Summer  (June – August, 2010)

Venue: Germantown Avenue (Between Hartwell Lane & East Springfield Avenue), Philadelphia, PA

<View the Walking Map of the Summer Phase>

<View the Press Release>

The Chestnut Hill Arts Initiative (CAi) brings provocative and contemporary art to historical Germantown Avenue, the commercial and social corridor of Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia.

An extension of the widely popular Project Sketchbook, which showcased the diverse creations of talented students studying the arts at local schools and institutions, CAi builds upon the progress of this dynamic community project by encouraging professional artists to creatively engage and contribute to the visual landscape of Chestnut Hill through the reactivation of storefront spaces.


Participating Artists

Jaime Alvarez, Brookes Britcher, Alexander Conner, Tom Judd, Michael Kalmbach, Caroline Lathan-Stiefel, Daniel Mahlman, Christopher Motta, Phillip Scarpone, Aaron Wiener


The World Is Flat / Tom Judd

8200 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia, PA

Philadelphia-based artist Tom Judd transforms the “old” Magarity Ford building in Chestnut Hill into a temporary studio – resulting in the creation of The World Is Flat, a large-scale site-specific installation.

Through the reappropriation and transformation of locally found cardboard boxes (discarded “vessels” designed for the transport of goods), The World Is Flat evokes a contemplation on the materials, barriers, and windows that signify a greater sense of communication, expansion and colonialism. Housed within a “retired” American automobile dealership, The World Is Flat reminds us that the boundaries of communities and economies are continually being redefined and reborn as new histories are written.

Tom Judd studied Painting at the University of Utah (Salt Lake City, UT) and the Philadelphia College of Art (Philadelphia, PA). Over the last thirty-five years Mr. Judd has exhibited his work in numerous solo and group exhibitions around the world. His work is held in various private and public collections including The Birmingham Museum of Art (Birmingham, AL), The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (Philadelphia, PA) and the Philadelphia Museum of Art (Philadelphia, PA). Mr. Judd has previously been the recipient of a Macdowell Colony Fellowship (2001) and a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant (2000).

Blue In Green / Caroline Lathan-Stiefel

7930 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia, PA

“Since 2000, I have been making large scale installations made mainly of textile materials. I see these installations as drawings in space with a prevailing sense of line and color. Integral to the work is the idea of sprawl, as in makeshift, proliferating growth. The use of commonplace craft materials (such as pipe cleaners and yarn) and discarded household materials (such as dry cleaning bags and fruit nets) also help to give the work a provisional quality. Through a labor-intensive process, patches of fabric and plastic are sewn or pinned to structures made of pipe cleaners and wire.”

Caroline Lathan-Stiefel received her MFA from the Maine College of Art (Portland, ME) and her BA from Brown University (Providence, RI). Ms. Lathan-Stiefel has created and exhibited her installations as part of solo and group exhibitions around the world. Her work is held in various private and public collections including the Hunterdon Museum (Clinton, NJ), New Jersey State Council on the Arts (Trenton, NJ), New Jersey State Museum (Trenton, NJ), Newark Library (Newark, NJ), and the Noyes Museum (Oceanville, NJ). Ms. Lathan-Stiefel has previously been the recipient of a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant (2008), a Creative Capital Foundation Grant in Visual Arts (2005), a Sculpture Fellowship from the New Jersey Council on the Arts (2003) and received the Hilla Rebay Teaching Artist Award from the Guggenheim Museum Children’s Program (2001).

The Apple and The Tree / Brookes Britcher

8127 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia, PA

Philadelphia-based artist Brookes Britcher presents a mixed-media installation constructed from accumulated industrial and consumer-available materials – collected predominately from Chestnut Hill area stores and restaurants. The Apple and The Tree presents an ongoing moment and a space for reconciliation – a conversation.

This site-specific re-installation of The Apple and The Tree activates two conjoined spaces in dialogue, investigating the creation of a “new conversation” through a reconfiguration of objects informed and enriched by the space itself.

Brookes Britcher received his MFA from the Cranbrook Academy of Art (Bloomfield Hills, MI) and his BS from Drexel University (Philadelphia, PA). Over the last eleven years his work has been exhibited around the country in numerous curated and group shows, and exists in various private collections, most notably J.W. Mahoney of Art In America and the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C. and Tim Rollins of Tim Rollins & K.O.S. in New York City, NY.

High Definition / Michael Kalmbach

7914 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia, PA

“I utilize repetition, variation, and improvisation as working devices that generate product and ideas. The same dumb hand that Duchamp admired in Seurat has become the generative force behind my work. My application of the acrylic dot has evolved from a Yayoi Kusama-like net to its current stacked form. These dot strands take on the appearance of a woven tail, wave, aura, or explosion as they decorate poured forms. In other instances, the dot strands are responsible for the poured form as they direct the fluid acrylic that passes through them. All of these effects take place on a transparent film called Dura-Lar clear. Once painted, this film is wrapped over a fabric background creating a highly reflective surface that is similar to the resin coated works of Fred Tomaselli. Like Tomaselli and Kusama, I want the works to function as a transportive vehicle. The act of painting, and the experience of confronting the end product, transports me to a state where I can reflect on the series of contingencies that have brought me to this point in history.

I have only been able to access the sublime through chemicals. Of these experiences, the most productive were in the company of like minded people, where a love of irony navigated our humors through a shared experience that was often dangerous. My practice owes its curiosity to this time in my life. This irony now bridges my private practice with a larger community that can gather around the works and draw meaning from my choice of materials. Due to its immediacy, acrylic paint becomes the ultimate medium for experimentation —a certain effect survives in the studio when it begins to do something. By applying paint on the inside of the wrapped plastic, a super flat saturated surface is created. On this surface I find parallels to the flat screen and vehicular clear coat finishes, but of course, all this breaks down when my atmospheric conditions, super novas, and Presidential auras give way to a ripple in the Dura-Lar clear, and the abyss reveals itself as elementary craft felt. ”

Michael Kalmbach, a Delaware based artist and arts advocate, received a MFA from the University of Delaware (Newark, DE) and a BA from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania (Bloomsburg, PA). His work has been exhibited at the Meat Market Gallery (Washington, D.C.), the Zhou Art Center (Chicago, IL), Haven Arts (Bronx, NY), the Fe Gallery (Pittsburgh, PA), the FAB Galleries – at Virginia Commonwealth University (Richmond, VA) as well as the Delaware College of Art and Design (Wilmington, DE). Mr. Kalmbach is the Founder and Director of the New Wilmington Art Association in Wilmington, Delaware. Mr. Kalmbach has previously been the recipient of a Delaware Division of the Arts Fellowship in Painting (2009 & 2010) and was granted the Christi Award for Outstanding Achievement in Arts Advocacy (2009) from the Christina Cultural Arts Center (Wilmington, DE).

Untitled (Photographs) / Christopher Motta

Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia, PA

I find it necessary to look at adolescent years through the medium of photography, an engagement of, seemingly, fact, memory and illusion. Fascinated with places where I once played with thoughts, without future or past, rather in the moment to see them somehow as pieces of myself. I am drawn to old photographs, albums of pictures that reveal details of youthfulness. The choice of subject matter is not about nostalgia, rather invites movement between the extremes of intimacy and distance, a measure of my interior life and how it shares in the larger context of living.

With disquieting directness, the perspective from which the photographs are taken is neither arbitrary nor indiscriminate. I place attention on the details that surround the subject, including clutter, measured with a frontal affectation. It is this transience between the tension of holding, distance, and emotional need that reveals the fractured and displaced nature of the images.

The remains and dissolve of personal and cultural memories and other interventions in the landscape have a profound visual impact. I aspire to merge personal relationships with a wider historical context. The resulting photographs form a visual time-line representing relationships of my interior life connected with the sociological intentions fundamental to the work.”

Christopher Motta, a Boston-area artist and educator, received his MFA in Photography from the Cranbrook Academy of Art (Bloomfield Hills, MI) and his BA in Philosophy from the University of Massachusetts (Amherst, MA). He has been a Visiting Critic at the University of Massachusetts – Dartmouth (Dartmouth, MA), Roger Williams University (Bristol, RI) and the Lawrence Technical University (Troy, MI). His work is held in numerous private collections, including renowned American architect William Massie . Mr. Motta is currently a professor at Bristol College (Fall River, MA).

The Danger in Nature / Alexander Conner

7924 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia, PA

“I don’t feel the need to work in a single medium. The ones I primarily use are chosen because I find their possibilities (and limitations) intriguing, and they are financially accessible.  I find myself really excited by the fact that all mediums are imbued with different societal associations through their use by people in contemporary culture and throughout the history of Western art.

A lot of my work deals with human beings and their interaction with immediate environments.  I found, while obtaining a B.A. in Sociology, that ethnographies, field recordings, and academic writings were not enough to encapsulate the way that I wanted to convey my investigation of human interaction and behavior.  Visual imagery allows for a much less precise but, in my belief, more thorough and evocative explanation of the latter.

I really like using quotidian references throughout my work because I believe it’s the simple and sometimes tacit everyday experience that is more telling about the human experience than cataclysmic events. If not more telling, then, at least due to their frequency, they offer more opportunities for exploration. ”

Philadelphia-based artist Alexander Conner received a B.A. in Middle Eastern Studies and a B.A. in Sociology from Rutgers University (Camden, NJ). Mr. Conner is an inter-disciplinary artist exploring people and their environments through drawing, photography, printmaking, technology, sound works, video and installation. Selected exhibitions of his work include, the Aferro Gallery (Newark, NJ), Apex Art (New York, NY), Reference (Richmond, VA), Wien (Vienna, Austria, EU). Mr. Conner’s projects are featured in Rhizome’s ArtBase Collection (Global) and the Newark Public Library’s Artist’s Books Department (Newark, NJ). His work was recently the subject of a New York Times story investigating contemporary artistic studio practices during extreme economic climates. (“The Recession Proof Artist” – May 2009). Mr. Conner is an avid cook, bread baker and an educator at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (Philadelphia, PA).

Fun and Games (Selected Works) / Daniel Mahlman

Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia, PA

Fun and Games presents selections from the mixed-media work of Mount Airy artist Daniel Mahlman.

“It has been said that all we can know in the world is all we can say.  I know nothing, and what I think I know, I am not saying.  ”

Daniel Mahlman received his BA in Applied Fine Arts at Saint Joseph’s University (Philadelphia, PA). He continued his art practice in historic San Miguel, Mexico where he studied drawing and sculpture at the Instituto Allende.  He has shown his work regionally while also extensively pursuing commercial interests in illustration and portraiture. In the coming Fall, Mr. Mahlman will be attending the Nelson Shanks atelier Studio Incamminati (Philadelphia, PA).

GW / Jaime Alvarez

7924 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia, PA

Jaime Alvarez received his MFA from the Cranbrook Academy of Art (Bloomfield Hills, MI) and his BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design (Providence, RI). Mr. Alvarez has recently exhibited his projects at the Freeman Auction House (Philadelphia, PA), the Leroy Nieman Gallery (NYC, NY), 450 Broadway Gallery (NYC, NY) Project Green Space (Brooklyn, NY), YoDarkroom (Philadelphia, PA) and the Latin-American Cultural Space (Washington, D.C.). He has been a Visiting Critic and Educator at the Moore College of Art (Philadelphia, PA), Cleveland Institute of Art (Cleveland, OH), the International Center of Photography (NYC, NY), and ArtWorks For Youths (NYC, NY). He recently recieved a Photography Institute Fellowship (2004).

The Last Breath / Phillip Scarpone

7918 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia, PA

“My working process follows a formula of simplifying and breaking down two systems into a working relationship. The interaction of geometry and nature is one equation I’ve used in finding some kind of physical balance. I intend for this work to be refreshing and represent control. The nature of humans is to obtain a mental equilibrium. My work is a tangible search for this same stability”

Phillip Scarpone received his BFA from the University of Delaware. His sculptural installations have been showcased in numerous exhibitions on the East Coast and Taiwan.

Selected Works / Aaron Wiener + Visionary Fusion Glass Works

7918 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia, PA

Philadelphia-based glass artist and educator Aaron Wiener presents a dynamic installation of original pieces in conjunction with Visionary Fusion Glass Works (Philadelphia, PA).

“Visionary Fusion Glass Works was founded in 1992 by partners Mitchel Finkelstein and Ken Mott.  Originally named Visionary Fusion Studios, today the shop has two distinct lines of activity.  The Art Glass division is detailed on this web site and includes the production of Pattern Cut Glass and Fused Glass pieces for both commercial and private use.  The Industrial Coatings division specializes in applying metallic coatings to quartz glass tubing for a variety of industrial applications.

Mitch and Ken have almost 50 years of experience working with glass between them.  From glass panels used in commercial businesses to customer designed mobiles that hang in private homes, Visionary Fusion Glass Works has experience working to provide innovative solutions that meet their client’s needs.

In addition to his extensive art glass experience, Mitchel Finkelstein has worked in the commercial glass industry for over 25 years.  He is experienced working closely with architects for custom installations on glass plate and glass block applications. Ken Mott has over 20 years experience in art glass, primarily concentrated in blown and fused glass work.

Hand drawn patterns are computerized and then used by our water jet to cut precise patterns in specially chosen glass in a variety of colors.  The resulting piece can be used flat and hung on a wall or used as a decorative partition.  The most popular use for our finished pattern cut glass is as a decorative centerpiece where the pattern cut glass is slumped in our custom kilns to create the desired shape.
We take our pattern cut glass and slump it in our custom kilns to achieve the desired shape. Some centerpieces can be created from a single piece of pattern cut glass, while others are made from multiple pieces that have first been fused together prior to the slumping process.”


August 31st 2010: CAi’s “Summer Phase” in Chestnut Hill windows on TheArtBlog

August 11th 2010: CH Arts Initiative to mark end of summer exhibition in the Chestnut Hill Local (online + print)

July 29th 2010: CAi Brings Professional Artists Work to Empty Storefronts on

July 29th 2010: Chestnut Hill Arts Initiative Brings New Art to the Avenue on


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