29771644
The Fabric Workshop and Museum was founded in 1977 as a way to combine world-class artistic collaborations with community outreach and education. (Photo: Steve Legato for The New York Times)

When it rains, geysers of water have been known to erupt from the floor drains of the art collective here known as Fluxspace, which makes its home in a mammoth former textile mill in the northern part of the city. The building has no air-conditioning, and on the harshest winter days its heating system borders on notional. It’s also a bear to find: one morning this week a taxi driver on his way to it ended up taking several unintended detours down trash-filled alleys, cursing the calm voice issuing from his dashboard G.P.S.

But the three-year-old collective is becoming known in the Philadelphia art world for its monthly exhibitions of work by its members and other artists. And “we actually get awesome turnout for our shows, considering the location and everything,” said Danielle Ruttenberg, one of 25 young artists who either pay for raw studio space in the building or take on chores in exchange for it. (The current exhibition, of bird-centric prints and drawings by a local artist named Tory Franklin, continues through Sept. 13.)

I had sought out Fluxspace at the beginning of Day 2 of a thoroughly idiosyncratic personal art tour (with some good eating woven in) of a city that has emerged, especially over the last decade, as a lively and unpredictable place to see new art.

There is a particularly Philadelphian brand of hardy, low-budget, do-it-yourself, do-it-for-love creativeness evident in art and art spaces across the city. It is a climate that, as new as it sometimes feels, has been embodied and nurtured for decades by organizations like two I included on my itinerary: the Fabric Workshop and Museum, founded in 1977 as a way to combine world-class artistic collaborations with community outreach and education, and the Mural Arts Program, which grew out of the city’s anti-graffiti efforts and has worked with neighborhood residents and artists for 25 years to create more than 2,800 towering murals on walls throughout the city.

More

Randy Kennedy
New York Times

Advertisements