Fall's 13 must-see art exhibits - both indoors and outside

Workers test a pedicab illuminated with lanterns for Cai Guo-Qiang’s “Fireflies,” a work of art you can ride on — there will be a whole fleet — by the Chinese artist who did the fireworks for the Beijing Olympics.

Art is surging out of the museums and into the streets, the parks, the neighborhoods — and the cloud.

The 100th anniversary of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and the Mural Arts Program’s ambitious Monument Lab project will produce nearly two dozen temporary outdoor art installations over the next few weeks. You will be able to put yourself on a pedestal in City Hall Courtyard, ride a richly ornamented pedicab up the Parkway, use your cellphone to animate the history of Washington Square, and watch as a vacant lot in West Philadelphia reveals the ghosts of buildings past.

You can also go to the Art Museum’s Perelman Building to see works created in city neighborhoods this summer. At a moment when public sculpture has reemerged as the focus of public debate, Philadelphia is alive with possibilities.

There will also be some outstanding events for those who like their art on walls and in galleries. Woodmere is offering the largest-ever exhibition of the work of Philadelphia artist Violet Oakley. The Barnes will show how contemporary German artist Anselm Kiefer responds to the work of sculptor August Rodin. And the Art Museum takes a new look at one of its key holdings: the collection of 19th-century lawyer John G. Johnson.

Philadelphia Assembled (Sept. 10-Dec. 10, Philadelphia Museum of Art). This year, artist Jeanne van Heeswijk enlisted a small army of local collaborators — artists, storytellers, gardeners, healers, activists, and residents — to create projects representing communities throughout the city. The exhibition pulls them all together in five “atmospheres” that reflect opportunities and challenges for the city and its people. (215-763-8100, www.philamuseum.org)

Big Objects Not Always Silent: Nathalie du Pasquier (Sept. 13-Dec. 23, Institute of Contemporary Art). This show looks at the work of a founder of the Italian Memphis design movement from the 1980s to the present. It includes more than 100 works that span fine arts and design in many different media in an immersive installation designed by the artist herself. On the same dates, ICA will also show “Speech/Acts,” a large group show on how a recent generation of African American artists has created works about language. (215-898-7108, www.icaphila.org.)

Cai Guo-Qiang: Fireflies (Sept. 14-Oct. 8, Benjamin Franklin Parkway). The Chinese artist, best known for pieces involving fireworks, has designed 27 pedicabs decorated with orb and star-shaped lanterns, along with emojis, pandas, roosters, space aliens, rocket ships, and hamburgers, among other things. The opening-night ceremony will be a light and movement performance. On subsequent nights, members of the public can ride in the cabs free. It is organized by the Association for Public Art, the successor to the group that pushed for the creation of the Parkway more than century ago. (215-546-7550, www.associationforpublicart.org)

Camera icon Mel Chin (COURTESY MURAL ARTS)
Artist Mel Chin’s rendering of his work “Two Me,” currently under construction in City Hall Courtyard as part of the Mural Arts Program’s Monument Lab.

Monument Lab (Sept. 15-mid-November, various locations). For this ambitious undertaking, 20 artists and collaboratives were commissioned by Mural Arts Philadelphia to do temporary artworks and performances in the original five squares of William Penn’s city, as well as in neighborhood parks and other locations. Perhaps the most visible will be Mel Chin’s Two Me, a pair of identical seven-foot pedestals in City Hall Courtyard that visitors can ascend to monumental status. Sharon Hayes is creating a temporary monument in Rittenhouse Square that points out the absence of monuments to women in the city. Marisa Williamson is doing a work in which visitors to Washington Square will use a scratch-off ticket that will lead them to sites with associated video and sound performances about the area’s African American past, viewable on their cellphones. (215-685-0750, www.muralarts.org)

Real Estate: Dwelling in Contemporary Art (Sept. 15-March 18, Berman Museum of Art at Ursinus College). This group exhibition includes such distinguished artists as Bernd and Hilla Becher, Gordon Matta-Clark, Ed Ruscha, and Krzysztof Wodiczko with works about architecture, building development, and domestic interiors. (610-409-3500, www.ursinus.edu/berman)

Pop Culture: Selections from the Frederick R. Weisman Art Foundation (Sept. 16-Jan. 14, Reading Public Museum). The 70 works in this traveling exhibition show the first generation of pop artists, including Claes Oldenburg, Mel Ramos, James Rosenquist, and Andy Warhol, as well as the recurrence of pop culture ideas, logos, and characters in the work of later artists, including Gilbert & George, Red Grooms, and Keith Haring. (610-371-5850, www.readingpublicmuseum.org)

Camera icon (COPYRIGHT KEITH HARING FOUNDATION)
“Untitled” (1983) by Keith Haring, ink on vinyl tarpaulin. Haring’s work is part of the Pop Culture exhibition at the Reading Public Museum.

A Grand Vision: Violet Oakley and the American Renaissance (Sept. 30-Jan. 21, Woodmere Art Museum). With 170 works, this is the largest exhibition ever mounted showcasing Oakley (1874–1961), the Philadelphia painter, muralist, portraitist, stained-glass designer, and illustrator. Oakley achieved international fame for her murals in the Pennsylvania capitol building, and the exhibition will show how she sought to be a Quaker-inspired artist-diplomat, promoting world peace. (215-247-0476, www.woodmereartmuseum.org)

Chuck Close Photographs (Oct. 6-April 8, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts). Close is primarily known as a painter, but he has taken photographs throughout his career, both for their own sake and for use in his other work. This exhibition, organized by the Parrish Art Museum on Long Island, is the first show to concentrate on his work as a photographer. It includes 90 images, ranging from daguerreotypes to monumental composite Polaroids. (215-972-7600, www.pafa.org/museum)

Dylan Gauthier: highwatermarks (Oct. 7-Jan. 7, Brandywine River Museum of Art). This multimedia presentation is the culmination of a yearlong residency by Gauthier (b. 1979). It traces the path of a single drop of water through the Brandywine watershed. (610-388-2700, www.brandywine.org/museum)

An American Journey: the Art of John Sloan (Oct. 21-Jan. 28, Delaware Art Museum). This is the first retrospective in nearly three decades of the celebrated Ashcan artist and onetime Inquirer illustrator. Among the nearly 100 works are some celebrated city views, along with cartoons, portraits, and landscape paintings. (302-571-9590, www.delart.org)

Camera icon COURTESY PHILADELPHIA MUSEUM OF ART
“Christ and the Virgin” (c. 1430-1435) by  Robert Campin, oil and gold on panel, from the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s John G. Johnson Collection.

Old Masters Now: Celebrating the Johnson Collection (Nov. 3-Feb. 19, Philadelphia Museum of Art). One of the best things to have happened at the Art Museum during the last four decades was the integration of works from John G. Johnson’s celebrated collection into the museum’s galleries. Now, on the centenary of the donation of the collection to the city of Philadelphia, about 90 of the 1,500 works will be presented in a show that examines what has been learned about the collection. Works by some of the most important artists from the Middle Ages to the 19th century will be on display. (215-763-8100, www.philamuseum.org)

Kiefer Rodin (Nov. 17-March 12, Barnes Foundation). On the 100th anniversary of August Rodin’s death, the Barnes and the Musée Rodin in Paris have organized a show that includes recent works by contemporary German master Anselm Kiefer that its curators believe offer a new way of looking at and understanding the great sculptor. The show will include more than 100 works by the two artists, including some pieces by Rodin that have never been seen in the United States, and paintings, books, and constructions by Kiefer created in response to Rodin’s work. (215-278-7000, www.barnesfoundation.org)

Winter Fountains for the Parkway (Dec. 1-March 18, locations along the Parkway). Video and new-media artist Jennifer Steinkamp has been commissioned to create five “fountains”— 13-foot-high domes to serve as projection surfaces for animated evocations of the objects in the collections that line the 100-year-old Parkway. (215-546-7550, www.associationforpublicart.org)