Nothing daunts the poets in Germantown where, for a second consecutive year, one parking spot wasn’t nearly enough space for the Artists Roundtable to celebrate Park(ing) Day.
Friday’s festivities took over the sidewalk and an empty storefront’s grate as a proud crop of local writers read their work aloud despite the mid-afternoon racket of Chelten Avenue traffic.
For this year’s annual celebration of the possibilities of parking spaces — from mini-parks to the art exhibitions and beyond — the Roundtable and Germantown United Community Development Corporation (GUCDC) each claimed spots on the Chelten Avenue business corridor near Greene Street. Philadelphia University shared some space with G-Town Radio a few blocks north of that.
An African drumming circle at the Roundtable’s space drew nearly 30 people in the early afternoon.
There, multimedia work from local artists Tieshka Smith, Susan Mangan, Terisita Stidem, Jill Saull, Gary Reed, Ife Iwoo, Adrienne Morrison and Rocio Cabello decorated every available space.
Roundtable organizer Paula Paul said she appreciated the generosity of artists who trusted their work to the public outdoor setting.
The poetry readers had a respectable audience despite many necessary pauses while SEPTA buses rumbled past.
“The keys in this pocket lead to Germantown,” poet Nzadi Keita read in a literary tribute to the neighborhood’s racially diverse residents that also touched on the region’s economic troubles. “Checks and food stamps cost a day of day of waiting.”
YahNe Ndgo, a writer and Friends of Vernon Park leader, read from her story titled “Five Minutes,” an unflinching look at the experience of abortion “at my request and his insistence.”
“Hopefully, the human element will transcend the subject matter, no matter how you relate to it,” she said, prefacing the work.
Art in the streets
The parking space itself was given over to “Broadway Boogie,” a street installation by iMPeRFeCT Gallery co-owner Renny Molenaar featuring salvaged car mufflers and tailpipes stitched tight into luxurious corduroy, lace and velvet covers.
“I’m a garbage guy,” Molenaar said when NewsWorks caught up with him at his Maplewood Mall gallery.
He said he was squatting in the South Bronx years ago when a big truck pulled up and dumped a load of “couture” fabrics right on the street.
“I thought, I can do something with this,” he said of Broadway Boogie’s inspiration.
On a whim, he began to stitch the fancy fabrics over the rusty car parts.
“It totally became sensual; they became like a body,” he said of how the metal objects were transformed by the cloth.
The one-day park
Two blocks north, Germantown Park(ing) Day organizer Megan Fitzpatrick, GUCDC board members Andy Trackman and Yvonne Haskins and others turned a parking spot into a woodsy garden.
Paved with wood chips, the spot featured potted plants sprouting from hollowed tree-trunk pieces and colorful repurposed wood pallets housing more blooms.
The GUCDC was also promoting the Re-Imagining Maplewood Mall event, scheduled for 1 to 5 p.m. on Oct. 19.
After an online crowd funded a shoestring budget for last June’s block party, photographer and event planner Gary Reed said that GUDCD has secured a $5,000 grant from Urban Mechanics toward the upcoming festival.
GUCDC is seeking arts-and-crafts vendors and live performers to participate in the festivities, which will also feature goodies from local restaurants.
For more information on participating as an artist, vendor or performer, e-mail AmeliaMCarter@yahoo.com. GUCDC leader Garlen Capita is also looking for more volunteers for the event; anyone interested in lending a hand should visit the organization’s website or e-mail email@example.com.
Pathmark reaches out
GUCDC’s Haskins also told passersby about an upcoming meeting regarding the future of the Germantown Pathmark grocery store.
She said she hopes the meeting — scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Oct. 2 in the Flying Horse Center’s Pegasus Room (5534 Pulaski Ave.) — will raise concerns about the appearance of the market’s parking lot and adjacent sidewalks, and the many habitual loiterers who often contribute to an unpleasant, sometimes-threatening environment.
“The fact that he asked for this meeting is exciting,” Haskins said of the store’s new manager, Jeff Kelly.
“We want to get the word out that Pathmark has a new manager who is receptive to community concerns,” she added, urging community members to attend with questions, suggestions and an appreciation for Kelly’s positive gesture.