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Pop-up exhibit featuring Philly street artists is a selfie lovers dream

Pop-up exhibit Photo Pop Philly brings artworks by local street artists inside the historic Philadelphia building.
Photograph: Briana Sposato

An 18-story Center City office building may not seem like a good place to see local—and highly Instagrammable—street art. But starting Memorial Day weekend, it will be.

Just as temperatures begin to (finally) reach summertime levels, an exhibition called “Photo Pop Philly” brings commissioned installations by some of the city’s best-known street artists to the comfortably air-conditioned indoors. “Our city is filled with creative and talented artists,” says Kate Marlys, who curated the show. “I knew if I brought them all together, we would come up with something special to really showcase our city.”

Opening in a five-room retail space inside the historic Philadelphia Building, the highly selfie-conducive works are centered around a patriotic color theme: red, white and blue.

But don’t expect everything to be all Betsy Ross and Ben Franklin. Some artists, such as Amberella, find it hard to be overly patriotic, given the current political climate. “Here was an opportunity to share a social justice message amidst the red, white and blue celebrations,” says Amberella, who is known for her graphic and message-containing goth hearts, wheat pasted all over the city. Adapting a version of her classic “CAN’T STOP WON’T STOP” entwined hearts, the artist has inserted “TIME’S UP,” referencing the national movement that addresses inequality in the workplace.

Presented by Visit Philadelphia, the exhibition shows works by familiar artists but on a larger scale (and on more pristine walls than usual). Expect to see new works by Nero, colorful speech bubbles by Martha Rich, and a pop-up Polaroid photo booth by Kara Khan. The exhibition also includes work by Alloyius Mcilwaine, Michael Lambui, Aye!CRTV, Get Up and These Pink Lips.

“Photo Pop Philly” takes place at the Philadelphia Building from May 24 to July 8. The exhibition is open from 3 to 11pm each day, though the last entry is at 10pm. Tickets go for $25.

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