Posted by: Waheeda Harris | March 12, 2013

Hitting the streets and finding art

Philadelphia - B 11As is always my first inclination, when I visit a city, I want to walk the streets.

I like the idea of getting into the local rhythm, as well as just stretching my legs after spending time in a plane, bus, train or car.

In the city of Philadelphia, I was staying in a hotel on Market Street, steps from Reading Terminal Market and City Hall. As I started walking, I was told to keep my eye on the statue of William Penn, looming high above me, as I headed towards the object of my affection, the LOVE sculpture.

As I wandered, I became distracted by other art – statues of past war heroes and political leaders, modern sculpture placed between the old and new as well as murals, adorning blank wall spaces that would normally have been reserved for advertising.

This city, which I had come to visit to see its art, had already welcomed me into its gallery.

I saw two generals, guarding the outside of City Hall, proudly gazing into the air with the triumph of their days. I saw bingo pieces and chess pieces scattered across a plaza, as the former mayor stood his ground in bronze on the side of the street.

On another corner was an oversized bronze of Benjamin Franklin, while a uniquely modern abstract piece loomed over his shoulder, the two piece representing two different centuries although they may have been created in the same time period.

Philadelphia - Gettysburg general

And with each, I wondered – when was each piece was added?  was the mayor notorious? and as I turned the corner, I saw my sculpture fixation – LOVE by Robert Indiana.

Not even 10 minutes from my hotel, I had experienced a wide range of traditional and modern art, on my way to see the LOVE sculpture that I had seen on my previous trip. And although it did not disappoint, I was amazed at the range of pieces I had seen – conventional and unconventional.

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