Philadelphia IS the Filene’s Basement of Art – Don’t Hate

1) Art doesn’t have to be expensive – especially in Philly. With at least 5 major Art institutions to its name and a burgeoning underground art scene, Philly is a great place to start your collection.

  • Accessibility to these resources has an incredibly low barrier to entry. Organizations like The Center for Emerging Visual Artists and InLiquid have made it their mission to make art approachable by hosting outreach events and supporting the artistic community. The Art Blog does an excellent job of reporting on everything from major gallery exhibitions to artist collectives, it’s a great place to stay informed and get educated.

2) Art doesn’t have to be scary – especially if you know what to look for. A few insider tips can turn the daunting task of deciphering the art world into an educational adventure for what best fits your style and your budget:

  • The easiest, cheapest way to go is Prints. Lithographs, Photographs, Screenprints- art doesn’t have to be a one-of-a-kind to rock your wall. Prints are run in editions, the fewer produced, the higher the cost, and vice versa. The supply and demand model can work in your favor; get ’em while they’re hot to get a good deal. Also – skip the frame, often artists sell unframed prints at a much lower price, because framing is labor and resources intensive.
  • Pro Tip: For cheap frames Ikea can’t be beat for price, but they are limited in styles & sizes. If you’re looking for a custom framing job to make your new pride & joy really shine, Trinity Framing in Society Hill can get you where your art needs to go. They’re independent, and what’s more they’re true philly locals – skaters who can be found in Tattooed Mom’s at the end of the day. I once tipped them with a 6-pack of PBR pounders – proving that they also have a great sense of humor. More importantly – they have a great passion for what they do – and they do it exceptionally well – they’ll even hang it for you.
  • If you still can’t reason spending any kind of dough for something that just sits on your wall – go with functional art. Crafting is alive and well here in Philadelphia. From Jewlery to fabrics to handmade bottle openers and other housewares, if a person lovingly created it for others to enjoy – it’s art. What’s more – it could be your art.
  • If on the other hand, you are looking for a masterpiece to grace your grand foyer, Studio clearance sales can be a great way to go – I once got an amazing piece from a painter I absolutely adore for a killer deal, because he was looking to make room in his studio, and now I can’t imagine my life without it.
  • Skip Old City and First Friday all together and go directly to the artists themselves, they’re good people. Beautiful things are bursting out of the old warehouses and empty lots North of Girard. Thanks to Crane Arts and surrounding studios, 2nd Thursday is gaining a lot of traction in the art world as a younger, hipper version of the open gallery night tradition.

3) Art doesn’t have to be defined by experts – don’t buy art cause it’s expensive, don’t buy it cause someone else told you to, buy art that you like and BAM you’ll have a kick ass collection that you’ll love on a personal level, which is really the whole point.

  • Maybe the art you love is the art you make. There are plenty of workshops and classes through out the city to explore your inner painter, printmaker or ceramists. Check out Fleisher or University City Arts Leauge, or one of those 5 world renowned institutions that are practically in your back yard (both UArts & Tyler have Saturday Classes).  Even if you don’t consider yourself artistic, you might be surprised, or even better, you might have fun! As long as you like it – who cares what anyone else thinks.
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1 comment so far

  1. […] a lot about Art, especially how to make it a part of your life (going so far as to call it the Filene’s Basement of Art). This weekend’s Art for the Cash Poor June 13th & 14th is an excellent example of all of […]


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