Tuesday night at Eastern State Penitentiary (ESP) sponsors and board members gathered to celebrate the newly restored Chaplin’s office and murals at the popular tourist site.
The murals were discovered in 1995, 23 years after the active prison stopped housing prisoners, and two years after the Eastern State Penitentiary Task Force took over the building to preserve it. Now the crumbling murals are now restored. Active fundraising began in 2007, and the work started last summer with the restoration completed this month by a team of art conservators.
From June 2013 through August 2014, the team carefully removed the protective Japanese tissue paper and wax that had obscured the paintings for 18 years while preventing the total loss of the 23 murals that line walls of the two rooms used by the Catholic chaplain. (Learn about the process here.)
The murals were painted by self-taught artist inmate Lester Smith in 1955, who signed them “Paul Martin” after his two favorite saints. When Father Edwin Gallagher, the penitentiary’s Catholic chaplain (1952-1958), witnessed Smith painting in his cell, he invited the inmate to decorate the offices where he met with and counseled inmates. Smith covered nearly every wall space with a beautiful mural. The Lester Smith family donated photos of the murals to the museum and they were used to help restore the murals.
Wednesday night Joan Shepp officially opened her new store at 1811 Chestnut Street. The trailblazing Shepp’s flagship store was on Walnut Street for nearly two decades before it was chased from Philadelphia’s Rodeo Drive by rising rents. Joan Shepp then headed for the posh Shops at Liberty Place; although it was very lovely, she yearned for a storefront with the glorious window displays that we’d all grown to love. She’s found that in the beautiful new 9,000-square-foot showroom she now calls home.
Joan and daughter Ellen Shepp attract a fashionable crowd to their store, which carries both men’s and women’s clothing, and houses an array of designer labels including Moschino, Balenciaga, Jil Sander, Rick Owens and Phillip Lim. The crowd at the opening night party was just as eclectic and fabulous. There were live models in the window facing Chestnut Street, and earlier in the night Mike Jerrick, and new co-host Alex Holley from Fox 29 modeled.
Food was provided by all the Starr restaurants, and over a 1,000 macarons were made by Parc restaurant’s pastry chef. Denise Fike created a mural of guests who attended the soiree, as models roamed the store’s three rooms and outdoor space with the latest fall collections.
Dîner en Blanc was another magical night under the stars for which Philadelphians packed their own dinners (although some guests opted to order from Di Bruno Bros. or Garces and pick up their meals at the secret location), brought their own chairs and tables, and waited at pre-determined meeting places for the 6:30 p.m. phone call that would tell their dining leader where the event’s “secret” location would be. (The dining leader then led the group to the location which could be up to two miles away.)
Guests dressed in white to take part in the pop-up culinary event, the second-most-attended Dîner en Blanc in the U.S. behind New York City’s. This year, the event was held on the Avenue of The Arts, with City Hall as the backdrop for the thousands of photos that were taken by the record number of attendees.
Each year the event seems to grow: The first year 1,300 people attended; last year 2,500 people went; and this year 3,500 people went. The très chic picnic began in Paris 26 years ago and is now taking over 40 elegant public spaces around the world. It’s a great community-building event, bringing all walks of people together. This year two couples got engaged during the event.
The Young Friends of the National Museum of American Jewish History (NMAJH) presented A Midsummer’s Eve at the museum on August 14, 2014. Over 300 people — many dressed fabulously in white, the ladies with daisy headbands — enjoyed a kosher dessert reception by Betty the Caterer
and an open bar. The even, a celebration of Tu B’Av, the Jewish holiday of love, was held in the ballroom at the NMAJH, which overlooks Independence Park. Guest mingled with other young friends, posed for photos in front of the step-and-repeat, enjoyed views from the expansive fifth floor terrace, and danced to the tunes of DJ Robbie Tronco.
Excitement reigned on the sidewalk outside The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University on Saturday night as the 4th Annual Philadelphia Geek Awards got underway. Guests, nominees, and presenters walked the red carpet and posed for photographers before heading into the museum to enjoy the the 90-minute cocktail reception held among the many fascinating exhibits in the museum including full sized dinosaurs, fossils, live butterflies and animal dioramas. Some 400 guests were dressed in “Geek Chic” and ready to party.
The Academy staff was also circulating with live snakes, owls, lizards, and bugs, and many people — including yours truly — took #Selfies to share with the world on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook (#PhillyGeekAwards). Then the moment arrived when Geekadelphia co-founder Eric Smith and editor Mikey Ilagan opened up the ceremony with witty banter and gracious appreciation of the sold-out crowd.
Throughout the 90-minute ceremony, awards were given and the audience was entertained by the humor of the presenters and winners. Those geeks are smart and funny. The after-party was held at North Bowl, and was well attended. Many of the ladies told me they were excited to take off the heels and slip into some comfortable bowling shoes.
On Monday, August 11th, Zarwin Baum DeVito Kaplan Schaer Toddy, P.C., and The Honigman Group joined Jamila Ryans, executive director of the DeMeco Ryans Foundation, and chef Chip Roman in hosting “Fashion Kicks,” benefiting the S. Weir Mitchell School in Southwest Philadelphia.
That screaming you hear all over town is from the 50,000 tweens who have invaded Philadelphia to see English-Irish boy band One Direction (1D), who are in town for their “Where We Are” tour with Australian opening act 5 Seconds of Summer (5SOS).
The first show was last night at Lincoln Financial Field, and there’s another tonight. Consequently, hundreds of googly eyed gals (some with their mothers in tow) are camping out at nearly every 4-star hotel in the city for a chance to glimpse 1D members Niall Horan, Zayn Malik, Liam Payne, Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson.
Philadelphia magazine’s Best of Philly Bash was held last night at Citizens Bank Park. The torrential rains didn’t put a damper on the annual party which celebrates the best of the best of Philadelphia, as selected annually in the August issue of the magazine.
Each year Philly Mag chooses interesting locations for their party. This year they held it on the 200 level corridor of Citizens Bank Park, transforming the venue into a day at the beach, complete with a boardwalk and sand. Besides the delicious food and spirits served, there were fun activities, including cornhole, Jenga, checkers, a baseball throw and dancing to the tunes of Speaker City. There were also tours of the stadium, including the trophy room, where the 2008 Phillies Championship trophy is kept.
To top off an already great night, there were fireworks!
Shepard Fairey was in town last week for the dedication of Lotus Diamond, a mural he did in partnership with the Mural Arts Program on the façade of a building at 1228 Frankford Ave. in Fishtown. It’s the first of three he is doing in Philadelphia. Fairey shot to fame for the “Hope” poster he created during the 2008 Barack Obama presidential campaign. Thursday he signed bottles of Hennessy V.S Limited Edition at a private event at Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, and then was guest of honor at a party that evening. He even got behind the turntables at the and spun records for a bit. The dedication of the mural was Friday.