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. Sheree April 26, 2022 / 12:12 am

    Don’t you just hate it when you miss a photo op or something obscures one. Parked cars in front of splendid door specimens is my biggest bug-bear. I’m visiting Philadelphia in a few weeks and will be sure to look out for these works of art on wheels.

    Liked by 4 people

      • Sheree April 26, 2022 / 4:00 pm

        We saw a programme on the gardens in Philadelphia and decided next time we were in New York we’d pop down to Philadelphia.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Audrey Driscoll April 26, 2022 / 12:59 am

    A couple of things strike me about these photos:
    The ethnic diversity. European-American sausages, halal food, and Ambrogi foods. The American melting pot!
    And some of these seemed to be violating some sort of parking rule. I guess that happens in old downtowns.
    Not sure I share your liking of the graffiti truck. For me, it’s either the beer truck or the sausage truck.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger April 26, 2022 / 11:45 am

      Morning, Audrey. I guess that parking rules aren’t enforced for trucks that are making deliveries, as long as the trucks don’t hang around too long.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. gabychops April 26, 2022 / 1:41 am

    I think that “art on wheels” is a brilliant idea, it brakes urban monotony!

    Joanna

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger April 26, 2022 / 11:48 am

      Greetings. I’ve had fun with the Art On Wheels series. Plus, it gets me out of the house!

      Like

  4. shoreacres April 26, 2022 / 6:26 am

    Houston has an annual art car parade which is quite an attraction: the creativity and fun can’t be beat. On the other hand, the ‘accidental art’ of these vehicles pleases me even more. Of course it’s not purely accidental, since some real thought (or at least intention) went into it all, but the serendipitous nature of encounters with decorated vehicles is great fun. As you say, the unanticipated is a good thing.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. joylennick April 26, 2022 / 6:26 am

    What I like about your posts, Neil, is the air of expectation and optimism you wear when you commence your hikes or drives. Naturally, they can’t all work out to your complete satisfaction…what does?! But I do think attitude is all important, and you usually manage to snap more than a fair share of your day’s ‘quarry.’ The vehicles you featured certainly coloured the local communities and I Ioved the post you did on doors and doorways. Keep up the good work! Cheers. x

    Liked by 4 people

  6. swabby429 April 26, 2022 / 7:00 am

    My brother would have appreciated all of these examples. He used to work for a screen printing company that did sign work on trucks and billboards.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Dan Antion April 26, 2022 / 8:51 am

      I think photographers should be able to stop traffic, make cars move out of the way, make people take down signs and move trash bins. You managed to capture some beauties.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Anonymous April 26, 2022 / 7:35 am

    Book potential for this project.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Laurie Graves April 26, 2022 / 7:35 am

    My first choice is the Sweetwater truck. The colors and the design just grabbed me. But the graffiti truck is second. It’s just so darned weird. I’ve never seen a truck like that. Maybe someday! Anyway, thanks for sharing. Let’s hear it for the offbeat and the unexpected.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger April 26, 2022 / 12:04 pm

      Hi. You know, there’s a truck plastered with graffiti in a huge parking lot half a mile from my house. It’s been there for months and months. I suppose it’s an abandoned vehicle, but the owner of the lot (the lot is for a supermarket) hasn’t done anything about it. I guess it’s on permanent display!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. JOYCE HAMILTON April 26, 2022 / 7:47 am

    You got a great collection of truck art! Keep up the good work. I always enjoy your photography!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger April 26, 2022 / 12:08 pm

      Hi, Vincent. Thanks for stopping by. I don’t have the patience to create a book, but thanks for suggesting the idea.

      Like

  10. Ally Bean April 26, 2022 / 8:29 am

    These look like fun vehicles to see in person. Your photos do them justice. I like The Clay Studio van the best. Stylish, not cluttered, and definitely clear about what their business is.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Paddy Tobin April 26, 2022 / 8:37 am

    I think the Babenko and Ambrogi businesses win the day for clarity of message coupled with good design. The beer truck is very eye-catching but it takes an effort to see what it’s all about. “Claymobile” is a clever title though the illustration is poor. Most of all, as Audrey said above, I am struck by the ethnic diversity.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger April 26, 2022 / 12:15 pm

      Hey, Paddy. People-wise, Philadelphia is a very diverse city. The commercial trucks/vans/etc. in or passing through the city reflect that, which is something I hadn’t thought about before.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Helen Devries April 26, 2022 / 9:22 am

    I wish to goodness businesses here would do something like this for their trucks…..fed up to the back teeth with pictures of coca cola bottles, trays of eggs…….just about the most exciting one is the chicken firm whose truck features a chicken in a baseball cap announcing that it has not been tenderised…

    Liked by 3 people

  13. Deb April 26, 2022 / 9:23 am

    Bright green food truck/cart/trailer thing wins hands down!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger April 26, 2022 / 1:56 pm

      It’s definitely eye-catching. I hope the owner does a decent business. I think I saw only one customer there as I walked by.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Robert Parker April 26, 2022 / 10:18 am

    I’m drawn to the food-related contestants, of course – – the fruit and veggie truck, although I’d change their slogan to “Personally Picked & Packed With Punctilious Precision,” and the food cart, because nothing says gyros and falafel like a screaming eagle and liberty bell. I like your Art on Wheels expeditions, very fun!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger April 26, 2022 / 1:57 pm

      “nothing says gyros and falafel like a screaming eagle and liberty bell.” — Truer words never have been written!

      Liked by 1 person

  15. sloppy buddhist April 26, 2022 / 11:11 am

    I enjoy your Art On Wheels stories Neil…wonderful project…here are also some interesting food trucks…I’ve not visited them often…now I’m more curious ~ sending you joy hedy💃🏼

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Donna Cameron April 26, 2022 / 11:33 am

    Since I started seeing these posts on your blog, I’ve become more aware of the Art on Wheels all around me. It really adds to the charm and appeal of our streets and neighborhoods. Thanks, Neil.

    Liked by 3 people

  17. talebender April 26, 2022 / 12:10 pm

    My wife is a potter, so I have to go with the Claymobile. But I also liked the little green food trailer for its impertinence.
    Another nice walk!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger April 26, 2022 / 2:09 pm

      Hi. It was a good walk. I never get tired of wandering around Philadelphia. I’ve been doing that for decades.

      Like

  18. Paula B April 26, 2022 / 1:02 pm

    Not only is the Sweetwater truck gloriously colorful, but so are its painted slogans. “Year of the crayon,” for example. Or my favorite: “Smoother than a Bill Clinton apology.” Hahaha!!

    Liked by 3 people

  19. boblorentson April 26, 2022 / 1:03 pm

    Love this idea and the pics. Also that slogan on the beer truck- The beer you’ve been in training for. That’s a beer I need to have.

    Liked by 3 people

  20. Rosaliene Bacchus April 26, 2022 / 2:19 pm

    Some good ones, Neil, but I hear the bell loud and clear of the Halal Food truck. Got to try some of their tasty food. After shadowing you for two hours, I now have a killer appetite 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  21. annieasksyou April 26, 2022 / 2:41 pm

    I am having fun imagining the look on the mysterious graffiti artists’ face if s/he had the pleasure of reading your description of the “controlled bursts of gold and crimson.”

    Liked by 3 people

  22. annieasksyou April 26, 2022 / 2:44 pm

    Didn’t get a chance to correct my misplaced apostrophe, but perhaps more than one creator…

    Liked by 1 person

  23. sniderjerry April 26, 2022 / 3:28 pm

    Hey there Neil, You’ve got the art for art. Good essay. The most important thing is the fun you have and the fun we get from your report. As Paul Harvey said long ago, “Good Day” Jerry

    Liked by 3 people

  24. JT Twissel April 26, 2022 / 4:25 pm

    Walking is my preferred method of travel also. I was struck by the psychedelic brewing company truck – what exactly is in their beer?

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger April 26, 2022 / 5:06 pm

      I think that for the most part they use standard ingredients (grains, hops, yeasts, etc.). But they get experimental with a few of their beers.

      Like

  25. Ann Coleman April 26, 2022 / 5:59 pm

    I like the beer truck best, although the graffiti truck is interesting too! And good job getting photos of art objects that don’t cooperate by sitting still….

    Liked by 3 people

  26. alhenry April 26, 2022 / 6:07 pm

    Re: “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.” Philly must be vastly different from NYC, where, due to congestion, you would have had HOURS to photo a traveling truck LOL

    As for favorites, I’m leaning tward the “Claymobile.” I mean, does it have a mini-kiln inside? What is its purpose? Does it offer entertainment at children’s birthday parties? Enquiring minds want to know.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger April 26, 2022 / 8:04 pm

      You ask very good questions about the Claymobile. Alas, I am answer-less. As for The Big Apple, it can be incredibly congested. Philly can be too, but not as extensively as NYC.

      Liked by 1 person

  27. June’s Travels April 26, 2022 / 10:20 pm

    Beautiful collection of art on wheels! The art work make the streets look great too. Thank you for your post👏

    Liked by 3 people

  28. eden baylee April 26, 2022 / 10:25 pm

    Hi Neil, so much art around, and you have a good eye for finding them on wheels. I liked the Sweetwater truck. It’s the most colourful in that hallucinogenic way and not an obvious ad for beer. 😀

    Liked by 3 people

  29. Fran Johns April 27, 2022 / 12:18 am

    Decision-making too difficult. But if you’re having trouble with moving targets you might want to consider bringing this project to San Francisco. Excellent possibilities on every other block, double-parked, uphill and down.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger April 27, 2022 / 7:39 am

      Morning, Fran. I hope I get to San Francisco again one of these days. Great city. I like the entire Bay Area.

      Like

  30. Platypus Man April 27, 2022 / 6:15 am

    Great stuff. I couldn’t help laughing at “smoother than a Bill Clinton apology” on the Sweetwater Brewing Company truck. What a sales pitch – I’d buy some for sure, based on an endorsement like that 🙂.

    Liked by 4 people

  31. tylerus April 27, 2022 / 6:22 am

    Today, I am going to walk with my eyes open and focused. Your [as always great] post makes me realize how little I actually see. Sure, I look, but I truly don’t “see” (my gaze tends to be on the pavement before me, ensuring I don’t stumble or tumble).

    Liked by 4 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger April 27, 2022 / 9:23 am

      Hi, Tyler. I usually walk three or four times each week. I do it for health reasons. On most of those walks I’m not paying a whole lot of attention to my surroundings — instead, I’m lost in my thoughts, which aren’t worth writing about!

      Like

  32. greenpete58 April 27, 2022 / 11:43 am

    That lime-green trolley in the second photo is cute as a button. And the eagle and Liberty Bell are a nice touch!

    Liked by 4 people

  33. Alyson April 27, 2022 / 12:14 pm

    Easy to go for the brightly coloured ones but on this occasion I think I’m going to give my vote to the more muted graffiti truck. An unexpected sight indeed.

    Liked by 4 people

  34. andrewcferguson April 27, 2022 / 5:22 pm

    Great stuff, Neil. Like all great ideas I’ve been very tempted to ‘borrow’ your Art on Wheels concept for my own blog, but I don’t think the Scottish commerical sector are as imaginative as Stateside. Or maybe I don’t just have as good an eye for a cracking photo. That’s very possible.

    Liked by 4 people

  35. Michael Graeme April 28, 2022 / 4:45 am

    I’d say what the world need right now is more oddball activity of this sort, Neil. Your efforts are not unappreciated. All the best.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger April 28, 2022 / 8:52 am

      Hi, and thank you. If I remain above ground, then the Art On Wheels series will continue!

      Like

  36. Americaoncoffee April 28, 2022 / 3:21 pm

    I love art on wheels! In today’s spheres of modern technology, every thing we do are expression of art. I wonder if art like hieroglyphs , is the real human language… Thanks for your colorful, spontaneous choiced shares, and have a great rest of the week. 🍮🍮👍👍

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger April 28, 2022 / 4:36 pm

      Many thanks for adding your colorful thoughts. You’ve made good points and raised interesting questions.

      Like

    • Americaoncoffee April 30, 2022 / 2:40 am

      You are welcome Neil. Please excuse my typos. Correction: “are expressions of art”. Some times all words result in crazy, meaningless thoughts. Best regards!

      Liked by 1 person

  37. adguru101 April 30, 2022 / 10:36 am

    Great pix! As others have said, I wish more vehicles showed similar creativity. Keep on truckin’, Neil!

    Liked by 5 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger April 30, 2022 / 12:54 pm

      Hi. Thanks for your input. Right, it would be very cool if there were a lot more beautifully-decorated vehicles around.

      Like

  38. Jeff the Chef April 30, 2022 / 1:52 pm

    I like that green food truck, although I don’t think that shade of green is food-friendly.

    Liked by 4 people

  39. thelongview May 1, 2022 / 8:22 am

    Very eye-catching, especially the Sweetwater truck! And yes, it’s so infuriating to have your view of something interesting blocked by some monster that has no right to be there 😃

    Liked by 5 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger May 1, 2022 / 12:13 pm

      Greetings. Among the readers who posted comments, Sweetwater, I think, got the most votes. It is a beauty.

      Like

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