Photo by Julian Moore-Griffin.

On a chilly Friday night in December 2023, the Germantown Art & Sound show co-founders and lead curators Keisha Whatley, Vanessa Chandler, Courtney Childs (Our House Culture Center), and Julian Moore-Griffin (Affluent Photography) gathered at Our House Culture Center on Germantown Avenue with over a dozen artists who’ve previously vended with them for food, drinks, trivia, and to celebrate another year of local craftsmanship.

Seated at one of the many tables around the community space, acrylic painter Genesis shares that her art journey started during the COVID-19 pandemic when she turned to painting as a form of creative expression and artistic therapy. After her work picked up traction over Instagram and she decided to pursue art more seriously, Genesis found Germantown ArtHaus. And subsequently, Germantown Art & Sound–where she immediately felt at home.

“I love the Germantown ArtHaus,” says Genesis. “I love everything that it’s doing for the community. Arthaus has really created an environment where everybody can win.”

For many up-and-coming artists like Genesis, finding markets or pop-ups to display one’s work can be intimidating—let alone the grit it takes to put yourself out there. That’s why Germantown Art & Sound, the quarterly art exhibit at Our House Culture Center in Germantown on the fourth Friday of the month, has become the highly anticipated and beloved marketplace for art and a home for supporting Philadelphia’s rising artists.

“Germantown Art & Sound is such a great platform for artists who are first starting because it is so welcoming,” says co-curator Vanessa Chandler. “They can bring their most authentic art and be well received. I feel like it gives some artists that nugget of confidence to wish for bigger things in their career.”

Germantown Art & Sound is produced by Germantown ArtHaus, which provides local artisans with career growth and education opportunities. Germantown ArtHaus’ founder, Whatley, even offers coaching services to artists to show them how to manage their success as they continue to rise in their fields. 

To Whatley, Germantown Art & Sound doesn’t solely provide artists with space to exhibit their work; its responsibility is to teach artists, provide them with the necessary resources to expand their work, and help them play a crucial role in creating a successful show. 

“Our commitment to [Art & Sound] has been the avenue to the success of this show,” says Whatley. “And if we ever get off-site, that we are doing this to be a platform for artists and creatives, to support them, to encourage them, to help them make money off of what they do, and give them confidence in their work, then I’m quitting.”

Previous artists who’ve exhibited with Art & Sound include Germantown’s own Heather Bowlan and Philadelphia neighbors Mike Nixon, Prince De Leon, Steven Cooper, and Nevia Da’Vesa—many of whom have only continued to flourish in their artistic endeavors.

While the exhibit is a great jumping-off point for artists, it’s also a chance to unite the Germantown community under one roof. 

Like in most industries, even the arts can be a competitive field of creating and marketing, but at Art & Sound, folks seemed more concerned with community building than networking for business. Multidisciplinary artist and Art & Sound alumna (as they’ve been calling themselves) Ayiana Viviana and Lady Vic share, together, that Art & Sound is a cherished place for the community.

“There is a true sense of family here,” says Viviana. “And that’s meant so much to me in this season of my life. It really is such a beautiful honor to be a part of this community.”

The two artists who, just by watching them, could’ve been mistaken for lifelong friends shared that Art & Sound connections seem to go beyond the acquaintance or peer level. 

“It’s not like I’m vending my stuff, and then we just forget about each other; instead, it’s like I’ve gained friends from it who come and support me at other events outside of Germantown Art & Sound,” says Lady Vic.

Throughout the evening, artists talked about their work and future collaborations and offered congratulations on their future success. But by the night’s end, it was evident Chandler, Childs, Whatley, and Moore-Griffin were already planning for the future.

Starting the year with a whole new crop of vendors, Germantown Art & Sound is set to return for its first showcase with its annual creative kickback and art show on January 26th from 7-10 p.m. Excited for what’s to come in 2024, Chandler shares her hopes for future artists preparing to vend with Art & Sound. 

“If anything, I hope Germantown Art & Sound is a catalyst for people or a reminder for artists of just how much they’re capable of. You have a community that cares about you and wants to see you succeed,” says Chandler.

For those interested in exhibiting with Germantown Art & Sound, visit their Instagram to learn more. The quarterly show will return in April and twice more in July and October.