|Philadelphia has been my home since birth. Often, I go by the Schuylkill River to watch the runners and rowers. These are some pictures representing how I see Philly.|
From all the film photography I did over the past two and a half years of living in Philadelphia, I selected this triptych to represent my vision of grit and beauty of this place. These images familiarize the viewers with the private moments of blissful isolation when I felt settled, when the air of taking things for granted disappeared, and when the place fulfilled the constant sensual desire for beauty. I felt free.
Perceived Art = Philadelphia
Friday night I watched the green fuzzball Phanatic shake his rear end and ride around on his ATV under blinding stadium lights. From the nosebleed seats, beyond the smell of nachos and soft pretzels, the audience were specks of white and red, colors bleeding into each other whenever the crowd jumped to their feet in either outrage or joyous applause. Even if you don’t know anything about the game, and you’re just sitting there thinking how cute Chase Utley is, you learn to cheer along with everyone else.
The people of Philadelphia have personality. They’ve got addi-tood. “Yo, jeet? Yous wanna go ta get a beggle an some cawfee? Young boul, gimme dat jawn, will ya?” When I think of Philly, I think of Danny Devito strutting around the Italian Market in a tracksuit, burping in people’s faces and drooling on himself. I think of Irish pubs and papi corner stores and Wawa hoagies. I think of people busking with acoustic guitars in Rittenhouse and how Boathouse Row looks under a veil of April fog, magnolia petals drifting past. I think of Rocky Balboa posed outside the Art Museum, and inside Monet’s watercolor lilies, Edgar Degas’ pastel ballerinas, and Bouguereau’s nymphs.
And then there is the art not found behind glass or in elaborate gold frames. You’ll glimpse it some alleyway off Juniper Street or along the train tracks by the river or on the wall of a half-demolished building. Like the Boyd Theater on Chestnut, the ornate 1920’s art-deco building that’s being torn down and replaced with an Apple store. Or maybe you’ve seen the iconic red neon sign of the Divine Lorraine, designed with features of Victorian architecture; bay windows and wide stone arches. On North 12th Street sits the abandoned Spring Garden School, every wall covered with spiky, illegible graffiti. Mount Sinai hospital in South Philly with butterfly-patterned wallpaper still decorating the children’s ward. There’s the Church of the Assumption, the Hale Building, Delaware Power Station—where they filmed scenes from that Bruce Willis movie, Twelve Monkeys. All of them were magnets for history, built with unique architectural features to each time period. They exhale the sighs of past lives. The views from these rooftops are legendary, all encompassing. Restoration of buildings is bittersweet, demolition is devastating. Today, they attract the underground society of urban explorers that scale rusted signal towers in the overgrown jungle of the Reading Viaduct, stumbling across cardboard beds and broken bottles.
Appreciate the dust. Breathe in those car pollution fumes, the steam funneling from the sewer, the garbage boiling in the August heat. Step over syringes, bone-thin beggars and caution tape. Stop at a halal food truck on Market, a tea house in Chinatown, a diner on South Street tucked between a psychic fortune teller’s apartment and a vinyl record store. Watch Rocky Horror Picture show, midnight at the Ritz, over red wine and popcorn. Catch sight of the skyline at two in the morning from the backseat of a taxi. Pinpoints of gold lighting up office windows, spires spearing the vista, skyscrapers straightening their broad spines in a show of bold superiority. You are huddled in the darkness of the cab, behind a set of blurred headlights. You are dwarfed, too small to be called a planet, but from a distance you could cup the entire city in your palm.
Man on the Street
A New Perspective of Greens
A New Perspective of Greens
I come from a little town with farms all around me
I hear no sounds at night except for the Amish Buggy rolling pass me
Now, I hear car horns and sirens all around me
I see less green but find it spiraling upward around me
Playing Eye Spy with the green
Because they are hidden in places that I have never seen