Sculpture will serve as gateway to new plaza

    Philadelphia will soon be the proud host of a gigantic paintbrush on Broad Street.

    Artist's model of the planned installation.
    Artist's model of the planned installation.
    Philadelphia will soon be the proud host of a gigantic paintbrush on Broad Street.

    The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts has commissioned the same artists who designed the giant clothespin on Market Street to create a 53-foot sculpture of an artist’s brush; it will be a gateway for a new public plaza.

    Directly across the street from the new Convention Center entrance, the paintbrush will be rooted to a spot in the middle of Cherry Street, and leans over Broad Street.

    The artist Claes Oldenburg says the tilting brush will peek out from between the buildings and beckon people in. It is the centerpiece of a new plaza that will take the place of Cherry Street for one block, between Broad and Carlisle Streets.

    Oldenburg says the brush represents the classic, even old-fashioned, art taught at the academy.

    Oldenburg:
    This is a place people use a paint brush, still. And they use it a lot. Sort of traditional painting. That was the point I was trying to make.

    Oldenburg, who also makes installation and performance art, says the paintbrush works for that space because it is slender, allowing it to fit in the narrow area between the buildings. The head of the brush will be loaded with paint, its color is to be determined. It is expected to be completed when the plaza opens in the spring of 2011.

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