I was privileged to photograph the Mt. Airy Art Garage’s (MAAG) Funky February event this past weekend which was filled with art, music, and inspiration. Held at a pop-up location across from Weavers Way (while MAAG builds out their permanent space at 11 W. Mt Airy Ave.), this event was all about people making connections. There was a can-do attitude embraced with love and acceptance
that could only be Northwest Philadelphia. Friday night’s Artist’s Cafe was jam packed with a diverse group of local artists, business owners, MAAG members, neighbors and people just coming in off the street. This night was all about introductions and meeting contacts from Germantown, Mt. Airy, and Chestnut Hill; it was a way for artists to find supply shops to help perfect their craft, galleries in which to hang the finished pieces and, in turn, a way for local business to thrive. I met web designers, photographers, illustrators, painters and gallery owners; I walked away with over a dozen new possible employers, collaborators, teachers and friends.
Workshops and free demonstrations on Saturday gave examples of some new crafts and creative techniques one might find at the Mt. Airy Art Garage. Cofounder Arleen Olshan gave a hands on workshop on how to make a leather belt, board member Donna Globus demonstrated how to bind a handmade book. Dumpster Diva artist Ellen Benson showed kids and adults alike how you can make useful items like luggage tags out of sequin waste and nail polish; Nettie Scott taught us how to make colorful jewelry with polymer clay. Maryanne Helferty gave an inspiring workshop on writing poetry. Once the work was over it was time to party!! With food donated from all over the Northwest, everyone mingled, ate, drank and enjoyed each other’s company while listening to the sounds of Richard Drueding and Rob Sanders and the always entertaining Saint Mad!
I think this was a hugely successful weekend for MAAG and it gave people a preview of what MAAG envisions itself to be.
What was so inspiring to me was how many people were simply there because they truly BELIEVE in the Mt. Airy Art Garage. Mike Zaikowski from Profiles Studio called MAAG “a breath of fresh air” for the Northwest and particularly Mt. Airy, a place that is finally embracing its potential with an explosion of art and creative ideas that have rejuvenated Germantown Avenue.
The Mt. Airy Art Garage will be the hub of the Avenue, a place where artists can meet to collaborate, share ideas, teach their craft and exhibit their work. It will be the place where you can say “Hey, let’s meet down at MAAG to talk about that project we are collaborating on,” or “Let’s go see what the artists are working on in their studios at the Mt .Airy Art Garage.” They want to create a friendly, safe and optimistic place for your creativity to flow uninhibited. Their authenticity is heartening, the energy is infectious, their spirit never falters and this neighborhood is starting to take notice.