Slowly but surely, the art community in Old Kensington is pushing forward. It’s hidden among the abandoned factories and vacant lots of the area, but the artists aren’t complaining.
“People want to think this area is dangerous and it really isn’t,” Cerrone said. “We all live in the area and we are here for a reason: to create.”
Matt Deifer, owner and creator of Kensington-based Bodypaint.me, doesn’t just paint bodies for entertainment – that’s only a part of it.
“I want my body painting to be a catalyst for empowering people and shifting opinions about the body acceptance movement,” said Deifer. “I’m always curious to see how people embrace this core, organic natural expression.”
Working in Old Kensington’s Sharktown Studios for four years, Deifer likes the low-key atmosphere of the area.
“There’s a lot going on around here, but it’s much different from other parts of the city,” he said. “Everything I need is here, and I like the privacy.”
Always on the move with body painting and hosting events with Funtown Productions, Deifer just wants to keep creating, keep doing more.
“Pushing the concepts of performance and interactive art is important to me,” he said. “It causes this ripple effect and forces people to have an opinion, and that is something powerful.”
The Resource Exchange
For this nonprofit organization, it’s all about reversing people’s habits of waste. The Resource Exchange is more than willing to take your unused, unwanted and discarded objects and turn them into recyclable art materials. Located at 1701 N. Second St., the Exchange provides an invaluable resource to Old Kensington’s burgeoning art community, striving to connect art and sustainability.
Paper Box Studios
Paper Box Studios is just one of the many essential hubs of creativity in the Kensington area. Founded by local entrepreneurs and designers Amy and Leo Voloshin in 2011, Paper Box provides artists and creative professionals an authentic and raw surrounding to create. Exposed brick, original chimneys and restored beams preserve the charm of this old tobacco factory.
Just down the street from Paper Box Studios and Sharktown Studios, Buzz Cafe is in the center of a blossoming Kensington art community. Located at the corner of Howard and Montgomery streets, Buzz Cafe offers coffee, food, art and music. It has fully embraced the local art scene by featuring works by locals artists, as well as rotating exhibitions.
American Street Showroom
Capitalizing on the area’s overabundance of abandoned factories, the founders of the American Street Showroom set up shop in a former electric company substation. Created by three Philadelphia-based designers – Amuneal, Groundwork and Robert True Ogden – the space is dedicated to showcasing art, furniture, original products and artifacts to the design world and potential customers. Hosting a rotating line-up of exhibitions, the showroom serves as Kensington’s gallery for design.
– Text and images by James Kirn and Coleen O’ Hara.