Oftentimes when people look at a crumbling building, they see nothing quite resembling art. They see an ugly, decaying structure left for dead, not an extraordinary piece of brilliance.
However, there is someone out there who finds beauty in the buildings, and that person is painter Stanley Bielen.
“This is an area (Strawberry Mansion) I’ve worked in before and visually it’s a very interesting and attractive area,” Bielen said as he was sitting at 33rd and Dauphin streets, right on the edge of Fairmount Park.
Bielen first came to Philadelphia back in the 1970s to attend art school and after he graduated, he never left. Today he resides near the Italian market in South Philadelphia.
Even though Bielen is not a native of Strawberry Mansion, he has a deep knowledge and appreciation for the neighborhood. The history of the neighborhood and the decaying buildings are what attracts him most to the area .
“There are remnants of just fantastic architecture that’s kind of crumbling,” Bielen said. “As sad as that is for us as citizens to see so much housing stock crumble away. It’s horrible to say, but as painter it’s very interesting. New things aren’t that interesting to paint.”