KAWS @ PAFA: A Photo Essay

Juxtaposing traditional works and century's old architecture, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts KAWS exhibition brought the best of pop art to the City of Brotherly Love.

That day was like an adventure. Although I had traveled back and forth to Philadelphia since I was born (literally), this was a new experience. In fact, it was during one of my usual family visits that I previewed what was to come — KAWS' Companion "Passing Through" in all its oversized, melancholy glory guarding the exit of 30th Street Station. I could hardly believe my eyes. This was the sculpture that I had seen in Instagram feeds of the rich, famous, and in-the-know. Now it was here, in situ at Philly's bustling train station. KAWS was coming to town, and this was the ultimate billboard.

Fast-forward a few months to a brisk November afternoon. I arrived once more at 30th Street Station, but not solely to see the folks. I scheduled a tight agenda, allowing the beau and I time to venture downtown prior to meeting up with family. I had mapped our route — about a mile down Market Street, north on Broad, a few more blocks, and then our final destination, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. While most know the nation's oldest art museum for its 19th- and 20th-century collections, for three months in 2013, PAFA became a mecca for street- and pop-art enthusiasts.

Featuring over 60 works, KAWS @ PAFA attracted cool kids of all kinds, and that afternoon I became one too. I stood in the very space being beamed around the Internet, personally observing the same vantage points. It was KAWS up close–not Instagram pics or miniature toys, but the real deal. With my beau on SLR, I turned to my trusty iPhone to capture the experience.

See iPhone 5 images on my VSCO Grid.

Overview. The indoor component of KAWS @ PAFA featured over 60 KAWS paintings and sculptures — some of them newly created for this exhibition — in the galleries of the Historic Landmark Building. These works provided an intriguing link between contemporary and historic American art. KAWS @ PAFA was the first large-scale gallery intervention exhibition and highlighted PAFA’s long tradition of commitment to contemporary art and to artists who define the iconography of their times.

Curator. Harry Philbrick, Edna S. Tuttleman Director of the Museum