Where Do Art and Design Intersect in Philadelphia This Fall? Literally Hundreds of Places

September 5, 2017 | DesignPhiladelphia

by Susan Peiffer

Creativity is a broad term that can be applied to many different disciplines but is often defined as one’s ability to see connections and relationships in ways that others have not.  Where the designer’s practice may be described as the imaginative use of known principles to solve problems, the visual artist appears less interested in problem solving and more immersed in pure visual expression. But as any artist will tell you, things aren’t always as they appear; even the most expressionistic abstract painter is likely working toward solving a problem although using different set of tools.  This is where one finds commonality between the world of architectural design and the visual arts, and it is at this intersection where two important events come together this October. 


Before your fall calendar fills up, be sure to check out two of Philadelphia’s best-loved events.


Covering the first two weekends in October and the weekdays in between, CFEVA’s Philadelphia Open Studio Tours (POST) and DesignPhiladelphia offer hundreds of ways to connect with artists, designers and cultural institutions through a series of events that take place throughout the city. Topics and tours span all disciplines of design and the visual arts, most are free of charge and all are open to the public.  So much is happening it will take two solid weeks to cover it all. 


What makes these events so similar is their focus on a creative process that is manifested in a visual experience, but POST and DesignPhiladelphia still maintain their uniqueness.  The 18th Annual Philadelphia Open Studio Tours (POST) take visitors behind-the-scenes at hundreds of artists’ studios in more than 20 different neighborhoods to experience a day in the life of a visual artist. DesignPhiladelphia, the oldest festival of its kind in the nation, offers an immersive “backstage pass” to the thousands of local architects and designers that have been shaping Philadelphia’s reemergence as a 21st century world class city.  Because the two events coincide this year they are expected to foster meaningful dialogue between the creative community and the public. 


Each neighborhood tour will highlight the unique flavor of that area and its influence on Philadelphia’s artistic vibrancy.  In addition to visiting artist and design studios free of charge, there will also be hands-on workshops, demos, artist talks, guided tours and featured exhibitions. 


Whether you plan to go on a studio tour or attend one of the various workshops and events planned for early October, it’s worth taking a deeper dive into the creative work happening in Philadelphia.  Here’s a sampling of what you can expect to see this year at the DesignPhiladelphia Festival and Philadelphia Open Studio Tours (POST.)


POST Highlights


Robert Miller by Claudia Li


POST South: Saturday 10/7

Robert Miller: Geometric exteriors based upon dynamic symmetry

One of many South Philadelphia artists opening their doors to the public on Saturday October 7th.  Robert Miller’s “Airfields” paintings are experiential portraits that evoke a certain lyricism in the midst of discord. The mingling of geometric planes inscribed with numerous runway lights and directional markers offers a plaintive backdrop for the barrage of aircraft that scream in and out of the scene in an explosive order.  Meeting this artist and hearing about the inspiration behind these works is an important stop on the POST South tour.  If you go: Robert Miller Studios, 1323 South Warnock Street, Philadelphia, PA 19147


Rachel Constantine by Mae Belle Vargas


POST Northeast|Kensington: Sunday 10/8

Rachel Constantine | Representational Oil Painting; Portrait, Figure, Landscape, Still-life

To experience Rachel Constantine’s paintings is to experience the heart and soul of the artist herself.  Her paintings are a true testament to the beauty of expression through oil paint: glorious, rich, voluptuous paint that this artist uses with absolute mastery to explore the current themes in her life. Her work is a treat for the eye and a muse to the spirit that will leave you wanting to pick up a brush and paint.

Constantine is a classically trained and nationally recognized graduate of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, and she works in the realist tradition with elements of Impressionism. She is also the recipient of numerous awards, including a Certificate of Excellence from the Portrait Society of America, five awards from the Woodmere Art Museum in Pennsylvania, eleven from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and one from the Allied Artists of America in NYC. Her work has been exhibited in the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts Museum and Philadelphia City Hall, among many other galleries nationwide. If you go: Rachel Constantine’s studio is located in the Putnam Building, 1627 N. 2nd street, Philadelphia, PA 19122


E. Tanis Brenna


POST Northwest: Saturday 10/14

Edie Tanis Brenna: Sterling Jewelry and Mixed Media contrasting industrial & natural elements

No matter which POST tour you choose, you will find it’s a great way to find new artists and build a collection of your own.  But not all the art you buy is designed to be hung on walls.  Edie Tanis Brenna’s work may end up hanging from your ears or around your neck.  Edie’s unique metalwork is inspired by shapes and textures found in urban and organic elements, city architecture, wrought-iron grates, wheel hub spokes, gears, fabric, flowers and seed pods. 

Edie Tanis Brenna studied metal and jewelry design at the Tyler School of Art, and over the next dozen years she exhibited her one-of-a-kind and-limited edition work in various national juried craft shows. Edie’s jewelry has also been sold in fine craft galleries and museum shops around the country.  If you go: Edie Tanis Brenna Studio, Scotts Mills, 3510-3530 Scotts Lane, Studio #202 Philadelphia PA 19129


POST West: Sunday 10/15

Don Leedy |Modern, abstract stained glass panels

Portland artist Don Leedy now makes his home in West Philadelphia, which is a loss for Portlandia and a win for Philadelphia. This former carpenter and professional chef turned glass artist engages in lengthy conversations with clients before starting each of his Modernist art-glass windows, which are made from recycled materials. His chosen medium makes use of shattered headlights, the murky bottoms of vintage beer bottles, and the jagged edges of a broken juice glass.

Leedy discovered his talent after stumbling across a suitcase filled with colorful fused glass pieces and recognizing the potential of using scrap glass in his artwork.  After studying glass art for many years and taking metalworking classes, he sat down with a box of old glass, a soldering iron and some tools and began creating something entirely new.  Today, his Brokenglass Studio is known for crafting abstract, Modernist art-glass windows using a mélange of reclaimed materials, including broken vinegar cruets and headlights alongside the thick, translucent bottoms of vintage wine bottles. The layers of bright colors, textures and abstract imagery in a Leedy window make a striking focal point in a period home. If you go: Brokenglass Studio, 219 S 46th Street, Philadelphia PA.


DesignPhiladelphia Highlights


Explore design businesses all around Philadelphia.

Old City Design Crawl | Friday, October 6

Center City Design Crawl | Monday, October 9

West Philly Design Crawl | Wednesday, October 11

Fairmount / Brewerytown Design Crawl | Thursday, October 12

Fishtown Design Crawl | Friday, October 13

Share With Your Friends