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.
Philadelphia Museum of Art: October 22, 2019–March 8, 2020
Walker Art Center: September 12, 2020–January 3, 2021
Art Institute of Chicago: February 6 –May 16, 2021
The role of designers in shaping how we think about the future is the subject of a major exhibition that will premiere at the Philadelphia Museum of Art this fall. Designs for Different Futures brings together some 80 works that address the challenges and opportunities that humans may encounter in the years, decades, and centuries ahead. Organized by the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, and the Art Institute of Chicago, Designs for Different Futures will be presented at the Walker and the Art Institute of Chicago following its presentation in Philadelphia.
Among the questions today’s designers seek to answer are: What role can technology play in augmenting or replacing a broad range of human activities? Can intimacy be maintained at a distance? How can we negotiate privacy in a world in which the sharing and use of personal information has blurred traditional boundaries? How might we use design to help heal or transform ourselves, bodily and psychologically? How will we feed an ever-growing population?
While no one can precisely predict the shape of things to come, the works in the exhibition are firmly fixed on the future, providing design solutions for a number of speculative scenarios. In some instances, these proposals are borne of a sense of anxiety, and in others of a sense of excitement over the possibilities that can be created through the use of innovative materials, new technologies, and, most importantly, fresh ideas.
Timothy Rub, the George D. Widener Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, stated: “We often think of art museums as places that foster a dialogue between the past and the present, but they also can and should be places that inspire us to think about the future and to ask how artists and designers can help us think creatively about it. We are delighted to be able to collaborate with the Walker Art Center and the Art Institute of Chicago on this engaging project, which will offer our visitors an opportunity to understand not only how designers are imagining—and responding to—different visions of the future, but also to understand just how profoundly forward-looking design contributes in our own time to shaping the world that we occupy and will bequeath as a legacy to future generations.”
Thinking about the future has always been part of the human condition. It has also been a perennial field of inquiry for designers and architects whose speculations on this subject—ranging from the concrete to the whimsical—can profoundly affect how we imagine what is to come. Among the many forward-looking projects on view, visitors to Designs for Different Futures will encounter lab-grown food, robotic companions, family leave policy proposals, and textiles made of seaweed.
“Some of these possibilities will come to fruition, while others will remain dreams or even threats,” said Kathryn Hiesinger, The J. Mahlon Buck, Jr. Family Senior Curator of European Decorative Arts after 1700, who coordinated the exhibition in Philadelphia with former assistant curator Michelle Millar Fisher. “We’d like visitors to join us as we present designs that consider the possible, debate the inevitable, and weigh the alternatives. This exhibition explores how design—understood expansively—can help us all grapple with what might be on the horizon and allows our imaginations to take flight.”
The exhibition is divided into 11 thematic sections. In Resources, visitors will encounter an inflatable pod measuring 15 feet in diameter, part of the work Another Generosity first created in 2018 by Finnish architect Eero Lundén and designed in this incarnation in collaboration with Ron Aasholm and Carmen Lee. The pod slowly expands and contracts in the space, responding to changing levels of carbon dioxide as visitors exhale around it, and provoking questions about the ongoing effect of the human footprint on the environment. The section titled Generations will explore ways in which the choices we make today may contribute to the well-being or suffering of those who come after us. Here, visitors will find a model of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, a repository that stores the world’s largest collection of crop seeds. Located within a mountain on a remote island near the Arctic Circle, the facility is designed to withstand natural or human-made disasters. The Earths section of the exhibition speculates on the challenges of extra-terrestrial communication in Lisa Moura’s Alien Nations installation and showcases typeface from the 2016 science-fiction film Arrival.
In Bodies, designers grapple with choices about how our physical and psychological selves might look, feel, and function in different future scenarios. Featured here is one of the world’s lightest and most advanced exoskeletons, designed to help people with mobility challenges remain upright and active. Also notable is the CRISPR Kit, an affordable and accessible gene-editing toolbox, which has the potential to revolutionize biomedical research and open opportunities for gene therapy and genetic engineering.
Intimacies is a section that explores how technologies and online interfaces may affect love, family, and community. Here, urban experiences of sex and love are the focus of Andrés Jaque’s Intimate Strangers, an audio-visual installation focusing on the gay dating app. Through internet-enabled devices, designers explore the possibility of digitally mediated love and sex, suggesting what advanced digital networks hold for human sexuality.
Foods contains projects that explore the future of the human diet. Among them is a modular edible-insect farm, Cricket Shelter, by Terreform ONE, which offers a ready source of protein for impending food crises. A kitchen installation suggests how technology and design may contribute to new modes of food production, including an Ouroboros Steak made from human cells.
Additional sections of the exhibition will focus on the future of Jobs and how Cities will function and look 100 years from now—with robotic baby feeders, driverless cars, and other developments—affording a glimpse at how we might navigate living beyond this planet. Shoes grown from sweat are among the innovations visitors will find in a section devoted to Materials, while Power willlook at how design may affect our citizenship and help us retain agency over such essentials as our DNA, our voices, and our electronic communications in a future where the lines between record-keeping, communication, and surveillance blur. Data acknowledges and questions the different ways that information might be collected and used, with all its inherent biases and asymmetries, to shape different futures.
Futures Therapy Lab
As part of the exhibition, visitors to the Philadelphia Museum of Art galleries will also encounter a space for community meetups, public programs, school visits, and self-directed activities. The Futures Therapy Lab will weave personal connections between visitors and the exhibition as part of a collaboration between the museum’s Education Department and the curatorial team. Weekly programs, many of which will occur on Pay-What-You-Wish Wednesday Nights, will connect visitors with designers, artists, and locally based creatives. The Futures Therapy Lab will contain a crowdsourced Futures Library that includes everything from science-fiction books to the exhibition catalogue. “Thinking about possible futures is both exhilarating and anxiety-provoking,” said Emily Schreiner, the Zoë and Dean Pappas Curator of Education, Public Programs. “The Futures Therapy Lab is a place for conversation, critique, and creativity in which visitors can imagine their own hopes, fears and solutions for the future through reflection, discussion, and art making.”
Designs for Different Futures is organized by the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Walker Art Center, and the Art Institute of Chicago.
In Philadelphia, this exhibition is generously supported by the Annenberg Foundation Fund for Major Exhibitions, the Robert Montgomery Scott Endowment for Exhibitions, the Kathleen C. and John J. F. Sherrerd Fund for Exhibitions, Lisa Roberts and David Seltzer in honor of Collab’s 50th Anniversary, the Women’s Committee of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Laura and William C. Buck Endowment for Exhibitions, the Harriet and Ronald Lassin Fund for Special Exhibitions, the Jill and Sheldon Bonovitz Exhibition Fund, and an anonymous donor.
Centered on the innovative contemporary design objects, projects, and speculations of the exhibition’s checklist, the accompanying volume proposes design as a means through which to understand, question, and negotiate individual and collective futures, giving provocative voice to the most urgent issues of today. It asks readers to contemplate the design context within broader historical, social, political, and aesthetic spectrums. Designs for Different Futures addresses futures near and far, exploring such issues as human-digital interaction, climate change, political and social inequality, resource scarcity, transportation, and infrastructure.
The primary authors are Kathryn B. Hiesinger, Michelle Millar Fisher, Emmet Byrne, Maite Borjabad López-Pastor, and Zoë Ryan, with Andrew Blauvelt, Colin Fanning, Orkan Telhan, Juliana Rowen Barton, and Maude de Schauensee. Additional contributions include texts by V. Michael Bove Jr. and Nora Jackson, Christina Cogdell, Marina Gorbis, Srećko Horvat, Bruno Latour, Marisol LeBrón, Ezio Manzini, Chris Rapley, Danielle Wood, LinYee Yuan, and Emma Yann Zhang; and interviews with Gabriella Coleman, Formafantasma (Andrea Trimarchi and Simone Farresin), Aimi Hamraie and Jillian Mercado, Francis Kéré, David Kirby, Helen Kirkum, Alexandra Midal, Neri Oxman, and Eyal Weizman.
Designs for Different Futures will be distributed by Yale University Press. The book was overseen by Philadelphia Museum of Art publishing director Katie Reilly and editors Katie Brennan and Kathleen Krattenmaker. It is designed by Ryan Gerald Nelson, Senior Graphic Designer at the Walker Art Center, under the direction of Walker design director Emmet Byrne.
The curatorial team is comprised of: at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Kathryn B. Hiesinger, The J. Mahlon Buck, Jr. Family Senior Curator of European Decorative Arts after 1700, and Michelle Millar Fisher, formerly The Louis C. Madeira IV Assistant Curator of European Decorative Arts after 1700; at the Walker Art Center, Emmet Byrne, Design Director and Associate Curator of Design; and at the Art Institute of Chicago, Maite Borjabad López-Pastor, Neville Bryan Assistant Curator of Architecture and Design, and Zoë Ryan, the John H. Bryan Chair and Curator of Architecture and Design. Consulting curators are Andrew Blauvelt, Director, Cranbrook Art Museum, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, and Curator-at-Large, Museum of Arts and Design, New York; Colin Fanning, Independent Scholar, Bard Graduate Center, New York; and Orkan Telhan, Associate Professor of Fine Arts (Emerging Design Practices), University of Pennsylvania School of Design, Philadelphia.
Kathryn B. Hiesinger is The J. Mahlon Buck, Jr. Family Senior Curator of European Decorative Arts after 1700 at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Her work focuses on decorative arts and design from the mid-nineteenth century to the present and includes the exhibitions and publications Zaha Hadid: Form inMotion (2011), Out of the Ordinary: The Architecture and Design of Robert Venturi, Denise Scott Brown and Associates (2001), Japanese Design: A Survey since 1950 (1994) and Design since 1945 (1983).
Michelle Millar Fisher is the Ronald C. and Anita L Wornick Curator of Contemporary Decorative Arts at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. She is a graduate of the University of Glasgow, Scotland, and is currently completing her doctorate in architectural history at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. She is the co-author, with Paola Antonelli, of Items: Is Fashion Modern? (2017).
Emmet Byrne is the Design Director and Associate Curator of Design at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. He provides creative leadership and strategic direction for the Walker in all areas of visual communication, branding, publishing, while overseeing the award-winning in-house design studio. He was one of the founders of the Task Newsletter in 2009 and is the creator of the Walker’s Intangibles platform.
Maite Borjabad López-Pastor is the Neville Bryan Assistant Curator of Architecture and Design at the Art Institute of Chicago. She is an architect and curator educated at the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid and Columbia University, New York. She is the author and curator of Scenographies of Power: From the State of Exception to the Spaces of Exception (2017). Her work revolves around diverse forms of critical spatial practices, operating across architecture, art, and performance.
Zoë Ryan is the John H. Bryan Chair and Curator of Architecture and Design at the Art Institute of Chicago. She is the editor of As Seen: Exhibitions That Made Architecture and Design History (2017) and curator of In a Cloud, in a Wall, in a Chair: Six Modernists in Mexico at Midcentury (2019) and the 2014 Istanbul Design Biennial, The Future is Not What it Used to Be. Her projects explore the impact of architecture and design on society.
We are Philadelphia’s art museum. 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 for the content of this post.
The Delaware Art Museum Presents Exhibitions Focused on Beauty, Gender, and Identity
Opening in October: Posing Beauty in African American Culture and Angela Fraleigh: Sound the Deep Waters
WILMINGTON, DE (September 20, 2019) — For as long as the concept of beauty has existed, it has been championed and idealized, as well as challenged and questioned. Beauty as a concept, in art as in culture and society, is ever-changing. It is also increasingly complex, as viewers and artists alike drive for deeper discussion around traditional standards and reconsidered interpretations, while eagerly seeking fresh insights and new voices.
Building off this momentum, and continuing its vision of presenting a range of voices to viewers, the Delaware Art Museum presents two provocative exhibitions this fall exploring beauty, gender, and identity: Posing Beauty in African American Culture, on view October 19, 2019, through January 26, 2020, and Angela Fraleigh: Sound the Deep Waters, on view October 5, 2019, through April 12, 2020.
Posing Beauty in African American Culture will look at the contested ways in which African American beauty has been represented in culture, while Sound the Deep Waters, a commission inspired by the Museum’s Pre-Raphaelite and illustration collections, will present a contemporary look at gender and identity through the lens of historical narrative art.
“We’re excited to present these exhibitions at the same time–in dialogue. Both create visually lush experiences for visitors,” says Heather Campbell Coyle, Chief Curator and Curator of American Art at the Delaware Art Museum. “In Posing Beauty, you see a range of artists working in different styles from glamorous portraiture to documentary photography to video art. The works represent over a century of ongoing conversation around beauty and how we see ourselves and others. Then, in the Angela Fraleigh show, you discover a unique, immersive experience inspired by works of art in the Museum’s collection, but there are unexpected elements and themes that cross over between the two projects.”
Together, the two exhibitions and their related programming will invite viewers into the galleries to see works of art with meaningful connections to both the collection and community. At the same time, the overlapping themes of the exhibitions and complementary works of art will continue the Museum’s vision of increasing representation within its own galleries for women artists and artists of color.
“As the Delaware Art Museum looks to provide a platform for all artists and share works of art that tell a range of stories in many different ways, these exhibitions will extend that vision and invite viewers to be part of the discussion,” says Sam Sweet, Executive Director and CEO of the Delaware Art Museum. “We expect the two exhibitions will inspire our community to think deeper on their own notions of beauty and question how those notions were shaped, and perhaps return to look again at favorite works with fresh eyes.” About the Exhibitions
Posing Beauty in African American Culture examines the contested ways in which African and African American beauty have been represented in historical and contemporary contexts through a diverse range of media, including photography, film, video, fashion, advertising, and other forms of popular culture, such as music and the Internet. Organized by artist and scholar Deborah Willis, the exhibition features 104 works of art, dating from the 1890s to the present.
As author and historian Barbara Summers notes, “Beauty is power. And the struggle to have the entire range of Black beauty recognized and respected is a serious one.” Posing Beauty invites viewers to think seriously about gorgeous photographs–to admire the self-fashioned glamour of models and beauty contestants, as well as the carefully crafted images of celebrities such as Michelle Obama, Isaac Hayes, and Marvin Hagler.
Featuring both black-and-white and color photography, celebrities, and everyday people, the vast array of photos will encourage viewers to think about beauty in political, cultural, and complex terms. Artists in the exhibition include, among others, Sheila Pree Bright, Renee Cox, Omar Victor Diop, Lola Flash, Charles “Teenie” Harris, John W. Mosley, Gordon Parks, Jamel Shabazz, Mickalene Thomas, Carrie Mae Weems, Ernest C. Withers, and lauren woods.
“There is, appropriately, a great range to this exhibition,” says, Heather Campbell Coyle, Chief Curator and Curator of American Art at the Delaware Art Museum. “The historical examples highlight the ideals of beauty and strength promoted by professional portrait photographers, beauty contests, and popular magazines. Seeing these alongside the work of contemporary artists, especially those who actively critique the ongoing presentation of race and gender in American culture, will encourage viewers to consider the complex relationship between beauty and art, as well as the conversation between contemporary art and popular culture.”
Angela Fraleigh: Sound the Deep Waters was directly inspired by the Delaware Art Museum’s Pre-Raphaelite and American illustration collections. This commissioned display presents a contemporary look at gender and identity through the lens of historic narrative art. Fraleigh’s large-scale paintings and ceramics examine notions of storytelling, role-playing, fantasy, and power dynamics in the work of Katharine Pyle, Hannah Barlow, and Marie Spartali Stillman, among others.
Fraleigh’s opulent paintings are populated by female figures freed from the social constructs of their time. No longer the despised witches of popular fairy tales or shunned agitators, these women are empowered to occupy their own utopian landscape. Fusing meticulous realism with gestural abstraction, Fraleigh constructs an immersive space in which reality merges with dreams and hallucinations.
“I uncovered so many incredible stories associated with the women in the Museum’s Pre-Raphaelite and illustration collections,” Angela Fraleigh explains. “This commissioned piece is part of a longtime project that asks: What if the female characters we’ve come to know from art history–the lounging odalisques, the chorus that whispers in the background–present more than a voyeuristic visual feast? What if these characters embody a flickering of female power at work? Can we see these ‘passive’ characters as subversive and powerful? And if we do, how might it affect women today and of the future?”
Sound the Deep Waters is a dynamic response to pieces from the Museum’s own Pre-Raphaelite and American illustration collections. These new works of art–presented in an immersive installation–will spark the curiosity of viewers already familiar with the Museum’s collection, as well as draw others in to see how historic art can impact contemporary creativity.
“Fraleigh’s work often considers how meanings are made and questions how traditional and familiar cultural narratives shape our experiences in the world. Sound the Deep Waters, encourages us to look anew at images from our own collection,” says Margaret Winslow, Curator of Contemporary Art at the Delaware Art Museum. “Viewers will have the opportunity to reconsider the pictures they thought they knew or the stories they thought they understood.”
Public Programs and Events
David Driskell Living Legacy Talk Saturday, October 20 | 2:00 p.m. This speaking tour, envisioned as a series of conversations between Professor David C. Driskell and Professor Curlee R. Holton, will provide an opportunity for audiences and communities around the country to learn about the contributions of Professor Driskell, and of African American artists, to the country’s artistic history.
Picturing Beauty: Celebrating Real Women Sunday, November 17 Picturing Beauty: Celebrating Real Women will be a free, intergenerational event featuring successful female leaders in the arts. The day will be developed in partnership with Girls, Inc., One Village Alliance, and the YWCA. The event will include a keynote address with Deborah Willis and Angela Fraleigh at 2:00 p.m.
Inside Look: Posing Beauty Friday, November 22 and Sunday, November 24 Led by a University of Delaware art history graduate student, this program includes an in-depth dialogue about a single work of art.
Black Iris Project: “A Mother’s Rite” Thursday, January 23 | 8:00 p.m. Founded in 2016 by choreographer Jeremy McQueen, The Black Iris Project is a ballet collaborative and education vehicle that creates new, relevant classical ballet works that celebrate diversity and Black history. “A Mother’s Rite” is a new ballet about how a mother copes with the loss of her child to a racially-motivated murder.
Guide-Led Public Tours Saturdays and Sundays throughout the run of Posing Beauty | 2:00 p.m.
Posing Beauty in African American Culture is curated by Deborah Willis and organized by Curatorial Assistance Traveling Exhibitions, Pasadena, California. This exhibition is sponsored by M&T Bank and made possible in Delaware by Mary G. Heiser in memory of her son, Scott T. Heiser, the Johannes R. and Betty P. Krahmer American Art Exhibition Fund, WSFS, and Delmarva. Both Posing Beauty and Angela Fraleigh: Sound the Deep Waters are made possible, in part, by a grant from the Delaware Division of the Arts, a state agency, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts. The Division promotes Delaware arts events on www.DelawareScene.com.
About the Delaware Art Museum
For over 100 years, the Museum has served as a primary arts and cultural institution in Delaware. It is alive with experiences, discoveries, and activities to connect people with art and with each other. Originally created in 1912 to honor the renowned illustrator and Wilmington-native, Howard Pyle, the Museum’s collection has grown to over 12,000 works of art in our building and sculpture garden. Also recognized for British Pre-Raphaelite art, the Museum is home to the largest and most important Pre-Raphaelite collection outside of the United Kingdom and a growing collection of significant contemporary art.
Under the leadership of our Board of Trustees, the Delaware Art Museum is implementing a comprehensive approach to community and civic engagement. This exciting new strategic direction requires that we increase our value and relevance to all audiences. Visit delart.org to for the latest exhibitions, programs, and performances or connect with us via social media. Delaware Art Museum, 2301 Kentmere Parkway, Wilmington, DE 19806
DRAG IN PHILADELPHIA: THE BOLD, THE BEAUTIFUL & THE BRUNCH
Philly Drag History, Current Shows & Queens To Follow
PHILADELPHIA, March 26, 2019 –Philadelphia’s drag scene dates back centuries—and thrives to this day. Contemporary Philly drag queens most often perform in the bars and clubs of the Gayborhood, part of Center City’s Washington Square West neighborhood. But a growing number of venues beyond the neighborhood host drag brunches, game nights, variety shows and kids’ story times.
Philadelphia men have been costuming in ruffles and feathers since the 1600s, when Swedish immigrants began a raucous New Year’s tradition that, in 1901, officially became the Mummers Parade. Modern Mummers’ costumes are bold, bright, sequined—and blue collar. Women were permitted to join their ranks in the 1980s. In 2012, the Philly Drag Mafia became the first official queens to strut in the parade.
The city’s drag nightlife dates to at least to the 1950s, when the The New Forrest Lounge—now The Bike Stop, in the Gayborhood—required reservations for drag shows such as The Fabulous Fakes. Other drag hotspots Miss P’s at 18th and Lombard streets and ’90s dance club Shampoo helped broaden the audience for local drag culture, while dive bar Bob & Barbara’s emerged as a once-a-week base for performers.
Today, drag personalities replete with tongue-in-cheek names and spectacular style make their marks at nearly every queer bar in the Gayborhood, including Tabu Lounge & Sports Bar andVoyeur Nightclub, known for hosting frequent performances by both top-tier local talent up to nationally known queens from “RuPaul’s Drag Race.”So-called straight scenes that have gotten into the act include Northern Liberties’ Bourbon and Branch and Fishtown comedy club Punch Line Philly, hosts of brunch-time drag shows. There’s also a growing trend of drag queen story times, where queens read books aloud to rooms full of little ones.
Bob & Barbara’s – The South Street dive is as loved for its shot-and-a-beer special as it is for Miss Lisa Lisa, the teasing, raucous host of the bar’s Thursday night drag show. With a diverse rotating cast of new and seasoned queens, the event has the distinction of being the longest-running drag show in Philadelphia. 1509 South Street, (215) 545-4511,bobandbarbaras.com
Boxers PHL– Iris Spectre and VinChelle perform in a Gayborhood sports bar on Turn Out Tuesdays. Their variety show features local talent, tunes from DJ Drootrax and cocktails made with Philly-based Stateside vodka. Iris also hosts a live “RuPaul’s Drag Race” viewing party here. 1330 Walnut Street, (215) 735-2977, boxersphl.com
Franky Bradley’s – The Gayborhood’s self-described “house of weird,” presents Farrah Thorne’s Get Hype showcase on the third Wednesday of every other month and hosts drag-boosted burlesque performance Honeygasm on the first Sunday of every month. The shows take place upstairs in an area complete with a corner stage and modern sound system, all bolstered by a funky ’70s-hippie vibe. 1320 Chancellor Street, (215) 735-0735, frankybradleys.com
FringeArts – This performing arts venue attached to brasserie La Peg presents queer cabaret GetPegged about once per month fall through winter. The Bearded Ladies Cabaret founder John Jarboe hosts the series, which features diverse queer musical and burlesque artists from Philly and beyond. The venue also hosts a variety of drag shows as part of the fall Fringe Festival. 140 N. Christopher Columbus Boulevard, (215) 413-9006, fringearts.com
GayBINGO! at Congregation Rodeph Shalom – For 20 years, GayBINGO!,a fundraiser for Aids Fund Philly, has been one of Philadelphia’s most in-demand Friday night events. Every month in the fall and winter, drag hosts dress according to a theme, interact with audiences, perform numbers and call winners. 615 N. Broad Street, (215) 731-9255, aidsfundphilly.org
Knock Restaurant and Bar – Iris Spectre hosts All-Star Karaoke every Wednesday at Knock, a Gayborhood restaurant and bar known for its gentlemanly clientele and expertly made cocktails. 255 S. 12th Street, (215) 925-1166, knockphilly.com
L’Etage – The dimly lit, Paris-inspired performance space above Bella Vista creperie Beau Monde hosts one of Philly’s most popular monthly drag shows, the Martha Graham Cracker Cabaret. The line stretches around the block for the performance, which features covers of beloved pop songs by the self-proclaimed world’s tallest, hairiest drag queen. The space also hosts a regular lineup of drag shows, including an amateur drag night on the first Sunday of every month from Philadelphia producer John Burd. 624 S. 6th Street, (215) 592-0656, creperie-beaumonde.com
The Raven Resort – New Hope, Bucks County has long been an LGBTQ destination, and every visit must include a stop at this sprawling piano bar, restaurant, motel and pool, whose legacy stems back to the 1970s. The Raven has played host to notables such as local legend Tinsel Garland and drag big-timers Paige Turner and Sherry Vine. The current roster includesLipstick Mondays, when Cyannie Lopez hosts trans and queen performers on the first and third Monday of every month. 385 W. Bridge Street, New Hope, (215) 862-2081,theravennewhope.com
Tabu Lounge & Sports Bar – Home to a wide-range of queer performance art, Tabu is perhaps best known for its drag variety shows, constantly being reshaped to fit with the goings-on in pop culture and cravings of local audiences. The nightclub holds competitions, cabarets, drag queen-hosted karaoke and, on the first Saturday of the month, “Christian” comedy queen Bev’s popular drag show, Bev’s Bitchfest. 254 S. 12th Street, (215) 964-9675, tabuphilly.com
Tavern on Camac – Staying true to its reputation, the atmospheric piano bar tucked away on Camac Street hosts two regular live singing-focused drag events. Every Thursday, it’s GayBill, a night of showtune sing-alongs with host Cleo Phatra and her closest friends. On the third Saturday of every month, ukulele-strumming bearded lady Eric Jaffe hosts The Eric Jaffe Show, spotlighting some of the area’s fiercest musical talents. 243 S. Camac Street, (215) 545-0900, tavernoncamac.com
Toasted Walnut Bar & Kitchen – Cleo Phatra hosts Totally Toasted Trivia, a game night every Tuesday at this friendly, lesbian-owned bar. During “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” comedy queen Bev hosts viewing parties followed by karaoke. 1316 Walnut Street, (215) 546-8888, toastedwalnut.com
The Victoria Freehouse – A British pub named after one of history’s most outspoken queens hosts one-Saturday-a-month drag shows with themes that have been inspired by Harry Potter, “Game of Thrones” and Bettlejuice. Two or three times a year, hilarious Aunt Mary Pat, perhaps the most Philly queen of them all, performs sold-out standup. 10 S. Front Street, (215) 543-6089, victoriafreehouse.com
Voyeur Nightclub – The Gayborhood’s fiercest drag fans head to this after-hours club once a month to catch Philly Drag Wars hosted by local “RuPaul’s Drag Race” alum Mimi Imfurst. Described as “RuPaul’s Drag Race” meets “The Voice,” the competition follows a similar format to both shows, including a the lip-sync-for-your-life contest and a rotating cast of high-profile local judges. 1221 St. James Street, (215) 735-5772, voyeurnightclub.com
Woody’s – Drag diva VinChelle hosts a “RuPaul’s Drag Race” viewing party every Thursday during the show’s regular season. The night features drink specials and boisterous banter directed at the screen. VinChelle also hosts karaoke on Woody’s second level on Wednesday nights. 202 S. 13th Street, (215) 545-1893, woodysbar.com
Bourbon and Branch – On the fourth Sunday of each month, this Southern restaurant in Northern Liberties hosts a troupe of local drag queens in Babes of Bourbon and Branch, making the restaurant and music venue one of few surefire spots to enjoy live drag with a side of grits. 705 N. 2nd Street, (215) 238-0660, bourbonandbranchphilly.com
L’Etage – French toast, crepes and mimosas are part of the Ladies of L’Etage Drag Brunch, when queens come together for an afternoon of song, wowing death drops and, on occasion, a naughty puppet show. 624 S. 6th Street, (215) 592-0656, creperie-beaumonde.com
Mifflin Tavern – Drag brunch arrives South Philly-style every fourth Saturday of the month, when comedy queen Brittany Lynn sings and jokes as diners chow down on pub grub and throw back beers. Lynn also hosts a game night at the Pennsport pub every Wednesday. 1843 S. 2nd Street, (267) 273-0811, mifflintavern.net
Punch Line Philly – Each Saturday, this comedy club and restaurant charges a flat fee for brunch and an all-ages drag show—with a dash of raunchiness—hosted by two-time “RuPaul’s Drag Race” contender Mimi Imfurst. The weekly performance also features longtime Philly queens such as Cleo Phatra, Brooklyn Ford and Sutton Fearce. 33 E. Laurel Street, (215) 606-6555, dragdivabrunch.com
SouthHouse – Tater tots may be the star attraction at this unassuming neighborhood bar in South Philly’s Lower Moyamensing neighborhood, but drag queens Brittany Lynn, Navaya Shay and Crystal Electra try to outshine them during a drag brunch every first Sunday of the month. 2535 S. 13th Street, (267) 457-3682, southhousephilly.com
Tabu Lounge & Sports Bar – A rotating cast of queens that includes Onyx Black, Sasha Magnolia and Patty Spaghetti hit Tabu’s sports bar two Sundays a month for the Ladies of Tabu Drag Brunch. 254 S. 12th Street, (215) 964-9675, tabuphilly.com
The Victoria Freehouse – Old City’s atmospheric British pub gets wild on select Saturdays, when comedy queens host drag brunches with themes from Alice in Wonderland or Disney, and diners dress the part. 10 S. Front Street, (215) 543-6089, victoriafreehouse.com
Drag Queen Storytime:
Free Library of Philadelphia – Branches of Philadelphia’s public library get in on the drag queen story hour trend, where queens read aloud to a roomful of wide-eyed tots. Brittany Lynn is the Free Library’s most frequent storyteller. She has read at Lovett Memorial in Mount Airy and the Fumo Family Library in South Philly. Various locations, (215) 686-5322, freelibrary.org
Please Touch Museum – One day during Pride month, Philadelphia’s hands-on kids’ museum invites drag queens to read tales of diversity and acceptance to audiences of hundreds as part of its family Pride Celebration. The daylong event also features a dress-up corner, runway show, interactive puppet skits and singalongs. 4231 Avenue of the Republic, (215) 581-3181,pleasetouchmuseum.org
Drag Queens To Follow:
Ariel Versace – With a massive Instagram following and a closet to match, this self-described “life-sized Bratz doll” became the second local queen to nab a spot on the 2019 season of “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” Versace’s newfound stardom means she’ll now be performing around the world, but followers can still catch her around Philly. @arielversace
Aunt Mary Pat – She eschews expensive costumes and rocks a 5 o’clock shadow, but what Aunt Mary Pat lacks in glam she makes up for in hilarity. The beer-guzzling comedy queen is the epitome of Philly, entertaining audiences at her standup sets with anecdotes about her love for Wawa and “the Iggles.” facebook.com/auntmarypat
Aurora Whorealis – An Alaska transplant and Gayborhood staple, Aurora is primarily a comedy queen who performs at a slew of clubs and hosts “Trivi-YASSS” on Monday nights at Tabu. She was crowned “Best Lip-Sync Artist” at the 2017 Philly Drag Awards, an annual competition at Voyeur Nightclub. instagram.com/aurorawh0realis
Bev – Philadelphia’s self-described “premier Christian drag queen” is, intentionally ironically, known for her “Bitchfest” drag showcase at Tabu, when she presents other queens while tossing out quip after quip. Bev’s awards include “Best Comedy Performer” at the 2018 Drag Awards, “Miss Gulf Coast Comedy Queen,” 2017 and “Miss Northeast Comedy Queen,” 2016.facebook.com/theoneandonlyBev
Brittany Lynn – Created at former gay club 12th Air Command in 1996, Brittany Lynn is a cornerstone of the city’s drag scene, constantly reinventing herself with new events: a talk show, standup acts, live singing, weekly showcases and story time at the Free Library, for example. In 2013, she ushered in a new era of drag-queen involvement in the Mummers Parade by establishing the Miss Fancy Brigade, an achievement Philadelphia City Council recognized by honoring her with her own, official holiday: March 15 is Brittany Lynn Day. phillydragmafia.com
Iris Spectre – Every queen has her niche, and for this 2016 Philly Drag Awards “Drag Queen of the Year,” it’s costumes, costumes, costumes. The Parsons School of Fashion-trained designer’s costumes have been weird, fantastical and downright chic. She’s created pieces for big-name queens such as “RuPaul’s Drag Race” favorite Peppermint. facebook.com/Iris-Spectre
Martha Graham Cracker – Pig Iron Theatre Company co-founder by day, Dito van Reigersberg may be better known by his nighttime persona, Martha Graham Cracker, a hairy drag queen who skips the lip-syncing in favor of glass-shattering live vocals. Martha has been a regular on the drag performance circuit since 2005 and recently performed a one-woman show at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts. facebook.com/MarthaGrahamCracker
Mimi Imfurst – Notorious for competing on “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and “RuPaul’s Drag Race All-Stars,” Philadelphia-based drag performer and event producer Mimi Imfurst hosts an all-ages Drag Diva Brunch at the Punch Line featuring a boisterous cast of local drag queens. She also produces theatrical events and national drag tours. mimiimfurst.com
Miss Lisa Lisa – All-out with her charm offensive, Miss Lisa Lisa—“so nice, she was named twice”—is a local icon, strutting her stuff and touting her strong-as-steel personality weekly at Bob & Barbara’s on South Street. She’s also been known to introduce new queens and performers at-large to the scene with her freestyle slots during her shows.phillydragmafia.com/project/underboss-miss-lisa-lisa
VinChelle – This Nashville-born University of Arts graduate, who also goes by the nickname Shea Better Werk, also refers to herself as a “tribal queen.” The “Drag Queen of the Year” at the 2017 Drag Awards and winner of the 2015 Drag Wars often incorporates African costumes, song and dance into her stage shows. facebook.com/SheaButterWerk
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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.
Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson at the Stonewall Riots (click for large image)
Civil Disobedience: Celebrating Queer Resilience
presented by DVAA, Juried by Warren Muller, hosted at International House Philadelphia
East Alcove Gallery 3701 Chestnut St. (Open Hours: 8am–10pm)
– April 2nd through June 29th
– Public Opening Reception: April 2nd, 6:00 – 8:00pm
DVAA(Da Vinci Art Alliance) is proud to present Civil Disobedience: Celebrating Queer Resilience, an exhibition of artwork by Philadelphia artists which celebrates the resilience of the LGBTQ+ community. Coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, this summer, Lightbox Film Center will feature a series of films featuring this pivotal moment in the struggle for LGBTQ civil rights. Just as American history has been broadly shaped by the politics of dissent, affecting everything from our labor laws to foreign policy, protest has continued to shape LGBTQ acceptance and liberation. Along with resistance and protest, the LGBTQ rights movement is also characterized by pride: enduring celebration of identity and love that empowers marginalized and antagonized communities to create change.
In partnership with Lightbox Film Center, Da Vinci Art Alliance will curate the related exhibition, Civil Disobedience: Celebrating Queer Resilience. This group exhibition and call for artwork celebrates the history of queer resilience and protest, art that celebrates a community that is unafraid to speak its mind.
“[History/Herstory] is made and preserved by and for particular classes of people, [but] a camera in some hands can preserve an alternate history.” – David Wojnarowicz.
PARTICIPATING ARTISTS: To be determined/announced by the juror
ABOUT THE JUROR: Warren Mulleris sculptor and co-founder of design studio and gallery, Bahdeebahdu. Best know for creating light sculptures from reclaimed objects, Muller imbues his assemblages with a uniquely playful spirit. His work draws on myths, fairy tales, and personal idiosyncrasies into his lit sculptures.
ABOUT DVAA: MISSION: Da Vinci Art Alliance (DVAA) provides artists with a community that fosters artistic expression and growth through our exhibitions and programs. VISION: DVAA is a supportive community of artists and creatives focused on capturing the spirit of Leonardo da Vinci. A luminary artist, scientist, architect, engineer, musician and humanitarian, Da Vinci’s curiosity inspires creativity, innovation and collaboration among our membership. Like Leonardo, we ask big questions, ponder complex ideas, experiment with form and create new ways of engaging with and sharing our art.