Thursday, March 19, 2009
Hopefully only the first in a series of "fantasy philadelphia" paintings.. this one an homage to chestnut street around 17th - 20th street, with many liberties taken... When I first moved here this neighborhood pretty much summed up David Lynch's great quotes about philadelphia - half abandoned office supply stores, crazies and drunks everywhere, strange religious messages in the pavement, $2 to see Bio-Dome in a beautiful art deco movie theatre where your feet stuck to the floor and the film broke halfway through.
A lot of this was probably due to the fact that chestnut was closed to traffic from 18th to 6th street from 1976 to the late 90's in an attempt to create a "european style" pedestrian commercial district. Say whatever you want about what's "good" for a city, in good economic times old buildings are ripped down with no regard for history. I love the fact that I can stand on 19th & chestnut and see pieces of philadelphia going back all the way to the 40's and 70's and so on.. the sleazy and the fancy all mixed together, something unique to Philadelphia that should be embraced rather than fought.
It's not really the same these days but the layers of history are still there and it's almost even better to see a 4 star restaurant next to a cigar-filled ticket office where a guy in a wife-beater makes your keys. You can still look up and see faded advertisements for bread and all the amazing half-crumbling buildings.. I feel like this painting barely does justice to the architecture and the history here. Anyway this isn't purely a historical piece, obviously a lot of this stuff is not on the same block,or wasn't around at the same time, or doesn't even exist.