ARTSY: The Greatest ‘Pope Francis In Philly’ Commemorative Memorabilia Story Ever Told


EDITOR’S NOTE: Todd Kimmel’s legend looms large in the annals of proto-bohemian Philadelphia. He was cool before it was even possible.

TODD KIMMEL: We’ve created a series of large format prints featuring Pope Francis in general, and his visit to Philly in particular.  I dreamed up this project, and now these prints are selling like crazy to Catholic and utterly non Catholic people alike. I like the guy, and what he represents to all the entrenched, doomed naysayers who are now being Pope Mobiledragged into the light as just that.  Francis throws down this love bomb thing, and everybody falls into this state of bizarre optimism, like maybe some good things can actually start to happen in the world.  That is goddam unique in my lifetime, and a completely new sort of thing.  Refreshing, even, and it infuriates conservative Christians and even alotta Catholics. So I turn to my friend Fred Lammers in Oslo, Norway, one of my favorite artists in the world.  His oeuvre (don’t ever use that word in a spoken sentence, or fin de siècle, either!) is Southern Cali early 60s hot rod and surfer illustration, I shit you not.  He is so good at it that SoCal event folks turn to him for posters, and surf bands around the world beg him to do their CD covers.

We had plenty dialog about celebrating this Pope’s joy and stylee, so no The Pope Smokes Dope or Pope Soap On A Rope sort of giving him the razzberry… BUT, this also had to be a celebration of Fred’s art at all times.  I ask for a Popemobile… he Pope Canoesends me one based on a mid 60s Meyers Manx dune buggy.  We decide on a piece done as an LP cover, which also fits in an LP cover frame.  He gives me a surfing Pope.  I work the copy on just about everything.  Sometimes I suggest a concept, other times he’s hurling them at me.  I suggest lots of graphic tweaks, but the whole time me and Fred are crackin’ up via the internet.  It has been a funny project since we first started in March. I only just debuted the prints on Facebook and Etsy and it started to take off immediately.  I gave a framed City Hall tower print to Bob Brady’s office, because thousands of people are driving him crazy trying to get seats to the special closed door mass at the basilica on Logan Square.  I gave a framed Pretzel Pope to Center City Pretzel Bakery on Washington Ave and they flipped! MORE