Tuesday, August 30, 2016
A Day in Philly: Robert Lee Tackles Cultural Equity in the City of Brotherly Love

Robert Lee, Executive Director of AAAC, recently spent a day in Philadelphia and found the city to be thriving in passion and art. Here are some pictures from his trip in Philly!

I came across a Korean Dance Troupe from Korea, traveling through the US to connect with American people through traditional Korean culture. Beautifully danced, and the music was well done. Perhaps they timed it to be here during the DNC? 

Philadelphia has a Chinatown Gate. NYC Chinatown has been pushing for its own gate for years, ever since the BCLDC was established. AAAC exhibited a woman architect from China, Chen Xiao Rui, at that time who could build and ornament such a gate in the most authentic manner. NYC Arts Commission refuses permission - even though CCBA has money reserved to build it - because they are clearly prejudiced against traditional architecture. Chinatown seems to be thriving. Asian Art Initiative is on the adjacent outskirts along the highway, unfortunately not open on a Sunday.

I can only describe this mural as quite odd, one man in a submarine looking through a periscope, the other with a beard with beads praying. The small window or frame is on a perpendicular wall so this view seems like the two men are facing each other, both oddly in their own world, yet peering at each other.  
Perhaps just a property owners sponsored mural, pleasant  yet ....

This was the only community or artist created mural that had some sense of NYC

I biked a bit around South Philly. Saw the neighborhoods and saw a number of murals, usually large like this one, never much graffiti or expressions of common people like we have in NYC. There are murals posted here that reflect a very different city with a different city mural program at work. Some murals are quite ambitious and elaborate, others I can only describe as quite odd - an unknown civic energy at work.

Meg Salesman apparently was commissioned for a number of these huge elaborate works. I see no graffiti anywhere on them.

Near the location where the DNC were gathering, a demonstration/ritual took place. After seeing several street actions and incidents in Philadelphia, the significance for Americans of this "DNC" was something that clearly touched them. The meaning and the hope for their country was deeply felt, enough to move many to take the actions they did.

"I stand by my sacred ground." A demo ritual on the streets of Philadelphia. Yes, there was an Asian American women who spoke passionately in this circle. She is in the blue long skirt near the sign.

Small local farmers sent their representative to be present at the start of this national moment. To show support he gave us his card - www.justriders.org. I just had to make sure I did not move my bike too close else she (the alpaca) would not like it.

The march down South Broad Street was quite long and filled half the street except for the beginning which was pushed to the sidewalk by a row of bike cops. I noted there were few Blacks and Asians scattered among the marchers; some, like the woman pictured, were media people. When I saw on the side a black family with several children standing on the side as spectators, I felt this was clearly a cultural event of the mainstream.

Jennifer Fredrich is the artist's name, written in the left corner of this artwork displayed before the thousands gathered began their march down South Broad Street on Sunday. It was too large to be carried in the march without a mobile framework.

There were many different people who took part in the march down South Broad Street. This was one of the more unusual people. Unfortunately, I lost track of him in the march and did not bump into him again until my bus was about to leave late that night. Aside from "Feel the Bern", there were appropriate sayings for many political leaders' positions.

So many streets look like long alleys, and the buildings are mostly two stories.

In the window are what looks like home made crosses and an arc. So may ethnic peoples have moved here. From one Indonesian restaurant I learned that several thousand Indonesians came in in 1998 after the massacre of Chinese there. 

This family scene reminded me so much of Newark in the old days.

This gathering is not too far from the Cambodian Church

An exceptional corner home
A few of these narrow residential streets did grow their own greenery
This is the Asian American Buddhist Association. Below is a view of a mural painted on the side of this building facing a large parking lot and a major road so this quite visible.
Several small squares with fountains and public benches are here and there. This one you can see a blue donkey painted with a Puerto Rican flag...
and some casual musicians 
Translation Please!  In one of the better parts of So. Philly some people were  painting this calligraphy and preparing to make a film with a large camera. Perhaps a political statement? If so then this was the only graffiti I came across with some political/social intent.  
The Philadelphia Acadamy of the Arts, a seemingly crashed plane serves as their mascot stuck between its narrow frontage. Prestigious art schools here. 
A city sponsored art fountain for children

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