Canary Goes Global: World-class culture in the City of Brotherly Love
Philadelphia is used to its place as an international destination. Especially popular with Canadian, French and British visitors, Philly hosted 613,000 foreign tourists in 2011 and is continuing to grow. But what the city is now embracing is its role in bringing an international scene to the City of Brotherly Love. Driven by one of the fastest-growing immigrant populations and a young resident base, Philadelphia is now recognized for its international arts scene, by artists and art-lovers alike.
International artists, right in your neighborhood
The most diverse place in Philly isn’t the line of international tourists waiting to see the Liberty Bell. High-profile museums are more and more frequently featuring international artists: In 2011, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts brought back the Swedish American sculptor behind the Clothespin, Claes Oldenburg, to install the Paint Torch as the centerpiece of its new Lenfest Plaza. A more temporary torchlight installation got Philly’s attention last fall when Mexican-Canadian artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer presented Open Air, the interactive installation of 24 powerful robotic searchlights on the Ben Franklin Parkway.
Berlin-based visual artist Tacita Dean, famous for her film exhibits that have shown at the Tate Britain in London and the Guggenheim in New York, presents a brand-new piece inspired by desert landscapes at Arcadia University this spring. “JG” runs at the Arcadia University Art Gallery through April 21, 2013.
SongDong and Yin Xiuzhen (pictured above), a husband-and-wife team of contemporary sculptors from Beijing who have exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, will arrive at the Philadelphia Art Alliance’s historic mansion on Rittenhouse Square this fall. Their site-specific installation will conclude a 12-year series of works that use a humble Chinese culinary tool — chopsticks — as a metaphor for domesticity, family life and cultural shifts from generation to generation.
Upcoming international festival puts Philly artists on the world stage
Launched in 2011, the second biennial Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts (PIFA) is coming up at the end of March. It’s a citywide arts festival the Kimmel Center produces by collaborating with arts and cultural organizations all over Philadelphia. The exhibits and performances in 2011 attracted over 400,000 visitors, and will hold us over till the long-standing Philadelphia Live Arts Festival & Philly Fringe returns for its 17th year this fall.
The international aspect of PIFA is about putting “Philly’s diverse artistic contributions on the world’s center stage.” This year’s theme is “If You Had a Time Machine,” and focuses in on the idea of “taking audiences on a journey through time to experience the convergence of art, culture and history in artistic interpretations of great, defining moments that continue to influence society today.” The partnering arts and cultural organizations are wide-ranging, from theatrical organizations like Philadelphia Young Playwrights (presenting ”Time Machine,” bringing together high school and university students along with master teaching artists, April 24-26) to art museums like Woodmere Art Museum (presenting the work of Philadelphia artist Violet Oakley, who attended some of the first meetings of the United Nations in 1946 and produced an important series of portraits of delegates and representatives from all over the world, March 30-April 28).
Whether it’s achieving international attention for the work of Philadelphia artists or welcoming international artists to Philadelphia galleries and museums, the city is stepping up as a global art destination, and Canary is thrilled to be a part of the movement.
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