Jun 29, 2023

Front Street Walls refreshes with first-time Philly-Based Artists

by: Jenny Donnelly Johnson and Lakshmi V Natesan

Front Street Walls in Fishtown has been an arts and culture staple for the City of Philadelphia since 2016. Now Front Street Walls, located on Front Street between Oxford Street and Columbia Avenue, are getting a well-deserved annual refresh, allowing new art to inspire our community and new artists the opportunity to use the city as their canvas. We are excited to announce the debut of Philly-based mural artists UNAPXLXGETIQ, Emily White, EL TORO, and Iris Barbee Pendergrass on the Front Street Walls this summer. Mural Arts will celebrate with a dedication of these four new murals on July 12, 2023, at 10:30 am. This project is a partnership with Streets Dept Walls and CookNSolo’s Lilah Events and Goldie Falafel, led by Mural Arts curator Conrad Benner. 

This refresh aims to continue creating more opportunities for up-and-coming artists to paint in our public space and ensure this art represents the people of Philadelphia. This year, the new Front Street Walls murals will be created by diverse artists, at the beginning of their careers as mural artists and are Philadelphia-based. This year’s Front Street Walls artists UNAPXLXGETIQ, Emily White, EL TORO, and Iris Barbee Pendergrass will each be debuting either their first work of public art as a solo lead artist and/or their largest work to date. Over 320 local artists applied to be a part of this project. And these four artists were deliberately selected to meet specific curatorial goals.

This update of the walls allows us to usher in new art while honoring the existing art on the walls. Two of the six current murals will continue onto the next iteration of the Front Street Walls. Both Ant Carver’s Untitled and Amberella & Glossblack’s Conquer will remain. These murals are Philadelphia favorites and will attract visitors to see the new murals, continuing to leave their mark on Philadelphia.

“These walls are perfect for up-and-coming muralists! They’re in that ideal Goldie, I mean, goldilocks zone of being big enough to be a creative challenge for a new artist while being small enough to still be possible to create for your first mural. We want to use these walls to center the work of up-and-coming Philly artists. I can’t wait to get started!” says curator Conrad Benner

Photo Caption for above: (L to R) Artists EL TORO, Iris Barbee Pendergrass and UNAPXLXGETIQ working on their Front Street Walls murals.  Photos courtesy of Conrad Benner.

Meet the Artists 

UNAPXLXGETIQ is an Alternative name adopted by Artist & Designer Emmanuel Wisdom. UNAPXLXGETIQ is a conscious creator. He creates to heal, nurture and cultivate a prosperous afro-human mentality. He’s also known for his creative, thoughtful & expressive artworks. He strives to Educate, Elevate, and Inspire progressive conversations throughout his work. In addition to art, He’s worked as a designer for a variety of brands, from commercial projects to small & international businesses. Some notable clients include; Nike, Wrigley’s Gum, Men’s Health, American Greetings, Freeform TV, Reform, and NFL Alumni Association. 

Emily White is a painter, muralist, and sculptor. Emily’s work focuses on the relationship between the animal and its changing environment. Her paintings are paired with objects that are distinctly human, illustrating the bond of the animal’s life with our own. She invites audiences to reflect on the consequences of human industry and innovation on our natural world, and our relationship to it. Emily has been painting murals in Philadelphia for over a decade. She has worked with the Philadelphia Zoo, Philadelphia Flower Show, The Philadelphia International Airport, Blick, Ketel One, and Virgin Voyages to name a few. She’s had her hand in many prominent Philadelphia Mural Arts murals such as “Untitled” by Amy Sherald and Roberto Lugo’s “The Talented Mr. Trotter” on the new Clay Studio. Emily also creates sculpture and paintings for gallery shows and has her second solo feature with Arch Enemy Arts later this year. Originally from the Boston area, Emily has been living in Philly for 11 years. She graduated from Massachusetts College of Art in 2011 with a BFA in sculpture. In 2021, she started White Knuckle Painting LLC and continues to paint murals and signs for businesses in Philadelphia and surrounding suburbs. 

EL TORO. Justin is an artist born in the Philippines, but is currently residing in Philadelphia. He is known for creating “EL TORO”, an anthropomorphic character inspired by the carabao (a water buffalo native to the Philippines). The character can mostly be seen on stickers stuck on the back of signs and newspaper bins. He learned about exhibiting his art in public for free when he attended the Art Institute of Philadelphia to study graphic design. He believes art should be enjoyed by everyone and it shouldn’t matter what age, race, creed, ethnicity, sex or background you come from.

Iris Barbee Pendergrass was born in the city of Philadelphia, PA. At a young age Iris began to express herself through art. Which later led her to pursue a higher education at Arcadia University where she graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts and majored in Graphic Design. Iris has used her passion for art and design to illustrate her feminine side. While finding her voice as an artist, she created the inspirational brand These Pink Lips. These Pink Lips are uplifting and inspiring for women to be sexy, strong, beautiful, and comfortable with their femininity and power!


Last updated: Jul 5, 2023

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