Upstairs At TMom’s – January 2024: An Ongoing Photo Essay Documenting Philly’s Unofficial Street Art Museum

Words and photos by Streets Dept Lead Contributor Eric Dale.

Welcome to our third entry in the periodic series we call “Upstairs At TMom’s!”

Tattooed Mom, the restaurant and bar that’s been a [counter]cultural fixture on South Street for 25 years now, is widely known as Philly’s officially unofficial museum of street art. That’s because the entire upstairs is filled—FILLED—with graffiti and street art. Not just from local artists, but also from artists around the world, who make it a point to stop at “TMom’s” when they pass through Philly.

Mom’s recently hosted their sixth Thirsty Walls gathering for artists and I stopped by to capture the scene! The event poster this time around was created by Melt, who I caught putting up a sticker version of the poster at one point.

Personally, I use the sticker table as a barometer for the success of the evening. And it was fuller than I’ve ever seen it! Artists were tossing down stickers left and right, as well as collaborating and trading with each other. Sticker collectors like myself were rummaging around, looking for goodies, of which there were plenty to be found. At one point, a well-known long-time collector dropped a bunch of ancient hand-drawn stickers on the table, many of them by artists who are no longer active. Those who know their history were very excited!

Here’s a portion of my haul, featuring Melt, Void Skulls, irregular, Banjax, Radius, Dash, Baron, Gloopy Goblin, K, Jacuzzi, WETBRAIN, As Above So Below (RIP), Mousse, Markese, Curly, D.T., and Lotits. I don’t blame you if you don’t know some of those names—a few of these gems are 10–15 years old!

There was way too much going on to capture everything, and I definitely started to get overwhelmed after about an hour and a half, but here’s a bit of the action.

As usual, K and Michael Anthony were there, painting directly on the walls (which I had never seen at Mom’s until the first Thirsty Walls).

WETBRAIN threw a bunch of hand-drawn stickers down on the table, and also tagged the floor at one point.

Doomed Future wheatpasted a collaboration he made with Douglas Horn, who was also spreading amazing hand-lettered calligraphy stickers on the table.

Void Skulls wheatpasted a large portal drawing with a physical hole in the middle. I always love seeing the new twists they put in their larger works while still maintaining their own recognizable style.

D.T. pasted up a huge grid of fish prints. He actually described this exact technique—using many small pieces to create one large piece—in my recent interview with him!

And Carlos Couta provided a pair of shoulders to Nik Ronca so they could get nice up high with a Thirsty Walls sticker made last year by their late partner As Above So Below. (They also made “I did not die” stickers like the one in the earlier photo, which, if you knew Paco, are a perfect tribute.)

If you want to tap into the current state of Philly street art, and particularly sticker art, Thirsty Walls is the place to be. Hope to see you at the next one! You never know what you’ll find.

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