By Pat Gallen


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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Every day Philadelphians are bombarded by advertisements. They’re on their phones, TVs and buildings. But would they feel differently if the ad space was actually art space?

When you take the subway, you don’t expect to find art. But that’s changing at SEPTA’s Walnut-Locust station.

Last year, City Fitness bought ad space on trash cans in Center City, giving local artists a unique spot to show off their talent.

Now, it’s going underground.

“We looked at that developing over time and we realized that this might have had a real positive impact on public space,” City Fitness vice president of marketing Tom Wingert said. “It’s a worthwhile concept, why don’t we think about expanding it? What kind of impact can we have as we grow as a company outside of our gyms? So that’s transforming public spaces. Turning that into a better version of itself.”

Thirty Philadelphia artists will be featured through March 10, including Mo Smith and Aaron Ricketts, who each used their blank canvas to tell a story.

Ricketts selected something that pops.

“Red, in and of itself, even if you’re looking past the image, is gonna catch your eye,” Ricketts said.

(Credit: CBS3)

When Smith found out she’d be involved, she threw on some music, found a spot and went to work.

“We just decided to go out to a field and throw on some Beyoncé,” Smith said. “We didn’t know what we were gonna get and it’s actually one of my favorite pieces of all time.”

Long term, Wingert says he hopes this changes the advertising landscape.

“Normally you’re used to seeing an ad and it turns into white noise,” Wingert said. “What we hope is that people walk by and they feel something. As they’re walking through, their eyes turn up and there’s an emotional response.”

For the artists, it’s all about the opportunity.

“Being seen and being heard is super important for us to like continue on our journey,” Ricketts said.

“This is amazing,” Smith said. “Exposure of any kind is amazing and something like this, where 6,000 people are going through every day, is insane to me. It’s awesome.”