First Friday in Old City is a Philadelphia art tradition that has taken on a life of it’s own, check out the Old City facebook page. The arts district attraction is vibrant and exciting, if a bit exhausting, with street art vendors, musicians, even a magician, mixed with the art openings 2nd Street is like an ersatz art festival. Many of the galleries are having their own artists set up tables on the street to control the activity at their storefront, setting up a feedback loop taking advantage of the street art to draw people into the actual galleries.
Bluestone Fine Art Gallery hosted an exhibit of art created by Attic Graffix, the design arm of The Attic Youth Center, had a table of super-kawaii Tee-shirts, bags and pillows with pop designs out on the street. Inside the gallery, the space is totally activated with vibrant graphics created by the young artists paired with artwork created by established fine artists.
Beth Pulcinella said, “We’re sort of thinking of it as how to build sustainable youth reach out project that young people can have really regular income. I mean the way with the high school job market is, I mean the job market in general, but high school youth…a lot of the kids at the Attic are helping their families with rent and bills and stuff. So, they’re really having a hard time. I think, a lot of us are like, ‘How can we be creative with whatever funds we can get or our own creativity.”
“How can we create things where young people can have, like, jobs that they enjoy. With dignity, to support their dreams and their future artistic aspirations.
The Attic Youth Center serves folks 14 to 23 but Attic Graffix tends to be a project for older youth. Those who are out of high school. My youngest is 19 and my oldest is 22. And there’s six of us, we’ve been meeting now for over a year, twice a week, it happens more in the afternoon and the evening, because we don’t have the space in the morning. But, we have a print shop we can pull out of closets and last year with all the money they made they got to figure out what new equipment they wanted.
So, we have a really fancy light table, it’s a pretty state-of-the-art silk screen shop. We can do custom orders for your team or organization. Tee-shirts, we can print them for you.”
DoN bought a deep orange skinny T with a Fabian DeJesus design of a tiger head on a kitten’s body with an op art zig zag background. The prolific young designer’s bold, Dadaist designs draw on pop culture and pop art simultaneously and effortlessly. And make the perfect statement to draw attention to the efforts of Attic Graffix.
“We’re working on getting a store on-line. We have yet to make that happen, but we’re out at a lot of the art festivals. It’s The Attic Youth Center‘s 20th year. And it’s an amazing place, it provides a ton of programs, there’s counseling, there’s life skills, all sorts of programming from dance to cooking to video. You know, it’s a lot of stuff, in terms of housing support, we don’t have housing but connecting youths. We do testing, we have a peer support prevention project, sex education stuff, there’s a lot of stuff happening there.” said Beth Pulcinella.
DoN wondered how they connected with Bluestone Fine Art Gallery?
“Well, Rex, he’s an interior designer and artist in Philly, wanted to organize a fundraiser and a show. The initial idea was youth would submit an unfinished idea then it would get paired with a local professional artist. But, I was like, we have a lot of other great stuff. Is there a way that some of our other work could be part of the show? There are these triptychs that are collaborations, a youth piece that an artist received and then created a new work. And then the youth can have a piece in the show and the artist can have a piece in the show.”
MASHUP, Jackson & Hipple, 40″ x 32″, $150.00, Bluestone Fine Art Gallery
The long-term goal of Attic Graffix is to create a sustainable and profitable business that reflects and supports The Attic Youth Center’s mission of assisting LGBTQ youth in developing valuable workforce development and leadership skills. Currently, Attic Graffix is using two specific marketing strategies:
- Distributing and selling Attic Graffix merchandise at community events such as Pride, Outfest, art fairs, and youth events.
- Accepting print orders from nonprofit organizations, schools, community groups, and individuals. Attic Graffix will work with your organization to print silk screen merchandise that meets your specific needs. Recent customers include Youth Art & Self-Empowerment Project and William Way Community Center.
Attic Graffix strongly values sustainable practices and innovative and compassionate business models. For more information, or to place an order, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. – The Attic Youth Center website.
Written and photographed by DoN Brewer except where noted.
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