Kassem Amoudi is a Palestinian Jordanian American artist who came to the US in 1983. He got his MFA from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and now teaches there. The first time I remember seeing one of his paintings was at the Woodmere Art Museum. Like a philosopher Kassem thinks in terms of dualities, pairs of things that complement one another. He told me about one of the greatest of these pairings. – John Thornton, arts videographer
Artists in the Time of Pandemic, Kassem Amoudi
One of the paintings I will show at Cerulean Arts Gallery from the Stripes series. It is a 48×48 Acrylic. The show starts May 5th with social distancing and masks. The opening will be a Virtual tour and talk on Saturday the 8th at 2 pm. You can register for it at the gallery website when they add it. It hasn’t been posted yet because there is another show right now. — Kassem Amoudi
I will be One of the panelists at this webinar at Woodmere Art Museum May 6th at 7. Please click the link to register. Closing Reception (virtual): Group ’55 and Midcentury Abstraction in Philadelphia Presenters: Bill Valerio, Woodmere Director & CEO; Patricia Stark Feinstein, Curator of the Samuel L. Feinstein Trust; Barbara Wolanin, PhD, Curator of the Group ‘55 exhibition; Kassem Amoudi, Artist Join Woodmere in celebrating the art and artists of the Group ‘55 exhibition through an online closing reception. The online program will feature a new film on the exhibition, along with a conversation between Bill Valerio; Patricia Stark Feinstein; Barbara Wolanin, PhD; and Kassem Amoudi. Group ‘55 and Midcentury Abstraction in Philadelphia is on view through Sunday, May 9. This event will be held online via Zoom, and registration is required. Participants will receive event information via email upon registration. Free | 7pm | Click here to register. https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_aCKZqyA-R-WFIqoOgyrUEQ
Thank you to Kassem Amoudi and John Thornton for the content of this post.
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Shapes and Colors of Summer in July ONLINE MONTHLY EXHIBITION AT PLASTIC CLUB
The Plastic Club’s building is closed, but the Club is resuming its regular schedule of monthly shows with an online exhibition devoted to the shapes and colors of Summer.
The Summer show opens Wednesday, July 1. The art can be viewed on the Plastic Club‘s website (www.plasticclub.org) then. There will also be one of the Club’s “Third Sunday” online Salons with discussion about the exhibit on Sunday, July 19, from 1 to 2 PM.
Entries can be realistic or abstract, based on reality or your imagination, or any combination of these approaches. Any medium is accepted. Physical artwork must be submitted in the form of a photograph or video. A reasonably clear cell phone photo or video should suffice. As always, original digital imagery, photography and video are also welcome.
Due to the building closure, we have devised a simple method to submit your photograph, image or video along with your contact information. For detailed instructions, see the “Call for Submissions” on the Exhibitions Tab of the Club’s website, www.plasticclub.org.
A lottery will select three entrants to win a prize: four free workshop sessions when the Club re-opens.
The Plastic Club, located on historic Camac Street, was founded in 1897 by a group of women artists to promote the arts to the public and support artists both in the Philadelphia community and beyond.
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney released a revised budget for fiscal year 2021 in response to the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic on May 1, 2020. Businesses have been closed and workers have been off the job for weeks, reducing the city’s tax revenue significantly. The Office of the Department of Finance projects that without any changes the city would have a $649 million deficit next year. The city cannot legally operate with a deficit. We understand that hard decisions needed to be made and that cut backs and program budget reductions were inevitable. However, to completely eliminate an office that supports a vital industry in the city of Philadelphia, especially one that has been hit very hard during this crisis, is short sighted and should be reversed.
In the new budget, the Office of Arts, Culture, and the Creative Economy was budgeted $0 dollars, down from approximately $4.4 million, effectively closing the office. Most of that budgeted money goes directly to the Philadelphia Cultural Fund, which gives grants to hundreds of non-profits in the city.
The presentation of the budget by the Mayor is only the first step. It still must be approved and voted on by City Council before July 1.
According to the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, the arts and cultural sector generates $4.1 billion in economic impact annually and supports 55,000 jobs. That creates $1.3 billion in household income and $224.3 million in state and local taxes.* The creative economy includes but is not limited to artists, musicians, painters, sculptors, dancers, actors, filmmakers, graphic designers, venues, theaters, museums, galleries, bartenders, waiters, chefs, box office workers, bouncers, sound engineers, tech crews, art/dance/recording studios, and all employed by those entities, as well as support industries such as accountants, lawyers, hotels, ride shares, parking, public relations, marketing, and media. On the other side there are the fans, patrons, concert goers, theater attendees, and more who support the arts and make the purchases.
Most of this industry has been shut down during this crisis and needs support now more than ever to rebound during the economic recovery.
The Office of Arts, Culture, and the Creative Economy’s mission is to close the gap in access to quality cultural experiences and creative expression through the support and promotion of arts, culture and the creative industries; connecting Philadelphians to enriching, arts-infused experiences; linking local artists and cultural organizations to resources and opportunities; and preserving the City’s public art assets. http://creativephl.org
The OACCE is also responsible for the Music Industry Task Force, the Mayor’s Cultural Advisory Council, Art in City Hall, all of Philadelphia’s public art, and funding the Philadelphia Cultural Fund which gives grants to numerous Philadelphia arts and culture non-profits.
Philadelphia is a vibrant city teeming with culture that has been driving our identity for hundreds of years. The art created in Philadelphia reaches well beyond its borders and has touched the world and helps drive our other industries through attention and attraction to our area. As we look to rebound and recover from this crisis, there are certainly sectors that are essential to our health and safety and must be prioritized. However, unless we take care to ensure our cultural health is also revived, we risk losing our spirit.
Philadelphia’s creative economy deserves proper representation in City Hall. Understandably, it is likely not possible for the OACCE to be budgeted at the same level as the original budget, however, the industry’s economic impact alone justifies that the office’s budget be more than zero. We are simply asking that the City of Philadelphia Office of Arts, Culture, and the Creative Economy not be eliminated.
This fall, the Philadelphia Museum of Art presents Off the Wall: American Art to Wear, a major exhibition that highlights a distinctive American art movement that emerged in the late 1960s and flourished during the following decades. It examines a generation of pioneering artists who used body-related forms to express a personal vision and frames their work in relation to the cultural, historical and social concerns of their time. Focusing on iconic works made during the three decades between 1967 and 1997, the exhibition features 115 works by 62 artists. Comprised primarily of selections from a promised gift of Julie Schafler Dale, it also includes works from the museum’s collection and loans from private collections. Off the Wall: American Art to Wear is accompanied by a new publication of the same title, co-published by the Philadelphia Museum of Art and Yale University Press.
Timothy Rub, the George D. Widener Director and CEO, said: “This exhibition introduces to our visitors an exceptionally creative and adventurous aspect of American art which took the body as a vehicle for its expression. We are not only deeply grateful to Julie Schafler Dale for her extraordinary gifts and support of the museum but also see this as an opportunity to acknowledge the dynamic role she played in nurturing the growth and development of this movement.”
The champions of Art to Wear during the early years were a few forward-thinking museums, among them New York’s Museum of Contemporary Crafts (Museum of Art and Design), collectors, and galleries such as Sandra Sakata’s Obiko, founded in 1972 in San Francisco, and Julie Schafler Dale’s Julie: Artisans Gallery, which opened the following year on Madison Avenue in New York. For over 40 years, Dale’s gallery was a premier destination for presenting one-of-a-kind wearable works by American artists. Through her gallery installations and rotating window displays, she gave visibility to the Art to Wear movement. In 1986, she brought further recognition to the art form by publishing the seminal book Art to Wear—from which the title of this exhibition is taken—which provided in-depth profiles of artists alongside photographs by Brazilian fashion photographer Otta Stupakoff. Dale’s gallery closed in 2013.
Off the Wallis arranged in nine sections; the titles of some are derived from popular music of the ‘60s and ‘70s to suggest the wide-ranging concerns of the artists. The introductory section, The Times They Are A Changin’ (Bob Dylan, 1964), contains works by Lenore Tawney, Dorian Zachai, Claire Zeisler, Ed Rossbach, and Debra Rapoport to illustrate how textile artists in the late ‘50s and ‘60s liberated tapestry weaving from the wall, adapting it to three-dimensional sculptural forms inspired by pre-Columbian weaving. In 1969, a group of five students at Pratt Institute studying painting, sculpture, industrial design, multimedia, and graphic design taught each other how to crochet, leading to remarkable outcomes. Janet Lipkin, Jean Cacicedo, Marika Contompasis, Sharron Hedges, and Dina Knapp all created clothing-related forms that they would describe as wearable sculpture, thus establishing a cornerstone of the Art to Wear movement. Included in this section is a wool crochet and knit Samurai Top, 1972, by Sharron Hedges, modeled by the young Julie Dale for the book Creative Crochet, authored by two of the artist’s friends, Nicki Hitz Edson and Arlene Stimmel.
The next section, Good Vibrations (Beach Boys, 1966), traces the migration of many of these young artists from the East Coast to the West Coast where they joined California’s vibrant artistic community and connected with Sandra Sakata’s Obiko. A pair of colorful denim hand-embroidered mini shorts by Anna VA Polesny embroidered while traveling conveys this new youthful spirit. Pacific Rim influences are evident in the Japanese kimono form as a blank canvas offering infinite possibilities for pattern and design. Marika Contompasis’s machine-knitted kimono made of rectangular sections, Trout-Magnolia Kimono, 1977, and Janet Lipkin’s Mexico at Midday, a coat made in 1988 are exceptional examples. The section also looks at the art of performance, reflected in Ben Compton and Marian Clayden’s Nocturnal Moth, 1974,inspired by Federico Fellini’s film La Dolce Vita (1960). A range of counter-culture influences, evoking ceremony and spirituality, pervade this section.
Oh, Mother Earth (Neil Young, 1990) is a nod to the publications The Whole Earth Catalog (1968) and Mother Earth News (1970) and looks to nature and environmental concerns while another section, This Land is Your Land (Woodie Guthrie, 1944) explores iconic American imagery from the Brooklyn Bridge to the American West. Examples in those two sections include Joan Ann Jablow’s Big Bird cape, 1977, made entirely of recycled bird feathers, and Joan Steiner’s Manhattan Collar, 1979, which reimagines New York’s skyline in miniature.
In A Land Called Fantasy (Earth, Wind & Fire, 1977) explores fantasy and science fiction, two genres that offered young people an escape from the period’s cultural and political upheavals. Noteworthy here are works by Jean Cacicedo and Nina Huryn, both of whom riff on one of the most widely read English language books at the time, J.R.R. Tolkien’s trilogy Lord of the Rings (1965). Cacicedo responded with a portrait of Treebeard, 1973, a Tolkien character, while Huryn created her own fantasy world in Tree Outfit, with itsflowing pants, loose shirt and leather sleeveless jacket containing forest and folklore imagery, a work made especially for Julie: Artisans Gallery in 1976. Other artists turned to dreams, such as Susanna Lewis, who created Moth Cape, 1979, in response to a nightmare that she had of a giant moth enveloping her body.
Come Together (The Beatles, 1969) responds to the popular use of assemblage in art-making, especially the use of nontraditional materials. Red Ray, from the series, Seven Rays, by Kaisik Wong, is included as an example of a work that was commissioned by his close friend Salvador Dalí in 1974 for the grand opening of the Dalí Theatre Museum in Figueres, Spain. Nearby is Mario Rivoli’s Overdone Jacket, 1973, made of found objects such as pins, metal bottle caps, beads, and other items.
A section called I Am Woman (Helen Reddy, 1971) underscores the ways in which artists invoked feminism directly and indirectly in Art to Wear. Janet Lipkin, for example, invested her works with symbols of freedom while searching for new directions in her life, as seen in Flamingo, 1982, and Transforming Woman, 1992. Other works like Combat Vest, 1985, by Sheila Perez, feature plastic toy soldiers as protective armor for the chest area, while Nicki Hitz Edson’s Medusa Mask, 1975, is a wild expression of fraught emotions surrounding the breakup of her marriage.
Colour My World (Chicago, 1970) reflects the buoyant rainbow color spectrum that was ubiquitous during this era. Recently published works on color theory by Johannes Itten and Josef Albers provided a cornerstone of the new art education. For Linda Mendelson, color, typography, and text became inseparable. She adapted Albers’s ideas and linked color progression with lines from a poem titled Coat by William Butler Yeats from which she drew inspiration. Other artists such as Tim Harding created an effect similar to impressionist brush strokes by slashing and fraying dyed fabrics, as seen in his colorful coat Garden: Field of Flowers, 1991.
The final section Everybody’s Talkin’ (Harry Nilsson, 1968) explores the use of text in Art to Wear. Jo-Ellen Trilling engages in visual word play using common prepositions on a jacket, while Jean Cacicedo channels her grief over her father’s death using words taken from the bible that celebrated his life in My Father’s House, 1994.
Dilys E. Blum, The Jack M. and Annette Y. Friedland Senior Curator of Costume and Textiles, who organized the exhibition, said: “We are looking back at this period with a fresh lens through which to consider a uniquely American art form that continues to have a worldwide influence. With roots and connections in fine arts, fiber art, craft, performance and fashion, there are so many important artists to appreciate. For this reason I am delighted by the opportunity to cast a light on such extraordinary talents, including so many adventurous women who deserve much greater recognition.”
Publication Off the Wall: American Art to Wear is accompanied by a new publication of the same name co-published by the Philadelphia Museum of Art and Yale University Press, co-authored by exhibition curators Dilys E. Blum, The Jack M. and Annette Y. Friedland Senior Curator of Costume and Textiles at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and independent textile scholar and curator Mary Schoeser, with a contribution written by Julie Schafler Dale. The volume provides the social, political, and artistic context for Art to Wear. ISBN 9780876332917.
Dilys E. Blum, The Jack M. and Annette Y. Friedland Senior Curator of Costume and Textiles and Mary Schoeser, Independent Textile Historian and Curator
This exhibition has been made possible by Julie Schafler Dale, PNC, The Coby Foundation, the Arlin and Neysa Adams Endowment Fund, Catherine and Laurence Altman, the Center for American Art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and other generous donors.
The Philadelphia Museum of Art is Philadelphia’s art museum. We are a world-renowned collection. A landmark building. A place that welcomes everyone. We bring the arts to life, inspiring visitors—through scholarly study and creative play—to discover the spirit of imagination that lies in everyone. We connect people with the arts in rich and varied ways, making the experience of the Museum surprising, lively, and always memorable. We are committed to inviting visitors to see the world—and themselves—anew through the beauty and expressive power of the arts.
Thank you to the Philadelphia Museum of Art press room for the content of this post.
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Four Must-Experience Art Events This Fall In Philadelphia
by Arturo Varela
One-of-a-kind artistic installations and experiences: Philadelphia’s full of them in October. Visitors can enjoy three weekends of audio-visual stimulation along the footprint of the Rail Park; five Halloween-themed experiences by famed choreographer Brian Sanders; an eerie, three-dimensional Ghost Ship along the Delaware River; and a colorful display of spinning tops (large enough to spin humans) at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts.
The best way to enjoy these and other fall happenings in Philly: the Visit Philly Overnight Hotel Package, offering free parking and other perks and bookable at visitphilly.com.
Site/Sound: Revealing the Rail Park – For three Saturdays in October, Philadelphia’s emergent Rail Park and its surrounding neighborhood hosts a new festival that combines audio-visual art installations and diverse musical performances that are all shaped by their surroundings. Taking place above and below city streets, the 20 performances and programs honor the past, present and future of the historic corridor along the famed Reading Railroad. The event is a collaboration between Friends of the Rail Park, Mural Arts Philadelphia and America Composers Forum, Philadelphia Chapter. Through October 19, 2019. Various locations between Vine & Spring Garden Streets, 9th & 18th Streets, muralarts.org
2nd Sanctuary: A Multi-Experience Halloween Attraction – Brian Sanders’ JUNK brings Halloween-inspired performances to 2nd Sanctuary, a 19th-century Victorian church in the city’s Graduate Hospital neighborhood. The five distinct experiences—all focused on the 1970s and all encouraging audience participation—include a virtual reality, live action tour; a modern dance performance; and an escape room (all three of which require separate tickets; other two experiences included with all ticket purchases). Through November 3, 2019. 2040 Christian Street, (267) 406-6080, briansandersjunk.com
Ghost Ship – A 90-foot, site-specific, 18th-century ghost ship appears after nightfall on the Delaware River between Race Street Pier and Pier 12 (near the Benjamin Franklin Bridge). The eerie, three-dimensional hologram, created by Biangle Studio, recalls the free and forced migration people made on these American waters. Visitors to the ship can also enjoy the River Beer Garden at Race Street Pier, featuring food from Lost Bread Co. Bakery and drink from Mainstay Independence Brewing Company. Through November 3, 2019. (215) 922-2386, delawareriverwaterfront.com
Los Trompos – The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts’ Commonwealth Plaza is filled with more color and movement than usual thanks to Los Trompos (translation: the spinning tops), a creation of Mexican designers Héctor Esrawe and Ignacio Cadena. The installation features 10 beautifully woven three-dimensional spinning tops of various shapes and sizes that showgoers can sit in and spin on—all in an effort to promote collaboration and community interaction. Through November 17, 2019. 300 S. Broad Street, (215) 893-1999, kimmelcenter.org
VISIT PHILADELPHIA® is our name and our mission. As the region’s official tourism marketing agency, we build Greater Philadelphia’s image, drive visitation and boost the economy.
On Greater Philadelphia’s official visitor website and blog, visitphilly.com and uwishunu.com, visitors can explore things to do, upcoming events, themed itineraries and hotel packages. Compelling photography and videos, interactive maps and detailed visitor information make the sites effective trip-planning tools. Along with Visit Philly social media channels, the online platforms communicate directly with consumers. Travelers can also call and stop into the Independence Visitor Center for additional information and tickets.
Thank you to Arturo Varela for the content of this post.