ALL FOR ONE (Photographs 1977-2009) / Peter Capano

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All for One (Photographs 1977-2009) / Peter Capano

Venue: New Wilmington Art Association, Wilmington, DE

All For One (Photographs 1977-2009) compiles a small selection of 50 gelatin-silver prints from the defining photographic project by Philadelphia artist Peter Capano. Spanning over 30 years, this work offers an unparalleled visual document of a volatile period in Philadelphia history, and a passionate story of the struggles of an urban adolescent. Through his images, Capano beautifully documents the exploits and camaraderie that defined the 10th & Oregon gang with a sense of compassion and immediacy. The work visually traces the evolution of a Philadelphia neighborhood and its local ties to everything from the Mafia to the Mummers. Capano offers the story, told with raw, harsh honesty, of a community in which a sense of pride and place were determined, and honored, at the end of the block.

Below : Exhibition views and selections from All For One (Photographs 1977-2009) / Peter Capano


All For One (Photographs 1977-2009) / Peter Capano

All For One (Photographs 1977-2009) compiles a small selection of 50 gelatin-silver prints from the defining photographic project by Philadelphia artist Peter Capano. Spanning over 30 years, this work offers an unparalleled visual document of a volatile period in Philadelphia history, and a passionate story of the struggles of an urban adolescent. Through his images, Capano beautifully documents the exploits and camaraderie that defined the 10th & Oregon gang with a sense of compassion and immediacy. The work visually traces the evolution of a Philadelphia neighborhood and its local ties to everything from the Mafia to the Mummers. Capano offers the story, told with raw, harsh honesty, of a community in which a sense of pride and place were determined, and honored, at the end of the block.

Raised in South Philadelphia at 10th & Ritner, Capano grew up in the looming shadow of a gang that would eventually intersect with nearly all aspects of his personal and artistic life. His passion and ability in the arts began early and were recognized in 1974 when his illustration portfolio gained him admission into the prestigious Pennsylvania Governor’s School for the Arts at the age of 15. Shortly after, he formally entered the ranks of the 10th & Oregon gang at age 16. His continued interest in the arts flourished though, and in 1976 he was admitted to the Philadelphia College of Art (now the University of the Arts) to study illustration and drawing. He completed PCA in 1981, but art school had shifted his artistic interest to photography; a discipline he was already honing, photographing as part of his everyday life in South Philadelphia. During his time at PCA he discovered the book “Tulsa”, by the Midwestern photographer and filmmaker Larry Clark. The lifestyle captured in Clark’s work confirmed to Capano that the images he was creating and the life around him were not a mere anomaly, but that the youthful world of sex, violence and addiction that embraced him everyday was a shared one. This realization would prove to be the greatest personal catalyst for Capano to continue making images of his community for the next 28 years.

Citing a drastic and senseless increase in gun violence and drug activity, Capano walked away from the gang after 10 years of involvement in 1986. Coincidentally 1986 was the year he met his then soon-to-be wife, and nearly a year after he had begun teaching photography professionally to youths. He continued to photograph his friends as the years in the gang and “old-habits” subsequently took their toll on the lives and families of the children he grew up with, culminating with the needless passing of his lifelong friend and gang-mate Guy. He continues to visit his old neighborhood and remarks sadly that many things remain unchanged. With All For One (Photographs 1977-2009) Capano offers a resonant pictorial vision and record of growing up where the line between violence and play was transparent and the hope of leaving the corner, for most, was an elusive dream.


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