Torchia’s Marquee LED Brings the River to the City

By Purnell T. Cropper | October 4, 2011

Marquee, a 60-by-4-foot horizontal LED work by by artists Richard Torchia and Greenhouse Media, is the city’s first technology-based Percent for Art commission. Located on the west-facing side of the I-95 overpass above Race Street in Philadelphia, it was created in conjunction with the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation’s Race Street Connector Project.

Marquee features live-feed images of the surface of the Delaware River, displayed 24/7. Torchia is the Director of the Arcadia University Art Gallery.

The community is invited to the dedication of Marquee on Thursday, Oct. 6, at 7 p.m. on Race Street between Second and Front streets. Food and festivities will follow on the Race Street Pier.

The images on the screen are constantly shifting according to weather and lighting conditions, as well as boating patterns and river wildlife. In addition to drawing pedestrians toward the waterfront, these images, never the same twice, may also encourage pedestrians to re-imagine the cascading roar of the overpass traffic as the sound of waves.

The work reciprocates the gesture made by the Race Street Pier, an urban park that brings the city to the river: Marquee brings the river to the city. This compelling new work represents the City’s first technology-based Percent for Art commission. The artists’ proposal for the project consists of a total of four LED screens, of which this is the first.

The Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy is pleased to announce the completion of the first phase of this new public art project. The artists were selected through a competition to undertake Marquee, which received final approval by the Philadelphia Art Commission in April of this year, according to the OACCE news release.

According to Chief Cultural Officer Gary Steuer, “We are thrilled to present this new commission which joins together state-of-the-art LED technology with a conceptually simple and poetic idea. This represents what will be the first of many innovative public art projects at key connector streets to the Delaware Riverfront.”

Torchia has developed projects for Eastern State Penitentiary, the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where his work is included in the permanent collection. He has exhibited his work internationally and has received grants including a Pew Fellowship in the Arts and fellowships from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation.

Greenhouse Media, founded by multimedia and video artists Aaron Igler and Matt Suib, is Philadelphia’s first multi-media service bureau serving the arts and culture sector. Greenhouse Media provides comprehensive media services, including photography, video production, and web design, to numerous cultural organizations, museums and renowned artists.

The mission of the City of Philadelphia’s Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy is to support and promote arts, culture and the creative industries; and to develop partnerships and coordinate efforts that weave arts, culture and creativity into the economic and social fabric of the City. The Office manages and oversees City arts programs, provides policy advice to the Mayor and other Administration officials and serves as the primary point of municipal contact for local organizations, businesses, artists and creative entrepreneurs. To learn more about the OACCE visit

The Delaware River Waterfront Corporation is a nonprofit corporation organized to act as the steward of the Delaware River waterfront to provide a benefit to all of the citizens and visitors of the city. The fundamental purpose of DRWC is to design, develop and manage the central Delaware River waterfront in Philadelphia between Oregon and Allegheny Avenues, to transform the central Delaware River waterfront into a vibrant destination location for recreational, cultural, and commercial activities for the residents and visitors of Philadelphia.

Photo by Aaron Igler