“If a city can be defined by its art then Philadelphia is revolutionary with its artistic trail blazers who’ve set the tone with their unleashed self-expression. They bond our communities with shared visceral moments –constantly shaping a culture that defies the trappings of being boxed into idioms that try to define creativity in terms of subversive elements of expression. These artists follow a history of groundbreakers whose actions resulted from a need to be heard,” said Sara McCorriston, Curator of “I Am Here”
Those included in the feature were Isaiah Zagar, Darryl “Cornbread” McCray, Conrad Benner a.k.a. Streets Dept, Joe Boruchow, Jessie Hemmons a.k.a. Ishknits, and Kid Hazo.
Connrad Benner, photographer and creator of Streets Dept, displayed images ranging from anti-street harassment wheatpastes to wild-style graffiti tags. On Benner’s website, you can find more of his street art and urban exploration photography.
Legend and modern day graffiti pioneer Darryl “Cornbread” McCray did not showcase a pachyderm marked up with his moniker. In his heyday, Cornbead garnered much attention for breaking into the Philadelphia Zoo and tagging his name on an elephant. The mischievous nature of his work is still visible in the piece where “Cornbread, The World Is Mine” is scrawled across a stop sign.
Joe Boruchow is known for his vivid monochrome pasted posters. Included in Boruchow’s installation are army green mailbox backs that are used to frame his own tombstone and back-bending contortionists.
“The longer I have been doing uncommissioned public art the more I try to find architectural spaces to frame and add context to my work, ultimately integrating it into the environment,” says Boruchow.
Usually, knitting comes off as a passive and domestic sort of craft. Jessie Hemmons, Ishknits, challenges that stereotype. Hemmons’ yarnbombs, which can be found on bike racks and Frank Rizzo statues, are equally, if not more eye-catching than the brightest stickers or marker drops. The fact that Hemmons’ medium is not often found in public places makes her work that much more outstanding.
On the contrary, Kid Hazo has the capability of completely blending into his surroundings. Hazo uses standard public sign aesthetics and designs that parody Philadelphia and occasionally mock its residents. The pay phone installation pokes fun of today’s self-centered and technology-hungry society, while reminding viewers what a real “throwback” is.
Isaiah Zagar, the mosaic artisan and creator of Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens, showcases a tremendous pale pink mosaic exhibiting a robust female figure. Zagar has been working on his large scale work for over 40 years. Many of his mosaics can be found east of Broad Street in South Philadelphia, very close to the Magic Gardens on South St.
I Am Here flawlessly brings the pubic pieces into a gallery space by transferring not only the art but the hardware that makes street art what it is. The exhibition is running now through August 2 at James Oliver Gallery.