Archive: August, 2013
Amanda V. Wagner
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.
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.
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?
Amanda V. Wagner
For over a year now, local artist Sean Martorana has been working on a collection of nearly 15 paintings. When he first embarked on this artistic endeavor, he never imagined that his work would be introduced with a dish of crispy pork belly and a Corpse Reviver. Yet this Thursday, August 15th, Martorana abandons sterile gallery walls to feature his work in one of Stephen Starr’s best-known eateries, Old City’s Continental Restaurant and Martini Bar.
“We wanted to bring more senses into the experience” Martorana explains, “A gallery show is just white walls with artwork hung up, but with this event you can literally see, touch, taste, and smell the artwork.”
Art on the Menu is a new event, an experiment in experiential art, and a foreign but tantalizing concept for those who are participating in it. The idea is simple; you take three artists—a fine artist, a master Chef, and a Mixologist—and have them reimagine an atmosphere to view art. “The food and the drink are geared towards the artwork so that when you have a dish in front of you, or a drink in your hand, it is going to help enhance the artwork,” says the Continental’s house Mixologist, Kevin Farrell.
In the infamous 1950, classic film noir, Sunset Boulevard, femme fatal Gloria Swanson stands as Norma Desmond—perched atop of a long winding stairway with her curls coiffed just right, ready for her close-up.
Swanson’s image echoes sentiments of a genre that was at its height of popularity in the 1940’s and 1950’s. But as of recent, the sexy, sassy crime dramas of yesteryears have been miraculously brought back to life by GDP Productions in their latest theatrical piece, Noir. GDP Productions, a self-proclaimed “renegade” theater company, is armed with an original script, live performers, and is ready to steal your heart.
Just like many of the films in the genre, it may take a particularly sly detective to catch Noir’s murderous beauty. But GDP translates the necessary vigor and vim to execute speed and spontaneity without sacrificing quality. GDP Productions is a smaller theater company. They are known for producing both planned performances, written by their own team of local Philadelphia artists, and popup shows in collaboration with BRAT Productions. With no set venue, and the ability to appear all over the city, they are always on the move and could show up just about anywhere–much like the characteristically elusive femme fatal.
The Oregon Country Fair took place July 11th through the 13th this year in Veneta, Oregon, although Samantha Hyman and James Ryan did not attend this year, they made sure the occasion did not go uncelebrated. For those three days they exhibited a multi-media performance art installation, Flowers of Life: A Tribute to the Oregon Country Fair. With puppet shows, musical performances, and even a galactic awareness seminar. With Flowers of Life, Hyman and Ryan brought Philadelphia a taste of a West Coast tradition in a compact North Philly warehouse known as the Thrift Store. The tribute is only one of the many eccentric and entertaining ideas thought up by the dual minded entity, collectively known as, The Bujees Magoo.
“We’re like Pinky and the Brain trying to liberate the world instead of taking it over,” says Ryan. It’s an ambitious mission but The Bujees Magoos, feel that they are doing so through performances and through encouraging unimpeded creative expression. With that motive, Hyman and Ryan bring out the imaginations of all who are involved in their productions, including their audiences.
The Bujee Magoo’s performances feel like an amusement park ride—an exciting whirlwind of wonder, while blurring the lines between stage performance and an interactive experience. One of their recent acts, The Lemurian Solution: Your Interactive Evolution, took groups of participants through a maze where they would encounter what Ryan describes as “an ancient lost race of space lemurs, waiting to aid in human evolution.” Situated in Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens, the production encouraged audience members to overcome the challenges they faced in the maze, like a dragon and a talkative nymph.
You may have recently noticed Eakins Oval, the new pop-up park at the base of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
Characteristic orange banners circle the perimeter of the Oval–which marks the park area–as the Philadelphia Museum of Art overlooks the entire scene while the Rodin Museum and the Barnes Museum lurk nearby. The park, established by the Parks and Recreation department of the city of Philadelphia, is refreshingly beachy and provides an interesting contrast to the hot pavement of the city streets.
The program is part of a larger project, entitled “More Park, Less Way,” which strives to make the area surrounding the Parkway more of a recreation zone, rather than a pedestrian wasteland. It has previously been criticized as being a difficult area for navigation, especially with its major tourist appeal.
As if yesterday being August 1st wasn’t horrifying enough, today is the last First Friday event of the summer. Get the most out of the nice weather and late sunset times with these First Friday happenings.