Mantua has a thriving art scene that is constantly growing, expanding and finding new ways to connect with the community. Listed below are five places where artists and residents have come together to create positive influences throughout the neighborhood.
Traction (above) is home to a few Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts students who have built their art studio here. The studio is filled with ongoing projects, finished pieces and sketched out plans. The students moved into the space and cleaned it up, patching up the roof’s skylight and building multiple floors of rooms using recycled materials from the never-ending construction in the neighborhood. They perform in the neighborhood and continually support local artists, showing their work outside the studio. They have a great relationship with the community, according to Sedakial Gebremedhin, one of the founders of the space. “Local people appreciate what we make and how we contribute to the neighborhood,” Gebremedhin said. “They bring us food sometimes. Last Friday, Rita, this lady, she came up, she set up a table, and she made some spaghetti for lunch. They [the community] are very welcoming, they are very supportive.”
Indigo Bleu Design and Culture Center
Danielle Green of Indigo Bleu Design Concepts has opened up her location as an everything-under-the-sun space. It has held jazz events, African dance classes, networking events and is soon to hold a pop-up dining experience, all while being a gallery from Wednesdays to Saturdays from 2 to 6 p.m. Green’s goal is to have people utilizing the space for what they need as long as the number of people does not exceed 60. She is connected to the community, and she knows she picked the right neighborhood. “There are a lot of people who said I should go down to Northern Liberties, because there are a lot of things popping up, shops and things like that,” Green said. “I really believe, because of PEC [People’s Emergency Care] and the proximity that we are to the college campuses, being situated in this location was crucial.” The current exhibit by Rebecca-Rose called “The Soul’s Delight” will have its closing event on Oct. 14 from 4 to 6 p.m. Admission is free and all are welcome.
This museum breaks the mold. Artists Ellen Powell Tiberino and Joseph Tiberino moved to the neighborhood in the 1960s. Ellen died of cancer in 1993 and the Philadelphia Art Museum bought 12 of her pieces for its permanent collection. The 10 yards and four houses that surround the Tiberinos’ original home are now collectively called the Ellen Powell Tiberino Memorial Museum. “I like to use the term living museum because the artists are still here, working and making art and producing as opposed to the cold, mausoleum-style museum that most of us are used to,” said son Raphael Tiberino, who is also an artist. The museum is open Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m.
Art on the Avenue
This space has been a gallery for quite some time. Previously it was the East African Art Gallery. Although it features international artists, it also features artists that live in the community. At the Second Saturday events each month, the community celebrates art, restaurants and other neighborhood businesses. “Artists are, in a way, pioneers going into neighborhoods, fixing spaces, working and opening their doors to the local people and also bringing other people into the neighborhood,” said Raluca Ungureanu. Ungureanu is the current artist in the gallery with the exhibit “Living in the Transit Lounge,” focusing on nomads and their way of life. The gallery is open Saturdays and Sundays from 12:30 to 5:30 p.m. and by appointment.
Mural Arts Program
Art isn’t always found inside a formal institution or business. Meaningful murals and mural-inspired projects scattered throughout Mantua have brought color and vibrancy to the community. These murals are brought to life with the help of the Mural Arts Program, which has a long history in the community. “Art points to issues, and it points to shared goals and positive energy,” said Shari Hersh, a Mural Arts Program representative. “I think it’s a contributor to a positive change in a neighborhood.” The Mural Arts Program will hold a mural dedication for its latest project, Journey2Home, on Oct. 10 at 42nd Street and Lancaster Avenue from 4 to 6:30 p.m.
– Text and images by Alyssa Cassium and Darian Muka.