An Aye for Art

Pick one of five sculptures to green-light for new public space in East Falls. 

Neighbors, Commuters, and Friends of East Falls — your opinion is needed to decide on the look and vibe of our One Percent for Art installation, coming to new development currently underway at the foot of the Falls Bridge.

What is One Percent for Art?

Philadelphia requires any new development involving city property spend at least 1% of their construction costs for site-specific public art. Working with artists, design professionals, neighborhood stakeholders, and community input, the Program creates art that is a true reflection of the people and culture of its surroundings.

Since the Percent for Arts program was established in 1959 (by Ed Bacon, Kevin’s dad), more than 600 pieces of art have become part of our collective landscape. Some favorites include “Wave Forms” (Dennis Oppenheim/U of P); Matthias Baldwin Park (Athena Tacha/Logan Square); and “Contrafuerte” (Miguel Antonio Horn/Cuthbert St). Surely you’ve noticed the condominium tower off the Parkway with what appears to be abstract neon scribbles on top? That’s “Neon for Buttonwood,” a 1990 Percent piece by Stephen Anotonakos (1926 – 2013) a trailblazer in sculpting light.

By all estimates, the Percent For Art program has been a rousing success, inspiring fabulous art here and across the world as other cities took note and followed suit.  It’s now a well-accepted Urban Design principle that public art adds cultural, aesthetic and economic value. It’s also often a great source of pride and neighborhood identity, boosting quality of life for residents and visitors alike.

What public art do YOU want to see at the new commercial/retail/residential space coming to the foot of the Falls Bridge???

Here are the five finalists (click each artist’s name for their full proposal):

1. CAROLYN SALAS – “Figuring”: 25 ft long aluminum sculpture representing linguistics, archetypal imagery, symbology and the personal unconscious. In proximity to the river, the balancing fragments act as a metaphor that encourages us to consider the diver character of the city.

“Figuring” by Carolyn Salas
“Terrebourne” by Michael Morgan

2. MICHAEL MORGAN – “Terrebourne”: a 155’ x 25’ landscaped sculpture park consisting of 13 carved brick columns, 14 carved brick seats and a bricked pathway winding from one end to the other (both sides connecting to the sidewalk on Kelly Drive). Visible by cars as well as pedestrians. Brick is a nod to EF’s industrial past and, of course, the Kelly family.

3. SAMANTHA HOLMES — “The Weight of Stone and Water”: two metal lattices rising up from the lawn and stretching across the property in gentle curves. One is an angular streak of red that delineates a pattern taken from rock structures of coal mines, of which this neighborhood was built on. The second lattice is organic in form & bright white, representing the flowing waters of the Schuylkill.

“The Weight of Stone and Water” by Samantha Holmes
“Schuylkill Currents” by Mark Mennin

4. MARK MENNIN – “Schuylkill Currents”: 50’ granite carving in five joined pieces that celebrates the histories of Man and Geology on the Schuylkill. As the form loosely follows the river’s flow, it provides a solid and static representation of life and movement – an immovable monument to the community.

5. MEL KENDRICK – Three interrelated concrete sculptures that each alternate black and white layers, oriented parallel to street traffic. Each stands on its own raised and secured platform to offer public seating.

(Untitled) by Mel Kendrick
Take the survey, it’s easy! Just rank the proposals & answer three quick questions.


Act now – voting ends Sunday January 16th.

For more information about this development project — a 5-story building with 142 rental units and some ground floor commercial/retail/public space — please see our latest article about it, “None Too Soon” (Sept 2021), which covers the ground-breaking this fall with photos, video and links to previous articles including plans, community input, and more.

Thoughts? Feedback? Lay it on us below in the COMMENTS, thanks.

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