In-Progress

Tacony LAB Community Arts Center

A hub for learning, creativity, and community engagement.

Our Tacony: Yesterday and Tomorrow by Mariel Capanna. Photo by Steve Weinik.

The Frank Shuman Solar Art Parklet by Nick Cassway. Photo by Steve Weinik.

Download the fresco brochure (PDF)

About the Project 

Created by Mural Arts Philadelphia with the support of Councilman Bobby Henon, The Tacony LAB Community Arts Center brings the neighborhood and the arts together to create a unique hub for learning, creativity, and community engagement in Lower Northeast Philadelphia. The LAB offers free art classes for adults and youth, presents arts-focused events, and develops public art through its “artist-in-residence” program. The artist-in-residence program anchors professional artists in the Tacony community by providing them with studio space at the LAB. During their residencies, the artists work with the community to develop public art in Tacony, as well as use the studio to create their own artwork.

Tacony Lab. Photo by Steve Weinik.

2018 Fall Resident Artist 

Alice Thompson: During her time at the LAB, Alice converted the studio space into a workshop outfitted with materials and tools necessary for making kites and cut paper artworks. Through classes and public events, Alice asked community members to share their own personal stories and feelings of “home,’ and then collaborated with them to create kites and cut paper installations that reflect upon these narratives. These installations were exhibited in window displays at the LAB and the office of Councilman Henon.

2018 Summer Resident Artists 

Kathryn Pannepacker: During her residency, Kathryn held textile workshops and created Tacony Shag-Tapestry, on display inside the LAB. She collaborated with community members on two public “shags” and a weaving project on the library fence. With Love from Tacony, the shag on Longshore Avenue opposite the post office, has already become an icon in the neighborhood.

Jackie Neale: Common Ground Tacony, Jackie’s project while in residence, is a series of interviews with Philadelphians who have ties to Tacony. Each interview is coupled with full-body portraits made as large fabric cyanotypes. Interviews and images are available on StoryCorps.org, and archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. The cyanotypes were exhibited in temporary installations both inside the LAB and outside on the streets of Tacony.

2017 Fall Resident Artists 

Barb Baur: A longtime resident of Mayfair, Barb spent her fall residency developing the LAB’s community-driven art education program, both leading and organizing a diverse array of free classes and workshops. She now serves as the LAB Coordinator.

Rebekah Flake: During her residency, Rebekah created Legendary Tacony, an exhibition at the LAB that merged historic images, community-sourced photos, and Rebekah’s own work.

Michael Kiley: In the fall of 2017, Michael led voice workshops at the LAB, exploring themes including neighborhood change, borders, home, vocal representation, and memory. He collected recordings and stories from residents of Tacony as inspiration for Grindstone Devotional, a GPS controlled “soundwalk” of Tacony.

GRINDSTONE DEVOTIONAL: A Tacony Soundwalk 

Grindstone Devotional is the third in a series of GPS controlled soundwalks for the city of Philadelphia by The Mural and The Mint. To experience the piece, please go to the Apple Store or Google Play to download the app. Then, with headphones, proceed to the Tacony neighborhood of Philadelphia and walk the loop of Torresdale Avenue, Longshore Avenue, Disston Park, Disston Street and the side streets in between. What you hear will change depending on where you walk.

Grindstone Devotional can also be listened to without the app on Soundcloud.

2017 Spring–Summer Resident Artist 

Mat Tomezsko: During his residency at the LAB, Mat is collaborating with community members of all ages to create distinctive new “light pole” banners for Torresdale Avenue. These banners will abstract images drawn from Tacony’s history and combine them with a vibrant color palette. The goal, according to Mat, is to “take the familiar and make it unfamiliar.” In workshops held throughout the residency, community members are experimenting with paint and stencils; Mat will incorporate portions of these works into 40 distinct banners.

2016 Resident Artists

Mariel Capanna: Capanna drew on her training in the ancient art of fresco painting to create Our Tacony, a mural that illustrates the past and present histories of Tacony. This is a truly unique mural: no outdoor frescos of this scale exist in Philadelphia. Capanna developed her work through community workshops in storytelling and fresco painting.

Nick Cassway: During his residency, Cassway created a parklet on Torresdale Avenue. Parklets are little parks built into parking spaces. The parklet in front of the LAB provides seasonal outdoor space for LAB visitors, as well as for shoppers and passersby. This outdoor “reading room” is also used for art workshops and small events. The Frank Shuman Solar Art Parklet is equipped with solar panels and charging stations to pay homage to Frank Shuman, who pioneered solar power in Tacony in the early 20th century. In a July 2017 article in Planning Magazine, the authors used Cassway’s parklet as a model of a strong parklet program that capitalizes on robust NGO relationships, allowing it to be successful in a nontraditional location “like dense neighborhoods with little access to park space, or along commercial corridors not traditionally associated with placemaking and tactical urbanism.”

Project Sponsors 

The Tacony LAB is a partnership between the Office of Councilman Bobby Henon and Mural Arts Philadelphia, with additional support from the Tacony CDC.