First Friday Roundup: PAFA Blooms, Marks of Vanity, Failing Words and More

Our guide to what’s worth browsing during the year’s first First Friday of spring:

Looking for other weekend events? We’re keeping a list of the best to-dos on our Philadelphia Event Listings page. Check it out for a rundown of events through June.

Philly Archdiocese to Auction 5 Eakins Portraits From Seminary Collection

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia is in spring-cleaning mode as it downsizes its St. Charles Borromeo Seminary on City Avenue, and among the items its clearing out are five portraits of clerics painted by Philly painter Thomas Eakins. The paintings have been sent to Christie’s auction house to be sold in a sale that Archdiocese spokesman Ken Gavin tells CBS3 could bring in multi-million dollars. The money will ”defray the cost of consolidating the physical space from 75 to about 30 acres and renovating the existing buildings on the upper side of the Wynnewood campus.”

Check out the portraits in the slideshow below. Which one is your favorite?


Artist to Install Major Art Installation Along Philly-to-NYC Amtrak Route

Photo by Stefan Klüter

Photo by Stefan Klüter

A stretch of industrial waste and suburban blight navigated by passengers on SEPTA, NJ Transit or Amtrak’s Philly-to-NYC rail corridor is getting a makeover, thanks to a new initiative from Mural Arts. The project, titled “psychylustro,” will feature murals from artist Katharina Grosse in seven locations along the passage, decorating warehouse walls, small buildings, and green spaces. Grosse’s art is intended for viewing from a train, so movement and time play heavily into the work. Grosse and her team of Berlin-based artists begin the installation process on April 29th, promising bold colors and design in lieu of the usual gray-on-gray palette.

Site map after the jump

Philadelphia Director Jonathan Demme Auctioning Massive Art Collection at Material Culture

jonathan demme

Oscar-winning director of Philadelphia and The Silence of the Lambs Jonathan Demme has spent years amassing quite an impressive collection of Caribbean art — colorful gems by artists like Wilson Bigaud, Daniel Pressley, and Hector Hyppolite. And now he’s ready to share his treasures with the world. Starting March 22nd, at Philadelphia eclectic-art haven Material Culture, Demme will present and auction off most of his collection in Direct From the Eye: The Jonathan Demme Collection of Self-Taught Art.” More from AP

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Asian Arts Gives Elevator Music a Lift With “Really Good Elevator Music” Project

Of all the tortures, to put it lightly, of elevator-sharing (awkward eye contact, microscopic talk, the dreaded cougher), the music may be enemy number one. Asian Arts Initiative (AAI) understands the pain, and is flipping it on its head with a new exhibit, “Really Good Elevator Music.”

The project, headed by AAI artist-in-residence Yowei Shaw, turns an elevator into a pop-up installation, where office-goers and art lovers can change how they view passive time — the habitual commute becoming an experience.  Collaborators on the project include Steven Dufala (formerly of Man Man) and a slew of other Philly artists. Their two-minute tracks are an experiment in found sound, field recordings and music, with the hope of promoting active listeners and an active community. Expect to hear heart-warming, thought-provoking and light-hearted pieces piped in through the PA, with tracks ranging from a recorded discussion with men to take shelter at the Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission to a soundbite of eighth graders rehearsing their Miley Cyrus-themed graduation video.

The project is running now through March 31st in the Wolf Building elevators, at 340 North 12th Street. Shaw will host a listening party on March 14th that features the music and video reactions from participants. That takes place at the Asian Arts Initiative, at 1219 Vine Street. For more information and to listen to some of the tracks, go here.

The Whitney Taps Philly Curator for 2014 Biennial

Photo by Abe Frajndlich for "The New York Times."

Photo by Abe Frajndlich for “The New York Times.”

Anthony Elms, artist and associate curator at the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) in Philadelphia, is one of three outside-NYC curators the Whitney Museum of American Art handpicked for its 2014 Biennial. According to The New York Times, Elms’s exhibit is on the second floor of the museum’s Breuer building, and writer Holland Cotter says, out of the three exhibitions, “it has some of the work I liked best.” He goes into more detail:

A piece at the entrance by Jimmie Durham — Native American by descent, in self-exile from the United States since 1987 — was a good omen. His abstract but roughly humanoid sculpture called “Choose Any Three” is made of stacked wood chips inscribed with names: Vanzetti, E. Zapata; Crazy Horse; Ho Chi Minh, Cristóbal Colón, Johnny Colón, Kay Starr, Malcolm X, etc. Mix and match and create your own political meaning for the piece.

This is also sort of the general method underlying Mr. Elms’s show, which reveals itself slowly. You spot an LP playing on a turntable, but there’s no sound. You listen closer, and maybe there is: a kind of audible vacuum, moving air. The recording was made on Sept. 11 and 12, 2001, by Matt Hanner, a member of the collective Academy Records. He lived under a flight path near a Chicago airport. When planes were grounded after the news of the Sept. 11 attacks, he taped the extraordinary silence.

You can catch the Whitney Biennial now through May 25th. More info here.

The 2014 Whitney Biennial continues through May 25 at the Whitney Museum of American Art; 212-570-3600,

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