Orbit Art Gallery
By Leo Dillinger
Photography by Melissa Kelly Photography
Whether you’re looking to become the next great art aficionado of the 21st century or just trying to fill the blank walls of your new apartment, Orbit Art Gallery is a must-visit destination for fine art fanatics and unique craft collectors.
Orbit Art Gallery originally opened as an American craft gallery in Center City during the 80s, but by 1996, owners David Decca and Sandy Zanetto moved the shop to Manayunk and expanded the business to offer fine art prints and custom framing. Ever since, David and Sandy have strived to use their shop as a nexus for artists and their patrons.
“We try to integrate the gallery into our personal lives,” David said. “We’ve remained close friends with the artists we support and in doing so, we’ve made a lot of connections through this approach that other galleries don’t have.”
David attributes his personal connections with local artists like Elissa Gore, Tom Stoenner, Emily Keifer and many more as the foundation for any art collector, stressing the importance of meeting the local artists you choose to support. David said most artists are usually more than happy to talk about themselves and what inspires them at their gallery exhibits and art shows. These one-on-one experiences with artists help instill personal value to the prints you purchase.
David will also tell you right away that collecting art is about much more than money. It’s about supporting talented individuals who are trying to create something beautiful or visceral. Even if you have a boatload of money, it’s still very difficult to actually make a profit in the art-collecting world. Once you acknowledge this, David said the process becomes a lot easier to embrace art for what it is.
“Do your homework first and make sure it’s something you’re passionate about,” David said. “I tell folks, ‘Do it because you love it, not because you’re trying to score on it.’ It takes a while to do that. It’s no get-rich-quick scheme.”
Although Philadelphia’s art scene tends to be overshadowed by the glamour of New York City, David recognizes the growing presence of rising stars that are creating new and exciting things all over the city. He admires the volume of resources for artists and art lovers including the abundance of museums, art shows, galleries, art schools, and public murals. In fact, roughly 30 percent of the pieces inside Orbit Art Gallery come from artists who live within a five-mile radius of the gallery.
Here in Manayunk, artists flock to the neighborhood in attempt to replicate its picturesque landscape and architecture onto blank canvases. As a result, David and Sandy always keep a wide variety of Manayunk-centric prints in stock because both residents and visitors can’t get enough of them. It’s one of the many reasons why they moved their business here and why they haven’t left.
“One of the things that has helped us by being in Manayunk is focusing on art that showcases our neighborhood: the Manayunk Bridge, Main Street, the Towpath,” David said. “There are a lot of great scenes down here worth painting and so that’s helped us a lot.”
No matter where they go, David and Sandy always try to support local artists. They frequently attend art shows up and down the East Coast to find new and interesting pieces for the gallery or for their own collections. Over the course of their 35-year tenure in the art industry, their personal collection of fine art and crafts has grown exponentially.
David and Sandy truly love their work and the folks that come into their lives. So much so that even the name “Orbit” itself is a direct reference to the social circle of artists and art lovers who they interact with over the years. David and Sandy’s passion for art and culture is the driving force of their gallery, which is what makes it a must-visit destination for creative minds.
“Fine art is a reflection of our culture back to us,” David said. “If we don’t have that, we don’t have any guideposts. It acts as an emotional thermostat to where we are as a culture and what’s happening at that time.”