First Friday at Frank’s Kitchens


First Friday at Frank's Kitchens
Photography by Becca Levy

Since 2007, Frank’s Kitchens has been an active, artistic fabrication collective in Philadelphia.  Frank’s Kitchens began as a space to create large kinetic sculptures for the annual Kensington Kinetic Sculpture Derby. The shop now has twelve artists-in-residence: John Spetrino, Tom Carr, Hedy Sirico, Erik Silverson, MonkE Burnswell, Joe Campbell, Alex Schuetz, Dave Wade Brann, Reno Roxx, Tim Stoume and Vinny Gaspar. Last Friday, Frank’s Kitchens hosted a First Friday Art Event showcasing their newest works, including the beginning of this year’s vehicle for the sculpture derby. The art show featured moving found-art sculptures complete with baby heads, mounted mason jar flower vases and some very large metal artwork.

One of these giant metal pieces is Frank’s Kitchens resident, Joe Campbell’s heart. Upon completion, the 3 foot tall steel heart will be be installed at PEX Heartburn VI next Friday. The heart, which is currently untitled, is a response to another unnamed artist’s piece. Joe Campbell explained, “One of the things that I really like about art is when you can see the dialogue back and forth between two people, when you see people giving credit to other artists by emulating them or by a direct response to their work.” Joe has been working on the project since December and has spent countless hours sketching and researching. A fellow Frank’s Kitchens artist, MonkE Burnswell, found an old Beseler projector which allowed Joe to enlarge his small heart pictures giving him a model to pull from.

Joe Campbell's heart
Photography by Becca Levy

Joe’s sheet metal heart is seven times the size of an actual human heart and will look as realistic as possible. Joe’s aim with the project is a combination of nature and machine, “It’s taking the heart, something very organic and natural, and taking something as mechanical as a boiler, and trying to combine them into one piece.”The real vision for the project is to turn the entire heart into one gigantic thermal mass sculpture: water will enter through the left atrium, travel through the left and right ventricles, be heated in the right atrium and finally steam out from the aorta. The project is quite intense and the sheet metal alone is big workload. Dave Wade Brann, who’s helping Joe with the heart, commented on the difficulty of the construction. “We had to use an ancient elephant toe nail clipper to cut out all the steel.”  The ‘ancient elephant toe nail clipper’ is a large hand-held machine that cuts through steel as if it’s water. Hopefully their tireless efforts will enable Joe’s vision come to life.

John Spetrino’s Disco Planet
Photography by Becca Levy

Also on display at Frank’s Kitchens was John Spetrino’s latest project, a huge metal sphere over 8 feet in diameter called Disco Planet. Disco Planet was originally a globe but John decided to remove all of the continents. “I kept looking at it and thinking that’s really boring, we have a lot of tools I might as well make something.” John stripped the globe, cut it in half and drilled over 4,000 holes for brackets. Now John is just waiting on China for the 780 LEDs that he needs to turn the sphere into a gigantic programmable marquee. The usual month shipping delay from China was impacted by the recent holiday. As John bluntly states, “Chinese New Year screwed up everything, it always does.” The sphere will also be wrapped in spandex to diffuse the light of the LEDs. Once all of the LEDs are in place, video will be piped in using a web cam and their own programmer built by John’s friend Jesse Congdon.  Disco Planet will also be on display at PEX Heartburn VI.

There are several upcoming projects in the works for Frank’s Kitchens, like the newest derby sculpture and a school bus art car. Be sure to check out their website or facebook page to stay updated. If you live in the Philadelphia area make sure to attend the Kennsington Kinetic Sculpture Derby in May where you can see their massive kinetic sculptures in action. Also, keep your eyes peeled for our upcoming article and photo gallery from PEX Heartburn VI with plenty of photos of the Disco Planet and Joe’s heart.

Check out this bonus clip of my interview of Joe Campbell. It includes intercom distractions and some quick comments about Fertility 2.0. Sometimes interviewing artists in their native habitats leads to some pretty hilarious digressions.

Joe Campbell Interview-Franks Kitchen

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