Two Hours In Philly: Art On Wheels, Part Nine

Writing is a mysterious enterprise, to be sure. Story ideas, characters, themes and other writerly considerations often emerge unexpectedly from neighborhoods of the mind that you barely know about. I find that to be enchanting, to tell you the truth, because the unanticipated, if of the right sort, is nothing but a good thing, no?

Along those lines, little has surprised me more, blog-wise, than the birth of Art On Wheels. Intrepid soul that I occasionally am, I said yes to the proposition when one fateful day in 2017 a from-out-of-the-blue idea — to scour my region for attractively-decorated vehicles and to report on them — came to me. It’s an oddball activity alright, but, as it turns out, has suited me just fine, as I’m into art and also into wandering around while looking at things. So, here we are at edition number nine of the series. Who’d have thunk it? Live and f*cking learn!

For the first seven Art On Wheels stories I did 90% of the wandering via my car and 10% via my feet. I located my victims in the suburbs of Philadelphia, for the most part in loading docks, strip malls and large parking areas. But for part eight of the series, and for this ninth story, I changed my approach: I explored strictly on foot, which is my preferred mode of travel, and, ditching the burbs, opted to see what I would see on the congested streets of Philadelphia.

Not being one who enjoys freezing his ass off or getting soaked to the frigging bone, I selected a sunny and mild day, the 11th of April, for my expedition. Off I went that morning, boarding a choo-choo that transported me from my little town to The City Of Brotherly Love, where I spent two hours pounding the pavement in the Old City section and two neighborhoods to its north — Northern Liberties and Olde Kensington. All three areas indeed are pretty old: Some of the buildings went up during the 1700s and loads date from the 1800s. The 20th and 21st centuries are well-represented too, including present-day creations . . . these neighborhoods have been undergoing a new-housing boom.

But I wasn’t in Philly to concentrate on the structures that cover its soil. As focused as a hungry tiger, and moving briskly along the blocks, I scanned my surroundings carefully for wheeled constructions whose bright colors and/or stylish designs couldn’t be dismissed. I found about a dozen, fewer than I was hoping for, but enough to make my day. The portraits of six of them illustrate this page. Almost needless to say, though, more than one of the fine specimens frustrated the photographer inside of me, as they were in motion when I spotted them. “Stop, you bastard!” I nearly yelled at each of those. But they wouldn’t have obeyed even if I had opened my mouth. Alas, by the time I got my phone’s camera in position to try and immortalize them, they were too damn far away. That’s the way it goes in the big city.

I’ve examined carefully not only the photos I took on the 11th, but my opinions about them too. Initially I’d have said that the Sweetwater Brewing Company truck (above) is untoppable. You don’t run across such attention to detail and such a majestic array of colors too often, do you?

Driver’s side of graffiti truck.
Passenger side of graffiti truck.

However, since then I’ve revised my evaluation. Maybe it’s because I’m in a free-wheeling mood. Maybe it’s because I have the late artists Jackson Pollock and Helen Frankenthaler, abstractionists of a high order, on my mind. Whatever the reasons, I now am awarding the gold medal to the truck, painted deliciously with graffiti, that sat on a narrow Olde Kensington street. Its driver’s side is a testament to the power of black on white. The passenger side of the canvas, partially obscured by hand trucks and wood pallets, keeps the black on white motif going, and also explodes with controlled bursts of gold and burgundy. Does this truck belong to one of the construction workers who was hammering away very nearby? Whatever the case, its owner should be proud.

That’s it for now, boys and girls. I’d be glad to hear your thoughts about the works of art on display in this story. Till next time!

146 thoughts on “Two Hours In Philly: Art On Wheels, Part Nine

  1. May 2, 2022 / 7:20 am

    I enjoyed all the photos – I like to see the art you’re looking at as well as the background scenes. The first one I immediately thought – WOW, could that driver parallel park that truck? The second one made me laugh with the signs next to it saying no parking. You captured lots of colorful photos. The last one has a LOT of STOP signs for one area…subliminally perhaps that’s what made you pause to click some photos. 😂🤣😂

    Liked by 4 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger May 2, 2022 / 10:14 am

      Hi. Right, in busy places, such as Philly, there’s a whole lot going on almost everywhere you look. Too much to process, really. Thanks for adding your observations. Have a good week.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Pam Lazos May 2, 2022 / 11:35 pm

        And of course, like most museums in D.C., it’s free. And how did I not know Laurie Anderson was married to Lou Reed??

        Liked by 1 person

    • tobyo May 7, 2022 / 6:46 pm

      Greetings, I’m a new follower of this blog and just had to comment and I hope you don’t mind.

      My husband and I are going to that exhibit at the Hirshhorn. Hubby especially is a Laurie Anderson fan and learned about it somehow so we added it to our agenda. Can’t wait!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Pam Lazos May 8, 2022 / 8:59 am

        Oh my gosh, have fun! Honestly, in all the years I’ve been going to museums I’ve never seen anything like it. How Anderson managed pure performance art without being in the room is anyone’s guess. Prepare to be amazed and moved. It’s everything art should be. 😘

        Liked by 1 person

        • tobyo May 8, 2022 / 11:11 am

          Thanks! We saw her at UCLA over 30 years ago. Loved that show!

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Dave May 3, 2022 / 9:33 am

    The beer truck was the one photo that prompted me to enlarge it, just to see what company would go to all the trouble of blazing advertisement. That’s my gold medal. That’s also a lot of beer.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger May 3, 2022 / 12:57 pm

      Howdy, Dave. Sweetwater brewery is in Georgia. As the photo shows, they distribute to my region. Have you seen their products in your state?


  3. Jacqui Murray May 4, 2022 / 9:50 am

    What a great collection, Neil. I do stop and stare at cars/trucks painted to perfection. How do they keep them that way?

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Kally May 4, 2022 / 11:17 am

    How fun and creative this is! This is so beautiful and it brightens my day. Thank you 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  5. joylennick May 4, 2022 / 12:00 pm

    Got to hand it to you, Neil, you make the most of all your walks….Bully for you! What a colourful array of vehicles you spotted and captured on film ! As, for me, music, art (in all its forms) and literature, light my soul…I love it when fellow ‘travellers’ show a similar interest in all their fascinating forms. Stay curious and you’ll stay young longer…Sadly, my longer walking days are over, but they have left strong memories and, as it’s raining, softly, in Spain today, (!) ‘im indoors and I have been listening to some of our favourite music from way back when, (Forties and fifties…) Naturally, we thought it the best! Cheers.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger May 4, 2022 / 1:56 pm

      Hi. You know how to enjoy life. Not everybody does. Have a great rest of the week. And thanks for adding your thoughts. I always like reading them.


  6. D. Wallace Peach May 8, 2022 / 2:42 pm

    Reblogged this on Myths of the Mirror and commented:
    Ha ha ha. You are very kind to the graffiti artist, Neil. I have to say that it isn’t my favorite truck/van/cart mural. And what fun you have discovered. Once you start noticing these, I’ll bet it’s hard to stop. Just don’t get run over while admiring the art!

    Liked by 1 person

    • D. Wallace Peach May 8, 2022 / 3:20 pm

      Hi Neil. I didn’t mean to reblog and canceled the post. I’m so sorry. I’m trying to get on vacation and wanted to leave the “I’m gone” post as the one that will sit there for a few weeks. Eeek. I’m so sorry. Hope you understand. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger May 8, 2022 / 3:49 pm

      Hi. I have a good time with Art On Wheels. I never know what I’ll find, so the “expeditions” are full of surprises.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Janis @ May 8, 2022 / 6:12 pm

    I’ve seen several art cars around my city. The owners have adorned them with all sorts of found pieces… plastic doll heads, sea shells, pieces of ceramic dishes, etc. They are amazing works of art created by – usually – people who are a bit eccentric (don’t you love that type?). Every time I spot one, I take a bunch of photos and, if I’m lucky, spend some time chatting with the owner.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger May 8, 2022 / 8:09 pm

      Hi there. I haven’t seen cars like that in my area. Not sure if I’ve ever seen them anywhere. You live in an artistic locale!


  8. tanjabrittonwriter May 20, 2022 / 8:07 am

    It’s always fun to see what creative ideas people come up with to decorate their vehicles. And you will never run out of material for future blogs!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Americaoncoffee June 2, 2022 / 3:44 am

    Art is always a great adventure and you are a fantastic docent Neil!👍

    Liked by 1 person

      • Americaoncoffee June 3, 2022 / 12:50 am

        You are welcome. I am enjoying food-truck art here on the west coast. Their artist expressions are a growing, big competition for the attraction to their food business. The night lights are so creative.

        Liked by 2 people

  10. Helene Brennan June 17, 2022 / 6:11 pm

    The Sweetwater Brewing Co. truck is surely a winner. “Beer you have to train for” – 😂. Wonderful eye catching painting! Great post

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 17, 2022 / 8:36 pm

      Hi, Helene. That Sweetwater truck is a knockout. I’ve been looking for their beers in stores in my area, but haven’t seen any lately. I used to see them.

      Liked by 2 people

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