URBAN LANDSCAPES BY BOB BRUHIN
NOW EXHIBITING AT BLACKBIRD PIZZERIA
507 S. 6th St, between South and Lombard
Sept 11-Nov 31 ( monday – saturday: 11am – 10pm – sunday: 11am – 9pm)
Artist Opening Thursday, Sept 18th, 9-10pm
EXPLORE THE INDUSTRIAL LANDSCAPE THAT INSPIRED
ARTISTS DAVID LYNCH, JOHN SLOAN, EVERETT SHINN,
GEORGE LUKS, WILLIAM GLACKENS, AND ROBERT HENRI
Before David Lynch, before Eraserhead, the industrial section of North Philadelphia now colorfully nicknamed “Eraserhood,” after Lynch’s cinematic masterpiece, was already inspiring artists from Philadelphia and beyond. Now eraserhood.com photographer Bob Bruhin explores this neighborhood with a view toward its deeper history as a muse for creative Philadelphians.
In April 2013 Bruhin, already an avid photographer and documentarian of the Callowhill District, took a tour led by the now departed Paul VanMeter, local historian and rail park activist. “VanMeter opened my eyes to the truth behind the history of this region. I was always aware of the role Callowhill played in inspiring David Lynch. VanMeter made me aware of an earlier movement out of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine arts known as ‘The Philadelphia Four.’”
The Four, also known as “The Charcoal Club,” according to Bruhin, were John Sloan, William Glackens, George Luks, and Everett Shinn. He alludes to a 2008 article in the art blog Lines and Colors (linesandcolors.com/2008/07/12/…), which reports that:
The four had common backgrounds as illustrators for The Philadelphia Inquirer and the The Philadelphia Press and attended classes at The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA).
Sloan went to high school at Central High in Philadelphia, along with Glackens and Albert C. Barnes, who would later establish the Barnes Foundation. Sloan and Glackens went on to study at the Academy. Among their instructors was Thomas Anshutz, who, as the leading student of Thomas Eakins, inherited Eakins’ mantle when the latter was forced from the school.
Sloan eventually met another influential student of Anshutz, Robert Henri, a strong willed and charismatic artist who preached rebellion from the constraints of academic art.
Henri encouraged the four to pursue careers as gallery artists, paint honestly what they saw in life, particularly contemporary urban life, and suggested they study European artists like Frans Hals, Goya, Valázquez, and Manet.
During the tour, VanMeter pointed out that Central High was located near Broad and Spring Garden at the turn of the 19th Century. He asked his tour group to imagine Sloan, Glackens, and Barnes walking down Broad Street, past the very active industrial sites that then lined this thoroughfare, to attend the PAFA day program for high school students. “My eyes were opened,” Bruhin recalls. “Here was the seed of what eventually became the Ashcan school of painting, inspired by the same rugged beauty that was driving my own work. In this light, Eraserhead becomes more than just a surreal dream. Lynch might deny this, but for me Eraserhead is also an Ashcan painting, with the addition of sound and movement.”
Driven by this realization, Bruhin has assembled a collection of the images from his blog, making them available to the general public at Blackbird Pizzeria during their normal business hours.