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Celebrate

PHILADELPHIA CELEBRATES BLACK HISTORY MONTH

Exhibitions, Performances and Special Program Highlight Philly’s Month of Activities

The African American Museum in Philadelphia

Founded in 1976, The African American Museum in Philadelphia (above) is the first institution built by a major U.S. city to preserve, interpret and exhibit the heritage and culture of African-Americans.

Credit: Photo by J. Fusco for VISIT PHILADELPHIA®

Black History Month celebrates its 42nd anniversary this year, and Philadelphia honors the occasion with special events, exhibitions, film screenings and family activities. Philadelphia’s Black History Month features the nation’s longest running African American Children’s Book Fair; Black Pulp!, a new exhibition at The African American Museum in Philadelphia, and Henry “Box” Brown: The Musical, starringDice Raw. Here are highlights of Philly’s Black History Month:

Museum Happenings:

  • The African American Museum in Philadelphia (AAMP) hosts the regional debut of Black Pulp!, curated by William Villalongo and Mark Thomas Gibson. This visual overview offers up printed works by artists, graphic designers, writer and publishers—including comic books—to examine perspectives on Black identity from 1912 to 2016. February 2 – April 29701 Arch Street(215) 574-0380aampmuseum.org
  • The Art Sanctuary exhibition Philadelphia Renaissance, curated by Noah Smalls, is an intergenerational showcase of area artists. The month-long display is in keeping with the gallery’s mission to “use power of Black art to transform individuals, create and build community and foster cultural understanding.” February. 628 S. 16th Street, (215) 232-4485artsanctuary.org
  • African-American history is American history, and the National Constitution Center celebrates Black History Month with programming that includes Breaking Barriers, a show about the lives of Bessie Coleman, Jackie Robinson, Thurgood Marshall and other pioneering African-Americans. The center has planned also a workshop to taks a closer look at the Emancipation Proclamation and self-guided tours highlighting African-American history. February 2018. 525 Arch Street(215) 409-6600constitutioncenter.org
  • Penn Museums 29th annual Celebration of African Cultures features storytellers, artists, puppetry, art making, modern African dance, traditional African music and an African market. The setting for this activity: the African Gallery, with its rich collection of textiles, sculpture and masks, with statuary and tomb materials from 5,000 years of Egyptian culture in the Egyptian Galleries. February 24. 3260 South Street(215) 898-4000penn.museum
  • Last year, City Hall unveiled a new statue of Civil Rights hero Ocatvius V. Catto. This year, the Philadelphia History Museum exhibit Taking a Stand for Equity: Octavius V. Catto continues to celebrate the life and many achievements of the brave 19th-century Philadelphian. Through March 3115 S. 7th Street, (215) 685-4830philadelphiahistory.org
  • Niama Safia Sandy makes her Philadelphia curatorial debut at Rush Arts Philadelphia with the multi-artist, multidisciplinary exhibition Giving Up The Ghost: Artifacts/A Study of Power and Solidarity Against White Violence in ModernityThe diverse artists and pieces in the show offer varying messages of individual and cultural truths—American aversion to recognizing Black women’s labor; commentary on the treatment of Muslim Americans, for example—in an effort to clear the air and move the nation forward. January 27-February 244954 Old York Roadrushphilanthropic.org

Music & Dance:

  • Henry Box Brown: The Musical stars The Roots’ own hip hop legend Karl “Dice Raw” Jenkins in the title role of a Virginia slave who escaped to freedom in Philadelphia by mailing himself in a wooden crate. This true theatrical treat is directed by Phill Brown and also stars Minister Jamie Knight and Gina Zo. February 1-17. Community College, Bonnell Auditorium, 1700 Spring Garden Streethenryboxbrownmusical.com
  • Visitors can enjoy free, live, no reservations-required world music as presented by Temple University students during Drumming Traditions of Brazil, West Africa, and India. February 6. Temple Performing Arts Center, 1837 N. Broad Street(215) 204-9860templeperformingartscenter.org
  • In the 1930s, over 2,300 first-person accounts by former slaves—The Slave Narratives—helped create the Federal Writers’ Project (FWP). This Manayunk performance of six of these documents—also entitled The Slave Narratives—brings their experiences to life onstage. Venice Island Performing Arts & Recreation Center. February 9. 7 Lock Street(215) 685-3583veniceisland.org
  • Vocalist Beverly Owens and pianist Diane Goldsmith join in a “Sundays on Stage” concert of The Art of Sarah Vaughanatribute to one of the first singers to fully incorporate bop phrasing in her singing. Vaughan’s influence is still evident in contemporary jazz, Soul and R&B. February 11. Free Library of Philadelphia, Parkway Central Branch, 1901 Vine Street(215) 686-5322freelibrary.org

Children and Young Adults:

  • The 26th Annual African American Children’s Book Fair is one of the oldest and largest single-day events for African-American children’s books in the country. The free, open-to-the-public fair features nationally known, bestselling authors, illustrators and author-illustrators, many who have won some of the most prestigious American Library Association awards, including the Coretta Scott King Award. Guests can expect an afternoon filled with workshops, giveaways and affordable books for purchase. February 3. Community College of Philadelphia, 17th & Spring Garden Streets, theafricanamericanchildrensbookproject.org
  • As the first stop for many visitors to Independence National Historical Park, the Independence Visitor Center is more than an information center: It’s a gathering spot. During Black History Month, historical figures appear to tell their stories. 6th & Market Streets, (800) 537-7676nps.gov/indephlvisitorcenter.com
    • A historical re-enactor portrays Ned Hector, free Black patriot who refused to surrender his horses, wagons and armaments in the Battle of the Brandywine. February 10.
    • Storytellers from summer’s Once Upon a Nation program return for WinterStorytelling, with true tales of barrier-breaking African-Americans. February 16, 17, 19.
    • Harriet Tubman, American hero and icon, makes this one-time appearance to tell of her life and bravery in leading hundreds of people to freedom. February 24.
  • The Lucien E. Blackwell West Philadelphia Regional Library Children’s Department will offer family-friendly events covering African-American heritage. 125 S. 52nd Street, (215) 685-7422freelibrary.org
    • Based on the book by Christopher Paul Curtis, The Watsons Go to Birminghamis the film adaptation of the story of an African-American family’s road trip from Flint, Michigan to Birmingham, Alabama in 1963—and the tragic events that take place. For children ages 12 and under and their families. February 24.
    • The Art of Jean-Michel Basquiat: Share Your Creativity invites visitors to enjoy a reading of Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat by Javaka Steptoe and Life Doesn’t Frighten Me by Maya Angelou, illustrated by Jean-Michel Basquiat. Inspired participants can add their creations to the Young Artists’ Wall. For ages 12 and under. February 28.

Movies, Stories, Talks &Tours:

  • Murray Dubin and Daniel Biddle, co-authors of Tasting FreedomOctavius Catto and the Battle for Equality in Civil War Americapresent and sign copies of their book chronicling the life of this charismatic Black leader—a “free” man whose freedom was in name only. February 6. Free Library of Philadelphia,Philadelphia City Institute Branch, 1905 Locust Street(215) 685-6621freelibrary.org
  • Lauded by the New York Times for his “ferocious moral vision and astute intellect,” educator and philosopher Dr. Cornel West returns to Philadelphia on the 25th anniversary of the National Book Award-winning Race MattersFebruary 10. Sold out; simulcast tickets are available for purchase. Free Library of Philadelphia, Parkway Central Branch, 1901 Vine Street(215) 686-5404freelibrary.org
  • The Blackwell Regional Library will screen Paul Robeson, a documentary about the internationally acclaimed singer, actor and Civil Rights activist. Despite his talent, his political views lead to blacklisting; while unemployed, he moved to the West Philadelphia home of his sister Marian, who tended him until his death in 1976. February 17. 125 S. 52nd Street, (215) 685-7433freelibrary.org
  • As part of Black History Month and Philly Theatre Week, 202-year-old Mother Bethel AME screens Black Theatre: The Making of a Movement, Woodie King Jr.’s documentary highlighting accomplishments of Black men and women in theater, the importance of the Black Arts Movement and the funding crisis of Black theaters. February 18. 419 S. 6th Street, theatrephiladelphia.org
  • Praised by Michael Eric Dyson as “the boldest young feminist writing today,” Brittney Cooper will join in conversation with Melanye Price, associate professor of Africana Studies at Rutgers University, to discuss Cooper’s new book, Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her SuperpowerFebruary 22. Free. Free Library of Philadelphia, Parkway Central Branch, 1901 Vine Street(215) 686-5404freelibrary.org
  • Now in its 22nd year, the Schomburg Symposium is an annual Taller Puertorriqueñoconference dedicated to Afro-Latino history and culture. This year’s symposium theme: Does Violence Have Color? February 24. 2600 N. 5th Street, (215) 426-3311tallerpr.org
  • The William Way LGBT Community Center’s second annual Philly Black Trans History: A Multigenerational Panel Discussionwill feature some of the city’s most influential trans pioneers. February 28.1315 Spruce Street(215) 732-2220waygay.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.

Greater Philadelphia’s official visitor website and blog, visitphilly.com and uwishunu.com make up the most-visited website network out of the 10 biggest U.S. cities. 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.

Tweet It: Your 2018 guide to Black History Month in Philadelphia: http://vstphl.ly/2BG7IX0

Thank you to Visit Philly for the content of this post.

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Burgundian

Old Masters Now, PMASaint Francis of Assisi Receiving the Stigmata, 1430‑1432. Jan van Eyck, Netherlandish (active Bruges). Oil on vellum on panel, 5 x 5 3/4 inches. Philadelphia Museum of Art, John G. Johnson Collection, 1917.

A Guided Tour of Philadelphia in the Year 1430

by DoN Brewer

Party like it’s 1430! Art is a time capsule, and a lens on society, join me on a tour of Philadelphia to experience life like a Burgundian. Philly was a forest but in the year 1430, at the apex of the Late Middle Ages in Europe. In a country called Burgundy that once existed between France and Spain, a region that was a magnet for artists, there was ground-breaking innovation in technology in the arts.

Just like young artists do today, moving to cities, attending great art schools like The University of the Arts, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, seeking to achieve their creative and career goals, artists in 1430 would have become apprentices and joined guilds; the arts in Burgundy were already well established in the royal courts,  King Philip the Good inherited a well oiled arts department including sculpture and painting studios. Jan van Eyck was the duke’s personal friend and confidant, the story of his diplomatic trips to court the Queens of Europe, like a swipe right/left app, to consolidate power and find romance with art is really a trip.

Let us take a look around Philadelphia to find the influences of Burgundian life from the year 1430. In the three paintings I analyzed for A Guided Tour of Philadelphia in the Year 1430, there are architectural elements that resemble buildings we inhabit like Philadelphia City Hall with it’s French Gothic courtyard, grand steeples, turrets and towers of churches along Christian Street, and The Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral with glorious stained glass and vaulted ornate ceiling.

Weaving was the major economic force in the cities of Burgundy, trade of wool into textile the fabric of society, which we take for granted now with fast fashion. Weaving is still present in the arts today in Philadelphia, especially social practice artists like Kathryn Pannepacker, Lisa Kelley and Leslie Sudock.

Leslie Sudock is the instructor at Ready to Hand SOARI Philadelphia and she is a master weaver. Through her arts practice she connects Philadelphian empathy, sanctuary, and wealth of knowledge to the community.

“I have introduced SAORI weaving to public school children in the Philadelphia recreation system, to homeless and physically-challenged neighbors in churches, shelters and health facilities, and to the general community through my participation in Arts Street Textiles: handmade with the homeless.  My own excitement at discovering SAORI continues undiminished, and I love enabling others to experience the peace, pleasure and freedom to be found in weaving SAORI-way.” – Leslie Sudock

Kathryn Pannepacker and Lisa Kelley thread the needle of the opioid crisis in Kensington with weaving and textile design classes. As a mural artist, she has used weaving as the central idea and main communicative device to connect concepts of reality to the wider community. Just as master weavers of Burgundy portrayed the economic status of the royal houses to the world, Kathryn Pannepacker and Lisa Kelly, by using weaving and textile, exposes the empathic thread of the economy that is now shredded and how through the economics of creating art stimulates healing in the community.

Kensington Storefront is a new Porch Light community space at 2774 Kensington Avenue, Philadelphia. It’s a place to make art and connect to health resources in your community.

We believe that hands-on art-making provides a pathway for individual and community healing. This new Porch Light space at 2774 Kensington Avenue, Philadelphia, is a place for creating art and connecting to resources to live a better, healthier life.

Porch Light is an initiative of Mural Arts and Philadelphia’s Department of Behavioral Health in partnership with NKCDC, Impact Services Corporationand Prevention Point Philadelphia—along with many other community members and organizations.

GET INVOLVED
— Apply to use the space!
https://goo.gl/forms/xpVh1SbbT4UH4Z6r1/

LEARN MORE
— Strengthening community wellness through public art: https://www.muralarts.org/program/porch-light/
— Southeast by Southeast–another Porchlight project in Philly: https://www.facebook.com/PRMHCSEbySE/

There are many Philadelphia artists comparable to the traditions of arts and painting that we see in the transformative era of the Late Middle Ages. The artist and teacher Katya Held, an accomplished portrait artist who studied with the master Nelson Shanks at Studio Incamminati recently sent me a link to miniature paintings by artist Ludmila BognychevaMiniatures were the main source of communications through illustrated manuscripts and devotional objects and alter pieces in 1430. Being able to communicate an abundance of information distinctly with minimal data is an art that transcends technology from weaving to painting to writing; a correlation can be made between the the technological breakthrough of oil painting on economic growth with the growth of the internet, the world wide web.

Fashion and fine textiles are a part of everyday life now, but some artisans make fibre, jewelry, and design speak in a modern language. In Burgundian times status was announced with wardrobe, today high fashion is available at the consumer level. To differentiate from the masses one must choose wisely to stand out in the crowd. Philadelphia fashion designer Diane Litten creates multi-useful fashions that are transformable, jewelry made with coils and magnets, and stretch wacky hats with fibrous dreads.

In our art tour stop at the Jan van Eyck painting, I mentioned the portrait of Queen Isabella of Portugal‘s style and beauty, fashion and physique, and the spatial illusion in the composition. It was really important that the picture accurately portrayed the Queen, Jan van Eyck lived in Portugal for months to make the portrait; a prototype dating app. It’s not hard to imagine the luxuriousness of the lifestyle in Spain, like Burgundy there were fabulous textiles, furs, lace, the best of everything.

Fine foods Jan van Eyck would have eaten on his grand diplomatic trip are available in Philly, the royal houses were great consumers of meat, imagine the feasts in the high castles by visiting a Brazilian steak house. Roasted meats served on swords, carved at the table connects over space and time through the recipes from the the wedding feast of Philip the Good to Queen Isabella of Portugal, at the change of the decade 1430 in a land called Burgundy.

Music! Piffaro, The Renaissance Band

“Piffaro delights audiences with highly polished recreations of the rustic music of the peasantry and the elegant sounds of the official wind bands of the late Medieval and Renaissance periods. Its ever-expanding instrumentarium includes shawms, dulcians, sackbuts, recorders, krumhorns, bagpipes, lutes, guitars, harps, and a variety of percussion — all careful reconstructions of instruments from the period.”

 

Link to A Guided Tour of Philadelphia in the Year 1430

Link to Robert Campin, Christ and the Virgin

Link to Jan van Eyck art tour blog post – click here.

Link to Blasco de Grañén art tour blog post – click here.

Link to Old Master Now at Philadelphia Museum of Art press release on DoNArTNeWs

Written by DoN Brewer.

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Reflections

Jacque Ferretti, 3rd Street Gallery

Bella and Sharky

Reflections of the Past

“We clasp the hands of those that go before us,

And the hands of those who come after us.

We enter the little circle of each other’s arms

And the larger circle of lovers,

Whose hands are joined in a dance

And the larger circle of all creatures

Passing in and out of life

Who move also in a dance

To a music so subtle and vast that no ear hears it

Except in fragments.”

-Wendell Berry

“My interest in the subject of this exhibit was first sparked when I fell in love with a house, which is now my home, in an old Philadelphia neighborhood.  I had yet to discover why this area would hold such a special allure for me.

Bella and Sharkey were my maternal grandparents.  Incredibly, Bella as a teenager, once lived on my same street, just a few houses away when she met Sharkey at a neighborhood dance; they eventually married.  Sharkey was a tailor by trade, owning his own shop, and together he and Bella raised five children.  Sadly, when child number six, my mother, was on the way Sharkey died at the age of 32.

I found the house where Bella lived and raised her six children and where Sharkey’s tailor shop stood.  These buildings have since been torn down but not before I was able to collect many artifacts during the demolition process;  including photographs and construction fragments (rusted nails, shards of pottery, glass, stones and a wall sconce) all precious relics of my family history that have become indispensable to my artistic interpretation when telling Bella and Sharkey’s story.” –  Jacque Ferretti

Jacque Ferretti, 3rd Street Gallery

3rd Street Gallery, 45 North 2nd Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106, (215) 625-0993

Hours: Wednesday – Sunday, 12 – 5:00pm

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MUSE @40

MUSE @40. Muse GalleryMUSE @40

Muse Gallery in Old City invites you to MUSE @40, our 40th Anniversary Group Exhibition. The exhibition opens on November 29 and runs through December 31, 2017. Gallery hours are Wednesday through Sunday 12 to 5 pm.

Muse Gallery will present small works in oil, acrylic, watercolor, print, photography, mixed media and sculpture.  Our talented members, past and present, are donating these select works to create a unique opportunity to purchase 8” x 8” artwork for $40 each.  Art lovers can support the gallery and fund new initiatives by adding to their collections.

Please join us for:

  • First Friday            December 1 from 5 – 8 pm
  • Artist Reception    December 10 from 1 – 5 pm.

At the December 10th reception, current and past members welcome the public to celebrate the gallery’s longevity and it’s value to Philadelphia’s vibrant artistic community.

In 1977, 60% of students in American art schools were women.  Only 2% of these trained artists showed their work in galleries.  That year Muse Gallery opened its doors as Philadelphia’s only professional women’s art gallery, and it was also the first women’s co-operative gallery.  It was organized by Judith Stein, Patricia Meilman and a core group of nine professional artists.  There are now 21 artist members. 

Muse Gallery has always provided support to its members.  Women artists would have freedom to create without the pressure to sell.  Although Muse Gallery continues to have a strong feminist point of view, it now accepts men as equal members.

The Muse Gallery continues to value the same ideals as it did at its inception.  Its members have an opportunity to exhibit in an open and supportive environment.  We encourage dialogue through monthly meetings, critiques, as well as group and individual shows.  It is also a place where people form lasting friendships and make important connections with other artists. Muse offered women the opportunity to shine and still does after 40 years.

Muse Gallery52 North Second Street, Old City, Philadelphia 19106, 215-627-5310

Thank you to Charlene Lutz for the content of this post.

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Souls

Souls Shot, Portraits of Victims of Gun Violence, Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill

“On November 3, 2017 I went to the Presbyterian Church in Chestnut Hill to see a show of portraits of victims of gun violence. Artist Laura Madelaine had invited me to a show that she co-curated with Rebecca Thornburgh. Artists were paired up with family members of shooting victims to commemorate the lives of their loved ones.” – John Thornton

“There is a parable told by Jesus about a man who kept accumulating possessions. At some point, he had so much stuff, he had to build barns to contain it all.  Apparently once the barns were built and the stuff stored, he said to his soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.”  “Fool!” booms God’s voice disrupting this man’s satisfaction with the future he had secured. “This night your soul is required of you; and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?” It was God’s way of saying, “You can’t take it with you.” – Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill, Stewardship

Presbyterian Church in Chestnut Hill8855 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19118

Through November 30th, Gallery Hours 10:00am – 4:00pm, Monday – Friday

Thank you to John Thornton Video for the content of this post.

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