Artists from across the region have submitted their work to be featured during 3rd Street Gallery’s annual Philadelphia Community Exhibit from today, Jan. 30, to Feb. 24. The First Friday showing will be on Feb. 1 from 5-9 p.m.
Each year the gallery, located at 58 N. 2nd St., posts an open call for artists to bring in their work. As long as it fits the size standards and there’s space available, anyone can have their art shown. This year, 68 artists are represented with over 150 pieces of art, including photographs, paintings, sculpture, collage, fibers and prints.
“Because we have developed this exhibit as a community event, we have very little specific criteria,” said Melissa Maddonni Haims, who is responsible for public relations and social media at the gallery. “We really want to open it to the artists who are most underserved – the ones who cannot afford the cost of producing a show, who don’t have the network of support to exhibit their work and the artists that might be too nervous to approach galleries. Once you remove the concept of judgment, new artists are more willing to show their artwork.”
The opportunity for the public to showcase their art can bring forth a widely diverse and unusual exhibit, both geographically and culturally. While many artists are from the Philadelphia area, a few have come from as far as Baltimore or Northern New Jersey. The artists that submitted their work are representative of the large amount of diversity the city has to offer. Besides a range of socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds, there are also some artists with physical disabilities and two multi-generational families in the exhibit – a mother and son, as well as a daughter and her mother. The family collaborations, Haims added, are a first for the gallery.
Although the Community Exhibit is only a few years old, 3rd Street Gallery has been in Philadelphia since 1972. The gallery is run by 25 artists, each with an assigned job to help the space thrive. Besides the annual Community Exhibit, there are two other yearly shows. October is home to the Members Exhibit, as well as the Philadelphia Open Studio Tours produced by the Center for Emerging Visual Artists. Next, the annual Associate Members Exhibit has a more flexible spot on the yearly schedule. The rest of the months consist of two-person exhibits, produced solely by the two artists being shown. The work involved in getting this exhibit together, Haims said, differs substantially from the shows during the rest of the year.
“The process begins in November when we determine the dates of the show and then I format them into a prospectus,” or a summary of the project, “which then gets edited an approved by the members. Then, beginning Dec. 1, that prospectus is distributed through a number of different outlets: social media, our website and physical copies in the gallery,” Haims said. Afterward, each of the 25 full members and 15 associate members spread news of the exhibit as well.
“The best part for me is meeting so many artists,” Haims said. “I’ve hung paintings and photographs by women and men in their sixties and seventies who have never shown their work in public before, even though they’ve been making it their whole lives. Mixed with young artists who are starting out and trying to figure out the gallery scene here, as well as established artists throughout the region. Many of the artists have gone on to join our gallery, show in other open calls and begin or revive careers. That is the most exciting part for me – to see what happens when it’s over and the holes in the walls have been patched and painted.”
Cheyenne Shaffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.