More Than Likes is a series about social media people trying to do positive things for their communities.

Conrad Benner’s phone camera was fixed on Nile Livingston, an artist who was standing in front of a blank wall. Max. Livingston would soon paint a massive mural, and the “canvas” would be the side of an apartment building overlooking a parking lot in the Gayborhood area of ​​Philadelphia. But Mx. Livingston had a hard time finding the right words to advertise TikTok.

“We can do a thousand takes,” said Mr. Benner, warmth in his voice. He chose both the place and the artist.

Mr. Benner, 38, runs Streets Dept, a photo blog and social media presence dedicated to spotlighting street artists. In addition to interviewing artists on video and photographing their work, Mr. Benner selects artists for Mural Arts Philadelphia, which says it is the largest public art program in the nation. In a city known for the wealth and of its cultural institutions and its public art sceneMr. Benner wants to “serve the artists in every way.”

“He is a bridge in the public art community,” Mx. Livingston said. “He stops and slows down and observes the things around him, and he really cares about the city of Philadelphia.”

Before meeting with Mx. Livingston, Mr. Benner’s camera was locked on another artist, Alexei Mansour, which Mr. Brenner chose to paint a mural in real time as part of a street festival. It was nearly 90 degrees, and huge speakers drowned out Mr. Mansour, a self-described “murmurer” not keen on speaking. There were people everywhere and Mr. Mansour was also struggling, his face was red. (“I blacked out,” Mr. Mansour said moments later.)

Mr. Benner took charge: He ordered Mr. Mansour to wave his hands in front of his face to cool himself down. He changed locations, first trying to record Mr. Mansour in an adjacent building (also too loud) before settling on a corner away from the commotion.

“One, two, three,” said Mr. Benner patiently, and Mr. Mansour began to describe his work.

Mr Mansour, whose work focuses on queer identity, and his team worked on a mural of the Greek god Dionysus, which some consider early. non-binary figure

Mr. Benner, who grew up in the Fishtown neighborhood and typically wears a flat-brimmed cap and mustache, avoids attention when documenting art, directing people’s eyes toward the artists he supports.

“My interest has always been to point the camera outward,” Mr. Benner said. “I find deep joy and interest in learning about the world around me through public art and the artists who make it.”

Mr. Benner first published Streets Dept in 2011. A newcomer to the street art world — Mr. Benner is not a trained artist, and he had long planned to go into architecture — his early posts took on what he called a “fanboy blog” tone.

The blog went public in June 2011 when Time magazine reprinted a poster about an artist who “yarn bombed” a city train, wrapping seats in multicolored knitting fibers. The attention landed Mr. Benner a full-time marketing job, which he quit in 2015 after surpassing 100,000 Instagram followers (he now has over 150,000 followers and another 34,600 on TikTok) and devoted all his focus to Street Dept. He later started a subscription service through Patreon, a membership platform for content creators.

In 2020, Mr. Benner began selecting artists and locations for Mural Art, which he said now provides the bulk of Street Dept’s funding, after nearly a decade of independent curatorial work, which he still does. on the side.

At the heart of all that work is a love for a city that he believes is particularly suited to a thriving street art community.

“Most of the street artists that are working now are building either abandoned buildings or building materials,” Mr. Benner said. “Almost every neighborhood in Philly has an abandoned building that’s a former warehouse, or abandoned homes.”

“There was this idea that, well, industry and maybe some people had left this city, so now it’s our playground,” he said of street artists (the city’s population dropped from about two million in the 1960s to around 1.5 million in 2021). “If you leave a building abandoned, it will be filled with art.”

Hours after filming with Mx. Livingston and Mr. Mansour, Mr. Benner popped up near a free wall space for artists on a busy street corner, where a man was painting a woman’s face. Mr. Benner had seen the artist’s work for months but had never met him. He was Shaun Durbin, an up and coming local artist who had tried to get Mr. Benner’s attention earlier at the live painting. He agreed to let Mr. Benner present his work.

Mr. Benner pulled out his camera. “This is so kismet,” he said. His favorite part of his job is meeting new artists and sharing their work with the masses. “Why else are we in this world if not just to look around and be excited about what’s around us?”

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