Werner Herzog, Northern Liberties and my neighbors’ art

Werner Herzog photo Bil Zelman

Werner Herzog
photo Bil Zelman

So it is August last year and I’m with a group of people at a street fair on 2nd Street and we’re standing watching the children attempting to throw over-sized basketballs into undersized hoops. All of a sudden, the barker takes away one of the balls and points it to me. “Let’s give Werner Herzog a try,” he says.

Now, I’ve have been compared to a lot of people in my time–both as insults and as compliments–but I had never been compared to Werner Herzog before. We all had a laugh and promptly forgot about it…until this past Tuesday, that is.

Anyway, I was walking down 3rd Street to my local when I passed the abandoned Ortlieb’s brewery at 3rd and Poplar. It is a derelict building with a lot of character but in really great disrepair, and nobody yet has taken the risk to convert it to anything. Anyway, I was surprised to see, yet again, a reference to the German film director: Brand new graffiti spray-painted on the brewery wall.

Newly Arrived Graffiti on the wall of the abandoned Ortlieb's brewery (3rd and Poplar).

Newly Arrived Graffiti on the wall of the abandoned Ortlieb’s brewery (3rd and Poplar).

What is the fascination with Herzog in my little neighborhood? I photographed it immediately.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Philadelphia is very proud of its wall art–murals that dot the city–and visitors can now take one of several bus tours visiting the more spectacular ones. But in my neighborhood of Northern Liberties, the wall art is not necessarily all that official–but it is more than impressive. And so on Wednesday, I took my own little tour of just a one block by two block area, snapping whatever pieces I saw.

A half-block north of the Ortleib’s brewery is Liberty Lands Park. Its southern wall is Kaplan’s Bakery and the air is filled with the aroma of baking bread–bread that makes its way to many of the restaurants throughout the city. The wall is filled with a three-dimensional mural of birds and bees and a map of the land as it once was.

A half-block north of the Ortleib's brewery is Liberty Lands park.

A half-block north of the Ortleib’s brewery is Liberty Lands park.

At the northeast corner of the park, where Bodine crosses Widley, there is a house where the owners have painted a interesting tale on their wall. The famous tortoise (looking a bit startled) is crossing the finish tape, held up by a pigeon and an owl. The hare is nowhere in the picture. Hah!

The Tortoise crossing the tape.

The Tortoise crossing the tape.

Immediately across the street, ten meters from the tortoise, a neighbor has painted his garden fence in lush roses.

A Garden Fence of Roses (Bodine and Wildey Sts.)

A Garden Fence of Roses (Bodine and Wildey Sts.)

A block away in one direction, there is a coffee shop…

One Shot Coffee Shop

One Shot Coffee Shop

… and a block away in the other direction is GreenSaw, an environmentally-conscious design, architectural, construction firm that makes furniture, does remodeling, and sells DIY materials and supplies—all earth friendly and green. I guess that pleases the orangutan on the wall next to them:

4th Street between Poplar and Brown

4th Street between Poplar and Brown

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s