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Posts Tagged ‘mysterious’

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Photo: Tim Tai/The Inquirer
Lifelike statues by Seward Johnson mysteriously appeared in a West Philadelphia parking lot this year.

Although parts of West Philadelphia are lovely (consider the campus of the University of Pennsylvania), other parts have been rundown for decades. Many approaches to lifting up West Philadelphia have been tried. Maybe the attention drawn by a new, mysterious art project will be the key to success.

Stephan Salisbury has the story at the Inquirer. “It seems as though a wormhole in time has opened up on West Market Street, and 10 figures from midcentury America have tumbled out right into the center of an empty lot beneath the Market-Frankford El.

“There is a strolling professor, in a suit, reading an open chemistry text as he walks, utterly oblivious to the bikinied woman in a lounge chair over his left shoulder. Nearby are some besuited businessmen wearing black cordovan wing tips. A hot dog vendor holds a bun in his hand for no one in particular.

“Around them – there are 10 figures in all — is a rubble-strewn lot between 47th and 48th Streets. …

“As unlikely as it may sound, it appears that the 4700 block of Market Street has been targeted by a somewhat reclusive private foundation — the Daniel Veloric Foundation — as the site for a museum sometime in the future. The figures are all sculptures by Seward Johnson, the New Jersey-based artist of ordinary folks doing ordinary things.

“A check of city records indicates that the Veloric Foundation acquired the entire block along Market Street in 2017. Two lots at the corner of Market and 48th were sold to Philadelphia Community College at ‘below market value,’ according to the college, as part of a 63-acre parcel Veloric dealt to PCC. The college intends to use the land to expand its Automotive Technology Program.

“But the rest of the block, now studded with the Seward Johnson figures, Veloric sees as a spot for ‘a museum, classroom, and public meeting space and other community activities in West Philadelphia,’ according to the foundation’s 2017 federal tax return. …

“Veloric is the sole manager and trustee of the $84 million foundation, according to the tax return, which states no mission, an unusual omission according to nonprofit officials. (The Veloric Foundation is registered with the government as a nonprofit charitable foundation.) …

“Veloric, who is 91, referred questions to his attorney, Albert S. Dandridge, III, a partner in the law firm of Schnader, Harrison, Segal & Lewis. Dandridge was a bit vague.

“ ‘It’s an opportunity zone,’ he said of the location along Market Street. He said the statues are ‘sort of a holding spot for now,’ and may not end up at that precise location.

“I don’t know exactly how they were acquired,” Dandridge said.

“Dandridge characterized Veloric as an entrepreneur who has labored in West Philadelphia his entire life, running multiple businesses, in the health-care and financial services industries. …

“Dandridge said that Veloric wanted the sculptures out in the open to be seen. ‘It gives the neighborhood hope’ he said, describing Veloric’s thinking. ‘People walking by are going to say: “Oh my god. Somebody wants to do something here. All these years it’s just a vacant lot.” ‘ ”

Read more here.

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