Refined and RAW: a club night for Philly’s young artists and their fans

3 minute read
RAW is an artists' bash that's never defined by one work of art. Image courtesy of RAW.
RAW is an artists' bash that's never defined by one work of art. Image courtesy of RAW.

This might be your best chance to see the next generation of Philly artists on one night, all in one place. On June 4, an international organization known as “RAW: natural born artists” will showcase some of the city’s best new talent in art, fashion, hair, makeup, music, film, photography, and the performing arts. The evening promises young artists, great artwork, and plenty of drinks (don’t try to turn the 21-and-over show into a family vacation).

Attendees will experience a gallery full of emerging visual artists, photographers, and designers presenting their creations. Spoken word poet Brandon LaBeaux, a New Orleans native, will perform (perhaps the only artist from outside the area; all other participants are Philly locals). Music videos from Jason Nardis will also be onstage, as well as performances by Neo soul singer Jacqueline Constance, the Roger Lee Dance Company, indie-rockers Lovecartel, and hip-hop artist Marcus G. A runway show finishes out the night with fashion designers and hair and makeup artists promoting their latest styles.

With 45 participating artists, the occasion sells itself on diversity. “I don’t want to have five abstract artists in the same show,” explains Amber Keller, director of RAW’s Philadelphia event. Keller oversaw the application process deciding which artists would appear. To be included in the show, artists had to submit a profile and samples of their work through the RAW website. Judges like Keller sorted through them, organizing a broad survey of the best Philadelphia has to offer.

RAW affords young artists some great opportunities. During the show, a staff photographer will capture the artwork, while a videographer conducts interviews. RAW then creates a media package for each participating artist. The package becomes another means of self-promotion for the artists, in addition to RAW offering them one free show in the city of their choice. It’s an invaluable resource for artists struggling for a breakout moment.

Despite the city-to-city movement, each show retains its local flavor.

“The artists themselves make it different than the other cities,” says Keller, having appeared in the Austin, Texas and Brisbane, Australia shows, in addition to curating others. Philadelphia should be no different, with its roster of local talent including alumni from the Philadelphia High School of Creative and Performing Arts, Philadelphia University, the University of Pennsylvania, and a host of self-taught artists from the area.

This mix of Philadelphia-based artists adds to the unique element of every RAW show — collaboration. Artists and patrons who would never meet under usual circumstances will be chatting, laughing, sparring, and sharing inspirations with one another. This celebration and exchange of art will make RAW’s show at the Theatre of Living Arts a must-see for anyone interested in the evolution of Philadelphia’s emerging artists.

Philadelphia’s RAW: natural born artists is coming to the Theatre of Living Arts at 334 South Street, Philadelphia on June 4 from 7pm to 11pm. The 21-and-over event costs $15 in advance and $20 at the door. Cocktail attire required. For tickets, a full list of participating artists, and more information, visit, or call Theatre of Living Arts at 215-922-2599.

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