85 Years of Neon Signs: Walking Tours with Dumpster Diver Len Davidson

Len Davidson Walking ToursNeon signs have been a dramatic part of Philadelphia and America’s landscape since the 1920′s. These tours will highlight signs built from 1936 to the present, examining signs of various styles and functions. The tour guide, Len Davidson, is one of North America’s leading experts on restoration and preservation of classic neon signs, and has written the sign industry’s bible on historic neon, Vintage Neon (Schiffer Press, 1999). Len’s tour will introduce you to neon history and technology while examining some of the most spectacular and historic signs on view in the city.

Highlights include a mint condition 1936 neon on porcelain-enamel Pittsburgh Paints sign at the Center, animated signs, neon inside and outside the Reading Terminal Market, signs of Chinatown, and the revolving Hard Rock Cafe sign.

Get Tickets:
Saturday, April 26 2014 / 3:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Saturday, July 5 2014 / 3:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Saturday, October 11 2014 / 3:00 PM – 5:00 PM

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Free Neon Slide Show Talks by Dumpster Diver Len Davidson

Len Davidson Slide ShowThree FREE talks will be given by neon expert Len Davidson, author of Vintage Neon (Schiffer Press, 1999).

Davidson collects and restores classic neon signs, and about 10 of his 100 piece collection are on display in the Center for Architecture gallery and AIA Bookstore. Since 1979 he has also operated a neon design business in Philadelphia.

Len’s interest in neon was planted by growing up in Philadelphia in the ’50s, while gazing in childhood wonder at such iconic signs as the Levis Hot Dog, Sun Ray Drugs’ animated mortar and pestle, and the Boot and Saddle. His interest bloomed in the mid-’70s when he started a bar/restaurant with a neon ceiling while teaching sociology at University of Florida in Gainesville.

The talks combine insider insights on neon signs, technology, and history with stunning images of classic neon pieces. All talks are held in the  Center for Architecture’s gallery/auditorium, and run from 6:00 to 7:30 PM.

Topics and dates:
Vintage Neon in North America, Wednesday May 7th, 2014
Vintage Neon in Philadelphia, Wednesday August 20th, 2014
The Magic of Animated Neon, Wednesday December 3rd, 2014

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May Workshop with Dumpster Diver Joel Spivak

Joel Spivak WorkshopMaking Something Out of Nothing

Experience the fun of turning ordinary trash into treasure. In this workshop participants will learn new ways of seeing and creating art using discarded materials from everyday use. Things normally thrown away or ignored take on new meanings as they become elements of artistic compositions. You don’t have to have any art background to create this fun and rewarding project. Parents are encouraged to come with their children and work together. There will be a refreshments break midway through the workshop.

Participants should bring: scissors, “junk drawer stuff”, ie: string, bottle caps, buttons, clean items from your trash. All items should be easy to glue onto cardboard.
Tools and materials provided by instructor: 2′ square sheets of cardboard and glue
Maximum number of participants: 10
Open to: Children and parents, one parent per child

Date & Time: Saturday, May 24, 10:00 am – 1:00 pm
Location: Globe Dye Works, 4500 Worth St., Frankford, Philly
Tookany/Tacony – Frankford Watershed Partnership Office, 3rd floor
Sponsored by: Destination Frankford

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May Workshop with Dumpster Diver Dan Enright

Dan Enright WorkshopIntroduction to Collage

Learn to create your own collages from photos, magazine images, different kinds of paper and all sorts of printed materials. Adults will benefit by learning a brief history of collage and copyright considerations of digital compositing. Everyone will learn how to cut, tear, and arrange images to make strong compositions using different kinds of glues and adhesives. Come with photos and magazines and leave with your own artwork!

Participants should bring:  scissors, papers, magazines, photos, other printed materials
Tools and materials provided by instructor: glue, some exacto knives & cutting boards (for adults), magazines, found paper, printouts
Maximum number of participants: 12
Open to: All ages

Date & Time: Saturday, May 17, 10:00 am – noon
Location: Globe Dye Works, 4500 Worth St., Frankford, Philly
Tookany/Tacony – Frankford Watershed Partnership Office, 3rd floor
Sponsored by: Destination Frankford

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Dumpster Divers RECLAIM Show at Destination Frankford Pop-Up Gallery

 Destination Frankford Pop-Up Gallery

After years of neglect, the 4600 block of Paul Street in Frankford is beginning a new life. Destination Frankford is transforming a formerly vacant storefront into an energetic art venue. The temporary pop-up art gallery will accelerate the process of neighborhood revitalization in Frankford.

OPENING RECEPTION for RECLAIM & BLOCK PARTY
Saturday, April 19 | 2:00 – 5:00pm
@ the corner of Frankford Avenue and Paul Street
MFL to Margaret-Orthodox

Three separate exhibitions will each focus on one part of the theme:
RECLAIM | REDISCOVER | REANIMATE

RECLAIM will feature members of Philadelphia’s
Dumpster Divers. Saturdays from April 19 to May 17, 2014, the Dumpster Divers will RECLAIM discarded materials and transform them into new art forms. Seventeen artists who see the possibilities in trash and other under-utilized resources will bring a new awareness to the concept of “upcycling “to Frankford.

Participating Dumpster Divers include:
Sara Benowitz, Ellen Benson, Neil Benson, Carol Cole, Randy Dalton, Dan Enright, Joanne Hoffman, Linda Lou Horn, Ann Keech, Susan Moloney, Eva Preston, Susan Richards, Ellen Sall, Joel Spivak, Jim Ulrich, Sally Willowbee, Burnell Yow!

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Destination Frankford is an arts-based initiative using MARKETING and CREATIVE PLACEMAKING to enhance and expand the resources of the Frankford’s growing ARTS, ARTISANAL INDUSTRY, and CREATIVE BUSINESS economy.

Destination Frankford is a project of the Philadelphia City Planning Commission. Local partners include the Frankford Community Development Corporation, Globe Development Group, and Philadelphia Sculptors.

 

Destination Frankford Supported By Art Place Destination Frankford is supported by a grant from ArtPlace America, a collaboration of leading national and regional foundations, banks and federal agencies accelerating creative placemaking across the US.

 

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Archives Alchemy: The Art of the Dumpster Divers Update

Part One of the exhibit ends April 24
Part Two of the Exhibit is Extended to July 31, 2014

Event Image

Location: National Archives at Philadelphia, 900 Market St, Philadelphia, PA
Entrance: 917 Chestnut, between 9th and 10th Streets

Opening Reception for Part 2: May 2, 5:00 – 7:30 pm

Gallery Hours of Operation:
M-F:  8:30 am – 4:45 pm.
Second Saturday of each month: 8 am – 4 pm

A Photo ID is required to enter Federal Buildings.

 

Home Movies by Susan Richards

Home Movies by Susan Richards

The National Archives had miles of microfilm and piles of debris from moving records and renovations, doomed for the dumpster. “Call the Dumpster Divers!”  Who? The Dumpster Divers of Philadelphia are a group of over 40 found object artists, their artwork as diverse as the group and materials used. They were officially recognized with a 2012 City of Philadelphia Mayor’s Tribute for “helping to raise the consciousness of art lovers and heightened awareness of taking a creative approach to support a more sustainable city, country and world.”

This show is an unusual collaboration between two very different Philadelphia institutions and demonstrates the infinite possibilities available when we think outside the dumpster. Leslie Simon, Director, Research Services, the National Archives at Philadelphia said, “I challenged the Philadelphia Dumpster Divers to create art out of the debris from our moves and renovations. Materials included decommissioned ladders and carts, miles of microfilm and readers, aged leather book bindings, as well as decommissioned electronics and displays, posters, photographs, and lots of red tape.”

Archives Commemorative  by Ann Keech

Archives Commemorative by Ann Keech

As a loosely bound collective of classically trained and self-taught artists the Dumpster Divers’ unique found object artwork has been exhibited at the American Visionary Art Museum, Noyes Museum of Art, Perkins Art Center, Please Touch Museum, the Garbage Museum and many other regional and national exhibitions. They are featured in books such as FOUND OBJECT ART, books 1 and 2.  They established South Street galleries that have entranced more than fifty thousand people, while recycling these abandoned storefronts into viable neighborhood businesses. In the words of their founder, Neil Benson, “Trash is simply a failure of the imagination.”

Thus, in a new kind of alchemy, this partnership between the National Archives at Philadelphia and the Dumpster Divers of Philadelphia preserves, conveys and interprets stories of our pasts hidden in words and objects.

The National Archives at Philadelphia
The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is the record keeper of the Federal government. About 2% of all records created are preserved permanently and are available to the public, whether exploring family history, proving a veteran’s military service, or researching an historical topic. The National Archives at Philadelphia, one of 15 research facilities across the country, holds records of federal courts and agencies operating in Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia. The records range from hand written 18th century customs manifests to 20th century scientific data.

Contact Gretchen Altabef about the Archives Alchemy Show:
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Dumpster Divers Workshop at the National Archives at Philadelphia

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Please join Dumpster Divers Gretchen Altabef, Joel Spivak, Neil Benson, Ann Keech, Sara Benowitz & Dan Enright in a workshop to transform discarded items from the National Archives at Philadelphia into works of art.

This is a wonderful opportunity for adults, children and families to create art using microfilm from Civil War tax assessments; reproductions from past exhibits; marketing collateral including: bookmarks, flyers, booklets, images & words; paper of various colors, sizes, weights and much more.

 

Location: National Archives at Philadelphia, 900 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA
Entrance: 917 Chestnut, between 9th and 10th Streets

Workshop: April 12, 11:00 am – 3:00 pm

A Photo ID is required to enter Federal Buildings.

 

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