This season, Philly’s galleries, museums and other venues all across town want you to do more than just look. They want you to hang out, eat, discuss, make, share and generally become an active participant in whatever they’re doing. This is no citywide manifesto, and nobody organized this fall programming juggernaut. Call it the influence of online social networking or of foundations eager to fund socially-engaging programming. For whatever reason, the Philly art world wants You!
12th and Norris sts. 215.777.9144. temple.edu/tyler
Rob Blackson, the new director of exhibitions and programs, and his advisory council brainstormed a number of socially-themed issues. On tap: sustainability, natural-gas drilling, toxic waste and AIDS, to name a few. There will be two programs a week, Blackson says, which could include Monday morning coffee hours in the gallery with lectures and free coffee and snacks (coFREE Mondays began Sept. 12) or dinners in the gallery with foraged greens from the neighborhood (Feast of Forage, Sept. 21). Other programs include the True Blood Mobile (Oct. 28) and the Big Shale Teach-In (Nov. 3-4).
This month, British artist Sara MacKillop takes charge of the gallery’s welcome desk, a white desk with an abnormally high and unwelcoming wall on the front end. Turning the chilly piece into something interactive, the artist will fill the desk drawers with subversive art created with post-it notes, pens, clips and other standard office supplies. Viewers are encouraged to rifle through and interact—move stuff around, reorganize, add some, take some.
Institute of Contemporary Art
118 S. 36th St. 215.898.7108. icaphila.org
The Sept. 21 “Free For All” event has everything in one package—a lecture on contemporary art by Senior Curator Ingrid Schaffner, a screen-printing workshop, and a party with music and snacks. Don’t miss “Bill Walton’s Studio”—the late artist’s actual studio, brought into the ICA’s Project Space and re-created even down to the weathered floor boards. Programming involves a “sharing” day on Dec. 4, when artists who knew Walton will share stories about the artist; and everyone will receive an ephemeral giveaway object. Check out ICA’s blog, Miranda, for behind the scenes tidbits and pictures, and give them some feedback—you know you’re dying to.
319 N. 11th St., 2nd Floor. grizzlygrizzly.com
Things are most often interactive in the alternative venues. Grizzly Grizzly, one of the very best of the new spaces, will have its first open-call juried exhibit Nov. 4-27, and viewers will be asked to vote on their favorite work. The artist receiving the most votes will be awarded a solo exhibit at the gallery.
Dear culture vultures: For months we scoured the city to bring you the best of what Philly has to offer this season, and we think we’ve done a damn good job of bringing something for everyone. Into art? You should know that curators and artists everywhere are doing their best to take art out of their galleries and into your community. Want theater? We found a scrappy, independent circus troupe whose stunts you should never try at home. There’s also a roundup of what’s on tap for our favorite stages. If comedy is your thing, we've got a list of the season's best events (like a tribute to the late Mitch Hedberg, he of the famous one-line zingers). Music? Check. Dance? The Russian ballet awaits you on. We even examine the state of storytelling, which, of course, is the world's oldest favorite pastime yet somehow a "novelty" in today's world. Enjoy all this and more!