an outlet for artists: Front Street Walls

on March 31, 2016, Philadelphia's masked street artist, Kid Hazo, paid a visit to our Fishtown HQ and (with some help from Conrad Benner (StreetsDept) + Philadelphia's Mural Arts Program) installed Another Amazing Mural on our exterior wall along Front Street. His largest installation at the time (and his first-ever hand painted), served as a tongue-in-cheek homage to Mural Arts' city wide gallery of public art. But what began as an April Fools Day "prank," quickly grew into a massive public installation, something of which Philadelphia had not seen before, and Kid Hazo's once satirical remarks soon became a literal representation of the project it found itself a part of.

Introducing Front Street Walls

positioned underneath Philadelphia's Market/Frankford Line (better known locally as "The El"), these ten walls line the exterior of our Fishtown HQ between Oxford St. + Columbia Ave. Upon inheriting the space, we had planned to fill the walls with one large, sweeping mural. However, due to complications + other restrictions, we decided to shift the focus. We thought, "How can we utilize this space to feature multiple artists?" An open call mural project was idealized and an email address was created (FrontStreetWalls@gmail.com) + sprayed on the walls so passers by could submit their designs + ideas for review. 

our first submission came via our friend Conrad, who had an interested artist in Ant Carver. The London-based artist was searching for locations to install some work while he was in the states. His design was submitted, approved and within a matter of three days, he + his team completed one of the most stunning murals we've ever seen.

next up, Amberella paid a visit, installing one of her largest installations yet—a series of four large "Goth Hearts", overtop a gold, glittery background. "The  Goth Hearts are a culmination of feelings pulled from diaries, notes, sketchbooks, scribbles, memories, and every day feels," says Amberella. "This work speaks to my own experiences and vulnerabilities. The hearts on Front Street Walls speak out of motivation, love, and kindness."

our honeygrow HQ interior muralist, NDA, also swung by to complete a piece on one of the most challenging walls to reach. In most-impressive fashion, NDA completed his piece in just a few days, solo + drawn freehand (!).

Staying Power

Front Street Walls is home to two wheat paste installations—Amberella's "Goth Hearts" + Mike Smith's "Love Stamp". Little did we know, and as the artists soon painfully realized themselves, this form of street art installation does not cooperate with the stucco texture used on the walls. Amberella's hearts soon started peeling off, while Mike Smith struggled to apply his piece at all (as he eloquently details via this blog post). To each artist's credit, they worked through the challenges with multiple visits—ultimately creating pieces which exceeded their original expectations.

Neighbors

while Front Street Walls is open to artists from all corners of the world, it is still very much a Philadelphia project. We've had art installed by local artists such as Benjamin Howard, Evan Lovett + recently disbanded art duo Chroma Dolls (you can follow their personal art journeys here + here), yet we also feature art from Ryen Eggleston, an artist hailing from Arizona, as well as the aforementioned London-based artist Ant Carver.

the surrounding community has been receptive + supportive of the project. Our direct neighbors along Front Street will often be found outside, watching each artist complete their piece, shouting encouragement (and sometimes criticism) from time to time. A growing number of photos have been submitted to the #FrontStreetWalls hashtag on Instagram, and we've been approached by other Fishtown businesses for artist references + referrals. There is also a mutual admiration + appreciation between our project + the Spring Arts mural project—which is aiming to redefine the Callowhill section of the city.

We're All Friends Here...

as we approached the end of 2016, we wanted to take a stab at rotating out one of the murals, further illustrating our commitment to keep these walls open to new submissions constantly. It was time to rotate out the piece that started the movement—Another Amazing Mural. We were contacted by Philly artist, Keith Warren Greiman, whose painted scenes, fun characters + positive vibes would serve as a worthy successor to Kid Hazo. Keith wrapped up his mural in November, thereby completing phase one of the project.

What's Next?

as of this writing, Front Street Walls has featured eleven different artists overall, including Gloss Black who contributed to the rear garage door + front parking spaces. With a Philadelphia winter approaching, we will take a moment to reflect upon the past year's installations. The amount of love + appreciation for this project from the surrounding community is far beyond what any of us expected when starting this project, and it is what keeps us invested in pushing it forward. In the spring, we hope to not only rotate in additional artists, but work with local businesses further north along Front Street to house murals on their vacant walls. We will always be accepting of submissions via FrontStreetWalls@gmail.com + will gladly share our compiled list of talent with any interested parties.

Philadelphia is home to a great many artists, all of whom deserve to have an outlet to express themselves.

follow Front Street Walls on Instagram or Facebook, visit us, and submit your own design!

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