Nestled between the red brick Victorian buildings on the border of Center City is Twenty–Two Gallery, a name reflective of its residence on 22nd Street. The billowing blue canvas denoting its name hangs over a small round table with two chairs outside, perhaps used as a place for the art connoisseurs to discuss the pieces inside.
Twenty–Two Gallery was founded in 2003 as a platform for student artists to showcase their work. Since then, it has transformed into a gallery of 22 local artists spanning all ages and mediums from oil painting to sculpture to photography and to acrylic. The space has one large room broken into two by a wall divider. Which artists populate the front and the back rooms is built on a system of rotation. Today, in the front is John Attanasio’s Down East and Closer to Home, a collection of landscapes and cityscapes depicting Center City Philadelphia and coastal Maine, the artist’s two homes. The showcased artist changes each month, as the gallery hosts monthly art openings on the second Friday of each month, the receptions of which take place from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
The gallery's story begins in 1911, when Bruce Murray Sr. started his career in the old Philadelphia newspaper the Public Ledger. As a photographer, he captured hundreds of events and famous figures, from baseball legends to presidents to flappers. His son, Bruce Murray, Jr. followed suit and became a press photographer for the The Philadelphia Evening Bulletin.
The family legacy continued to Shawn Murray, the current owner of Twenty–Two Gallery, who began printing his grandfather’s photographs. These black–and–white photographs sit on the back wall of the gallery today, though many have also been printed and sold and some join the permanent collection of The National Baseball Hall of Fame. Many are also scattered across the Thomas Edison Museum, the Babe Ruth Museum, and the collections of renowned names such as Tom Hanks and Larry King, among many others.
Since then, Murray has expanded his collection of photographs to a collection of artwork of the Philly native. What's different about this particular gallery is its locality; most galleries try to show national and international pieces. By keeping to the local Philadelphia community, Murray maintains his support for the local economy, but allows a wide variety of types of art. The result is an eclectic collection. For him, the “hope is that there’ll be something for you all.”
Aside from featuring artists and their artwork, Twenty–Two Gallery is also home to small events. On the third Thursday of the month, the gallery hosts a wine tasting class. The space has also become the venue for book signings, weddings and marriage proposals, 102nd birthdays, and concerts of local singer–songwriters. If anything, such an intimate and cozy setting is to become the place for small gatherings and cultural appreciation.
The next art opening is on Nov. 10th, featuring solo artist Priscilla Bohlen, an oil and acrylic painter.