Taken November 15 2012 in Brewerytown, Philadelphia, PA.
Taken November 15 2012 in Brewerytown, Philadelphia, PA.
Next City presents Portraits of Brewerytown
Photography exhibition explores themes of urban renewal, celebrating the past, present, and future of a Philadelphia neighborhood in transformation
On display January 11 – February 16, 2013 at Next City’s Storefront for Urban Innovation; Opening reception Friday, January 11 from 5:30 – 9 p.m.

PHILADELPHIA, PA – As cities across the nation negotiate the rising tides of urban renewal, Philadelphia, a city defined by its neighborhoods, faces a unique challenge. Next City, the Philadelphia-based nonprofit dedicated to connecting cities and informing the people working to improve them, has commissioned Portraits of Brewerytown, an exhibition of neighborhood-based portraiture by photographer Tieshka Smith, to reveal how one community is navigating this transformation. An opening reception with the artist will be held on Friday, January 11, 2013 from 5:30 – 9 p.m. at the Storefront for Urban Innovation, Next City’s office and event space located at 2711 W Girard Avenue in Philadelphia.

Coined the “City of Neighborhoods,” Philadelphia consists of an array of diverse communities, each with its own cultural, social, architectural and commercial assets. In these neighborhoods where individual and local identity are intertwined, change is often met with equal parts anticipation and a desire to retain strongly rooted traditions.

Portraits of Brewerytown offers a window into the individual experience as it relates to the revitalization of the North Philadelphia neighborhood, while inviting broader questions about the relationships of residents, their neighborhood, and its institutions to internal and external forces of urban renewal.

Understanding transitioning neighborhoods

It was in Germantown that Chicago native Tieshka Smith made her introduction to Philadelphia and began building her portfolio of neighborhood-based portraiture. A self-characterized street photographer, Tieshka Smith carries out her work in the homes, storefronts, schools, recreation centers, and streets of Philadelphia.

The men and women featured in Portraits of Brewerytown represent a cross-section of business, government, and the non-profit sectors — but all have contributed significantly to the neighborhood’s ongoing revitalization, affecting change through both formal and informal channels. In their spheres of influence, those featured in the exhibit are well-respected, highly regarded community members, considered leaders and innovators by their neighbors. Smith contextualizes the individual experience by documenting her subjects in the midst of their daily activities and in relationship to their community.

As part of the exhibition, a collaborative mapping activity will ask community members to add their place-specific stories and meaningful neighborhood landmarks to a large-scale map of Brewerytown. Developed to contextualize Smith’s portraits, the map pinpoints the locations where subjects were photographed — places that have personal or community-wide historical, social, cultural or economic significance, or places that symbolically embody a current issue, opportunity or decision facing the community. By providing an intimate glimpse into the people and places of a unique North Philadelphia neighborhood, Portraits of Brewerytown provides a platform for the viewer to explore the broader notions of community revitalization.

Re-imagining the Commons at the Storefront for Urban Innovation

Next City opened the Storefront for Urban Innovation in January 2012, now located at 2711 W Girard Avenue in the Brewerytown neighborhood of Philadelphia. The Storefront serves as both the headquarters of the publication and an event space designed to engage the local community through panel discussions, lectures, screenings, and exhibitions exploring ways to improve cities. The project is supported by the City 2.0, part of the 2012 TED Prize awarding $10,000 grants to innovative ideas about urban transformation.

Portraits of Brewerytown will be on display from January 11 – February 11, 2013. The exhibition is free and open to the public by appointment, or during Storefront hours: 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. most Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays. Visitors are encouraged to call (267) 639-9419 in advance to confirm.


Next City is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, dedicated to promoting socially and environmentally sustainable economic growth in America’s cities and examining how and why our built environment, economy, society and culture are changing. Through innovative urban affairs journalism published at and convening events around the country, Next City informs and connects cities and the people working to improve them. The organization offers premium online subscriber content in a digital format called Forefront as well as a daily blog coverage of urban affairs in Philadelphia and in cities around the country. Previously “Next American City,” the organization became “Next City” in December 2012 in a move to cover urbanization without any boundaries. Starting in January 2013, Next City will be covering The Informal City Dialogues, a Rockefeller Foundation-funded project that seeks to understand the relationship between the formal and informal in our cities and to envision a different, more inclusive and resilient future. In 2012, Next City opened the Storefront for Urban Innovation, located at 2711 W Girard Avenue, in the Brewerytown section of North Philadelphia. The Storefront supports dialogue about the direction of American cities, hosting panel discussions, lectures, screenings, workshops, and exhibitions.


Tieshka Smith, a photographer currently based in Philadelphia, creates images that challenge prevailing notions of otherness and explore the ways that marginalized people interact with one another and with shared but unsanctioned public spaces. A Chicago native, Tieshka is a graduate of Northwestern University and Keller Graduate School of Management.

Portraits of Brewerytown was made possible with support from TED and the City 2.0 and MM Partners.

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To request additional information, interviews and images, please contact:
Liz Maillie, Special Projects Manager
Liz(at) / (267) 639-9419

For more on the opening reception scheduled for Friday, January 11, 2013, check out the events page:

For more info on the artist, Tieshka Smith, check out this blog post:

Please find a sampling of Tieshka Smith’s photos from the exhibition, and a document including captions, at this link:


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