The 5 Coolest Projects Pew Just Funded


One project includes a PHS pop-up at the Philadelphia Rail Park. | Rendering via Friends of the Rail Park

The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage was founded in 2005, and has given out more than a thousand project grants and named more than 300 fellows. One project it funded was Zoe Strauss’s 10-year retrospective, which produced one of the greatest pieces of art in recent memory: The scowling woman on the billboard at the corner of 10th and Reed. So I’d consider it a success already.

It recently announced its 2015 grantees. 34 projects will be funded. 13 fellows were named. Three achievement grands were given out.

We perused the list and found our five favorites.

Gay Pioneers at 50, Independence Visitor Center Corporation

The primary part of this project is a documentary about the Annual Reminders, a series of gay rights protests outside Independence Hall in the late 1960s; the first one was held 50 years ago. More importantly, it includes a re-enactment of the protest, which based on old photos of the event means we’re going to have a lot of people marching around in suits and cool, 60s-era signs.

Pop Up Garden: An Exploration of the Philadelphia Rail Park, Pennsylvania Horticultural Society

This is another PHS pop-up garden, which are for the most part incredibly enjoyable places to hang out and drink beer. We don’t know if this garden will serve beer yet. Hopefully it will, everyone knows more people will go to an art exhibit if they know they can get sloshed during it. Why do you think they serve wine at openings?

Nat King Cole Project, People’s Light

This world-premiere play written by Colman Domingo and directed by Patricia McGregor traces the life of Nat King Cole, including his short-lived variety show, The Nat King Cole Show, which couldn’t get a national sponsor and was canceled after a season. Companies feared a Southern white boycott if they advertised with the program. Plus: Music!

“Frankenstein, Dracula, and the Monster Within,” The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia

To celebrate the Shelley and Stoker classics, the library will display manuscripts, artifacts about Frankenstein and Dracula. Frankenstein seems safe. But displaying artifacts from Dracula seems dangerous to me.

“Couldn’t Hear Nobody Pray,” Lee Tusman

Did you know Albert Barnes had a record collection as well? Per Pew, Barnes had “a recording which is credited with introducing African American spirituals to the wider world.” This exhibition includes an album-length musical composition by Jace Clayton. Tusman has worked on several exhibits in Philadelphia, including “Punk Arcade.”