Destination Frankford as Renaissance

Originally published on Destination Frankford by Ana Kioko

Beneath the clamor of the El and beside the tides of the Delaware lies the neighborhood of Frankford. Centuries ago our neighborhood had a mansion on every block. Decades past, Frankford Avenue bustled with business and we prospered. Unfortunately, everything is not as it once was. But residents of this historical corner do not fear, Destination Frankford is here.

Deanna McLaughlin with her repurposed wooden door at the Destination Frankford: Reanimate gallery opening.

Deanna McLaughlin with her re-purposed wooden door at the Destination Frankford: Reanimate gallery opening.

Through the Philadelphia City Planning Commission and with the help of the Frankford Community Development Corporation, Philadelphia Sculptors, and the Globe Development Group, Destination Frankford plans to “reclaim, rediscover, and reanimate” the neighborhood. Every Saturday until July 26th visitors can witness this rebirth of Frankford through events such as the Destination Frankford art gallery.

Mayor Nutter speaks, with Ian Litwin of the Planning Commission, Kim Washington of the Frankford CDC, Counselwoman Sanchez and Democtratic nominee for the 179th PA House Jason Dawkins

On the corner of Frankford Avenue and Paul Street, music could be heard as patrons beat the heat with cold beers and good food. Outside, Mayor Michael Nutter posed for pictures with attendees, while inside, the pristine white walls were donned with art pieces by a host of different sculptors. Art Director, Leslie Kaufman, still believes that Frankford has a lot to offer and that it can be seen in these artists’ works. “All the artists use their art to add dynamism, spirit, and wonder to common and overlooked materials,” she says. Events likes this gallery will hopefully do the same and bring attention to the commonly overlooked neighborhood.

Having also been deeply involved in Philadelphia Sculptors, Kaufman knew that when she sent word about the project to the organization, many talented artists would join the movement. Inspired by the idea of reanimating a community, one such artist Deanna McLaughlin, answered the call. The artist who says her work is, “at times meditative, but always inspiring” presented two pieces at the gallery opening. What was once an old shopping cart was born again as a colorful chaise lounge. And a simplistic rocking chair showed more depth when its roots as an old wooden door from the very neighborhood of Frankford were revealed. McLaughlin understood and identified with the concept of bringing new life to the old in order to shepherd in modernity as many of her pieces carry the same idea.

Both Kaufman and McLaughlin know that galleries and renaissance are not things often seen in Frankford. However, Destination Frankford is not planning to stop here. Unafraid of unconventionality, the organization plans to bring a pop-up park to the neighborhood by the spring of 2015. Also on the corner of Paul Street, the vibrant park will be a center of entertainment, relaxation and a sign of progress. As the neighborhood grows, the hot pink detailed park will be a sign to those inside and outside the community that Frankford is not to be forgotten. Along with hot pink astroturf the park’s design was inspired by a megaphone. Frankford is no longer a quiet neighborhood. Architectural and Landscape Designer, Alexa Bosse, describes how the lights that crisscross above the park with be sound activated. Knowing that one huge, unmistakable, part of Frankford is the El, Bosse and the other volunteers utilized the noise in the neighborhood to light up the park. Bosse says that as a band plays on one end the lights will illuminate, following the sound. And as the El passes overhead, the lights will follow its tracks. Bosse and the other contributors hope this park– dubbed the Frankford Pause– will make residents and visitors alike stop, and take another look at Frankford.

The neighborhood of Frankford, though it’s had its setbacks refuses to be held back. With the help of many organizations and the support of the community, Destination Frankford can definitely take this neighborhood anywhere. Thanks to innovative ideas by creative individuals such as these, Frankford has finally entered its renaissance.