Introducing Intuitive Art Space
Our team has called the Manayunk neighborhood of Philadelphia home for the past six years. We love its sense of community and its all-around funkiness. But we had outgrown our office and planned to move into a larger space just across the street.
We had a lot of input into the design of our new space, so I wanted to take this unique opportunity to bring to life an idea that had been in the back of my mind for years. Specifically, when I lived in New York I used to walk by a place in the East Village called Broadway Windows (at the corner of Broadway and East 10th Street), where NYU showcased art to the public in about six street-level windows that wrapped around the corner. Sometimes established artists provided the pieces, and sometimes the work came from students.
When we started working on our new building in Manayunk, I realized we’d have similar street-level window exposure. I wanted to recreate what I’d seen at Broadway Windows because:
- There’s no reason anybody should be staring into an office space at street level.
- We wanted to remind everyone that we’re a creative community and are home to many artists.
- We could give a little something back to the Manayunk community through art and culture.
- We’re in the perfect spot for something like this — our corner is one of the largest on our street.
- We thought it would be inspiring — not only for our team, but also for residents of and visitors to Manayunk as well.
From a personal perspective, I had wanted to do something with art and artists forever — I studied art in college and saw our office move as a great opportunity to get something going.
In addition, it just so happens that my neighbors, Colin and Andi Keefe, oversee an art gallery: Mount Airy Contemporary (MAC). I loved what they were doing and asked if they would want to work with us to not only get exposure for their gallery and connect us with local artists, but also help spread the word about our up-and-coming art space.
After MAC was on board, the logistics quickly fell into place. Internally, we established an Art Space committee and determined that we could offer up to 1,800 cubic feet for an exhibit — a large area that seemed perfect for structural pieces. We decided that we would hold quarterly exhibits with a new local artist each time.
Then our committee worked with MAC to find the perfect person for our inaugural opening: Emily White. Emily brought “Constructed Nature” to Art Space, which consisted of two amazing works:
- American Bison/Prairie House: a 76” x 39” x 130” bison made of red oak, cast iron and sheep’s wool
- Fleet: 52 Passenger Pigeons, each with a 28” wingspan and 16” in body length, made of birch plywood, cast aluminum and hardware
We worked with MAC to spread the word via their established mailing list and then built a mailing list of our own. And then we peppered the neighborhood with flyers for our first event. While Art Space is visible from the street 24/7, our openings are the only time when the public is able to actually come into our offices and view the art up close — not to mention talk with the artist in person.
At our opening, close to 200 people visited Art Space, walked around Emily’s striking exhibit and had fun. Our entire staff was very excited by the turnout!
So was Jane Lipton, the Executive Director of Manayunk Development Corporation. “We’re thrilled to have such an exciting new art program join our community. Its presence will invigorate our corridor with creative vision, inspire our imagination and help spur like-minded activities in the community,” she commented.
Colin Keefe added, “MAC was tremendously pleased with the way everything came together. We’re grateful to be involved with an energetic, engaged group of people who, like us, care about bringing quality artwork and artists out into the public sphere, and look forward to helping make an artistic footprint in Manayunk together.” As for the artist herself? Emily shared that she was happy to be the “guinea pig” for the first installation while the team was still feeling everything out.
We’ve all grown pretty fond of Emily’s bison in the entryway and will surely miss him when our next exhibit debuts.
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Photography by Matt Lewis