Vladimir Antaki Finds His Philadelphia Guardians

Curtis Anthony | Via Bicycle

The HAHAxParadigm office is located right off of 4th & South and I'd never visited Via Bicycle on 9th & South until prompted by Antaki.  Our entire time together was one inaugural event after another, landing in shops I'd meant to get around to visiting or sadly hadn't noticed.  

Vlad's way of approaching life is a crucial ingredient to the success of his photo series, The Guardians

I don’t plan my days, I let them happen. Each encounter leads me to the next. Planning takes away the excitement. Be open - you miss out on opportunities by being too rigid with life.

Nothing was scheduled or orchestrated ahead of time. We walked for countless hours each day as if we had no prior knowledge of Philadelphia, re-discovering our city with Vlad as our tour guide, in search of magical places.

The Guardians was born out of Vlad's desire to document and pay tribute to the guardians of urban temples we encounter on a daily basis without really noticing. He defines these 'urban temples' as a store, artisanal shop or workshop where a human being puts his heart and passion in what he does.  The Guardians bear and safeguard tradition, the know-how, and memory of their temples. They represent the antithesis of supermarkets, shopping centers, and the big chains. 

He takes the Guardian's photo within moments of meeting them so the viewer can experience that feeling of inquisitiveness when meeting someone for the first time. I witnessed the photo sessions quickly become intimate narratives. Vlad's personality is infectious; his body language is all-at-once familiar and humble. Which, I think, accounts for why the Guardians agree to let him record their origin stories within minutes of him coming from behind the lens. 

He found his first Philadelphia Guardian at Via Bicycle.  We were strolling down the street without intent when Vlad looked up at the facade of the shop and immediately started sizing it up with his lens. The outside of this local bike shop is spectacular, one of those architectural gems that get ignored because you're too busy looking down at a phone or racing against the clock to that next urgent 'something'. 

Via Bicycles is peppered with cool historical items that send you on expeditions into decades of bike lust. They do not sell new bikes -  part of the charm is making your way through the shop, spotting vintage beauties lying in wait among the reconditioned. 

We'll let Vlad continue this story...

Meet Curtis Anthony, 57, from Philadelphia. He's been in the bike business since 1982.

He opened Via Bicycles 34 years ago with a $5,000 loan from his mother, backed by an antique bed for collateral. "I'm blessed, I love what I do. We treat people like we want them to come back. The people who work here, we demand that they treat people fairly and honestly and most people we do want to see again. A small percentage we hope never return but the bulk of the people we want to come back. This is our third location. We focus on vintage bicycles, something that I really like is that most of our customers use their bicycles as tools rather than toys. So we really do provide a service for the community, which makes me feel good.

Upstairs, we store vintage bikes that we've collected through the years. Sometimes because I'm a crappy businessman we have to sell nice bikes from our collection to keep the doors open and the lights on. We've had the pleasure of working on some really nice bikes, many of them we ride. Our bikes range from the 1880's up until the present. We work on just about anything, if there's something we can't handle, we'll recommend who can do it for you.

I would like to see our business continue when I decide to retire, it's tough finding people that really care and want it to go on, cos sometimes it's not about the money, it's about what we do for people and keeping the shop afloat." 

Curtis' photo is now up on The Guardian website. We've also posted behind-the-scene shots & video on our Instagram. Stay tuned to our blog for more Philly Guardian stories.

My Dog Sighs Kills it in Philly

We were introduced to My Dog Sighs through a mutual friend and that meeting turned into a serious discussion of him coming to the States to work with HAHAxPARADIGM.  We were lucky enough to be able to snap him up right before his solo show in Chicago. 

MDS arrived in Philly late August of 2014, the few days we spent with him were packed.  This guy is a machine, up early racing thru a new city wheatpasting and creating on every available space he could find.

He bought his Free Art Friday project to Philly - leaving 4 of his trademark hand-painted cans hidden in plain sight for some attentive art lover to find. 

At 2nd & Poplar, you'll find one of his Everyman hug murals - MDS leaves one in every city he visits.  The mural is his way of saying thank you to the hosting city.

5th & Bainbridge is another sweet spot to find the junction box he beautified.  The box features those piercing eyes he's so well known for, and if you look close enough you can find the Philly skyline reflected in those deep orbs.

We love when someone stumbles across one of his wheatpastes and shares it via social media.  It's a pleasant reminder of what a great opportunity to had to work with him and share his art with our city.

*Thanks again to Conrad Benner of Streets Dept trekked around Philly along with us, taking great shots along the way.

Beautiful Times in Philadelphia

Artists, Amanda Marie & X-O breezed through the City of Brotherly Love Philly on their Beautiful Times art tour and left behind some street art gems.

It was amazing to have them visit with HAHAxPARADIGM while they were here. We secured Amanda Marie a great location in a community garden for one of her adorable storybook like camping murals.

Amanda Marie at a Community Garden. Detail. Beautiful Times. Philadelphia. August 2014 (photo © Ginger Rudolph)

X-O took to the streets and found an incredible space right off of 8th & South Street for one his Lost Objects installations. The install is comprised of found, recycled objects that X-O gathers and then transforms into these striking, geometric assemblages.

X-O. Beautiful Times. Philadelphia. August 2014 (photo © courtesy Ginger Rudolph)

X-O. Beautiful Times. Philadelphia. August 2014 (photo © courtesy Ginger Rudolph)

We stopped them by one of our beloved Philly hang outs 'Tattooed Mom' for drinks - that morphed into them staying and adding to their mark to the walls of Mom's. Ever-changing art is the heart and soul of Mom's - a watering hole Mecca for street artists and writers.

Amanda Marie at Tattooed Mom. Beautiful Times. Philadelphia. August 2014 (photo © courtesy Amanda Maire and X-O)

Amanda Marie at Tattooed Mom. Beautiful Times. Philadelphia. August 2014 (photo © courtesy Amanda Maire and X-O)

X-O updates Hanksy at Tattooed Mom. Beautiful Times. Philadelphia. August 2014 (photo © courtesy Amanda Maire and X-O)

X-O updates Hanksy at Tattooed Mom. Beautiful Times. Philadelphia. August 2014 (photo © courtesy Amanda Maire and X-O)

It wasn't until the day they headed out of town that I stumbled across the final surprise. Amanda kissed this beige wall off South with her 'Pretty Baby' image.

It was a blast, we're looking forward to having them back.

For more details of their tour stop here in Philly make sure you go to Brooklynstreetart.com.

Amanda Marie. Beautiful Times. Philadelphia. August 2014 (photo © Ginger Rudolph)

Amanda Marie. Beautiful Times. Philadelphia. August 2014 (photo © Ginger Rudolph)

We Made #6 on Streets Dept Presents: Philadelphia’s Top 10 Street Art Moments of 2013

HAHAxParadigm (www.hahaxparadigm.org) + A Common Namemade #6 on Streets Dept's list and in INCREDIBLE company!

Thank you everyone for following our collaborative adventures with Haha Mag. We are excitedly planning for 2014, and hope to bring more great artwork to the streets of Philadelphia (and hopefully spread Philly's talent with other cities as well!) What an amazing city we live in, full of artists that make it worth it over and over again to walk around Philadelphia with curiosity and stunning visuals as our guides instead of our heads buried in devices.


Thanks Philly!

Philly, we had a blast! Tonight (last night now) was @acommonname's last night in Philly, after a couple of late night installs, we got together with Paige to celebrate the great community art we created together.

Let's not forget that with the help of Photographer and City Guide, Conrad Benner of @streetsdept and the wonderful teachers and students at CHAD we were able to add another dimension to this project.

We hope more of you will join us and the next artist participating our Community Arts Project come December. Until then, thanks to everyone who made @acommonname feel so welcomed in this great city of ours!  

For more photos of our Philly Adventures with Paige, click here for the complete photo set.

**Stay tuned for more pics of our Geode Hunt Winners and CHAD's completed Geode project.