Sunday, October 13, 2013
SAYING 'GOOD-BYE' TO UTRECHT
Last Tuesday night, I was leaving my painting class at Fleisher Art Memorial and drove onto Spruce Street to make my way home. As I approached the light at Broad Street and Spruce Street, I slowly glanced over to my left as I always did at that stop. Now it is where I see that Utrecht Art Supplies Store is dark and closed for the good. All the signs are still up around the building though, which gives it an erie ghost like feeling.
About 4-5 months ago, I learned that Utrecht would be merged into Dick Blick art supply store and the Utrecht I knew would be no more. You see, Utrecht was not just a art supply store to me, it was a hip, chic, cool, trendy place where artists from all over Philadelphia purchased their art supplies. Their employees were art students and it had this feel of 'pure art'. They featured a cork board where artists could post their info, business cards etc. It was a place to mingle. Utrecht was the 'it' place to shop in the art world in Philly. Their prices were awesome and they always had what you needed. A lot of their supplies were behind the counter where students artists would assist you with your chosen materials.
Utrecht was not just a art supply store to me but a place where memories were formed and made, a place where my personality was defined and a talent was realized.
When I first moved to Philly to attend Moore College of Art and Design, Utrecht was the place to go for most art supplies. I remember when I walked the first time from my dorm room on Cherry Street to Utrecht at 14th and Broad Street with my friend Linda. It was 17 blocks, seemed so far but well worth the trip. I realized I was being introduced to a city for the first time in my life. Utrecht seemed so 'cool' to me back then. I had never been in an art supply store like it. Illustration board, Letraset press type, Chartpak press type were the top supplies that I purchased at Utrecht. Airbrush machine and supplies were 'hot' and drafting tables were 'in'. If you remember that computers had not arrived in to colleges in 1983 and everything was done by hand, from rub down type to colored rub down film that came in such an array of colors that amazed me. These were the days of Pantone markers for marker renderings to matching colored papers and film were the top materials that we used in school. Illustration board was the top material to create designs, logos and advertisements to prepare artwork for printing presses. When I went there I felt like I was in artists heaven!
I loved Utrecht. I loved the materials they carried , the ambience of the store as well as the people that shopped there. I loved Utrecht for carrying the fabric paint called DEKA (now out of business) when I started painting T-shirts, baby clothes and pillows. After college, I moved to 17th Street and Spruce and Utrecht was just a couple blocks from my apartment. I remember the days of carrying home large sheets of illustration board and matte board inside large clear plastic bags. Some time after I moved to my apartment, Utrecht moved across the street and on the other side of Spruce Street. I didn't like it as much as the first location, but tried to adjust with the times. Utrecht always had the paint I used in acrylic and oil. They had canvases that I really loved. They’re canvases were weighty and had a strong cross bars in the back for extra support. The texture of the canvas was great to paint on and after I first began painting, I ordered 10 canvases 30x40 and had them shipped to my home. The total cost was approx. $180.00 for the 10. Can you beleive it? That was $18.00 for one 30x40. I still have two remaining and I will save them for a special project.
Utrecht is where I found most of my 'bags of tricks' on my blog. It is where my early college years had formed strung memories of friendship. It is where I learned about walking the city for the first time and where I felt like and learned to live and feel like an artist. Now Utrecht has formed some sort of partnership with Dick Blick and they have finally left their home on Broad Street and Spruce Street. Dick Blick is located on 13th and Chestnut Street approx. 4 blocks from Utrecht's former location. They said that they will still carry Utrechts paint but not their canvases. I have never used a Dick Blick canvas and I hope they are as good as Utrecht’s.
Utrecht has moved on to a new venture and I will miss it. I will never forget the memories it created for me. I will never forget the way it gave me an introduction into the art scene in Philadelphia. and helped me become a professional artist.. Utrecht, like Borders Book Store will be thought of as a happy, welcoming and teaching experience for me. So, Utrecht I say my goodbyes to you. Thank you for all the memories and for opening the world to help me live and become an artist.