Caryn Kunkle has a radical vision for the future of the biggest fiscal market in Philadelphia: the Arts. Over the past seven years she has made a visible impact on the tri-state area by leading a grass roots movement to collaborate local arts resources through her organization: The Philadelphia Salon. Now, this 31 year old native Philadelphian is taking her Salon to the next level by spearheading a major drive to open a revolutionary art museum, PIMOCA, that she claims will be self-sustaining and will change the way average people locally and worldwide can access the contemporary arts. “Philadelphia Interactive Museum of Contemporary Art, PIMOCA, will soon be a national leader in resource collaboration, committed to education and improving the visibility and capabilities of the art communities that PIMOCA serves. PIMOCA will specifically address the growing need to cut back on regional overhead costs and overlapping philanthropy in an effort to create a more sustainable future for American contemporary art,” says Kunkle.
Caryn is an ambitious and motivated self-starter with a unique array of life experiences. Her love for art comes naturally; portraiture is a talent she has pursued from an early age, and she has a long list of sitters ranging from local residents to international figureheads. She just recently was commissioned to paint Bill Clinton. Her leadership strengths stem from seven years of volunteer firefighting and multiple student government roles, including graduating Valedictorian of Kutztown University. The first person in her biological family to attend college, she was adopted at three months old by a young couple from western Pennsylvania who recently had moved to Philadelphia. Her perseverance and patience reflect her dedication to her autistic brother, who has been a major influence on her life and her work. “PIMOCA is being built by and for the community, and one major ‘ask’ that has come up repeatedly is for workspace for students, adults, and most especially those with special needs. Organizations are in need of contemporary art-work space that engages and educates folks with all abilities and I am so proud every time I am asked for space by an organization that works with special needs. I will do backflips if we can make progress in providing more integrated opportunities for adults like my brother who need creativity, in addition to artists like myself.” Building PIMOCA in North Philadelphia won’t be so daunting, as Caryn worked six years of construction as a carpenter to pay for college, and enjoyed a low-income childhood spent in a North Philadelphia row-home, which she says made her “scrappy.”
During graduate school at Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) -which is America’s first art museum and art academy- she faced the challenge of lack of business opportunity for local artists. Caryn invented her own exhibition and sales system through her collective The Philadelphia Salon, which rapidly caught on all over Philadelphia, and currently serves artists, collectors, and the general public in multiple states. The Philadelphia Salon has been instrumental in connecting local artists to local resources to achieve projects like the “Grumman Greenhouse’, which is a sculpture made by artist Jordan Griska from an ex-Navy aircraft with a 76 foot wingspan that currently resides at Broad and Cherry Street in Lenfest Plaza at PAFA.
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