It finally felt like a real First Friday on the eve of May 3. Once the warm weather began to creep back into the streets and sidewalks of Philadelphia, people were out and about, enjoying the monthly art walk. That's when things are in full swing.
I meandered down Frankford Avenue, my preferred First Friday destination over the massively popular Old City, determined to whet my visual appetite. As of recently, the main strip of this Fishtown street is home to some of the most unique businesses in the city and some of the best galleries. The streets were alive with sights, sounds and scents–it made Philadelphia feel so alive.
I popped my head into Space 2033 to check out a photo retrospective by Marc Bluestein titled Chelsea Hotel: A 3 Year Journey. The Chelsea Hotel in New York City met its demise in August of 2011, when the landmark's owner put it up for sale. The hotel is historically known for being full of character and characters. Over the years it had become somewhat of a colony for artists, musicians and anyone seeking creative refuge–including the likes of Iggy Pop and Patti Smith. Bluestein's photo series captures just that. The gallery's walls were lined with vibrant, medium sized prints that depicted mostly portraits of long-lost characters from the artist's personal past. Mismatched frames and paper torn hand-written descriptions kept true to The Chelsea's quirky aesthetic. I am a sucker for photographers like Zoe Strauss and Daniel Arnold, who are masters at capturing contemporary urban subjects 'in the moment'. This exhibit was a total visual treat, in those same regards.
The Hex Factory was next on my to do list, as it's a space I had been looking to stop by for quite some time. Upon my arrival for Das Sonnenrad Show, I was little stunned at the complete lack of crowd. The interiors of The Hex Factory are less like a gallery and more like a very lived in studio; which is probably why it wasn't overflowing with bodies. On display were the works of Philadelphia hexologist Hunter M. Yoder–who attributes a lot of his inspiration from a lack of sex. You can it see more prominently in his online pieces, but the feeling is definitely there. Hex signs are derived from Pennsylvania Dutch folk art and are traditionally circular, made of wood and use a base of primary colors with geometric patterns. Yoder's hexs are dark and beautiful, just as he intended them to be. He did have a little fun as some point, seeing as he created one for neighborhood pizza joint Pizza Brain.