333 Soku Massimo (Michael Rowe)


I have fought my entire life to be me, to show my individuality and creativity. I had visited Philadelphia a few times in my youth and I thought it was just okay. I remember saying Philly is perpetually like New York (where I was born) two years ago. I thought the people were behind and backwards. But over the years I’d learn that wasn’t necessarily the case.

In 2008, I decided to follow the passion I’ve had for art since I was a child. My whole life I thought that I didn’t have what it took to create art, not realizing the entire time that I already was an artist. I entered an art contest and I won! That was it, I was going to do this! Interestingly enough, just before that in the same year I was offered and accepted a job that I hadn’t even applied for in Philadelphia.

Philly has shown me that there are so many different types of art and even more types of artists. This inspired me and I have grown so much as an artist since that time and I know I owe a large part of that to Philly.

I remember going to the PMoA and seeing what the greats such as Picasso created face-to-face. I saw the brush strokes and the inconsistencies in these beautiful works of priceless art that were hanging in a museum for the world to see. I went to First Fridays in Old City and saw the heart and soul that these fearless everyday artists put into all the different types of art they created. I walked around the city and everywhere I saw art; it was on the buildings, on trash cans, on the people, and of course in the galleries. Little did I know I was falling in love—in love with Philly. I then remembered what I had said about Philly “being perpetually like New York two years ago” and I now know that there are things that you can experience in Philadelphia that you can never get in New York. There is a heartbeat and history to Philadelphia that New York City just doesn’t have in the same way. There is an amazing energy and creativity that flows through this place and it’s people that I’d never felt before. It is hard to describe but it is why I find Philly to be a part of who I am as an Artist today and I am grateful to be a part of it.

My item: An unfinished necklace that I’ve worn many times just as is. I made this necklace from a vintage army man that I got from a thrift shop that was closing in Old City. The turquoise and silver beads were a gift from my mother who has always encouraged my creativity. I feel like it represents my fight not only to be me but to be an artist without limits.