Philadelphians are savages when it comes to parking. I mean much more so than New Yorkers. Co-residing in Philly makes me all the more glad I’ve taken a vow to never own a car, because parking here’s a bitch in more ways than one. Lots of people here want to “save” “their” parking spaces every day even though these spaces are in public, curbside, residential parking areas. You know, someone leaves for work but sets down a table or chairs or a trash can or whatever in the space to keep anyone else from parking there, so it’ll be there waiting for them when they get home. Stories abound of innocent visitors to a block getting their cars vandalized because they dared to park in the “wrong” space that was “owned” by someone else.
I mean, Philadelphians will come to blows over this stuff. People will sit outside in a lawn chair in their parking space drinking a beer and guarding it until their spouse gets home to park there. I’ve got one idiot neighbor who actually spraypainted freehand his own personal NO PARKING zone in front of his house complete with a big rectangular outline and crazy arrows all over the pavement, which is not only illegal but really ugly; white trasherizing the whole damned block. Welcome to Philadelphia, Jefe.
Well, last weekend on a chilly Saturday morning I was out with my family strolling around our South Philly neighborhood looking for a Christmas tree when what to our wondering eyes should appear but this:
wedged between two parked cars a smiling guy greeting us from a ramshackle neon table of sorts, enjoying coffee and cookies and asking us to join him in his parking space. Turns out he’s an artist named Chris Landau and this table setup is a one-day art installation that’s part of the Space Savers Project, “a citywide public arts event inspired by the Philadelphia custom of ‘saving’ parking spaces,” according to the group’s literature. “Items like recycling bins, upturned garbage cans, cinder blocks and broken furniture are traditionally used as space savers. We called on artists to design and create alternatives to the objects…to re-imagine what space saving in the city can look like. Perhaps by replacing traditional space savers with art, we can transform the practice of saving spaces.”
Right. Never gonna happen and they know it but I love the ironic commentary on this absurd custom. In keeping with the kinds of random objects usually used by Philadelphians to save parking spaces, Chris’ setup consisted of his own basement door painted orange, some overturned buckets for chairs, and artistically carved blue recycling bins for table supports. It was awesome and hilarious. Can’t wait to see more creatively saved parking spaces from this unique artists collaborative. For more info and photos from this entertaining and colorful project (I especially love the territorial wolf) see http://thespacesaversproject.tumblr.com .