barber, Jr. reflected in a shop mirror below photos of his –
and his dad’s – famous customers.)

ALL-STAR  ROSTER…

Soon John, Sr. and John, Jr.  (who joined his dad full-time after graduating from St. John Newmann High School in 1959)  began cutting the hair of South Philadelphia celebrities like singers Bobby Rydell and Al Martino;  comedians Guy Marks,  Al Fisher and Lou Marks….

Continue reading