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Somewhere above 9th Street, a giant Sixers logo is glinting in the air.
That’s as close to a location as creator Reed Bmore will give for the wire sculpture he created as part of a commission from the team. Strung between two rowhomes, it’s a gleaming 4-foot rendition of the “Phila Unite” symbol: that “join or die” snake wrapped around a bell.
Bmore, who does all his work under a pseudonym, has been called the “Banksy of Baltimore” — a comparison the laid-back artist says makes him laugh — but he feels a deep connection to Philly.
“Philadelphia made me who I am as a practicing artist today,” he told Billy Penn, citing a 2015 visit with Conrad Benner of the Streets Dept blog as a key moment in his career. “Philly was one of the first cities I left mine to install in.”
The 29-year-old was in town last fall, placing a piece in the Philadelphia Navy Yard as part of the socially-distanced Group X outdoor art show. And he was in Fishtown last month when he got the call from the 76ers, asking him to be part of the buildup to the team’s potentially historic playoff run.
“It was just a cold call,” Bmore said, adding that he didn’t know how exactly the Sixers found him. “I don’t really hide that much.”
Philadelphia’s NBA team has made a concerted effort to engage the community over the past year, from spotlighting more than 70 small businesses on its popular social accounts to starting a $20 million “Buy Black” program to help local entrepreneurs.
Still, this is probably the most corporate commission Bmore has ever taken. He mentioned some work has been placed in government buildings, and there was once a discussion with Baltimore beer brand Natty Boh, but it didn’t pan out.
In addition to the big Sixers logo hanging in the air, Bmore created 17 smaller versions, made from galvanized steel and steel mesh he picked up at Lowe’s.
Making that many little copies was more difficult than the original. “They’re roughly 11 inches,” he said, so incorporating all the details “works some intricate muscles.”
Bmore, who was born in the Philippines and moved to Baltimore over a decade ago, loves his hometown with a passion — hence his name.
Asked how he feels about being part of the hype for a different city, he said it’s right in line with his goal of “broadening what community is” and creating collaboration that crosses geographic lines. Plus, he recognizes Philly as a center for street art.
Said Bmore: “They love art. They love the process in Philadelphia”