The pair of Dutch painters known as Haas & Hahn are famous for transforming Brazilian favelas with bold, colorful paint on building exteriors. Last year they began doing the same in Philadelphia on the 2600 block of Germantown Avenue in partnership with the Mural Arts Program, working with neighborhood kids and residents to transform a neighborhood that the two painters characterized as equally troubled as the slums of Rio.
The project was featured in the New York Times’ Style Magazine, which described the area as “a crime-ridden section of North Philadelphia” with “dilapidated storefronts, boarded-up windows, drooping cornices and even a few stray Art Deco details.”Amazingly, the artists also told the Times that Philly is so screwed up, it’s harder to get things done here than it is in Rio’s favelas due to “layers of bureacracy,” among other problems.
In Philadelphia, just finding the owners of the buildings — many are absentee landlords with no other ties to the neighborhood — has been a struggle. Another problem is that some buildings are so decrepit that there’s a danger they’ll fall on the painters.
One of the artists, Jeroen Koolhaas, told the Times, “I wouldn’t feel as safe living here if we didn’t know so many people.”
Yet the results are, without question, beautiful and reinvigorating to the eye, and community members have enjoyed the work they’ve done to make it happen. Tonight marks the kickoff of the Back to Rio 2013 Campaign with a night of dancing, music and food. Items to be auctioned will include Haas & Hahn project sketches, paintings, footage and photos, among other things.
WHERE: 161 West, 161 W. Cecil B. Moore Ave., Philadelphia
WHEN: Friday, May 31st, 7:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m.
INFO: http://161west.com / 202.699.2724