A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words in the Fishtown District Download

00:57 Download February 9th, 2022

Commonweal exhibits the work of emerging artists and mid-career artists and designers from the Philadelphia community who are actively engaging with local, national, and global conversations. The gallery hosts nine two-person exhibitions throughout the year and features a capsule collection of ten design items that are exclusive to the gallery, which rotates annually. Monthly we offer a series of intimate programs intended to broaden an understanding of how and why featured creators engage with the world.  Commonweal is owned and operated by Alex Conner, a curator, educator, and entrepreneur who is devoted to Philadelphia and its artists.  Commonweal is open Tuesday – Saturday, from 11a – 6p.

Philly Photographers Work Reflect City’s Redevelopment

Alvarez and Abba capture the changing landscape of Fishtown and Kensington as the residential tax abatement begins to be phased out.

PHILADELPHIA, PA (January 20, 2022) – While billions of dollars have been spent over the past decade to redevelop large swaths of Philadelphia’s neighborhoods in a bid to redefine the city’s residential appeal and attract transplants, photographers Jaime Alvarez and Sheldon Omar Abba have been methodically documenting how this process has altered the landscape and communities of Fishtown and Kensington.

Commonweal Art Gallery Owner Alex Conner explains, “With the beginning of the phasing out of Philadelphia’s 10-year property tax abatement on January 1st, 2022, (which drove a large increase in filings for permits in 2021 – 2,600 versus 1,600 the year previous) it seemed a critical moment to invite these two photographers to exhibit their bodies of work, which capture the cities changing landscape.  These haunting images visually depict how a seemingly dull and bureaucratic tax policy has deeply impacted the psyche of our city”.

Showcased around the world, Alvarez and Abba’s work will be on display together for the first time ever at the Commonweal Gallery from Tuesday, February 8th through Saturday, March 12th.  The exhibition will have its public opening reception at 1607 Latimer Street, Philadelphia, on Friday, February 11th, from 6p – 9p, which will be preceded by a private press preview and walkthrough with the artists from 5p – 6p.


Alvarez (b. 1979) is an artist who uses photography, video, and installation in his work to question how people relate to objects, and the landscape around them. Through his work, he seeks to personify the object with intent and purpose through a careful mediation of the object through perspective, scale, and content, often commenting on contemporary materialism and visual culture.  Alvarez is originally from Puerto Rico, and currently resides in Philadelphia. His work has been seen throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, and Canada and has been collected by Comcast, The Mexic-Arte Museum, Drexel University, and is in numerous prominent private collections.

Abba (b. 1985) is the proud son of immigrants and is a brown man in America. His work straddles the line between practicing artist and creative facilitator. His projects are often collaborations between artists, institutions and communities focused on documentation, and collective storytelling. He currently uses film photography as an access point for relationship building and discussions around topics of identity, race, and social justice. “We are really excited about the chance to expose Philadelphians to these gifted photographers who have highlighted the evolution of Fishtown and Kensington”, said Conner.

For more information on the event, check out Commonweal’s website . You can also keep up to date with February events by visiting the gallery’s Instagram or Facebook. For press inquiries and/or media requests, please contact [email protected].

Next Shows at Commonweal

Tuesday, March 15th – Saturday, April 16th _ Inspired by a new age of investigation and discovery  in outer space thanks to the launch of the James Webb Telescope in late 2021, and its deployment in early 2022, painters Adam Lovitz and Seneca Weintraut present a series of large scale paintings whose diverse and challenging subject matters are interwoven with cosmic concepts such as the heavens, infinity, cosmic voids, stellar formation as well as each person’s ability to conceive of the universe as a metaphor for their individual ability to make order out of the world around them.

Tuesday, April 19th – Saturday, May 21st _ As the spring turns to summer and we begin to go back out into the world, artists Kara Mshinda and Ernel Martinez will present a series of mixed-media works that reflect this re-emergence through exploring and expanding upon how we construct our sense of self by filtering external fictions conveyed to us by others through our internal editing and ordering of facts.


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