A Community of Color

Not many groups of people in the city are more prepared to hear words of doom than this group of artists. It fits their art as much has it fits their psyche’s.

James Heimer

James Heimer

Of all of the art spaces in the city there may not be one as in touch with their own mortality and the possibility of change in the worst way. For this group of artists at Phantom Hand, change came last week essentially in the form of an eviction notice. Sam Heimer explains…

So the run is at an end. A few weeks after getting an extension that merited much celebration, a stroke of bad luck and fate comes through and wipes it all away. Although it seems any news to this group is a reason to celebrate, so the smiles were out and it was a sight to see. Almost all of the artists showing had piled in, in part I’m sure after hearing the

Sam Heimer

Sam Heimer

news. But there was much to celebrate as the past few months for them have been a wild ride. “Phantom Hand was the best thing ever in Philadelphia and no one will ever get to experience a better place. Complete with mental water slides and emotional ball pits, every show they ever had was the best thing I ever saw,” said Jeff Daniels, who was showing some new Jason Voorhees art. “Imagine a brightly lit white walled room with a bunch of the friendliest weirdos in the city all having a drink and chatting about the funny stuff on the walls. The themes of the shows were always great, like the mythology and gods show. I didn’t see any boring still life’s of bowls of fruit at phantom hand. Nope.”

Jeff Daniels

Jeff Daniels.”

Well it would seem the great run is at an end. Although Arts on South is trying to find them a new space so they can finish their extension, head honcho Sam Heimer is skeptical about the amount of work it would take to move the art. But others who are willing to put the work in are not so down. Doom and gloom, aside there was new art on the walls and plenty of people to talk to, ( I recommend Robb Leef if you want to exercise your noodle).

The new show was a spring cleaning show. So everybody brought out a few things and filled the room with their more colorful version of cheer. There was probably a little too much beer to go around but in the end it worked in my favor as I was the lucky guy who got to do the group picture of all these characters, missing a few heavy weights but quite a group nonetheless. And also like just Phantom Hand, its filled with originals. Hopefully everything works out for this cast of characters. Most

Robb Leef

Rob Leef

seem to be finding a way to stay alive through odd commissions and long hours. But one thing is for certain that they certainly would rather be showing their art on South Street. The book is not closed yet but the string of luck may have come up short. Either way its been a crazy few months for the ones who worked there and the contributing artists. It was a true community that hopefully will spawn another chapter. This may be the end but there’s a chance that is just the beginning of something much larger.


The Gang

The Gang

Greg pizzoli

Greg Pizzoli


Phantom Hand; Evil Gods and False Idols

The latest Phantom Hand show, called Mythology and the Forgotten Gods, brought a full wall of new art to the gallery. The group show was curated by mythology and creature enthusiast Anthony Pedro. There were new pieces by Jeffro Kilpatrick, Jeff Daniels, Mike BukowskiJeanne D’Angelo, and the fantasy stylings of genre master John Moriarty.

Jeanne D'angelo

Jeanne D'angelo

The show coincided with the news from the  Arts on South program that the gallery was going to get an extension for another four months of art. So the mood was up all around.  “We got extended, yeah,” said Moo Noo, artist and Phantom associate. “It’s awesome, we’ll ride the summer, try to make this summer really great, Armageddon may or may not happen, its gonna heat up, people are gonna be walking around. We might as well have a great place to show art.”

Anthony Pedro

Anthony Pedro and friend

Even the cheer got to Shawn Hileman, founding member of Masthead Print Shop and Gallery who gave a few prints away, including giving me the “I Want to Have Adventures With You” piece I had in last weeks post on the Masthead Vice Show slideshow. I had my eye on it. What a guy.

The show went well, thanks to the great Friday night foot traffic. I would tell you how much but the thanks to the faulty clicker skills of Fred Grabosky the numbers were all off. “It definitely went as I expected” said Anthony Pedro. “It was a beautiful Friday night, and there was a lot of quality art up, so I knew a lot of people were going to come through.”

The room is set up so that the new show is by the door and in the back there are the remnants of the other shows, and thanks to the majority of them being prints, there is no

The new mythology themed wall.

The new mythology themed wall with cyclops

bottom to the barrel. But the room this time around was Anthony Pedro’s , and he caught some flack for having all the pictures lining up at the top, except for one lonely Cyclops by Christian “Patch” Patchell. ” It was something I just wanted to do different, I was going for the straight across and then the Cyclops honestly, see how its got kinda just a half a body, its all the way up there so I was thinking that it’s a tall Cyclops. It’s like the head, the body, then the feet.” Personal preferences aside everything went well, and the future is going to be filled with art. “Everybody has networked, we all know each other, so you get to know more of the city crew,” said Moo Noo It’s like this guy is at this gallery, this guy shows at that gallery. It really makes everything more cohesive, it becomes more of a community when everybody comes here and gets together.”

Check out the sights from the show:

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most prints are from the new show but a few were too good to not pass along.

Artist Profile: Jeff Daniels, Cheeseburger Connoisseur, Emphatic Visuals Enthusiast

Jeff Daniels is a local artist currently living in Fishtown. He studied digital illustration at the University of the Arts. He is showing some of his art at Phantom Hand and you can Jeff find his projects here; art and music at Blackest Lava, or the Blackest facebook, or his band Burden. He loves goofy movies a bit of horror and of course cheeseburgers. That we know, now to learn a little more. I tried going a little farther into Jeff’s head, so we had a little cheeseburger party and played hot potato with his brain.

Q and A

Have you always had a fixation with dark movies or scary figures.

Jeff: Honestly, without getting too dark, I’ve always liked horror movies and things like that. Even ones that were super creepy, like when i was a kid I saw Steven King’s IT and thought it was the coolest thing ever. And then I never really cared about horror or that type of thing until I got older. I guess I’m such an extremist, that when it comes to everything its like. . . serious contrast. I either tend to be super happy bright individual or I can’t find a an in between point. I feel like I use a good amount of energy trying to be polite and friendly all day long and then the rest of it gets turned into frustration or anger, so I try to funnel it into something positive instead of hatefulness or bullshit.

Do you ever just start without an idea of what you are painting. What is your process like?

Jeff: All the time, it usually starts with when im gessoing the canvas. I don’t always have gesso, I usually use white acrylic or black, if I don’t I could give a fuck what color it’d be. And then I go all out with swirlies and twirls. Half the time it’s just a fun part of the process to just start gessoing, and then halfway through you can get an idea of whats going to Imagehappen. It’s not like I always know where it’s going to go.

Did you take any field trips to museums or had a favorite artist when you were little, or even older.

Jeff: I can’t think of any field trips or certain artists. I didn’t even understand what art was, I don’t even know what art is now. But I liked motorcycles and going to the circus to see the guys in the globe of death, that was my favorite obsession as a kid. And aquariums and whales. Well, like. . . visually impressive things that made you gasp. Just as a kid the thing I always grew up with was like I could give a fuck about what that guy splattered on a canvas, that guy just drove a motorcycle in a goddamn circle and didn’t kill his brothers, and italian cousins. The Floritini Brothers, the motorcycle dare devils. And then to go along with it the posters that those guys would be on was mind-numbingly awesome. It just shut me down with, “I can’t think of anything better than that”. Evil Knievel meets the Ninja Turtles meets Spiderman. I was always floating around with little boy ideas of what was cool.

On subject matter

Jeff: This shit that im not trying to make good, it’s like I’m busy in my mind appreciating something, I happen to have these things in my hand, and now all of a sudden I‘m making something that everyone else is telling me is better than my other things. And I don’t really see why, it’s all the same to me. But it’s always when I’m appreciating something. When I’m like aw man Star Wars is the best ever, and I’m sitting doodling thinking how good it is and then I end up with an awesome Chewbacca face. It just happened because the lines were there because my mind was there already. Without forcing it. I guess I never really start doing something like “I’m going to do this”. It all just happens and before I realize what I’m making its made. . . And then I wake up naked and there’s a bloody deer next to me.

On art for an audience

Jeff: I’m always trying to think of what satisfies me, that’s the reason I make anything. But I always try to err on the side of what would be popular, I think. Then there’s always this punk rock attitude that  jumps in and goes nah fuck that, and then rip it up and poop on it and then frame that and tell people that this is what I really meant to make. There’s levels of bullshit, there’s levels of just, not being alright with a lot of this shit. You know, just painting stuff because I know that it will make money  and sell. I don’t want to work down to anyone so I can make a couple bucks. But satisfying myself always is like, kind’ve selfish. So I’m trying to meet in the middle sometimes. Some days I go all the way the other way, some days I could give a fuck. And I think it shows when you look at my art. Some of it satisfies the masses, and the rest of it they wouldn’t even come close to looking at that, it’s too creepy.

What does using digital illustration work do for you as a medium?

Jeff: It’s like collaging stuff with the ability to do transparencies and a lot of it is the ability to draw lines that are straighter and sharper than I could ever draw. You can make duplicates of things. I feel like I can do whatever I want in one form or another in Photoshop, you know, we could time travel if we wanted in Photoshop, put some dinosaurs behind us. Anything is doable there, it’s a cool format to always have on your side,even if you are cutting things out to collage you always have control of the image that way. And I guess that’s what I get out of that. I just have total control. I like to do things with smaller images that have lots of expression and Photoshop allows me to zoom in on those, blow them up , crop them out, and narrow down what you want a painting to be like. Like for Rodney Dangerfield (after the jump) that was a shot from one of his movies, I just screen grabbed it, zoomed in like crazy , and now I have good reference material to get a good face.

Why the obsession with Cheese Burgers? ( He is showing  some burger art at Phantom Hand, and is just a plain burgerhead )

Jeff: They’re the best thing ever. . . I’ll go on for hours about burgers. If someone was going to ask me the most important part to making a great burger. It would have to be the proportion of everything to everything else. These people they do these quadruple damn burgers and these half pound burgers, these pound burgers. Get out of here… I want to eat a layer of meat, a layer of cheese, a layer of veggies, a layer of sauce, and a layer of bread , Come on.

Also… Jeff’s computer broke in the middle of the interview and everything may be completely different from now on in his life. Especially with having to spend all his remaining breath finding the dick at the tech support center that tried to rip his soul out through the phone.


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Alright, hello, my name is Nick Russo, and I’m in the business of documenting happenings. It turns out that I’ve run face first into art all my life… It’s been a journey finding what I want in it, and Im finally at my destination. I will fill this space with the most free-form interviews, profiles of painters, illustrators and printmakers, street colors, gallery events, medium explorations, and even some art of my own, maybe. My mission is to bring you this kind of colorful brooding art that is trying to explode in the greater Philadelphia area and beyond. I will try to put aside any urges to hoard knowledge of these awesome creations. I would elaborate, but I guess you will just have to come back…

Coming soon. . .  A recap of the Phantom Hand: Artificial Dissemination 2 Opening, and the oddest of interviews with Philly Cartoonist Jeffro Kilpatrick. Cheeseburger talk with artist Jeff Daniels, and animal studies with camel wrangler and zoology enthusiast Anthony Pedro .