East Terrace Aerial Mockup. Image via the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Greg Heller, author of Ed Bacon: Planning, Politics and the Building of Modern Philadelphia, knows something about the planning and evolution of Philadelphia’s Parkway. Aside from Inga Saffron, there are few people I can think of more qualified to offer an opinion on Frank Gehry’s plans for the Philadelphia Museum of Art (PMA), now on view there in “Making a Classic Modern: Frank Gehry’s Master Plan for the Philadelphia Museum of Art.”
While other critics have basically said, “Thank god Gehry’s plans for the museum don’t seem very Gehry-ish” — in other words, he’s kept himself in check in our rather conservative, Quaker city — Heller finds himself disappointed by the absence of Gehry’s flamboyance:
The exhibit showcases the results of a design process that has been going on since 2006—seriously, that’s eight years of planning by one of the top architects of our time, famous for massive, ambitious, bizarrely shaped, twisted sculptures of metal that (like them or not) become a permanent and recognizable fixture in their cities’ urban landscapes. Even if I didn’t like the proposed renovation design, I figured at least it would be ambitious and interesting. It was neither.
Heller knew it wasn’t going to be Bilbao — after all, the design is primarily underground, as he notes — but he thought we might get something “iconic and visionary—perhaps our own version of I.M. Pei’s pyramid at the Louvre, but Gehryesque.” Instead, he says, Gehry has offered a pallid plan for an “amazingly boring” museum expansion.
From Foobooz: For the second summer, The Oval returns, as Philadelphia’s Parks and Recreation partnered with the Fairmount Park Conservancy and the Association for Public Art, changes the otherwise dull space into a public park. The Oval will be used to promote the parkway as a space all Philadelphians can utilize and enjoy, not just those looking for daytime parking. The kick-off event will feature music, food, BEER and a performance by the Philadelphia Rhythmic Academy. The space also doubles as a canvas for this year’s art installation and theme entitled, Magic Carpet by the artist Candy Coated. More here.
The Philadelphia Museum of Art is joining the city’s summer beer garden craze. In addition to its weekly series, Pay-What-You-Wish Wednesdays, the art museum is featuring a Wednesday night beer tasting series. Hosted by Starr Events & Catering and the Art Museum, The Great Stair Hall will turn into a temporary beer garden, with local craft breweries offering tastes of five different beers each week during sampling sessions from 6-8:30 p.m. This week's featured brewery is Flying Fish–with Stoudt’s and Yards Brewing Company in the weeks to come. There will be beer garden-esque snacks to munch on as well, with the museum aesthetics providing a sophisticated sipping experience. Tickets for the series are available online. Wednesday, July 16th, 6 p.m., $25 for non-members, Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
Free movie with a waterfront view? Yes, please. The Great Plaza at Penn’s Landing is featuring another blockbuster on the big screen this week. Catch Sandra Bullock and George Clooney in Gravity, this Thursday, July 17th. Films begin at dusk, but come early as seats tend to fill up quickly. Movie-goers can also mosey around Great Plaza's neighbor, Spruce Street Harbor Park, for some pre-film fun. Thursday, July 17th, 8:30 p.m., Great Plaza at Penn’s Landing, Columbus Blvd and Chestnut Street.
Catch an old favorite under the stars this week: Back to the Future is playing on the Schuylkill Banks Grays Ferry Crescent. Bring blankets and a picnic basket and get cozy for the free outdoor screening. Come early to participate in a free pre-movie raffle for gift cards from Philadelphia Runner. Oh, and free snacks, beverages, and Shake Shake custard (!) will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. Thursday, July 17th, 8:30 p.m., Grays Ferry Crescent Esplanade, by Schuylkill Ave and Wharton Street.
In a City Lab piece titled “Philly: Let’s Talk About Frank Gehry,” Kriston Capps writes that Gehry “might be Apollo Creed-level bad for Philadelphia.” Them’s fighting words. Literally.
Capps’ commentary coincides with today’s opening of Gehry’s exhibit at the Art Museum that shows the architect’s plans for his expansion (renderings below), which includes a reworking of the famous “Rocky” steps. So far, the reaction to the expansion has been muted; if anything, it seems to be a relief that we won’t be getting some kind of crazy glass octagonal, pyramidal, Pythagorean, cut-glass, sharp-edged bean pod. Gehry’s interior changes sound — from Inga Saffron’s review of the plans — like they’ll make navigation of the museum and access to the artwork better.
In fact, Capps agrees that even Gehry haters “may find plenty to admire in his plans for the Art Museum. Frankly, it’s not very Gehry.”
So it’s not the architecture per se that engenders this comparison to Apollo Creed. It’s the role Gehry has been chosen to play within what Capps sees as a problematic context. He writes: “Cultural expansions aren’t necessarily a great investment for a city in 2014, and this one almost certainly isn’t.”
Tonight at Granite Hill in the Philadelphia Museum of Art, chef Gerald Drummond is preparing a soft shell crab fest as part of restaurant’s monthly dinner series.
The opening course will feature classic low country specialties followed by a the diner’s choice of soft shell crab preparations. The Soft Shell Crab Fest is $49 per person and reservations can be made by calling 215-684-7990. Seatings are betweeen 5:30pm and 7:30pm and are a great way to end a Friday night at the Art Museum.
VOICE + MOVEMENT Public Showing: Leah Stein Dance Company offers the public a rare glimpse into the creation and perfection of a dance piece with their preview showing of choreographer Pauline Oliveros' new work, DEEP LISTENING. After extensive research with artists and dancers about the creative process involved in movement, Stein and Co. offers its audience an opportunity to share in the experience of improvisational and compositional movement with a public showing. In addition to the interactive performance, the audience is invited to engage in a panel discussion on how movement in practice relates to movement theory. Sunday, 6/1, 5 p.m., free, The Performance Garage, 1515 Brandywine Street
West Laurel Hill Concert Under the Stars
West Laurel Hill Concert Under the Stars: Scenic West Laurel Hill hosts its first ever outdoor concert: the perfect opportunity to air out your blankets and lawn chairs. The night's theme is Cuban American Jazz, so expect funky rhythms and sultry sounds. Featured in the lineup is Afro-Jazz virtuoso Vanissa Santi, who is sure to impress. The event is BYO and an exciting evening for family and friends. Friday, 5/30, 7 p.m., free, West Laurel Hill Cemetery, 225 Belmont Avenue
Manayunk Bike Race
Manayunk Bike Race: It's an uphill battle here: that is, from where to best watch the Manayunk Bike Race. The 2nd Annual Philly Bicycle Classic begins its 12 mile course at the famed Manayunk Wall and winds its way around Manayunk's winding streets and into Fairmount Park. Consult the course map to find your best vantage to relax with a cold one while the racers trudge on. Sunday, 6/1, 12 p.m., locations vary
Roots Picnic: One of Philly's most beloved musical exports comes back to their, um, roots in their annual summer bash. The lineup, as usual, is packed with hip-hop greats and indie darlings, turning Penn's Landing into a breeding ground for music cool cred. This year's event includes performances from Snoop Dogg, Janelle Monae, Philly favorites the War on Drugs, Action Bronson, and of course, the Roots. Saturday, 5/31, 12 p.m., $64, Festival Pier at Penn's Landing, Columbus Boulevard and Spring Garden Streets
Celebrate Patrick Kelly
Celebrate Patrick Kelley: Philadelphia Museum of Art's Patrick Kelly exhibition has been on display for over a month,but the late, great iconoclast gets an even bigger hurrah with an all-out celebration this Friday. Look at Runway of Love in a new light with accompaniment from DJs Broadzilla and Anthony Campuzano. Also, slated is Philly's Phavorite drag queen Brittany Lynn Philly with an unforgettable performance. There'll be plenty of red-carpet surprises, so be ready for the paparazzi. Friday, 5/30, 6 p.m., Philadelphia Art Museum Perelman Building, 2525 Pennsylvania Avenue
The work of a true fashion legend will be debuting at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Patrick Kelly: Runway of Love is a fashion exhibit with a slew of inspirations and influences. The late Patrick Kelly, who died of AIDS in January 1990, is an unforgettable African-American designer that challenged the norm and brought new, edgy flair to the fashion world.
His goal was simple: he once said, “I want my clothes to make you smile.” His early work gained the attention of French Elle which featured him in February 1985. He pulled inspiration from his African American and Southern roots, his knowledge of fashion and art history, and the club and gay scenes of New York and Paris.
This is world class art, and definitely the kind of see-and-be-seen event to close off the month. Speaking of world class, one of Philly’s fiercest queens, Brittany Lynn, will be on the red carpet, so try not to show up looking busted. If you want a sneak peek, check out the preview of the exhibit. Click here to get your (free) ticket. Friday, May 30, 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m., Free, Philadelphia Museum of Art
The Phillies is hosting its annual fundraising day at Citizens Bank Park this Monday. Fans of all ages can take pictures with some of their favorite players while enjoying a host of games across the field. Those looking to channel their inner Steve Carlton can also sign up to take a few throws in the bullpens. A silent auction will round out the phestivities. All of the money will go to help strike out ALS, the neuromuscular condition commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Monday, May 19th, 4:30 p.m., Citizens Bank Park, 1 Citizens Bank Way.
In a story slam local poets and artists deliver five-minute narratives built around a given theme. More than a storytelling competition, these artists invite listeners into their lives with passionate and real anecdotes. Expect a unique experience connecting with others as local raconteurs offer an intimate glance into their personal lives. All of the stories Monday night will be based on the theme of “Busted.” Monday, May 19th, 7:30, World Café Live, 3025 Walnut Street.
Get a look behind the curtain of an actual performing group at this exclusive open rehearsal. Two aspiring playwrights and two actors will bounce ideas off each other, channeling new means for inspiration and playing with different creative techniques. See the artistic process on full display with this behind-the-scenes glimpse into theater production. Monday, May 19th, 8 p.m., Plays and Players Theater, 1714 Delancey Street.
Only 1 in 10 registered voters went to the polls last election. That's just crazy. No matter what your politics, make your voice heard on Primary Election Day in Philadelphia. Check out Committee of Seventy for a great rundown of local elections, and its superb polling-place finder. Also keep track of the day's election coverage via Philly Mag's news blog. Tuesday, May 20, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., various locations.
A handful of some of Philly’s best local talent will perform intimate acoustic sets upstairs at World Café Live. Along with them will be recently signed recording artist Lindsay Cohen, who will be playing from her new EP. That's five artists for $5 — a steal, no matter who you are. Tuesday, May 20th, 7:30 p.m., World Café Live, 3025 Walnut Street.
From Be Well Philly: This Wednesday, Bryn Mawr Running Company’s Bryn Mawr location is hosting a Prediction Run, sponsored by Brooks. The idea is this: Leave your Garmin at home, and try to predict your finish time for either a five-, seven- or 10-mile course. The 10 people who finish closest to their predicted finish time will win shoes, clothes and other prizes from Brooks. The run costs just $5. Runners will gather at the Bryn Mawr store (828 West Lancaster Avenue) at 6 p.m., and leave by 6:15. More here.
Art never tasted so good. The Philadelphia Museum of Art will be hosting a 90-minute cooking class lead by Executive Chef Gerald Drummond this Wednesday. Those who sign up will learn the recipes of fashion designer Patrick Kelly, who was known to entertain guests with comfort food favorites he learned from his grandmother. Kelly is the focus of a must-see exhibition being held at the museum, "Patrick Kelly: Runway of Love." Participants will be able to sample the food they create and will receive recipes for all dishes. Wednesday, May 21st, 6 p.m., The Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
Birthdays are the theme for Tell Me a Story's three-year anniversary show at Shot Tower Coffee. The Queen Village shop will host a series of comedians and story tellers as they reveal comical yet true stories based around the theme. Producer and curator of “Tell Me a Story,” Hillary Rea will host. Nothing is off limits in this romp down memory lane. Wednesday, May 21st, 7:30 p.m., Shot Tower Coffee, 542 Christian Street.
William Shakespeare turns the big four-five-oh this year, and the Philadelphia Shakespeare Theater is pulling out all the stops to celebrate. Dust off your high-school copy of Hamlet to join one of said festivities this week. On Wednesday, Ursinius College English Professor Matt Kosuzko will host a discussion on the influence of Shakespeare’s tale of the tragic prince of Denmark. Wednesday, May 21st, 6 p.m., Parkway Central Library – Room 108, 1901 Vine Street.
Eakins Oval will play home to a festival of art, food and music beginning on Thursday. Shop, dance and stroll in front of the Art Museum on the first of this three-day soiree featuring food trucks, and live DJ’s. This open-air market is partly hosted by PHAIR to create a community of unique shopping and artistic businesses. Thursday, May 22nd, 5 p.m., Eakins Oval on the Parkway.
What it won’t be: the image Gridskipper.com created in 2006, when Gehry was hired for the job.
We’ve been hearing whispers of specifics for a long time — since 2006, actually, when Frank Gehry was chosen for the job — but last week, the Philadelphia Museum of Art finally announced the exhibit “Making a Classic Modern: Frank Gehry’s Master Plan for the Philadelphia Museum of Art” would open in July. Until then, the Inquirer’s Inga Saffron has a preview in her Changing Skyline column this week, the result of a conversation with Timothy Rub, the museum’s director, who’s been very tight-lipped about the project.
The Arts & Business Council of Greater Philadelphia hosted its annual awards celebration last night at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. 10 awards were given out to notable individuals and business who have made a difference in arts and business in Philadelphia.
The honors included The PNC Arts Alive Award for Innovation in honor of Peggy Amsterdam which was given to InLiquid, Business & Arts Partnership Award:Large Business with an Arts & Cultural Organization, which acknowledged “Art at the Airport” for its expansive art exhibitions. Individual honorees included Andrea Wikerd of Ernst & Young (Business on Board Volunteer Leader of the Year), David Othmer, retired station manager at WHYY (Business Volunteer for the Arts Volunteer of the Year), James Holman, partner, Duane Morris LLP (Philadelphia Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts Volunteers of the Year), and director Lee Daniels, who was recognized with the Anne d’Harnoncourt Award for Artistic Excellence.
After the awards ceremony was a cocktail party with a Stephen Starr buffet and entertainment by the West Philadelphia Orchestra.