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POSTED: Thursday, September 12, 2013, 10:53 AM
Poster work by Philadelphia-based artists Tim Gough (left) and Shawn Hileman (right).

Music and poster design have danced hand in hand for decades.

The rise of the American gig poster really began in the 1960s, a decade well known for its intense cultural and political trends. Rock, soul, pop, reggae and blues music were beginning to dominate the ‘50s doo-wop fever. Andy Warhol was dazzling the creative community with his pop art. Out-of-this world concert posters for Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, and Jefferson Airplane were surfacing and influencing the new open-minded industry. America was leaving their apprehensive ways at the door and embracing an era of revolution rich in forward thinking ideals on science, technology, music, and art.

Fast-forward to present day where design and music are still thriving companions in the industry; both very much a powerful expression on their own, but when fused together creates a dynamic, unique statement. Many websites, like, and art showcases have honored the tradition of show posters and poster design, but none are like The National Poster Retrospecticus. This traveling showcase features over 250 hand-printed event posters created by over 80 different contemporary artists from all over the United States, and it will make a stop in Philadelphia this Saturday.

POSTED: Friday, September 6, 2013, 1:19 PM

Celebrate the end of this wonderfully short workweek with some of these First Friday art events. It’s probably the last First Friday night you’ll be able to walk around Old City without a jacket!

POSTED: Friday, September 6, 2013, 1:04 PM
Philadelphia’s urban forest comes to life in Hannah Selin’s first solo exhibition.

“I’ve seen some things change and some things stay the same,” says Ed McBride Sr. from a small speaker. “I’ve lived here for 53 years.”

McBride Sr. and the voices featured in the sound installation, Sylvania, are the voices that make up South Philadelphia. You’ve heard these voices before—on the street and in transit. It’s the sound of a well-established resident, a person who’s been around the block a time or two, and someone with generations of deep roots in this city.

Local musician Hannah Selin, the sound artist and composer behind Sylvania, interviewed 15 residents of all ages for the project. “I really just said that I was interviewing them about living in South Philadelphia, I didn’t specify very much, so our conversations went in different directions,” says Selin, “I didn’t have an agenda I just wanted to listen to people, talk to people, and record their voices.”

POSTED: Wednesday, September 4, 2013, 3:12 PM
Image courtesy of Alexa Quinn. 

The Fringe Festival has always been about artists producing work they otherwise couldn’t, and audiences seeing shows they normally wouldn’t.

With rising ticket prices, and a seemingly increased focus on their curated, high-price-point Presented festival, the measures that FringeArts takes to nurture that dynamic are rarely noted. Indeed, it has recently been negatively compared with the SoLow Fest, Philly’s DIY festival-that-could that charges no fees and restricts ticket costs to pay-what-you-can.

But despite fees that may seem restrictive, emerging artists flood the pages of the FringeArts Guide every year. According to Katrina Atkin, one of three collaborators in foundling dance group AKA Performance, FringeArts is simply the best way to get a show off the ground.

POSTED: Tuesday, September 3, 2013, 10:44 AM
Caption: Photo courtesy of amdougherty on Flickr.

It is hard to get excited about war memorials. There are exceptions: Maya Lin’s memorial to the Vietnam War in Washington DC, for example. But your average war memorial is forgettable. That’s a cruel irony, since the whole point of a war memorial is to create an enduring memory of courage, heroism, tragedy, and loss. The emotions of war are big emotions.

At the same time, the men and women who fight in wars are doing their official duty for the nation. Duty is not about emotion. It is about self-control and restraint. Making a war memorial is thus tricky business. How do you create something that adequately reflects the extreme emotions of war and, at the same time, pays homage to the stoical sense of duty that is the soldier’s greatest asset? Most war memorials fail because they can’t find a balance between emotion and duty.

The Memorial to the Korean War in Philadelphia is one such failure. The Memorial is to be found near Penn’s Landing in Foglietta Plaza. I’d wager that the vast majority of Philadelphians have no idea the memorial exists. Even if you walked through Foglietta Square, you might not notice it. The Memorial consists of several blocks of shiny black granite covered with writing and pictures. It has an overabundance of information describing and showing aspects of the Korean War.

POSTED: Tuesday, August 27, 2013, 1:14 PM

Restaurants and businesses aren’t the only places using Twitter accounts to promote themselves.

Our cultural institutes are adopting social media and using images and tweets to provide visitors at home with behind the scenes access to exhibitions and events. Check out a few of our favorite tweeted photos from some of our city’s best-known institutions.

POSTED: Friday, August 23, 2013, 3:00 AM
The LOVE statue that sits in LOVE Park in Philadelphia on JFK Blvd. and north 15th street. (Photo: Gabriele Roberti)

Love, it has been said, is pain. Robert Indiana would probably agree. He’s the artist who created the LOVE sculpture in JFK Plaza in downtown Philadelphia. The idea for the sculpture goes all the way back to Indiana’s childhood. On the wall of the Christian Science Church he attended was an inscription that read, “God is Love.” Love stayed on Indiana’s mind into adulthood and into the counter-cultural movement of the 1960s. That’s when Indiana found himself, more or less accidently, part of the Pop Art movement. Andy Warhol made a film featuring Robert Indiana. It’s a 45-minute thriller that consists of Indiana eating a mushroom.

One day in 1967, The Museum of Modern Art asked Indiana to design one of its Christmas cards. He took the LO, put it on top of the V and the E, and made the letters red with a green and blue background. The image was hard to forget. Indiana never expected LOVE to be so popular and hadn’t bothered to copyright it. Soon enough, companies were making LOVE coffee mugs and paperweights and T-shirts. Indiana’s LOVE began to be associated with cheap commercialism. That hadn’t been Indiana’s intention at all. Indiana simply wanted love. Alas, he didn’t get it. To this day, few people associate the famous LOVE sculpture in Philadelphia with the name Robert Indiana. Many still associate the image only with chintzy products and sloppy sentimentalism.

But perhaps enough time has elapsed since the 1960s that we can look at LOVE with fresh eyes. The sculpture in JFK Plaza is just as arresting as Indiana’s Christmas card for MoMA. That’s why the work is much more than cheap sentiment. With LOVE, Indiana managed to take a typographical idea and turn it into a sculpture.

POSTED: Monday, August 19, 2013, 4:14 PM
Ben Storey (left) and Calvin Atkinson in "Someone Brought Me" playing in Quince Productions' Gayfest! (Photo by John Donges)

Two tables with anonymous clutter stand in a squalid room. The boy (Dexter Anderson) squats downstage, under enough light to make out the angles of his face, and that’s it. During a long pause, someone shuffles around behind a curtain with some equipment.

Boy: Should I—do you want me to start?

Man 1: I have a heater. Do you want me to get it for you? 

About this blog
Art Attack is a partnership with Drexel University and is supported by a grant from the Knight/NEA Community Arts Journalism Challenge, administered by the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance.

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