A New Trail for Germantown Avenue

“New Trails” is the name of Brookes Britcher’s new exhibit in Chestnut Hill. It’s a collaborative effort that features the work of about 25 local and East Coast-based artists, with paintings, prints and three-dimensional installations in empty storefronts along the commercial corridor of Germantown Avenue and in the Wissahickon Trail.

Britcher, 29, secured the vacant storefronts with permission from their owner, Bowman Properties.

“The project itself exists in such a dynamic area. It’s not a gallery, it’s several spaces,” says Britcher, of Grey’s Ferry. “It’s an investment about learning about the area.”

The Wissahickon Trail portion of the exhibit will be installed this weekend, and features nine art displays from slightly north of Bells Mill road and stretching down to south of the Rex Avenue Bridge, Britcher says. The main storefront installations along Germantown Avenue are between Evergreen and Highland (next to Starbucks), the intersection of Abington and Germantown Avenue, the intersection of Germantown Avenue and Willow Grove, and at Germantown Avenue and Benezet.Additionally, a central exhibit at 8517 Germantown Avenue, next to Starbucks, will be open for viewing from 10-4 on weekends beginning on August 27 and 28 and running until October 11. It will feature the combined art from 15 New Trails contributors. “We’re interested in presenting in a progressive or contemporary way the individuals artists’ interpretation of the commercial corridor of Germantown Avenue and the natural corridor of the Wissahickon valley,” says Bryan Rice, 26, of East Falls, who curated the exhibit with Britcher. “We expect to bring a younger and fresher eyes to that sentiment.”

Britcher repurposes objects normally found at yard sales and used electronics stores into sculptures, such as plastic pipes, extension cords and light bulbs.

It’s a style that he says grew from his background in photography.

“From a financial standpoint, the cost of producing photographic work at exhibition quality at the current marketplace of photography is really high,” says Britcher. Instead, he turned to whatever objects he could find. “I have this comfort level now with working with whatever I get to execute my ideas. Sometimes they’re vey simple.”

Colin Keefe, whose art is featured in “New Trails” and who runs the Mount Airy Contemporary Artists Space with his wife, says the exhibit is his first collaborative effort showcasing art stretched across several locations. In a way, the theme of New Trails may be fitting for his art work, which involves detailed prints of cities.

“A lot of time when you look at art in store fronts, it feels like they’re just filling up storefronts with stuff and there’s not really a sense of place with it,” says O’Keefe. “I think Brookes has done this sort of thing [with] a sort of progression of what it means to do something on a corridor and what it means to engage an audience in a meaningful way.”

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