“COME IN” was written on the sign in big and bold letters, inviting the public to join the festive evening created by Indigo Bleu Design Concepts to mark the second anniversary of its representation of artist Jerry Puryear.
Danielle Green, owner of the business located at Spring Garden Street and Lancaster Avenue, has created a space to explore art, design and culture with an open-door policy. The free gallery exposes many members of the community to art, specifically Philadelphia art. Green enjoys being able to provide this exposure to the community.
“Anybody from the community or outside can walk in and be exposed to this,” said Green. “We’ve had several people come in here who have never been to a museum or art gallery. It’s cool to be able to provide that experience to local members of the community.”
“It’s artists promoting change in the community by using their talents,” explained Puryear.
While the facility aims to be very local-centered, it often draws a crowd from outside the immediate community. Many of its free events have brought people from as far as Virginia, Delaware and New Jersey, “who see all the great things that are happening in the Mantua community, and it lets them know that this area is definitely being redeveloped and there’s some great things going on here,” said Green.
Green has created more than the everyday gallery at Indigo Bleu Design Concepts, or IBDC. She describes her facility as a mixed-used space. The IBDC culture center functions as an open gallery that highlights Philadelphia artists; however, it also provides services such as business consulting, brand marketing, event planning and more. All of which Green makes available to the artists who use the space.
“The point of the gallery is to show Philadelphia artists or art that was created in Philadelphia,” Green said. “Everything is mainly centered around arts and culture, but it’s not just a gallery that we have.”
IBDC focuses on economic development with the artists it represents. It aims to help artists to develop themselves, make connections and represent themselves in a professional manner.
“It’s one thing to be able to showcase your work, but we’re really trying to help artists find ways to market themselves, and come up with core business strategies they can implement so that they don’t always for the rest of their lives have to be struggling artists,” said Green.
Green decided to represent Puryear as an artist because of the talent and dedication he had in his art. She believed in his art and the message of it.
IBDC serves all different types of people, and looks for artists who are diverse in their life experiences and their inspirations for art. Part of what drew IBDC to Puryear was his unique style that appeals to the many people IBDC draws to their gallery.
“It speaks to various nationalities, people from different cultures and things like that,” Green said. “He’s also still considered an emerging artist – his art is very affordable for either the new collector or the young collector, and because of its quality it’s appealing to the more established and high-end collectors.”
The artist talked to nearly every guest, excited to hear their thoughts on his paintings. Puryear wants to make art that accurately represents himself and the community. He always wants to know the opinion of his viewers to discover what the art says to them. He explained that he wants to know the good and the bad comments about his art to evolve as an artist.
“I want to see who these people are. I’m trying to put myself out there, so people can ask and inquire who I am, and I want to do the same,” Puryear said. “The people are what make me relevant. If they don’t like it [his art], I want to know why.”
Visual artist Elizabeth Kirby came to see Puryear after seeing his work online with his Jazz Band collection. She explained how she likes the colors of the art and plans to return to see more of it.
“There is something primitive about his work that I like,” said Kirby.
With a headcount of about 80 people visiting the gallery in Puryear’s honor, the event brought nearly 40 new visitors to the gallery. Local resident Praniwat Plangsaguan and his husband not only attended the event but also walked home with one of Puryear’s original pieces and some work from other artists featured at the event. Happy about his purchase, he excitedly described his newly bought artwork that is painted on glass, which he plans to hang it on his mantel.
“On the mantel, the light will look beautiful shining through, especially with these colors,” said Plangsaguan.
– Text and images by Darian Muka and Alyssa Cassium