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JEFF DEENEY SAYS: The two remaining legal graffiti spaces I know of are on Carpenter Street between 12th and 13th and at 49th and Westminster Street in West Philly. There are likely more than these; those with more knowledge of the city’s graffiti scene can feel free to chime in and school us. Please link more photos if you’ve got them. According to BESO the walls around 12th and Carpenter are open to anyone who wants to paint there but at 49th and Westminster, not so much. I think the quality of the work on the walls reflects this, with the artistic bar being set far higher on the Westminster wall than those around Carpenter Street. I remember seeing the Westminster wall for the first time while at my job as a social worker. I was driving through the neighborhood on my way to do a home visit with a client; I caught a glimpse of it out of the corner of my eye and almost had an accident. It was so stunning, awesome and enormous that my head whipsawed as I tried to get a better look. I almost drove into a parked car. I circled back and walked the length of the wall (it is looooong) and kicked myself for not carrying a camera. I had never heard about it, which isn’t surprising; unless you’re in the graffiti scene or have intimate knowledge of West Philadelphia you probably haven’t. It’s deep in the heart of the Wild West, not the kind of place most Philadelphians happen to find themselves, unless they happen to live there or know someone who does. I’d be curious to know more about the Westminster wall. The only thing I got from BESO when I asked him about it was a wide-eyed declaration of pure awe, “Yo, man, you don’t just walk up on that wall. It’s strictly old heads paintin’ there.” Take a look at the photo set and see why the Philly graffiti scene holds the site in near-holy reverence.
[Photos by JONATHAN VALANIA]