Philadelphia Open Studio Tours | Oct 17-18: An Interview with Marnie Lersch

Now that DesignPhiladelphia is over, what else could there possibly be left to do in Philadelphia? Fortunately, the city is burgeoning with enough creativity to last all year. This weekend, Philadelphia Open Studio Tours (P.O.S.T.) is opening the doors to artists’ studios and creative workspaces west of Broad Street during P.O.S.T. West

As an annual Fall festival of visual art, P.O.S.T. enables self-guided tours of artist's studios and related creative workspaces, gallery exhibitions, demonstrations and workshops, artist talks, receptions, and guided tours. - See more at: http://philaopenstudios.org/post/info/about#sthash.YJQIerlH.dpuf

We spoke with Marnie Lersch, Program Associate at The Center for Emerging Visual Artists, about the dynamic landscape of creativity throughout Philadelphia, and what visitors can expect this weekend at P.O.S.T.

Q: What does SHIFT mean to you?
A: We are seeing shifts in regards to the neighborhoods that artists are living and working in. 

Q: In which neighborhoods are you seeing significant changes?
A: Germantown is up and coming. We now have quite a few participants with art studios in Germantown. Kensington/Port Richmond is another neighborhood with a strong artist community. Artists there have access to larger spaces. Crane Arts in Fishtown, The LOOM in Port Richmond, and Globe Dye Works are three large spaces that accommodate many artists.

Q: Are you finding that art made in different areas is unique to these locations?
A: Yes, definitely. For example, in South Philly there are a lot of printmaking studios. C.R Ettinger Studio is a P.O.S.T. participant with a multi-use gallery & printmaking shop South Street. There’s also 1241 Carpenter Studios, a new printmaking studio with over 50 artists and craftspeople. In Old City there’s a high concentration of contemporary art galleries. Old City is changing and it’s interesting to watch. 

Q: What trends are you noticing throughout Philadelphia in creative workspaces?
There are more and more large, multi-disciplinary studios and makerspaces popping up. These spaces foster a culture where artists can bounce ideas off of each other, and better their own skill. Nextfab is a great example of this. 

Q: Can you tell more more about how collaborative spaces support young artists?
Philadelphia Sculpture Gym is space that’s providing space for sculptors who wouldn’t have access otherwise. Some artists just coming out of college are able to get started there. There are also a number of artist collaboratives throughout the city, New Boon(e), AUTOMAT Collective, and BYO Print, to name a few. These types of spaces gives artists an opportunity to stretch their curatorial skills and test out ideas and concepts. Young artists know what interests them and need that community around them to grow their ideas and concepts and get to the next level. 

Q: So, how does P.O.S.T. fit into all of this?
P.O.S.T. puts you on the map in the visual arts community. We have 270 artists and community partners who are participating this year. Our website is a great example of depth and breadth of types of art - who’s making what and where in the city. P.O.S.T. allows artists to make connections in their neighborhoods and to curators around the country in a way that differs drastically from the typical gallery experience.

Q: What can visitors expect from P.O.S.T. this weekend?
Visiting artists’ studios is a great way to learn about the process of art making. The public tends to view artists has being cloaked in mystique - the artists who are participating this weekend are interested in talking about their process, the tools they use, and what inspires them. Regardless of what kind of art experience visitors have, they’ll be able to access arts in a deep way. 

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