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Love + Grit Storefronts Project in Philadelphia — Visit Philadelphia – visitphilly.com

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Philadelphia is bursting with beauty inside and out. The region is home to one of the country’s top five art museums (Philadelphia Museum of Art); the world’s greatest collection of impressionist, post-impressionist and modern works (Barnes Foundation); an internationally lauded public arts initiative (Mural Arts Philadelphia); and under-the-radar gems.
And this fall, it’s also the city reinvigorating and beautifying its empty storefronts by transforming them into art installations — yep, art installations.
On view through the holidays, the Love + Grit Storefronts Project, an extension of Visit Philadelphia’s popular Love + Grit podcast, features original creations by 12 QBIPOC (queer, Black, Indigenous, people of color) artists that highlight 24 Black- and Brown-owned businesses adversely affected by COVID-19.
The art appears in storefronts in multiple neighborhoods — from Chinatown and Roxborough to Northern Liberties and Northwest Philly. Curated by Conrad Benner (of photo blog Streets Dept.) and curator Ginger Rudolph, the installation features works by Fabiola Laura, Tash Billington and Nazeer Sabree, to name a few. Each artist collaborated with two businesses that served as the inspiration for their custom-made digital artwork.
The project is funded in part by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
Here’s a look at what pieces to see where — and the inspiration behind these gorgeous works:
Artist: Tiff Urquhart, a contemporary street artist known for her colorful wheatpastes. Currently, Tiff is focusing on environmental and social activist art. Originally from Florida, she has hundreds of commission pieces on view all over the country.
Inspiration for the Work: Franny Lou’s Porch (2400 Coral Street), a plant-filled Kensington cafe named in honor of Fanny Lou Hamer and Frances E.W. Harper. Owner Blew Kind serves up coffee and light bites with a side of activism and creative energy.
About the Work: Tiff made mixed-media portraits full of jewel tones of the cafe’s two namesakes — both freedom fighters of their generations.
Where: Frances & Fannie, 806 N. 2nd Street
Artist: Mz. Icar, a collective of interdisciplinary artists — primarily Black women — who work anonymously. Their works — a mix of street and fine art — celebrate women, the Black diaspora and playfulness.
Inspiration for the Work: The Modern Republic (1600 W. Girard Avenue), a mid-century modern furnishings store, owned by Kenya Abdul-Hadi and Steven Brown, selling wares from the 1940s through 1970s.
About the Work: INFINITE is a future-leaning collage/illustration that honors past design, acknowledges Kenya and Steven’s retail journey, and looks to the future. It was inspired by the modern lines of The Modern Republic’s building and its mid-century décor, along with the relationship the furniture’s time period had with West and East African aesthetics.
Where: INFINITE, 244 Race Street
Artist: Jonai Selix-Gibson, a Philadelphia-based multidisciplinary designer who centers much of her artwork on equity for marginalized people.
Inspiration for the Work: Faheem’s Hands of Precision (2100 S. 20th Street), a barbershop that serves as a safe space during good times and turbulent ones. Owner and master barber Faheem Alexander is the go-to guy for cuts, shaves and beard trims for local followers and celebrity clients, including members of The Roots.
About the Work: Jonai shows off Faheem’s views and community impact through this large-scale collage that features photographs of him, his customers and his barbershop.
Where: Precision, 501 South Street
Artist: Tash Billington, a muralist and photographer dedicated to capturing Philadelphians’ beauty. She has worked with the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program, Philadelphia Photo Arts Center and Amber Art and Design. Her aim: to enlighten, inspire and elevate.
Inspiration for the Work: The Sable Collective, an inviting, women-centric shop specializing in holistic body care, new and used books, eclectic housewares, locally made jewelry and clothing, and more.
About the Work: Tash has created a photo collage of items sold at the shop, with each image manipulated in a unique way to represent the Sable’s mission of spreading joy, beauty, strength and resilience.
Where: The Sable Collective (artwork), 501 South Street
Artist: Cindy Lozito, a Latina illustrator and art director based in South Philly by way of New York. Cindy’s work captures the hope and ingenuity inherent in the adversity of making it in America.
Inspiration for the Work: Inked Vintage, where Laura Kao ensures high-quality vintage clothing, especially streetwear from the ’80s and ’90s, gets a second act for today’s vintage lovers to enjoy.
About the Work: Cindy believes that small business creatives are a community’s heartbeat. Her work captures their energy through her boldly colored illustrations.
Where: Loved Threads Anew, 501 South Street
Artist: Derick Jones, an illustrator and sci-fi comic book artist (under the name Skuds McKinley), who still draws his images by hand. Derick loves urban landscapes and capturing the details that define a place.
Inspiration for the Work: South Philly Barbacoa (1140 S. 9th Street), Cristina Martiñez and Benjamin Miller’s lauded Mexican restaurant. When eat-in dining stopped as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Martinez and Miller started offering pay-as-you-go meals.
About the Work: Derick used his signature bold lines and gritty brush strokes to create an ink sketch of Martiñez rising above her Italian Market restaurant.
Where: South Philly Barbacoa (artwork), 501 South Street
Artist: Fabiola Lara, a Chilean-born, Florida-raised illustrator, designer and animator. She moved to Philadelphia during the pandemic and discovered her resilience, creating Giphy stickers for Hispanic Heritage Month and pushing herself to cultivate a new creative style.
Inspiration for the Work: ILLExotics (1704-06 E. Passyunk Avenue), a family-owned shop that provides quality captive-bred exotic pets and healthy houseplants from around the world. The store’s owners focus on sustainability and education to help set every customer up for success.
About the Work: Influenced by ILLExotics floor-to-ceiling terrarium, Fabiola created an illustrated terrarium with three hidden vignettes for viewers to find. All the flowers, plants and animals depicted in her work can be found in the store.
Where: 501 South St, 501 South Street
Artist: Derick Jones, an illustrator and sci-fi comic book artist (under the name Skuds McKinley), who still draws his images by hand. Derick loves urban landscapes and capturing the details that define a place.
Inspiration for the Work: Uncle Bobbie’s Coffee & Books (5445 Germantown Avenue), a space that provides underserved communities with access to books in a place where everyone is welcomed and valued. In addition to good vibes, Marc Lamont Hill’s spot serves up good literature, good food and good coffee.
About the Work: Derick used his signature bold lines and gritty brush strokes to create an ink sketch of Marc watching over the bookstore.
Where: Uncle Bobbie’s Coffee & Books (artwork), 636 South Street
Artist: Manny Hernández, an illustrator, typographer and graphic designer with a larger-than-life sense of humor. This Philly native with Peruvian and Puerto Rican roots enjoys exploring different tactile methods, especially collage. He has created work for National Geographic, The Washington Informer and the Philadelphia Phillies.
Inspiration for the Work: Puyero Venezuelan Flavor (524 S. 4th Street), a small-but-mighty Society Hill restaurant serving up Venezuelan street food that transports diners to the Caribbean.
About the Work: The bold flavors of the cuisine inspired the artist to create a mixed-media print featuring vibrant hues and the word “Latin” prominently displayed.
Where: Latin Flavor, 636 South Street
Artist: Illkya Acosta, a multi-disciplinary graphic designer focused on editorial design, typography and photography. The University of the Arts graduate takes her love for art, music, food and culture and infuses the themes into her work.
Inspiration for the Work: Grant Blvd. (3605 Lancaster Avenue), a sustainable fashion design business founded by Kimberly McGlonn. Kimberly and her team are dedicated to sourcing reclaimed fabrics, manufacturing exclusively in Philadelphia and supporting incarcerated and returning citizens.
About the Work: Illkya assembled a photo collage of the symbols for love, peace and sustainability — the themes that are core to Grant Blvd.’s mission.
Where: LOVE: The Planet, 2207 South Street
Artist: Kathy Chung, a graphic designer, illustrator and storyteller with a passion for uplifting community voices through visual design within the Philadelphia community and beyond. She values the impact of words and emotions which becomes a focal point in her design and illustration process.
Inspiration for the Work: Start with fresh fruit, organic eggs and sugar. Add herbs and spices. Blend in milk, yogurt or cream and what you have is the recipe for a popsicle adventure from West Philadelphia’s Lil Pop Shop (265 S. 44th Street). Co-owner Jeanne Change said her shop, which was founded in 2021, specializes in small batch, artisan ice cream and fruit pies using locally sourced produce.
Where: Lil Pop Shop (artwork), 1001 Vine Street
Artist: Nazeer Sabree, a contemporary African American artist from West Philadelphia. Nazeer’s focus is on painting, digital art and illustration that depicts the beauty and struggles of everyday life and Black culture.
Inspiration for the Work: P’s & Q’s (820 South Street), a boutique launched by brothers Ky and Rick Cao, who combine a commitment to curating the best of street culture menswear, supporting local creatives and celebrating diversity.
About the Work: Nazeer pays tribute to the allure of streetwear and sneakers in his ink sketch celebrating the shop’s uniqueness.
Where: The Crowns of Young Folk, 1001 Vine Street
Artist: Manny Hernández, an illustrator, typographer and graphic designer with a larger-than-life sense of humor. This Philly native with Peruvian and Puerto Rican roots enjoys exploring different tactile methods, especially collage. He has created work for National Geographic, The Washington Informer and the Philadelphia Phillies.
Inspiration for the Work: El Merkury (51 N. 12th Street and 2104 Chestnut Street), which started as Sofia Delon’s dream to bring community together through food. Now a brick-and-mortar spot, Sofia’s restaurant dishes out Central American street food that uses the ingredients of her Mayan ancestors: corn, beans, chilies and chocolate.
About the Work: In this three-dimensional black-and-white abstract, Manny invites viewers into its mysteries just as El Merkury beckons people to experience the beauty of Central America’s foods.
Where: Delicious, Arch Street & North 12th Street
Artist: Jonai Selix-Gibson, a Philadelphia-based multidisciplinary designer who centers much of her artwork on equity for marginalized people.
Inspiration for the Work: Freedom Apothecary (736 N. 2nd Street), a beauty and wellness space dedicated to radical self-care. Founded by Morrisa Jenkins and Bonkosi Horn, the shop offers nontoxic products to help customers learn and heal.
About the Work: Jonai created a large-scale collage of photographs of Morrisa and Bonkosi, their customers and products, and Freedom Apothecary’s space to show off the business and how it impacts the community.
Where: Freedom (artwork), 1500 Market Street
Artist: Mz. Icar, a collective of interdisciplinary artists — primarily Black women — who work anonymously. Their works — a mix of street and fine art — celebrate women, the Black diaspora and playfulness.
Inspiration for the Work: The African American Museum in Philadelphia (701 Arch Street), dedicated to preserving, interpreting and exhibiting the heritage and culture of African Americans.
About the Work: UP AND OVER is a visual narrative created using mixed-media street art and fine art to celebrate movement, shift and flow while helping to amplify all voices.
Where: UP AND OVER, 1500 Market Street
Artist: Nazeer Sabree, a contemporary African American artist from West Philadelphia. Nazeer’s focus is on painting, digital art and illustration that depicts the beauty and struggles of everyday life and Black culture.
Inspiration for the Work: Yowie (716 S. 4th Street), a minimalist home and lifestyle shop along Queen Village’s Fabric Row, where former fashion designer Shannon Maldonado makes sure every independently made piece in her gallery-esque shop feels like the work of art that it is.
About the Work: Nazeer used a combination of gouache and digital to create this collage that highlights articles focused on successful Black-owned businesses, including Yowie.
Where: Centre Square, 1500 Market Street
Artist: Lauren Lopez, an illustrator, designer and self-described history nerd, who combined all of these loves to create Phila Carta. Her company develops themed products for museums and tourists, including totes, cards and stickers with locally themed illustrations and historical backgrounds.
Inspiration for the Work: Philadelphia Diamond Co. (421 Chestnut Street), a Black-owned jewelry shop creating pieces tailored to customers’ personal tastes.
About the Work: Lauren pays homage to the creators of Philadelphia Diamond Company with a portrait sketch of husband-and-wife founders Ken and Nicole Black.
Where: Philadelphia Diamond Company (artwork), 8123 Germantown Avenue
Artist: Cindy Lozito, a Latina illustrator and art director based in South Philly by way of New York. Cindy’s work captures the hope and ingenuity inherent in the adversity of making it in America.
Inspiration for the Work: Queen and Rook Game Café (607 S. 2nd Street), which combines a social space with a vegan restaurant, bar and games. Co-owners Edward Garcia and Jeannie Wong personally selected more than 1,000 games for their award-winning spot.
About the Work: Cindy used the power of bold color and the simplicity of image to create an illustration showcasing the vibrancy of small businesses, which she calls the heart of every neighborhood.
Where: <i>An Afternoon Adventure</i>, 7900 Germantown Avenue
Artist: Tiff Urquhart, a contemporary street artist known for her colorful wheatpastes. Currently, Tiff is focusing on environmental and social activist art. Originally from Florida, she has hundreds of commission pieces on view all over the country.
Inspiration for the Work: Girls Auto Clinic (7425 West Chester Pike, Upper Darby), founded by Patrice Banks after she couldn’t find a female mechanic to fix her car. Located just outside of Philadelphia, the shop provides a woman-friendly space for auto repair. And to spice up a trip to the mechanic, Patrice added a nail salon next door, Clutch Beauty Bar by Girls Auto Clinic.
About the Work: Tiff created a blueprint-like multimedia painting of the inner workings of a car that highlights the technical roots and expertise of Girls Auto Clinic.
Where: Feminengine, 7900 Germantown Avenue
Artist: Lauren Lopez, an illustrator, designer and self-described history nerd, who combined all of these loves to create Phila Carta. Her company develops themed products for museums and tourists, including totes, cards and stickers with locally themed illustrations and historical backgrounds.
Inspiration for the Work: Cuba Libre restaurant (10 S. 2nd Street), transporting customers back to the Old Havana of the mid-1950s with a contemporary interpretation of traditional Cuban food, along with the city’s largest selection of rum.
About the Work: Lauren captures the energy of fine dining and dancing with good friends and surrounds it with hope for Cuban people.
Where: Esperanza/Hope, 8026 Germantown Avenue
Artist: Fabiola Lara, a Chilean-born, Florida-raised illustrator, designer and animator. She moved to Philadelphia during the pandemic and discovered her resilience, creating Giphy stickers for Hispanic Heritage Month and pushing herself to cultivate a new creative style.
Inspiration for the Work: Sabbatical Beauty (Bok Building, 1901 S. 9th St #308), offering small-batch and ethically sourced skin- care products that combine the latest science with the best of Korean-inspired traditions. Founder Adeline Koh Ph.D aims to help her customers manage their skin problems, while also enjoying the feelings that come with rest and relaxation.
About the Work: Fabiola has created a whimsical illustration of three diverse scientists busily developing beauty products using Sabbatical Beauty’s signature products such as bamboo, ginseng and lotus flowers.
Where: Scientists at Work, 7900 Germantown Avenue
Artist: Illkya Acosta, a multi-disciplinary graphic designer focused on editorial design, typography and photography. The University of the Arts graduate takes her love for art, music, food and culture and infuses the themes into her work.
Inspiration for the Work: Black & Mobile, a food-delivery service founded by Philadelphian David Cabello. It enables diners to order food from popular Black-owned restaurants.
About the Work: Illkya used Black and Mobile’s Instagram page as inspiration and illustrated a Philly night scene with photos of hungry foodies.
Where: The City of Foodily Love, 8123 Germantown Avenue
Artist: Tash Billington, a muralist and photographer dedicated to capturing Philadelphians’ beauty. She has worked with the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program, Philadelphia Photo Arts Center and Amber Art and Design. Her aim: to enlighten, inspire and elevate.
Inspiration for the Work: Duafe Holistic Hair Care (3129 N. 22nd Street), where owner Syreeta Scott pioneers natural styles — locs, braids, two-strand twists, hair color and more.
About the Work: Tash has created a mixed-media abstract piece that uses acrylic paint and portraits to show off the different hairstyles offered at the salon.
Where: Duafe Holistic Hair Care (artwork), 8335 Germantown Avenue
Artist: Kathy Chung, a graphic designer, illustrator and storyteller with a passion for uplifting community voices through visual design within the Philadelphia community and beyond. She values the impact of words and emotions which becomes a focal point in her design and illustration process.
Inspiration for the Work: Vault + Vine (3507 Midvale Avenue) is a greenhouse, a flower shop, an event space, a retail shop, a floral designer, and a coffee shop. Located in East Falls, it was launched by Peicha Chang and has been called a “must visit” for all things flowers and plants.
Where: Vault + Vine (artwork), 6117 Ridge Avenue
Book the Visit Philly Overnight Hotel Package for a rewarding getaway in one of 2021’s top destinations, per Condé Nast Traveler, Fodor’s, Frommer’s, Esquire and more.
The exclusive deal — booked more than 175,000 times since 2001 — includes buy-one-get-one-free attraction tickets purchased at the Independence Visitor Center to 33 of Philly’s iconic museums and attractions and free hotel parking (worth up to $100 in Center City Philadelphia).
Find handmade jewelry, products for natural hair, comics and more at these Black-owned businesses…

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