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On the Ground: Celebrating our Germantown storefront with an art show and reception

Work by Bonnie MacAllister, Tieshka Smith, Nancy-Ellen Churchville, Eric Kennedy, Patrick Egan, Elisabeth Nickles and Jill Saull

On Friday, we will celebrate Flying Kite's "On the Ground" space in Germantown with an art show and reception. Twenty local artists will help us animate the empty storefront. There will be drinks, snacks and merriment. But first, we needed a little tutorial.

Last week, Philly Office Retail's Ken Weinstein took Flying Kite for a tour of our new neighborhood. The local developer, community maven and restaurant owner drove us down Chelten Avenue, around the industrial area adjacent to the Nicetown border, past the in-progress Wayne Junction transit hub and then cruised Germantown Avenue all the way through Germantown, Mt. Airy and Chestnut Hill.

It was a study in contrasts: shining examples of community action and development alternating with tales of corruption and absentee ownership. Weinstein pointed out the old Germantown Settlement-owned properties, many languishing after years of neglect. He explained how that organization churned through money from the city, with very little of it reaching the community. (For the comprehensive account of Emanuel Freeman and Germantown Settlement's troubling history, read Jason Fagone's excellent Philadelphia Magazine cover story.) 

Of course, he also pulled over to narrate the frequent bright spots: a performing arts center planned for a crumbling chapel at 4811 Germantown Avenue, gorgeous murals spearheaded by Mural Arts, the stalwart Cunningham Piano Company and Factory, rain barrels installed along the Avenue in Mt. Airy.

Weinstein's spatial geography lesson was essential. You can't understand a neighborhood without the context of the physical space. In some ways, that is the whole message behind the "On the Ground" program -- you have to be somewhere to really get it.

The other vital source of context is the people, and they have been pouring in our door at 322 W. Chelten Avenue. At a quick get-to-know-you community meeting, we ran out of chairs. Germantown residents want to make sure we don't miss a thing about their neighborhood -- both good and bad.

In response to our call for local artists, there was a deluge. Soon the walls of our storefront will also say a lot about the neighborhood -- this time through the perspective of its creative community.

Flying Kite On the Ground presents Transformation: Northwest Philadelphia, 5-8 p.m. Friday, February 1. Light refreshments and drinks will be served.

Featured artists include:

Tieshka Smith, photography
Renny Molenaar, installation
Nancy-Ellen Churchville, painting and drawing 
Amir Lyles, stencils and airbrush
Bonnie MacAllister, film, photography, knits, painting
Dave Tavani, photography
Ebony Malaika Collier, acrylic paint
Kitt Eileen Reidy, paint
Eric Kennedy, wax paper and paint 
Jill  Saull, photography
Kim Corbin, knits
Ann Marie Doley, pen and ink work, acrylic and watercolors, dried and pressed flower creations, printmaking and photography 
Susan Mangan, paint and prints 
Jenna Hannum, histo-portraits  
Elisabeth Nickles, mixed-media sculpture 
Gregory Brellochs, graphite drawings
Patrick Egan, collage
Andy Walker, photography
Nathalie Borozny, papermaking and photography

The Germantown Artist Roundtable will host their next networking party at 322 W. Chelten, 4-7 p.m. Sunday, Feb 10.  If you'd like to use Flying Kite's "On the Ground" space for a community meeting or event, email [email protected].
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