No matter what point they’ve reached in their careers so far, artists across the disciplines are flocking to East Kensington, where a sense of art and community is becoming more and more established.
1. Brian Potash (pictured above)
In this digital age, where so much is done through electronics, Devilfish Ink owner Brian Potash, 39, understands and appreciates the advantages of modern technology during the artistic phase of printmaking, but he enjoys knowing how to create art in traditional, old school ways.
“I appreciate utilizing technology as a tool, but I also get very leery of relying on it as a crutch,” said Potash. “There’s a big difference between professional work and what you can do in Word.”
Since graduating from the Tyler School of Art with a BFA in printmaking in 1997, Potash has worked in the printing and graphic arts field for the past 17 years.
2. Terry McCall
With the remains of industrial material, furniture maker Terry McCall sculpts functional works of art. Using metal, wood and sometimes glass, the 38-year-old creates functioning furniture, which he sells at boutiques and galleries across the city. A resident of East Kensington for 12 years, McCall has noticed the flourishing art community grow in the neighborhood. In large part, he credits the efforts of the New Kensington Community Development Corporation (NKCDC) for the art influx.
“The NKCDC helps fill vacant spaces with art,” said McCall. “They are a big proponent of the arts.”
McCall is the owner of GearForms, a company that creates furniture out of industrial and architectural materials.
3. Sean Bolton
Freelance photographer Sean Bolton—currently based in East Kensington—has called sections of Northeast Philadelphia home for roughly seven years.
“I like what’s happening down here, this sort of revitalization movement,” said Bolton. “There’s great houses, history and buildings. It creates a community of arts.”
Though mainly self-taught, the 33-year-old Germantown native attributes much of his knowledge to photography collective The Wonderful Machine. When he’s not touring with his band, Surgeon, Bolton mainly shoots for independent companies out of his home studio—from a handbag designer when he first started dabbling in the industry to design companies to Screen Dreams, a company known for its fireplace DVDs.
4. Audrey Taylor
Multi-talented artist Audrey Taylor, 64, has spent her whole life crafting, but focuses primarily on making jewelry during her two years as a resident in Coral Street Arts House—a NKCDC residential project for qualifying artists. The New Jersey native—who’s been calling Philly home since 2005—has sold a number of pieces since she began developing her jewelry-making skills.
“The people in this building and in the area have given me the confidence to network with them and be sure that what I’m doing isn’t just a hobby,” said Taylor. “I enjoy what I do now.”
5. Scott Bickmore
Through many discussions–-including one with his Aunt Randy–-Scott Bickmore and a group of dedicated members created The Sewing Circle of Philadelphia. The group meets on the first Sunday of every month at Coral Street Arts House.
“It’s more like a metaphor–-sewing as a way of weaving ideas and relationships,” said Bickmore. “It’s kind of an excuse for getting together to engage in collaborative and creative activity.”
Bickmore, 38, is also the founder of SSEWARD LLC–-a creative-based initiative responsible for a variety of projects meant to empower people.
Text and images by Mark Whited and Lauren Arute