Philadelphia artists Billy and Steven Dufala are known for their unusual creations made from unusual, mostly recycled, materials. Like the 14 tricycles made out of repurposed toilets for a race that was part of the 2005 Fringe Festival, and the cardboard tank they rolled through the city one afternoon in 2004. (That tank is not to be confused with their ice cream truck tank, via which they served treats in 2006.)

Their project for October's Open Source series will see them using aluminum to make functional pieces, like numbers to indicate home addresses. What's more important for this project, they said, is the process: The brothers will be collecting scrap metal every Saturday in the former Edward Bok Vocational School in South Philadelphia, where they will melt it and recast it.

"This is about seeing the life cycle of a natural material, which means it's in limited supply and will run out some day. Usually," Steven Dufala said, "no one witnesses that."

Open Source, presented by the City of Philadelphia's Mural Arts Program, features 14 public-art projects done by 16 artists. October will feature a myriad of free and low-cost events, including hands-on demonstrations, talks and panels by artists and experts, gallery showings, and guided tours. (For more details,


While Mural Arts has traditionally addressed social change through painting, it doesn't want to be limited to one method, said Jane Golden, executive director of Mural Arts Program.

"People hear the name of our organization and think murals, but really, our program has become about community-based public art making," she said. "We're working in many others ways. What's important is that we move the needle, that there's an impact and transformation through art-making."

The name Open Source has multiple meanings for the series, but the primary one is the focus on exchange, collaboration, and partnership.

The first project, skateable sculptures, was unveiled last month. Jonathan Monk was inspired by two concrete works by Sol LeWitt in the Philadelphia Museum of Art's sculpture garden. His interpretations, in Paine's Park on North 24th Street, look like a pyramid and a set of steps, but they're made of Satellite, which is often used on skateboard ramps, and have angle irons in place to allow for better shredding, according to Open Source curator Pedro Alonzo said.

"If there's something for skateboarders," Alonzo said, "you know there's something for everyone."

Other works that went public early include local artist/activist Michelle Angela Ortiz's 17-foot mural Familias Separadas that has covered the center courtyard of City Hall all month. The title means separated families. Ortiz worked with an immigrant-rights organization on the design.

In July, French photographer/muralist JR unveiled his 20-story mural pasted to the side of the Graham Building at 15th and Chestnut Streets. It is a photo of a Pakistani immigrant named Ibrahim who lives in Philadelphia. JR talked to the man, who works two jobs, about his journey to the United States and about how many Americans don't notice him. The Graham Building was the chosen mural location because the image couldn't be easily seen from some angles, playing up the idea that immigrants are hiding in plain sight.

None of the pieces is intended to be permanent - some will be removed after a few months or a few years. Others will be allowed to fade.

New Orleans artist MOMO spent months in the city earlier this year sharing his use of practical geometry in creating art with area teenagers. The practice is still sometimes used by masons and carpenters, but has largely been replaced by computers. He and some of his students will hold public workshops in October to teach others the practice.

"I'm trying to capture anyone's curiosity and introduce them to the most immediate aspects of this subject matter that dates back to antiquity," he said. "This is taking the idea of public art for a public audience to enjoy and taking it a step forward. The public takes possession of what we've created. We pass something on to them. It's meant to be a deeper interaction."

The Dufala brothers see deeper symbolism in working at Bok. Generations of Philadelphians attended the vocational school until its closure in 2013.

"There's something about making something in a building that once taught using your hands to create," Billy Dufala said, noting, "The building itself is being recycled in a sense," as current owners plan to turn the Art Deco structure into a "makers space" for craftspeople.

The brothers will operate their DIY foundry in the school's former mechanics' shop, with high ceilings and large roll-up doors that once let cars enter. They want to showcase the clear transition from being trash to being something new and useful.

"Everything in our lives has already been reclaimed, you just don't know it yet," Steven Dufala said. "It's cyclical. This art is us trying to showcase that."

Open Source: How to get hands-on, dance it up, and learn

Here is a sampling of October events featuring artists and their work. To review the entire calendar, go to

Hands-on projects

Oct. 4. Make art with MOMO, who uses practical geometry to create art. Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, 118 N. Broad St., noon to 4 p.m.

Oct. 5. Labyrinth Workshop with Sam Durant. Create an art object to hang on the wall of Sam Durant's site-specific maze at Thomas Paine Plaza. The Graham Building at 30 S. 15th St., 4 to 6 p.m.

Oct. 29. Heeseop Yoon Workshop and Live Demo. Create artwork using nontraditional materials. The Graham Building, 30 S. 15th St., 6 to 8 p.m., $5.

Free events

Oct. 3. Five stories with Swoon. The printmaker and artist pairs with a drug counselor to discuss the nature of compassion in their work. Institute of Contemporary Art, 118 S. 36th St., 6 to 8 p.m.

Oct. 10, 17, 24, and 31. Open-house pour with the Dufala brothers. Watch their "pours" as the brothers take discarded aluminum and convert it into art. Bok, 1901 S. Ninth St., 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Oct. 16. Philly DJ Mural Block Party Redux. Rock out with Rich Medina, Cosmo Baker, Statik Selektah, and Scratch Academy. 13th Street between Chestnut and Sansom Streets, 6 to 10 p.m.

Oct. 18. The #Open SourcePHL Walking Tour. See the Open Source works, Graham Building, 30 S. 15th St., noon to 2 p.m.

Oct. 25. The art of conflict: Teddy Cruz, Jennie Shanker, and Michelle Angela Ortiz. A discussion of art depicting socio-economic conflict in urban areas, Moore College of Art and Design, 1916 Race St., 2 to 4 p.m.

Tickets required events

Oct. 8. Full STEAM ahead: Curious minds on art in education, featuring MOMO and a panel of experts. The ExCITe Center of Drexel University, 3401 Market St., Suite 100, 6 to 8 p.m., $5.

Oct. 15. Free License: Open Source in Art and Technology with Shepard Fairey and Rich Miner. Fairey and Miner talk about how they have made their intellectual property available to all. The Fillmore Philadelphia, 1100 Canal St., 8 to 10 a.m.

Oct. 17. Unwinding the labyrinth. A discussion of how we can all creatively challenge the perception of mass incarceration. Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, 118 N. Broad St., 2 to 4 p.m., $15. Free for PAFA members.

Oct. 21. La Frontera. Four actors perform a script about building cultural bridges through art. Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, 118 N. Broad St., 6 to 8 p.m., $15. Free for PAFA members.

- Natalie Pompilio