According to the New York Times, Fishtown is the home of the Creative Renaissance in Philadelphia. The community once known for being a major source of Shad fish due to its convenient location near the Delaware River is now a budding artist hub. Streets are dotted with trendy vintage boutiques, galleries and thrift shops. However, many of Fishtown’s contributions to the arts are locally grown and harvested.
Kristin Moore, 26, is the chief volunteer of F&N Gallery, a multifaceted space that sits in the center of Circle of Hope church. Occasionally, the church’s band comes to rehearse before a public meeting that is held in the same space every Sunday from 5 to 7 p.m.
“We consider it a mission of the church,” says Moore. “Artists can sell their work and keep 100 percent of the profit.”
Not taking commission like most commercial galleries allows artists to charge less for their pieces, thus making them more accessible to the local community. All art pieces are from local artists, most of whom have just graduated from college.
Street Glitter Gallery
When co-owner Tami Horvath first moved to Fishtown 15 years ago, she lived next to a bar. Naturally, her local sidewalks were filled with broken beer bottles. When asked how she could stand it, she coined a phrase that is now the name of her new store: “It’s just street glitter.” Co-owned by Horvath and her partner Casey Lynch, Street Glitter, which opened in October 2013, sells practical art pieces like book cover lockets, skateboard lamps and paper cutout wall-hangings. Of the artists featured in the shop, 46 out of 50 are from the Philadelphia area.
Think Planet Fitness, but with art equipment. Sculpture Gym takes the idea of a gym membership and applies it to everything from welding to wood shop to ceramics and beyond, offering an outlet for artists and novices alike. Shop manager Laura Conklin says the “gym” opened in June 2013 and relies heavily on volunteers and monetary contributions from members. As for the artists, the gym alleviates the fear and intimidation of conquering an art project. “You’ve got that community feeling,” Conklin says. “Everybody feeds off everybody else.”
As the only black-owned radio station in the tri-state region, WURD is located on the edge of Fishtown near the river. Nick Taliaferro, a veteran of the local radio world and an afternoon host on WURD admits that the low frequency radio station is no longer the heart of the black community but has become the conscience of that community today. Not many know that the station is headquartered in Fishtown, a traditionally poor and working-class white neighborhood with a history of racial animosity. Taliaferro, however, insists that the station holds onto relevance in the community because of its power to mobilize audiences.
Philadelphia Record Exchange
They’ve been in business since Madonna rocked feathered hair instead of leather bodysuits. The Philadelphia Record Exchange originally opened its doors in 1985 just off of bustling South Street. The store relocated to Fishtown in June, and despite the decrease in foot traffic, they love the new neighborhood.
“In some respects, it’s better than South Street because of all the musicians and people we know around here,” says Dan, the store manager. Local artists come to drop off their new releases and the store also doubles as a venue for both local and international artists.
Text and photos by Layla Jones and Sofiya Ballin