The middle months are finally upon us, and what better place to experience them than in a city where so much of its artwork has already been placed outside? While it surely is a daunting task to go catch a glimpse of every printed, painted, sculpted and color-splattered thing in Philadelphia during what could be a particularly hot summer, we still recommend you give it a shot. Starting immediately.
Opening this Friday, June 6 at Gravy Studio (gravy-studio.com) is Joe Hocker’s photographic series, Amid the Noise and Haste, for which he’s been building awesome little temporary sculptures out in the woods. He constructs them right there, on the spot, with whatever is around. The result is a collection of soft and delicate yet very strong images. The opening is at 6pm, and a closing reception and artist talk takes place on Sun., July 6, from 5 to 7pm.
Friday also brings new collage work by Andrea Gaydos Landau, a “shiny new member” of Tiger Strikes Asteroid (philadelphia.tigerstrikesasteroid.com) in her show Never Wanted Nothing from 6 to 10pm. Before leaving the Vox Populi building, go check out the very first solo exhibitions by some of their newest members: Robert Gonzales, Will Haughery, Beth Heinly with guest artists, and Ben Will, with Fourth Wall contributor Peter Rose. It’s all free. (voxpopuligallery.org) Afterward, you can head over to FringeArts’ waterfront venue for The Beautiful Noise: A Special Tribute to Sun Ra, curated by composer King Britt and artist Kate Watson-Wallace. Musicians, dancers, other body-based performers and video artists will improvise a “never before, never again collision of artistic synergy” all in the name of their hero, jazz surrealist Sun Ra. (fringearts.com)
This weekend on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, you’ll want to go see Symbiosis, sculptor Roxy Paine’s giant—and completed—stainless steel tree piece, next to the Iroquois sculpture by the Philadelphia Museum of Art. And the Mural Arts Program’s Katharina Grosse project for the SEPTA/Amtrak railway, psychylustro—the neon-splashed scenes alongside North Philly’s regional rail tracks that was completed in mid-May—will be the topic of a panel discussion with Chris Satullo at WHYY called “Great Gateways, and the Cities that Make Them,” on Wed., June 18. (muralarts.org)
The SoLow Festival—a do-it yourself fair dedicated to new, experimental work—returns this summer for solo performances “with low-maintenance and low-stress,” according to its website. The 10-day fest starts Fri., June 20, with all shows being pay-what-you-can (PWYC). This year’s scheduled events include storytelling, comedy and theatrical performances, readings, a “movement installation,” a cheesesteak-eating contest and a Craigslist-based multimedia performance. (solowfest.com)
All summer long, you can visit the Philadelphia Museum of Art on Wednesday nights for pay-what-you-wish nights and special programming every week (philamuseum.org/wednesdaynights), or better yet, plan to chill out at the Barnes Foundation’s 21-masterpieces-strong Paul Cèzanne exhibit, opening Sun., June 22, which will showcase the beauty and shocking novelty of Cèzanne’s still-lifes, truly created by an artist of “rare intuition and unerring aesthetic sensibility.” Make sure you put enough time aside; that place can suck you in, and you’ll miss meals. (barnesfoundation.org)
Also on the 22nd, another improvised musical performance akin to The Beautiful Noise premieres, this time at House Gallery 1816 (housegallery1816.com), featuring dancer, singer and instrumentalist Jen Shyu performing in more than 10 foreign languages—including improvised ones. The performance, titled Jen Shyu’s Solo Rites: Seven Breaths, is based on stories of loss and redemption and the manner in which ancient shaman rituals were thought to have cleansed souls.
Having received the MFA Faculty Exhibition Award during their first year in the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts MFA program, Yoni Hamburger and Ashley Wick were given a rare opportunity to show their work only one year after graduation. They will be exhibiting their newest paintings in Heads & Hearts beginning Thurs., June 26, with a opening reception slated for the following night. (pafa.edu)
Hilary White takes over Space 1026 (space1026.com) next month with SEER, an exhibition of suspended disbelief. Combining clean-cut wood, acrylic and resin shapes and lines, she creates three-dimensional scenes—one of a galaxy (maybe), another a geometric black hole of some sort. This opens Fri., July 11, and runs through the month.
Throughout July, you can head to University of the Arts for their MFA Summer Lecture Series, featuring noted visiting artists, including Angela Dufresne on Wed., July 16 and Garth Johnson on Wed., July 23. Held on campus, lectures will take place from June 25 through Aug. 5 and are free and open to the public. (uarts.edu)
And finally, Fishtown’s taking it back outdoors with its Kensington Picnic II, an art and music fest slated for Sat., Aug. 9 in an empty lot where Frankford and Susquehanna avenues meet. From noon until 8pm, you can enjoy local art, food and live music from Strapping Fieldhands, Birds of Maya, harp virtuoso Mary Lattimore, Spacin, Laura Baird and more to be announced.
Do It Yourself: Why just look at art this summer when you can make your own?
The Handmade Philly-hosted Etsy 2014 Craft Party 2014: Recapture is your grand opportunity to breathe new life into those stacks of old photos sitting in your shoebox. Bag ‘em up, and bring ‘em down to West Elm to embellish those individual works of art using the craft supplies supplied and a variety of demonstrated techniques. Snacks will be provided, as well as a chance to meet new people. Fri., June 6, 6pm. Free. West Elm, 1330 Chestnut St. handmadephilly.com
The hit 1990 film Ghost is regarded as one of the most romantic films of modern cinema. With the Date Night at the Clay Studio, couples now have the opportunity to recreate that Demi Moore-Patrick Swayze scene (in your minds, anyway) and (re)kindle that flame in the same way—without the whole eventually-killed-husband and paranormal thing. Skilled teachers are there to help every step of the way, and light snacks, beer and wine are provided. Fri., July 11, 7pm, $30-$35. The Clay Studio, 137-139 N. 2nd St. theclaystudio.org
Summer mandate: Kids of every age must get their hands as dirty as possible at least once, including the young-at-heart. Luckily, the Philadelphia Museum of Art hosts Family Art Workshop: Mythological Comics this season. This family-friendly event features a gallery discussion, as well as a collaborative space for parents and kids to roll up their sleeves and create something—together. That’s super stuff. Sat., Aug. 9, 1pm. $8-$10. Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2600 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy. philamuseum.org
You’ve seen that spate of “paint-and-sip” get-togethers coupling cocktails with easy-going, artist-led instruction, right? They actually kind of rock. For those of us itching to release our inner Beardens but admittedly a bit intimidated by a formal studio setting, parties organized by businesses like Painting With a Twist and websites like Colors & Bottles are right up our alleys: Nope, there’s no high expectation, and yep, there’s booze. Some offer singles and couple-only events at selected bars or restaurants around town, and others, like The Uncorked Artist or PWAT—which has a South Philly site, three suburban locales and more franchises opening soon—host both public and private parties. By providing a more casual environment, liquid encouragement and a literal take-away by form of your very own on-canvas creation, these artistic affairs ensure loads of memorable fun for group outings, offbeat dates and those going solo. Various locations and times. colorsandbottles.com, theuncorkedartist.com, paintingwithatwist.com —Kennedy Allen
PLUS: All sorts of free art all summer long!
PW's 2015 Philly Spring Guide