Monday, December 14, 2015

My New Favorite Alley

It's the 800 block of Pemberton street. I don't know that it's Isaiah Zagar's masterwork, but it's the piece that speaks most directly to me. And I know why. It's a complete environment. There are a few spots on this block where Isaiah's murals give way, but to my mind that simply provides a pleasing counterpoint.

This is basically a trash alley. No houses front on it. But look at what they've done. The art is one thing. But there's also the fact that a whole little community came together, with the artist, to make this happen.

When I first walked onto this street a few weeks ago, I had a feeling that I don't often get. I felt I was being embraced by a slightly different world. One that Isaiah - and his patrons - had created. I know they didn't create it just for me. But at that moment, that's what it felt like.

This is the feeling that I want to have when I walk onto the 1400 block of Moravian, by the Union League and Banana Republic. I know it wouldn't look the same. But these alleys are small, almost womb-like, and they have a way of speaking to us that the Vine Street Expressway will never have. If only we will let them.

The 800 Pemberton block is only about two blocks from the Whole Foods market on South Street, at 9th. But it can be a bit tricky to find. On South, walk east past 9th, then south on Schell. At Bainbridge, do a little dog-leg and continue on Schell. Pemberton will show up on the left before you hit Fitzwater. It only extends from Schell to Mildred, so you can't actually get there from 9th or 8th.

Enjoy your walk. Isaiah has been doing a bunch of new work in this neighborhood. And enjoy 800 Pemberton. A fully realized environment.

And here's the neighboring block of Kenilworth street. Note the person sitting outside in a chair. She's kind of small, but she's there. This is what a city can do when it's not drowning in cars.

See also Alleys.

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