Baltimore Avenue, between 50th and 51st Streets, is curiously empty in comparison with the rejuvenation of its storefronts to the east and the bustling, if decayed, commercial corridor to the west on 52d.
In recent months, however, a few new businesses have opened on the northeastern end of the street, inching westward from the kaleidoscopic offerings of Vix's Emporium, a wonderfully outfitted knickknack shop opened in the last decade. A food truck, Taco Angeleno, recently set up shop (and several picnic tables) in a neat little lot. The block's latest opened this month: Sarah Thielke and Stephanie Slate's Gush Gallery.
The two Pratt alums both live in West Philly, and reconnected upon finding themselves again in the same city. But to attend art openings and reap other benefits of the city's artistic scene, they had to trek to Northern Liberties and other neighborhoods across the Schuylkill.
A few months ago, while commiserating over a few glasses of wine, they decided that there was only one solution: Open their own place.
Gush Gallery is small, with a table in the middle selling T-shirts and, soon, jewelry and small crafts. The walls are currently devoted to the 12 artists whose work is on display this month. There is no one theme, style, or craft that unites the artwork, but almost all of the creators live in Philadelphia (with the exception of an expat who recently moved to Boston). The hangings range from what appear to be spider-web-tangled jewelry to tintype photography to a wonderfully photo-shopped image of a row house floating in the ocean, its inhabitants fishing from the windows.
"We are going for an anti-snobby gallery feel. We want anyone to be able to walk in and feel like they can offer proposals," says Slate, who sports a number of eye-catching tattoos, including two top-hatted skeletons on her feet. "We wanted to open a place to cater to new and emerging artists."
Their Aug. 1 debut was well-attended, with both friends and family and an exciting array of unfamiliar faces. Since then a steady trickle of observers has wandered in. They will be hosting openings featuring a new collection of art every first Friday - with the standard free vittles and wine - and hope to begin monthly critiques, at which artists can receive feedback from their peers. The gallery also offers on-site rentals of a scanner and printer and hopes to turn the basement into a darkroom (both women are photographers).
5015 Baltimore Ave.
Tuesday to Friday, 1 p.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, noon to 6 p.m.EndText