Philly Photo Day is a Social Practice photography public art project that is easy and fun to do as a participant and beneficial to the image Philadelphia displays to the world. The goal is to capture a visual portrait of Philadelphia with a social media campaign encouraging public participation through photography. Social practice as an art form creates a unique meandering narrative that utilizes the energy and ideas from the public at large to make ideas grow big. Endless combinations of stories based on the random nature of the photographs are possible.
The Philadelphia Photo Arts Center is the conduit and curator of the event – simply take a photo in Philly on October 18th and upload it to their website, for free, by the following Monday. Every entry is printed in a vast display of hundreds of images of Philadelphia taken by photographers on that one calendar day creating an exciting interactive social experience. Philly Photo Day Gallery at 120 North 3rd Street, Philadelphia through December 28th, 2013.
October 18th, 2013 was a sunny day, perfect for a walk to the river with Katy the Art Dog. We walk past the Dollar Store almost everyday on the way to the dog park, I can see it in my head, but that day the shipping carts were all lined up after a delivery and I spotted this pattern about consumerism. My plan was to take lots of pictures all day, and the heightened excitement of looking for pattern recognition that is very Philadelphian felt strong and sensitive.
Katy and I walked through Fitler Square towards the Schuykill River, at the Southern tip of the park is a restaurant called Gavins, the ‘Ladies Only‘ sign has a vibrating meme about social norms and women’s history. The last lunch I had with mentor Francis Tucker was at Gavin’s, he paid for our soup and Argentine pastries while we talked about art. Places in Philadelphia are layered with memories that render emotional responses in nuanced and evocative images. When confronted with legacy the message is the massage.
DoN Brewer, Ladies Entrance, digital photo, October 18th, 2013
DoN Brewerr, Pug Guard Dog, digital photo, October 18, 2013
The light effect on my Pug Guard Dog with the big ball is naturally weird and the experience was a bit noisy. That dog would not stop barking. But, I was on a photo safari and I braved the barking – Katy by my side – and captured a little story of the Pug defending the iron gate to his territory.
DoN Brewer, Light from Yonder Window, digital photograph, 10/18/2013. $175.00
One of my things, work that I’m known for, is a series of photographs called ‘light beings‘. I look for reflections of sunlight onto urban surfaces from windows. This picture captures the source of the reflection, glass windows. Light reflects off the windows onto Philly’s famous stucco walls. I didn’t enter this one in Philly Photo Day but I did enter it into a show at Off the Wall Gallery at Dirty Franks with the title Coupling. Even though I was part of the jury panel I entered anyway, I like being part of the annual juried art shows there, and took my chances. When my five entries came up for review I left the room and the other four jurors voted in two of my photographs. Both of my entries were from my Philly Photo Day shoot. Including the one below, Holding Hands, digital photograph, 11″ x 14″, 16″ x 20″ framed, $175 at Off the Wall Gallery at Dirty Franks.
Proceeds of the sale of my framed photograph, Light from Yonder Window, in the Coupling show at Dirty Franks go towards the Sunshine Arts Foundation. The Coupling show is amazing with a display of contemporary art created expressly for a theme by truly fine artists, it’s such an authentic honor to be part of this extraordinary group show. Being on the jury panel is an interesting story, too. I’ll write a post about the experience soon.
The Social Practice aspect of group art shows is very energetic and Off the Wall Gallery at Dirty Franks has a wonderful symbiosis with their local artist’s community. I also included Light from Yonder Window in my 11″ x 17″ folded one-sheet book, light beings, for RiTUAL Reading Room at 110 Church Gallery, $75.00.
On October 18th, 2013, Philly Photo Day, I visited a dear friend at Pennsylvania Hospital, the oldest hospital in America, a warren of hallways and odd turns, swinging doors and curved paths that expresses the history and change of medical care architecturally. My friend was out of the Intensive Care Unit but her condition was very frail. I sat with her while Wheel of Fortune played silently on the TV and we just held hands.
Helen was a good friend to me. She was the lady who had all the neighbors house keys or was there to accept packages. She knew all the news about the neighbors and shared stories of mayhem, mischief and mystery as well as tidings of joy. This image captures our love and I will be forever grateful for those last moments together. My friends, it was really hard to watch the fading of a life, the terrible turn of events, but now I have experienced the realness, the liveness of the moments we are living in a way that will influence me forever.
I decided to use Holding Hands as my sole entry into the exhibit Philly Photo Day 2013 show because of the composition of the blanket folds and skin wrinkles and the empathetic narrative image of a day in the life of two old friends. Holding Hands was chosen by the jury at Philly Photo Day 2013 to be displayed on one of forty billboards throughout the city. The billboard with Holding Hands is located on Washington Avenue near 9th Street, near the Italian Market. When I saw the billboard my heart raced, I felt such happiness and joy, it was like a wonderful gift from Helen. Although she would have wanted her fingernails manicured, the image of generational shift and change is imbued in the lines of the picture, making up the connections of two friends in a pattern that touches the spirit and heart.
Philadelphia Photo Arts Center is also generously including Holding Hands in a group show of 175 images selected from the Philly Photo Day exhibit at the Philadelphia Airport for six months in 2014. Purchases of the print from Philadelphia Photo Arts Center are being donated to them as my thanks for their service to the Philadelphia arts community. Being part of the group show is a thrill in itself, no kidding, but the organization provides exceptional education about photography to the community that is truly beneficial to everybody.
I have made wonderful connections and friendships by being in this annual show. To have a photograph that I took in an intimate moment of a special personal relationship to be expressed in public in such a big way makes my heart burst with joy. Philly Photo Day made me look at the world a little closer for a day, the effort to examine my surroundings for beauty resulted in recognition of my creative vision of art and I feel gratitude for the embrace of the Philadelphia arts community for my efforts.
Here’s the link to the Philly Photo Day Billboard map. The exhibit of all 15,000 plus photographs is on display at Philly Photo Day Gallery at 120 North 3rd Street, Philadelphia through December 28th, 2013.
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Written and photographed by DoN Brewer.
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