Updated: May 29, 2019
I was to start off this entry with something more well known but I decided to start with something close to home...
The South Street Art Market
This place is a great idea in theory, a local business filled with 60+ artists from Philadelphia where you can buy original art and local made items. I absolutely love this, it goes further than I got with Girl Crime Organization and my temporary stint into the art gallery business. And if I weren't so determined to move out of Philadelphia, I was thinking of expanding on a combo of what I was doing with GCO and the gallery. I love that there is a place on South Street that can fill in a gap of what's missing, especially in an area like South Street. It should be full of artsy delinquents along side the vibrant personalities of the street. The Good, the bad, the ugly, mashed up into what makes a worthy society.
That being said, the first problem with the market is...well...60+ artists, that's definitely a padded number especially with it being somehow it's missing the major players and people I know. It might be a little arrogant to say "people I know" but I mean, I've encountered a ton of artists in this city, I made it be a point to and they aren't there. Not a single member of GCO [Will be explained] is in that market, not even some of the major people from Tattooed Moms have their work in there. AND I will say, the majority of the work is appropriated...which we will get to later. I feel like there is some gate keeping that is going on which will make the place lack quite a few Philadelphia artist due to the personal politics of the owners...which they do have the right to not include everyone, but just don't tout the place as a great place for local artists...when you mean...just for a specific group of people. Now, if you seen my post on instagram you noticed I gave the place a nice plug, I was kidding. The only thing interesting about the place is back in "The Good" section otherwise let me share my brief experience with the place. Myself and other members of Girl Crime Organization noticed that the art market added us on instagram, I'm thinking they added a ton of Philadelphia artist they have no intention of inviting into the place just to pad up exposure numbers. I went with 2 members to visit the pop-up location which was housed in the old CEX location on South Street. I worked at CEX at one point and I legit experienced racism, sexism and harassment till I was fired for nothing, the company and store was ran like shit and that's why they went under in the states. When the market was getting started someone messaged me if I knew where the light panel was...but hell if I could remember, it's only been 7 fucking years or more. I was polite about it but rather annoyed because I'm not the person to ask something like that when you're going to be running the place. That aside, my gals and I visited the market with the purpose of asking how we could get our art in the place but before we even got to ask the person running it asked if we were GCO and said that we could put our work in the store. So cool, we had an invite. GCO is lackadaisical [jokingly] or rather the members are always moving and making items elsewhere, it's why I hardly ever press the issues to do shows or gatherings.
I shared with the rest of the gang that if they desired, they could go drop stuff at the market and alright.
Some time later I was asked by an acquaintance [ComeonStrong buy his damn shirts] for GCO and myself to drop artwork there, the place is lacking in variety...[I'll touch that on in my final section] so once again I passed on the info to GCO and prepared some lovely prints to drop off. Upon my arrival my acquaintance was working the counter and we were having a fantastic laugh about lewd things and I gave him my prints. He let one of the owners know that I was dropping off prints and then with some confusion he told me that they weren't taking anymore artist prints. *shrugs* Alright, I knew something else was up, not like the place is lacking space...they only house "60+" artist...meaning maybe about 20. So I leave, it's no big deal, the place seems like it wouldn't want my style of art anyways because it's full of mediocrity. No offense to the hobbyist but there is not one original item in there and if there is, it's hard to find. The entire store could be shut down with a massive Cease and Desist letter. [I'll show you in my last section]. To continue, through an personal message exchange I was told the truth by ComeonStrong, that the reason why I was actually not welcomes to have my prints in the store was because of a situation that happened about 2 years ago. I defended Prof Ouch from accusations of racism. Some person was harassing him over a [1% Rebel] patch in a mix of patches that he was selling.
NOW, I know what you're thinking, "OMG THAT'S SO RACIST"...but it's just a biker patch and you can read about one percenters if you click the patch. I grew up mostly between Virginia and North Carolina, so I'm no stranger to this flag. Friends had it on the side of their pick up trucks but they weren't racist, just delinquents. I take it more as a counter-culture thing. And maybe now, everyone has a sensitivity to it because of the internet and the puppetry of propaganda that gets launched at us on a daily basis but really the most important thing to remember, THIS IS FUCKING AMERICA AND THE CONFEDERACY LOST! No matter how you feel about things...If you want to have this conversation, we can sit down and talk.
Prof Ouch often sells an array of the strange, unusual, rare, and subversive, so he thought nothing of this patch,I think nothing of it, I sold a bunch of them to perfectly cool people. I'm sure dozens of people that seen it thought nothing of it but this one particular person whom I believe was reprimanded at the Flea Market. It was some young kid with barely an experience of the world, freaking out at a grown man then felt the need to leave a message on the pages of the Flea. So I took it upon myself to set the record straight, I was at the time Professor Ouch's only employee, and was for 6 or 7 years. Imagine that, a black woman working at a cool as fuck shop, as the manager and paid well so to accuse my boss and best friend of racism was and is absolutely absurd. And if this person would have spoke to Prof Ouch as a human or maybe even knew some of the personal history of this man, you would know if anything, he's one of the biggest allies anyone could possibly have, black, white, gay, straight or otherwise. For my defense of Prof Ouch, I was not allowed to leave my work in the Art Market. That honestly doesn't bother me one bit, what bothered me is that the owners of the market would not even communicate with me about the situation. I was told they don't like confrontation but they are going to be running a store and shutting down won't be the way to solve everything. And here's the real kicker, they told ComeonStrong he was "fired" for telling me the truth. [Correction, "Fired" though I did quote it, isn't quite the thing that happened, it was more of a maybe I should pack it up, yeah your right thing. But the relationship was already soured due to the situation at hand] How did they learn the truth?
I left a comment on this instagram post, it's deleted now but it read "There's great irony in this shirt now" or something along those lines, the reply I got was "What do you mean?" and I said "I could come into the shop and talk about it". So in that one comment, they knew that ComeonStrong told me. And still because of their cowardice they communicated with neither him or I afterwards. No one actually communicated with me at all, isn't there some new fancy term for being shut out? In Short, they got rid of the Gay Man because he told the Black Woman the Truth and instead of being adults and sitting down to have a discussion they hid behind social media and digital communication. Talking is too hard...but they can abuse punk, feminism, and freedom all day. I was later shown a text, my comment was taken as harassing the business and my "let's talk" comment was taken as a threat. And I don't see where they are getting this unless they are stereotyping me as some sort of "Aggressive Black Woman" for wanting conversation. But part of being black is to be denied conversation due to stereotyping, it's even coming from the so called left and feminist types. They often rally and banner for "freedom" and "openness" but tend to be just as discriminatory and close-minded as those they hate...because they do hate.
Burning bridges with Allies won't get you very far.
I would have rather been told NO, that I could not have my artwork in the market for any other reason, maybe it didn't fit the aesthetic of the market or some shit like that, not that because I defended someone from defamation and that it somehow disqualifies me [or it's something to do with the quality of my artwork, the color of my skin, my own personal identity, my desire for proper discussion]. I absolutely loath "cancelling" and ignorance. If people can't sit down and talk it out, we really have no future. Nothing will be solved with "pretending it doesn't exist"...cowards don't inherit future, cowards don't innovate. AND when the time comes, they sure as hell won't be on the front line, we're not even to the real battle yet. The South Street Art Market is going to be defined by gate keeping. AND the very things that the people who run it are against. It's the hypocrisy that defines this generation and pool into one of the many reasons why someone like Trump is President. I can't possibly see this place going very far or actually getting the best quality art and merchandise to keep the place open without a kickstarter. Kickstarter is a good tool but shouldn't be used as a means to pay for everything. I started my old print business with no money and just a crappy 8x11" printer, I started GCO with just an absurd idea and no money. To run a brick and mortar business will take a lot of money and quality product, you have to meet the supply and demand of people and if you look at the products they are REALLY niche.
Sorry if I was redundant, this is a blog and it's almost 2am. So onto the products.
It pains me to say this, much of the merchandise is worthy of a cease and desist. People need to remember, once you transition your DIY into retail sales, if it's not licensed, companies can and will come after you. Sure you might make a few pennies but they won't care. Also how much of this pop-culture mash do people really want. I'm starting to feel we're passed the days of nostalgic desires. People pretend they grew up with Nintendo or some obscure movies when the reality is...that at one point, it was trending on their facebook feed. There is very little original art in the place, meaning something that doesn't reference pop-culture in some way. It pains me to see that many of the awesome artist that can be found in Philadelphia do not have a spot in the place, maybe the inventory will get rotated but from what I was told, I don't have much hope for that. There needs to be an exercise of quality control and knowing the area.
They will have to get use to telling artist no, not every person is a good artist, some people are just hobbyist, and sometimes people don't produce something of quality that will sale. And if you're doing a 60-40 split, even with the DIY attitude you need to take care of the bills..quality control is key with that. I practiced quality control with Girl Crime Organization, it prevent drama and formed a close knit group that went beyond just us showing our work together. A bunch of strangers coming together, with no censorship of any sort, we may not agree with each other all the time, but it's worth it. In Conclusion, I'm actually happy I won't be part of this place. I can't stand cowards and closed minded people. I really loathe people who can't have conversations and think the solve is to "shut out" people while demanding to be respected. ComeonStrong [Reprisal] Give him some love. I'm ABSOLUTELY sorry that because of me you no longer have a spot in the Art Market.
And you can find GirlCrimeOrganization here.