RUST3…Advancing The Conversation On Sustainability, Art, And Urban Renewal

If nature was allowed to reclaim the land in the city, it would undoubtedly re-use humanity’s refuse and incorporate it into its new life. This sentiment is at the heart of RUST3. Though this multidimensional project, artists Andy Walker and Andy Heisey illustrate how materials found in Philadelphia can be recycled into a new structure that builds on the once-contaminated urban soil.

RUST is a wigwam-like structure that was first created out of recycled materials with the help of artists and local residents on the vacant lot at 313 S. Broad Street in Philadelphia in August 2012. A month later, the structure was recycled in a second version of RUST just across the street  and displayed the bones (wooden arches, living green roof, clay tiles with iron oxide prints of abandoned houses, and windows made from glass bottles) and skin (refuse mixed with slag cement creating collages) of the structure itself. The final version of this project, RUST3, has just been created at the Mt. Airy Art Garage at 11 West Mt. Airy Ave. This gallery exhibition also displays artists who created new work inside this studio, including Gary Reed; a new version of RUST, complete with a video of the entire process of the project; and a newly created special entrance and model. The opening for this installation occurs this Saturday, Nov. 10 from 6-8 pm.

The very next morning on Sunday, November 11th at 10 am, Andy Heisey and Andy Walker will host a workshop which will discuss the various ways one can recycle different types of materials in their artwork. From old bottles to CDS, from collages to cement, the Andy’s will guide you through a hands-on tutorial that is both fun and environmentally-friendly. Suggested donation is $10.

Following the morning workshop, a citywide panel entitled “Artists Taking Back Philadelphia – Brick by Brick” will take place at 2 pm. This panel will feature both Walker and Heisey; Gary Steuer, the Chief Cultural Officer for the City of Philadelphia; as well as Shari Hersh and Dre Urhahn from Philly Painting (a project of the MuralArts Program). In this panel, topics of urban renewal as well as how artists have and can continue to assist in the changes needed to preserve our collective future will be addressed. Admission is $10.

All these events combine to enhance the importance of community involvement in the ever-evolving process of reclaiming our city and creating beauty out of refuse. RUST3 opens on Saturday, November 10th at 6pm and continues until Friday, December 7. Gallery hours are: Thursday-Saturday, Noon till 6pm and Sunday, Noon till 5pm. For further information, call 215.242.5074 or visit

6 Built..5 Rented!… 1 left!

We couldn’t believe it either. Not a few weeks after the “Artist in Residence”  studios were built, 5 artists have already signed their leases. Our talented tenants? Well…a master quilter, a master leathercrafter and painter, a Dumpster Diva,  a letterpress studio staffed by 2 book artists, and another painter. That means there is 1 studio left!

We’re renting to MAAG members only. Hey what better reason to join? 6 studios built, 1 left (#6)! And if 2 members want to share that studio (and it’s big enough!), depending on your discipline, it could happen. Get your application HERE!

Ready, Set, Rent!

It’s true! We’re building out the artists’ studios at the Mt. Airy Art Garage. And they’ll be ready for occupancy Nov. 1! We’re renting to MAAG members only. Hey what better reason to join? 6 studios built, 4 left! Get your application HERE!

Renewed Urban Studio Tent (RUST)…Innovative Design That Revitalizes Neighborhoods

If artists are to be relevant in today’s environmentally challenged world they have to acknowledge the world of refuse and abandonment in our community. Andy Walker and Andy Heisey have created a structure entitled Renewed Urban Studio Tent (RUST), which was built on the vacant lot (313 S. Broad Street) in Philadelphia. It was built from recycled materials such as old wood, glass bottles and much of the refuse that you find all around you. This was an actual artist studio which artists used to inspire them and create lively art. The purpose of this structure is to bring notice to the problems of urban renewal, pollution and abandoned housing.

Read on to hear from MAAG member artist, Andy Walker.

Hi Friends,

We hope you can attend our urban building project on the 313 S. Broad Street, right across from the Kimmel Center. This is a project that we are doing in association with the University of the Arts.

We are about to build our unique structure entitled the Renewed Urban Studio Tent (RUST). It will be created from recycled materials such as old wood and glass bottles. This structure will be an actual artist studio. There will be a show of work done in this structure at the Mt. Airy Art Garage in November. We are proud to announce the building dates, August 1-3rd, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm and opening date of RUST, Friday, August 3rd, 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm. We hope you bring small recyclables to the building dates and help us form the skin of the structure by placing the objects in slag cement.  On Friday, August 3rd at our opening please join us for food and drink as we celebrate our hard work.

This structure will help create awareness of such urban issues as pollution and abandoned houses. In November there will be a curated show of work done inside of RUST at The Mt. Airy Art Garage. This structure is to be recycled in this show at MAAG. The opening will be Saturday, November 10, 6 to 8pm. There will be a panel discussion on Sunday, November 11, 3 to 5pm on the topics of urban renewal, the role of artists in dealing with contemporary problems and how artists have already made positive changes in our world. We hope this discussion help bring out more artists interested in building our world and assisting in the changes that will be needed for the future.

On that same Sunday, November 11, we will be having a workshop, which will discuss the different ways you can recycle all different types of materials in your artwork. You can also use some of these strategies in decorating your home. We will be demonstrating how to reuse wood, old bottles and many other materials.  We also be discussing how to use photos and transfer them onto clay tiles. We hope you will join us for the workshop and later stay for the panel discussion.


Andy Walker & Andy Heisey

Quilters Club Launches at The Mt. Airy Art Garage

By Janet Meyers

I love quilts – I love to look at them, and I love to create them. But sometimes my sewing machine sits idle for weeks at a time. The demands of life can be so great that I have trouble finding the time or energy to be creative. I tried to find a local community of quilters for camaraderie and support but had limited success. Then I found the inspiration I needed at the Mt. Airy Art Garage (MAAG).

During Mt. Airy’s “Final-ly Friday,” MAAG hosted “Quiltapalooza” led by Sarah Bond, local quilter extraordinaire. Sarah taught us how to make “string quilts” using fabric scraps. I fell in love with this quick and easy technique which produces colorful quilt squares without the preplanning involved in a traditional quilt. What fun! I also found the community I was looking for. Many of the other quilters were also interested in meeting on a regular basis to share ideas and inspire each other. Thus the MAAG Quilt Club was born.

The first meeting of MAAG Quilt Club will be Saturday, June 30th from noon to 1:30. After that, our regular meeting time will be the 4th Saturday of each month. The group is free and open to all quilters – both members and nonmembers of MAAG.  Donations are always welcome. If you know other quilters who would be interested in joining us, please invite them.

We will have a “show and tell” at our 1st meeting (bring a quilt or one in progress) and will make plans for future meetings.  Also bring a snack to share.  For more information or to RSVP, contact Janet at 215-435-5977 or

MAAG Co-Founders Honored as DVLF “Wonder Women”

In celebration of Women’s History Month, the Delaware Valley Legacy Fund (DVLF) is recognizing some fierce female leaders in the Philadelphia LGBTQ community. To no surprise, on March 7th, MAAG Co-Founders Linda Slodki and Arleen Olshan were deemed as DVLF “Wonder Women.”

“Wonder Women” Screenshot from the DVLF Website

Zoe Strauss give Co-Founders a shout out

Still beaming with pride from their last public honor in WHYY’s Coming of Age this past June, Linda and Arleen had this to say, on MAAG’s Facebook site, in response to their recognition:

We are so proud and honored to have been chosen as Wonder Women and featured on today’s DVLF website. We are only as strong as the entire community that supports us. Many thanks again to everyone.

If Linda and Arleen are, indeed, only as strong as the community which supports them, then the Northwest has fostered the growth and cultivation of two truly inspirational individuals. Even photographer Zoe Strauss can’t resist taking time out of her busy schedule and current exhibition at the Philadelphia Art Museum to give them props!

Linda and Arleen, I think I speak for all of us when I say: May your dreams continue to evolve with the expansion of the Art Garage!

Breakfast Club This Thursday Feb. 16…It Just Keeps Getting Better

Breakfast Club Coordinator, Paula Mandel, fills you in:

Well, we had another stimulating Artists’ Breakfast! We had two local artists present their stories as well as some of their work. The first was Steve Segal, an editor, wordsmith, visual art director and designer of books in addition to being a writer. He combines form and function believing that “language is the art.” Steve currently works primarily with small book publishers of fantasy and fiction although previously he has run magazines. In his job at Quirk books, he edits books, designs book covers and serves as curator as he matches creators with projects (often using the online social gallery communities such as “”).

Steve shared several books that he had developed with the group. The absolute show-stopper was a stunning and creative boxed accordion book entitled “The Thorn and the Blossom” by Theodora Goss. It contains two stories utilizing the same characters. When read in one direction it conveys a love story;  the other, a murder mystery. This is modeled after one-of-a-kind books created by artists. It had just been published the day before and made a huge impression on the group.

Discussions about the costs of creating books and projects ensued along with marketing ideas. Many questions followed and ideas were percolating.

An equally impressive artist, Arleen Olshan ( has her studio set up in the Mt. Airy Art Garage. She proceeded to describe her training at Fleisher, PAFA, and PCA and multiple paths she had travelled in the art world which led her to creating custom hand-sewn hand-dyed leatherwork, utilizing gemstones and glass as decorative inclusions. It all began years ago when she needed a pair of sandals! Having recently retired from her day job as a drug and alcohol counselor with women and children in recovery, she set about working on her life-long dream to establish MAAG, a community-based center for the visual and performing arts. Arleen shared some of her accomplished representational portraits with the group and talked about utilizing our local shop PROFILES (, in Chestnut Hill to create huge digital scans of her work.

As necessary tools and suppliers become scarce for Arleen’s craft, she mentioned a need to replace a tool used for punching holes in the leather. Someone mentioned that there is a shop in or around Northern Liberties which utilizes digital drawings to create 3D tools from a hard plastic.

Our next MAAG Breakfast Club meeting will be as always, the third Thursday of the month 9-10:30 am. February’s date is this Thursday, February 16. See you then!



Countdown to the Holidays at the Mt. Airy Art Garage

Doris Grey

We’re getting ready for the Holidays in a BIG kind of way! And that means welcoming you with open arms to come in out of the cold and celebrate with us. During the first three Saturdays and Sundays in December starting Dec. 3 and ending Dec. 18, from 10am to 5pm at 11 W. Mt. Airy Avenue, Mt. Airy Art Garage (MAAG) will open its doors and offer you a diverse selection of fine art and handcrafts created by artists from Germantown, Mt. Airy, and Chestnut Hill.

Our Holiday Art Market Extravaganza is busting loose! Over 30 local Northwest visual artists and handcrafters have created a variety of unique, one-of-a kind gifts. Here’s just a small sampling of what you’ll find—fine art, handmade leather goods, photography, crocheted and original children’s clothing, clay tile and pottery, jewelry, stained glass art, woodworking, sculpture, you name it.  And our gallery will be stocked to the brim with work from our Mt. Airy Art Garage artists, 110 members and growing. Since we’ll be rotating artwork in the gallery, and different artists will join us each weekend, you’ll have new treasures to choose from every weekend.

Did we mention food and music? Yes, all local musicians from the Northwest. You just might even find your neighbor or plumber playing. Dance the afternoons away with Saint Mad, Not My Dogg, Chana Rothman, Art Miron, Tim Laborie, Richard Redding, David Cantor, and all the friends they bring to play with them! Music and art—you can’t find a better combo. Admission is free and open to the entire family. What a way to spend the holidays!

So, stop by 11 West Mt. Airy Avenue to browse the unique display of original artwork and enjoy the holiday festivities. We’ve decorated just for you! After all, supporting local artists (in the community you already love) surely beats going to the mall.

For more information, call 215.242.5074 or visit

Arleen Olshan

Kevin Bennett




It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year at MAAG…

Over the last few weeks, we’ve been busy at the Mt. Airy Art Garage. Really busy. But, to us, the chaos of productivity means three things: Community, Connections, and Art.  Between our grand opening, hosting POST (Philadelphia Open Studio Tours), and prepping for our first exhibit, “Recapturing Memories” by Meei Ling Ng, we haven’t had much time to anticipate the holiday rush. 

Plus, we’ve been sketching with plenty of students (from Chestnut Hill Academy/Springside School, Green Tree School, First United Methodist Church of Germantown, to name just a few) as they tour Ng’s 3-D installation with wide-eyes and open minds. To say the least, we’ve had our hands happily full!

As the holidays approach, though, we’re happy to announce our Holiday Art Market Extravaganza. Surely, over the next few weeks, you’ll be searching for that unique, personalized gift created by local artists to give to that special someone – and what better place to find it than at the Mt. Airy Art Garage. During the first three Saturdays and Sundays in December, from 10am to 5pm, MAAG will open its doors and offer the community a diverse selection of fine arts and handcrafts created by artists from Germantown, Mt. Airy and Chestnut Hill.

So, stop by 11 West Mt. Airy Avenue to browse the unique display of original artwork and enjoy the holiday festivities. After all, supporting local artists (in the community you already love) surely beats going to the mall.

“Recapturing Memories” : a review by guest blogger Diana Tedone

We just opened our new installation by Meei Ling Ng. See it through the eyes of one of our artist  members… and special thanks, as always, to Alix Passage, photographer.

The exhibit starts before I reach the art gallery; I am intrigued by PVC tape shaped into bird footprints and “chick chick chick” written delicately with sidewalk chalk. When I arrive I am immediately welcomed by the co-founders of Mt Airy Art Garage (MAAG), Linda Slodki and Arleen Olshan, and then ushered in by exhibitor Meei-Ling Ng.  I am given a guided tour through the exhibit, and then left to wander around the space on my own, lost in my own thoughts.

Ng explains to me that she draws her inspiration from two sources: her childhood in rural Singapore and a park in Southwest Philadelphia that she calls “the jewel of the city.”  Being in the latter space felt like home to her because she was again surrounded by nature, the same earthy spaces that she loves and remembers from her childhood.  She brings her reminiscences into the gallery and molds scenes of nature to conform to the existing space in a way that is at the same time artificial and organic.  Paintings hang from the ceiling in a way that is ethereal, and yet the bold lines within many of the canvasses demand the viewer’s attention.  Other lines are fine, and the shading more subtle: the latter paintings convey a sense of gestalt.

The gestalt echoes the sense the artist is trying to convey with the exhibit itself, that the arrangement in the gallery is more than the sum of its natural and artificial parts.  There is something eerie and sensitive, delicate and whimsical about the space as a whole.  I am straddling several realties at once: past and present, natural and manmade; I am in the gallery and am also somewhere else at the same time.   I am stuck in between realities and don’t know why.  My mind hurtles backward to scenes of my own childhood in the woods, and jars me forward to the present, where I am standing in the middle of the room.

The feeling is intentional.  When I tell Ng what I am experiencing, she reassures me that my experience means that I am grasping what she intends.  At that time I am standing in the center of the room, directly in front of an arrangement composed of a small wooden bench, and a tree and bird sculpture that Ng calls “the center of energy.”  The space is intended as a gathering place and as a place to reflect.  The thick and yet delicate tree branches echo the sense of line from the paintings, works that are delicate and bold at the same time.

Further into the room is an arrangement of chickens and brightly colored plastic Easter eggs.  The chickens are made of cardboard boxes, and the artist makes no attempt to hide the boxes’ original artwork.  This is also intentional, Ng explains.  By retaining the original artwork, she again shows that we do not need to resist the tie between what is manmade and what is not, that an organic and sustainable lifestyle is indeed possible in a post-consumer society.  This assertion is echoed by a series of hanging gourds from the artist’s own garden, upon which a bird sculpture is perched.

My path continues to a space that could be a marsh with its tall reeds or can echo the seaside with its delicately placed seashells.  Nearby I see a log that could be a piece of driftwood or could equally be at home in the middle of a forest, upon which several whimsical bug creatures composed of used buttons sit.  This space again reminds me that nature and humanity can interact peacefully, and such interactions can be a lot of fun as well.

As I leave the space, the feeling of being in between different spaces stays with me.  I am thinking about nature and how I can be a part of it; of human society and how I can better integrate with it.  I am reflective, and yet I am walking down Mt. Airy Ave. trying to find my car.  I am a part of the world around me as well as being apart from it.

The exhibit invites the viewer to not only look at artwork, but also to be a part of it.  We are invited into a different world, a world of button creatures and pizza box chickens, in which the whole is far greater than the sum of its parts.  The exhibit is ethereal, yet grounded; it is carefree and introspective.   It echoes memories of a childhood long ago lost, and it creates memories of an adulthood that is fresh and optimistic.  It is for children, and it also feeds the child within us.  It is a space to laugh and gather with friends, and also to reflect and think alone.   The exhibit is definitely deserving of a first, and then a second look.  It may not be a permanent installation at MAAG, but it stays with me.  “Recapturing Memories” will continue to capture my imagination for years to come.