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Social Commentary With an X-Acto Knife.

November 8, 2011

Text by Maddy Court. Artwork by Joe Boruchow.

South Philly street artist and guitarist Joe Boruchow creates geometric designs and bold, stylized images that take on street art’s noble mission of making crappy places look less crappy.

“I’ll get people asking what it’s for or what it’s advertising,” he says. “I also get people who see it as vandalism. I try not to do too much private property but sometimes it’s unavoidable.”

Joe’s adventures in street art began in 2001 when he started making promotional posters with handmade stencils for his band, The Nite Lights. As his technique with an X-Acto knife improved, his stencils became elaborate enough to stand on their own as paper cutouts.

Whether he’s working on his intricate patterns or his music, Joe’s artistic process remains fundamentally the same.

“I guess everything starts with an idea,” he says. “Then, as you construct the song or the paper cutout, you play with the medium as the idea changes.”

His wheatpaste posters, fraught with political satire and social commentary, can be found around the city on telephone poles, public mailboxes and abandoned buildings.

There’s a definite folksy quality to Joe’s visual art and music that makes both instantly recognizable.

“I generally describe The Nite Lights’ music as handmade rock and roll,” he offers. “Although, some would challenge the term ‘handmade’ now that I use a drum machine so frequently. We like to be spooky and we like to rock from time to time. Our music is most successful when it is evocative, expressive and pretty.”

The Nite Lights are fast at work on a yet-to-be named EP, which is due out by the end of the year.

Joe’s 10th annual solo exhibition hangs at The Bean Café, 615 South St., through December 13.

And if you just want to meet Joe, swing by Tattooed Mom’s, where he’s a bartender.

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