Retrofit Comics One Year Anniversary

Last Saturday I had the pleasure of being photographer and videographer for a one year anniversary of Retrofit comics, an independent group of illustrators who created a slew of comics and pieces for a gallery showing at Locust Moon Comics in West Philadelphia. These independent artists gathered together to promote their own work in comics and add to the Philadelphia art scene. Locust Moon even sells some of the Retrofit comics in their store. Here are a few pictures I took from that evening.

-Caroline Boyd

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Graffiti or Art? Both Seem to Coexist in South Philadelphia

Philadelphia is well known as the mural capital of the world, housing over one thousand murals throughout the city. The Mural Arts program began as the Philadelphia Anti Graffiti Network in 1984, and has since successfully combatted the graffiti problem all over Philadelphia. The Mural Arts program helped artists create a name for themselves by immortalizing their art on walls and leaving their own distinct mark on the city. By influencing these artists to use their creative vision on blank walls in Philadelphia, it gave many sketchy neighborhoods a feeling of unity and artistry. Not to mention the value the murals add to whatever building or wall they are depicted upon.

  

There are quite a few murals in South Philadelphia, the Magic Garden on South Street being one of the most prominent and well known. Also a few murals off of East Passyunk, and down by the Schuykill Expressway. You can even find some murals just walking down Snyder or one of the other main streets in South Philadelphia. However, in the huge chunk of residential buildings in the entirety of South Philadelphia, there are a few walls that are not big enough for such majestic murals, and have begun to generate graffiti of all shapes and sizes. Some graffiti is just the simple, illustrious tags, but others are on a much grander scale.

  

Many people of the Philadelphia community find graffiti a troublesome issue. After all, graffiti tags are ugly, and most artwork created by spray paint is not considered art at all. Merely a mark left by a struggling artist on someone else’s property. However most graffiti in South Philadelphia (at least the artistic ones) are left on buildings that are abandoned, or community buildings that just have a blank wall they would like to fill. The Mural Arts Program only makes a few murals a year throughout the city, and they have to go through the process of finding the right artist and project for the right blank wall, not to mention finding funding and community support for such a mural. It can be a tiresome process, one that many people hoping to reach out simply do not have to time to go through, or don’t know where to start. But if a graffiti artist happens to make his or her mark on a blank wall that a person was looking to fill anyway with some sort of paint, and it adds culture to the area, and saves the Mural Arts Program money and hard labor. Tags that are made with one stroke of spray paint should not count as graffiti, but as someone crying out for attention. But if a tag is created with enough artistry and integrity, why shouldn’t it be left up and enjoyed by the community?

A good portion of graffiti in Philadelphia is done on big pieces of stickers that can be printed at any Kinko’s, and slapped on any wall the artist likes. The stickers come down with time from weather and wear, and don’t bother anyone in particular. If a graffiti sticker offends someone, they rip it down, with little if any damage to the building. This, well not new, but safer way to create graffiti is less offensive to property owners, and doesn’t really cost them anything to remove. With the exception of a little labor to take the sticker off the building. And really, who doesn’t like free art that doesn’t last anyway?

The moral of this article is, in a way, to forgive those graffiti artists that are trying to brighten the somewhat gritty areas of South Philly. An artist must create, otherwise what good is s/he? Letting a few artists vent in this slowly recovering economy and bring some culture to the community isn’t a bad thing. Being open to the new ways graffiti artists try to better South Philadelphia will help the entire area flourish. By all means take small graffiti tags down, but leave the real art up for all to see. And if you can’t see it my way, think about this: you can’t argue it doesn’t add some tourism through the Graffiti Tours of Philadelphia.

Planning a Strategy

Over the past week we at IAC have been looking into possible galleries to host our first event, as well as charities to support for the first string of events we will be having this year. We have been wandering around Philadelphia to find the ideal gallery space, and we have a few that we are keeping in mind for our charity art auctions in a few months. We will let you know when we have a set date for our first art auction, and what charities we will be supporting for that event. We have also redesigned our logo, so its a bit more professional looking.

IAC logo

Even though things are quite vague at the moment as to what we are planning in the coming months, IAC does have a plan of action for our first three events this year. Our first art auction (date and location to be announced, although we hope it will be in late spring), will be supporting a local children’s charity. We would normally be supporting two different charities for our first art auction, but we would like to see how our first event plays out before committing to two non profits. We are not sure at this time what children’s charity we will be supporting, but we will continue to research local children’s charities in the Philadelphia area to find the right one for us. If you have a suggestion of a children’s charity that we should support in the Greater Philadelphia Area, please contact us via email.

Our second event, which we hope to hold sometime in the summer, will be for the local charity Women’s Way, which prevents sex trafficking in the Philadelphia Area, and the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, which raises money for Breast Cancer awareness and gives 89% of their profits to the cause. It has also been named as one of Marie Claire’s 10 Best Charities for Women, and unlike their Komen counterparts, they donate every 91 cents they are given to research and awareness. We are also hoping our second art auction to showcase a selection of women artists from Philadelphia, as well as a few men willing to donate for the cause.

Our third event (which will happen sometime in the fall and hopefully will not be our last one of the year) will be supporting an arts charity in Philadelphia and the US. Again, we are still deciding on the exact charities we will be giving to, but we have more leeway with this event than with the others because it is so far off. If you have any ideas or suggestions on what charities we should donate to, please contact us via email.

We are working hard to make this a professional gallery exhibition, and will let you know once we finally set a date on our first event. As well as when we will be looking for submissions from artists. In the mean time, please like us on Facebook. The more followers we have the bigger our reach, and the more difference we can make in the community.