Philadelphia’s nicknamed “The City of Neighborhoods” for a reason. With a rich sense of community to each, they add a certain characteristic that make Philly what it is.
Now, Fairmount’s may be art.
This year, Fairmount will be celebrating art as a community for its 10th annual Arts Crawl. And out of the 10 years that the Arts Crawl has been taking place, this will be the biggest year yet.
Initially, the crawl started as a way for local artists to share their work within their jobs.
For example, if a waitress worked as an artist on the side, she could display her work in the restaurant. Since then, the project has grown.
Soon, so many people wanted to be involved that there was no more room in businesses in Fairmount to hold the artists, so booths were placed outside. This not only drew in more artists who wanted to show their work, but it gave other local artists a chance to sell their work. Local jewelers eventually found their spot in the crawl, too.
Not only did artists begin to sell and display their work, but other businesses in Fairmount wanted to join in as well.
LifeSport, a gym on Fairmount Avenue, wanted to be a part of the community celebration. Tom Haubrich, the assistant manager at LifeSport and a Temple alum, said the club offers various dance lessons like tango and swing dancing for the event.
“We’ve been doing this a few years,” Haubrich said. “One of our members, I’m not too sure if she does lessons or was self-taught, but over the years she’s been an avid dancer. And I know other bars and restaurants; their workers show their art, so this was her way to show hers. So with how this started, I guess it was due to our member because she had been dancing over the years. This displays her artistry.”
The goal of the crawl is to get to know the members of the community and to see and take part in their talent, said Rebecca Johnson, the executive director at the Fairmount Community Development Corporation.
The Fairmount CDC now plans and coordinates the event annually, although it was started by community members.
The owners of Neighborhood Potters, Neil Patterson and Sandi Pierantozzi, as well as Jill Markovitz, director and founder of the Fairmount Art Center, came together in 2004 to direct the making of the crawl.
Although the event is at least two-thirds Fairmount residents, at least another third are from other neighborhoods in the city coming to check it out, Johnson said. There’s an estimated 4,000 visitors to the crawl.
“I think having the art museum in the area helps with the art passion, but I also think that this is a community that is kind of a solid, young professional community,” Johnson said. “We’ve always had many kinds of artists, and artists who take advantage of lower rent, although the last 10 years it’s gotten a little steeper, but we have a culture of folks.”
Haubrich, who has spent years in the area, said he thinks Fairmount is especially family-oriented.
“We’re really a tight neighborhood, probably like Northern Liberties, they probably have a similar situation,” Haubrich said.
The Fairmount Arts Crawl will take place on April 6 from 2-6 p.m. Other hands-on projects will be available as well. A majority of the event will take place from 20th to 25th streets on Fairmount Avenue. A few venues will extend to Aspen and Brown streets, too.
“This is all to get people involved with the arts, create business for all of the area businesses, you get a feel for what we’re about, maybe they get a membership or maybe they don’t,” Haubrich said. “This is a great, supportive community-building event.”
Chelsea Finn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.