Category Archives: Philadelphia Magic Gardens

Blood

Russell Craig, Philadelphia Magic Gardens

POWERFUL ARTWORK ADVOCATES FOR SOCIAL CHANGE
Blood, Sweat, and Tears: Works by Russell Craig

An Exhibition at Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens: March 2 – April 29, 2018

PUBLIC OPENING RECEPTION: Friday, March 2, 2018; 6:00 – 9:00 PM

SOUTH STREET, PHILADELPHIA – Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens’ exhibition, Blood, Sweat, and Tears, highlights the provocative works of self-taught artist Russell Craig. His artistic style and stirring imagery were developed during his seven-year incarceration. Featured in this exhibition are Craig’s large-scale portraits, which are made from prison paperwork, court documents, and discarded materials.

Russell Craig‘s work offers an opportunity to talk about the justice system in the United States by chronicling his life and honoring the people that share his story. Through confrontation and contemplation, Craig’s pieces create a platform to help unify all who have struggled through trauma and advocate for positive change within ourselves and our communities. Craig’s work has been shown in numerous solo and group exhibitions. He has also worked with Mural Arts
Philadelphia through their Restorative Justice program, and is a “Right of Return” fellow – a program that invests in formerly incarcerated artists to create original works of art that can further propel criminal justice reform efforts.

He is a mentor for those who are currently incarcerated and works with communities who are
often affected by the criminal justice system. Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens is excited to host this show and other exhibitions that use art to address current social concerns and spark conversations that help ignite change within our city. Through these unique curated experiences, PMG aspires to promote meaningful engagement with visitors and community
stakeholders and to project its values of inclusion and community out to Philadelphia.

Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens and Russell Craig welcome you to a night of art and conversation during the opening reception on Friday, March 2, 2018, from 6:00 – 9:00 PM.

PHILADELPHIA’S MAGIC GARDENS

Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens (PMG) is a nonprofit visionary art environment and community arts center located in Isaiah Zagars largest public artwork. Spanning half a block on Philadelphia’s famous South Street, the museum includes an immersive outdoor art installation and indoor galleries.

Zagar created the space using nontraditional materials such as folk art statues, found objects, bicycle wheels, colorful glass bottles, hand-made tiles, and thousands of glittering mirrors. The site is enveloped in visual anecdotes and personal narratives that refer to Zagar’s life, family, and community, as well as references from the wider world such as influential art history figures and other visionary artists and environments.

PMG is a unique Philadelphia destination that inspires creativity and community engagement by providing educational opportunities and diverse public programming to thousands of visitors each year. For more information, visit www.phillymagicgardens.org.

Thank you to Allison Boyle, Events & Marketing Manager, for the content of this post. Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens, 1020 South Street, Philadelphia PA 19147,

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Community Gardens Day

Community Gardens DayPhoto by Jeff Stroud, Nature Spirit Photography

WHEN:     SATURDAY, JUNE 21, 10 A.M. TO 3 P.M.

WHERE:   BEL ARBOR COMMUNITY GARDEN,  10th & Kimball Sts., South Philadelphia

WHAT:   The newly revitalized Neighborhood Gardens Trust is kicking off the summer season with the first citywide Community Gardens Day! Participating gardens of NGT and the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, as well as others throughout Philadelphia, will celebrate with a variety of family-friendly activities. Gardeners and garden lovers of all ages can join in garden tours, hands-on garden workdays, arts and crafts projects, and opportunities to enjoy the city’s beautiful community gardens and learn more about gardening. A perfect way to celebrate the first day of summer!

The event at Bel Arbor will launch the festivities with noted guests and the reading of a Mayoral Proclamation announcing Philadelphia’s inaugural Community Gardens Day.   Check www.ngtrust.org for the up-to-date map of the 30 participating gardens, many of which are protected from development by NGT, whose mission is to acquire and preserve community gardens and shared open space in order to enhance the quality of life in Philadelphia neighborhoods. With 42 million Americans growing their own food in home and community gardens, residents and visitors to Philadelphia can experience how community gardens enhance the quality of life in their neighborhoods, provide healthy food for everyone, and help the environment.

WHO:

  • Margaret McCarvill, Board President, Neighborhood Gardens Trust
  • Mark Focht, First Deputy Commissioner, Philadelphia Parks & Recreation
  • Drew Becher, President, Pennsylvania Horticultural Society
  • Councilman Mark Squilla, First District
  • Carla Puppin, NGT Board Member, Bel Arbor Garden Representative & Co-Founder

Additional Photo and Video Ops:    Visit the Strawberry Mansion Green Resource Center for a workshop on composting.  (link to: http://ngtrust.org/index.php/2014/01/18/strawberry-mansion-grc/)

The Strawberry Mansion Green Resource Center is located on Ridge Avenue at Natrona Street. The lots that make up the site are leased from the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority and contain 31 community beds and 15 beds for students at the Strawberry Mansion High School across the street. The site acts as a Green Resource Center for the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, one of five spaces that support neighbors and other urban farmers in growing fresh, healthy food and creating a more beautiful city landscape.

Drop by the Spooky Gardens (http://ngtrust.org/index.php/2014/01/18/spooky-garden/) to check out the “community backyard” and complete an arts & crafts activity.

The Spooky Garden, located on two lots that stretch from North Fourth Street to North Leithgow Street, between George Street and Girard Avenue, acts as a “community backyard” for the nearby residents. Like many city gardens, the lots that compose the Spooky Garden were a former dumping ground that the surrounding neighbors cleaned up more than 20 years ago. The yard hosts community vegetable, herb & flower gardens, trees (including a magnificent elm that is estimated to be over 75 years old), shrubs, a community composter, sitting areas and a small open lawn.

The 2,000-square-foot space has seven distinct mixed-use growing plots, and currently serves 11 member households (18 adults and eight children). While some members follow a traditional community garden approach, focusing on growing vegetables, herb and flowers, others use the yard primarily as a gathering space to socialize with and get to know their neighbors, and some see it as a safe place for their young children to play and learn about nature. This wide range of uses makes the Spooky Garden unique among community gardens in the city and enables it to meet the needs of a diverse group of neighbors.

Since the clean-up years ago, neighbors tried all avenues available to preserve these lots as open community green space. When the lots were listed as “For Sale By Owner” in a craigslist auction in January 2011 without any posting or notice to adjacent neighbors, a powerful wave of community support and network news coverage got the attention of Councilman Darrell Clarke. After visiting the garden and meeting with neighbors, Clarke expressed his approval of and support for the community’s efforts by removing the properties from the auction block and securing the current license agreement between the city and NGT.

The name Spooky Garden is inspired by the garden’s annual Halloween celebration, which attracts hundreds of Philadelphians from across the city.

Help finish a mosaic art project at Hicks Street Garden (http://ngtrust.org/index.php/2014/01/18/hicks-street-garden/).

Hicks Street Garden is located on South Hicks Street between Moore and Mifflin. The garden was founded and preserved in 2007. More than 20 gardeners, including young children, cultivate primarily ornamental plants in this single-lot garden. The lot is located on a small street in South Philadelphia where increasing development pressure has created demand for open space. The garden provides an opportunity to restore the quality of life for residents and make the entire neighborhood safer. In addition to planting, the gardeners have been developing a wall mural engaging children and families as it evolves to completion.

Hear the AMLA Youth Latin Jazz Ensemble performing at 11 AM at the NET Garden at 4404 N. 5th Street as part of Make Music Philly,  AND MUCH MORE!! 

Through its ongoing programs and special projects, AMLA promotes the development, dissemination, and understanding of Latin music in the Philadelphia area and beyond.

AMLA’s programs are directed mainly to Latino youth, families, and community members, but are open to all students, families, musicians, dancers, and aficionados of Latin American music and culture. By teaching and inspiring love for and disciplined knowledge of Latin music and dance, AMLA helps build bridges between frequently divided racial and ethnic communities. AMLA, like its partner organization Esperanza, believes that strong engagement in culture strengthens community.

Community Gardens Day is made possible through the generosity of its sponsors: Chanticleer, Mostardi Nursery, Whole Foods Market-South Street, Urban Jungle, and Valley Green Bank.

Gardens

The Neighborhood Gardens Trust acquires and preserves community gardens and shared open space in order to enhance the quality of life in Philadelphia neighborhoods. Over the past two years, NGT has re-examined its mission and gone through an organizational renaissance that has led to new vision for the future. Now, with a new board of directors and a recently completed strategic business plan in place, NGT seeks to re-introduce itself to the Philadelphia region and establish itself as the city’s leading non-profit community land trust.

Media contacts: Alan Jaffe, PHS, 215.988.8833, (m) 267.968.0859ajaffe@pennhort.org or Nina Zucker Assoc at 610.457.4387 or nzapr@aol.com.

Photo by Jeff StroudNature Spirit Photography

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Edward Woltemate, Jr.

Ed Woltemate, Jr., Coalition IngenuEd Woltemate, Jr.Autodidactic Ingenuism, the Coalition Ingenu Collective of Self-Taught Artists at Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens

“Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.”
Philip K. Dick 

Edward Woltemate, Jr. creates art that takes you to another world.  His brilliant art has bright colors and out-of-this-world design.  Despite being born a deaf mute, his art captures you in his fantasies and takes you on an adventure into the unknown. Born and raised in the Philadelphia area, he enjoyed spending summers at his grandparents’ home at the Jersey shore, along with his two sisters (one is also a deaf mute) and his brother.

Eddie has a keen sense of humor which has carried him through the darker places in his life and can be seen in the serendipity of his art. Eddie went to two primary schools, American School for the Deaf in Hartford, Connecticut, and The Pennsylvania School for the Deaf in Philadelphia. He has had a lifelong interest in the extraterrestrial and his characters and spacescapes are detailed as never before imagined.

Eddie has traveled extensively with his wife, Elaine, taking photographs and blending his inspiration and vision into his art. Although he works on his drawings every day, he finds time for three grandchildren and hobbies such as photography and gardening.  He loves to shop and go to museums and is always thinking about what his next drawing will be.” – Ed Woltemate, Jr. website

Ed Woltemate, Jr., Coalition IngenuEd Woltemate, Jr., Moonspidergee, mixed media and colored pencil on paper, $500.00  Autodidactic Ingenuism, the Coalition Ingenu Collective of Self-Taught Artists at Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens

Ed Woltemate, Jr. is a very organized man with a logical mind. Most of his work is accompanied by a kind of ‘legend’ on the back that describes the climate, topography, atmosphere and many other intricate details and characters of his imaginary worlds.

Ed Woltemate, Jr. has traveled extensively with his wife, Elaine, taking many photographs and blending his observation and impressions into his art. Although he draws every day, he also finds time for his three grandchildren and enjoys several hobbies including gardening, shopping, museum touring and photography.” –Ed Woltemate, Jr. artist statement at Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens

Ed Woltemate, Jr., Coalition IngenuEd Woltemate, Jr., Marrs, mixed media and colored pencil on paper, $800.00, Autodidactic Ingenuism, the Coalition Ingenu Collective of Self-Taught Artists at Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens

Ed Woltemate, Jr. creates worlds of wonder using simple materials like pencils and paper that transport the viewer to distant planets inhabited by intelligent beings who have advanced societies. The artist peoples these worlds with beings who are creative, beautiful and friendly and on the back of the finished work he provides a ‘legend’ that describes in great detail where the planet is conjunction to where we are on Earth. He even names each planet and their inhabitants. With the recent cosmological news that there are more than eight billion ‘Goldy Locks’ planets in the Milky Way alone, Woltemate won’t be running out of planets to describe any time soon.

Ed and I have been in several art shows together including Art Ability at Bryn Mawr Rehab, the Philadelphia Foundation and the Delaware Art Museum, I’ve been a long time fan. Science Fiction and alternate realities are an element of my own art with my ‘light being’ photography series but Ed is able to visualize the other-wordly without having to say a word. Whereas I have to explain to people what my art is about.

Each of his drawings is like watching a great Sci-Fi movie that allows the viewer to suspend belief and experience life on another planet for a while. It’s been said that art viewers spend about five seconds looking at art in a museum. But Ed Woltemate, Jr. art requires the viewer to take an astral trip of light years where a second expands into centuries, centuries into eons and eons into a kind of after-life and when you get back all your friends might be gone. Quantum physics works like that and he taps into that energetic time/space continuum vibe like Steven Hawking.

Ed Woltemate, Jr., Coalition IngenuEd Woltemate, Jr., Cogacy, mixed media and colored pencil on paper, $400.00, Autodidactic Ingenuism, the Coalition Ingenu Collective of Self-Taught Artists at Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens

I had the opportunity to interview his lovely wife, manager and translator, Elaine Woltemate, at the opening of Autodidactic Ingenism, the Coalition Ingenu Collective of Self-Taught Artists at Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens:

How long have you been working with Coalition Ingenu?

“Gee whiz, we’ve been with Coalition Ingenu for about two and a half years. I have been more or less managing Ed’s art for a while and Robert Bullock has been a great help. But I’ve taken different routes also with Ed’s art and I plan to continue to do that. We’re trying to get into different places than we’ve been before, we’ve been successful in the last couple of years with Bryn Mawr Rehab Art Ability, Moss Rehab, the disabled artists venues. Bryn Mawr Rehab’s Art Ability has three of his pieces this year, the opening is November 2nd. Then on November 9th we’re at Main Line Art Center, we sold a nice piece there about two or three months ago.”

Amie Potsic is a friend of mine.

“She’s very young to have the position she holds, don’t you think? Everybody looked young there! Through a friend of ours we were introduced to an organization called Build a Bridge, it’s a volunteer organization that gets funds for the homeless and different people throughout the city that need assistance, Build a Bridge is having a gala and we offered to donate a piece of art.

My friend told me a little about what was going on, I thought Eddie’s art would fit in with that. They said that if he could create a drawing that depicts ‘Hopeful City‘ they would like to use that. So he made a beautiful drawing, something totally different than what he’s used to of Rittenhouse Square. It’s going to be auctioned off at Build a Bridge, it’s purely because we have been so fortunate in the last few years that it was time to give back, So Edward is going to be involved in that and we’re excited about it!

It doesn’t mean any money for us but I think it will be great exposure and it’s something different for him. As I said, we have been very fortunate, maybe not dollar-wise but just in the people we’ve met, you know? And the venues that we’ve been in, we’ve been very fortunate lately, so, like I said, it’s time to give back.”

But how can people buy your work besides this show?

“We have a website http://www.edwardwoltematejr.com/index.html. We’re on facebook but I’m not very technical. Robert sees me as a good manager of Eddie’s art, I’m going to have to get more technologically savvy. I’m soliciting my son already, he’s at University of Pennsylvania and teaches computer science. So I’m giving him lunch and getting lessons.

Do you sell prints?

“No, we don’t. And do you know why? I really feel like we’ve come to a point where we have to do something different, not just sell the originals all the time, maybe that’s another step we should take because originals only last for so long (in stock).

How would you describe Ed’s work?

“Unique is kind of an over-used phrase but his art doesn’t fit any category. It doesn’t fit outsider, it doesn’t fit visionary – it’s kind of his own vision of different planets, different galaxies. It’s very different than any other art out there. Maybe that’s why we have sold to gallery owners and collectors that have more of an appreciation than the general public. As far as describing his work – it’s in his own category. It’s Edward Woltemate, jr.” – Elaine Woltemate

Read more about Autodidactic Ingenuism, the Coalition Ingenu Collective of Self-Taught Artists at Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens on DoNArTNeWs Philadelphia Art News Blog

Written and photographed by DoN Brewer except where noted.

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