A pavilion for the Parkway
Re “New life for the Parkway,” by Lynn Denton—
This is a great idea, and well stated! I am against moving the Barnes— that would be an art crime, and will cost so much more than planned. And does nothing to bring new and diverse people and activities to the Parkway.
Brava Lynn Denton!
Bryn Mawr, Pa.
April 6, 2009
The article by Denton is right on! The type of space she envisions would be utilized many more times over by many more people than another museum on the Parkway. The space described is just what Philly needs for downtown revival. I say: Let’s have a public discussion about this, before it’s too late and mucho dinero is wasted.
Walter M. Herman
Merion Station, Pa.
April 7, 2009
I just love this! No modest proposal at all, Denton has laid out a vision that has depth, breadth, and most of all, energy.
Think about it. In Denton’s pavilion, we could share creative activities of our own time, building community in the process. It’s the face-to-face interaction that we surely need more of.
The Parkway Barnes would, at huge expense (reportedly some $200 million), exploit the art from another century for tourism revenue, doing nothing to support today’s artists. And the experience is already available and can be sustained with moderate investment of resources.
Beyond the actual dollars, it would incur the destruction of one of the world’s extraordinary art experiences: the Barnes site in Merion. In every way, we would be poorer, not richer for it.
Denton’s pavilion, on the other hand, would be affordable. And it would bring joy, not dread.
Thanks to Broad Street Review for inviting fresh ideas.
Bala Cynwyd, Pa.
April 7, 2009
This is a cracking good idea! Philadelphia needs something like this— if not on the Parkway, somewhere close to it within walking distance from train stations.
Personally, for balance, I would like to see a MOMA-styled art and design museum on the Parkway with some sort of people-attracting space nearby, such as Denton suggested. Think of the possibilities! We could move the Institute for Contemporary Art from University City and the whole contemporary art wing out of the Art Museum to seed this new space with art works. Exhibition space could be dedicated to current (alive) Philadelphia artists. Nearby there could be the cafés, galleries, gelato (there must be gelato, preferably Capagiro’s!), the outdoor performances, dancing, etc. Now, this will attract tourists as well as natives and suburbanites, who might well then decide to also visit a museum.
Philadelphia has no real people-friendly spaces such as San Antonio’s River Walk or Santa Fe’s Plaza. Developing the Parkway is our opportunity. But, if we can’t afford the contemporary art museum, I’ll take this idea for a Pavilion area on its own. It’s a good one.
April 8, 2009
Bethesda, Md., has an open-air square that serves many purposes. I’ve been there for band concerts, farmer’s markets, booths for selling arts and crafts, square dances, etc. It is a smaller space than the space proposed for the Barnes, but it is used. If we are fortunate enough to get the pavilion, a conversation with the government of the town of Bethesda would be of use.
Judith M Hart
April 16, 2009
What a great idea! Simple, inclusive, varied, cost effective, AND the
Barnes stays where it is with some help to sustain itself.
I’ll put on my dancing shoes!
April 15, 2009
Editor’s comment: A pavilion on the Parkway strikes me as a fine complement to nearby world-class attractions. It does not strike me as a world-class attraction in itself.
I just read Merilyn Jackson’s “Waiting for good dough” (what a great title!) and have to join her complaint about the lack of a good baguette. I lived in Philadelphia for many years and never encountered one that would come close to the ones you can get every day at every bakery in France. I have now moved to Manhattan and am not far from Fairway, Zabar’s, Citarella and Balducci’s, but I still haven’t found a satisfying piece of French bread. Why is it so? How difficult can it be?
I also wanted to weigh in on the slonina/smalec controversy. What Merilyn’s grandfather was putting on his bread was definitely smalec, not slonina. Slonina is not spreadable; it’s a slab of pork fat that one can cut into chunks or slices but not spread. The spreadable, rendered version— with bits of cooked onions in it, one that can be served in a tumbler— is called smalec. The controversy may be raging among Polish-Americans, but In Poland (where I grew up) the distinction is clear and obvious to everyone.
April 11, 2009
Oppenheimer, guilt-ridden scientist?
Re “Oppenheimer and the ‘guilt-ridden scientist’ myth”—
I agree with Mark Wolverton about Oppenheimer. In fact, I was present at a press conference with the Dr. Atomic principals just before its Metropolitan Opera premiere, and John Adams and I had a little discussion about the matter of guilt. I pointed out to him that Oppenheimer never expressed regret about the use of the atomic bomb in Japan any time in his life (although he did agonize a lot about hydrogen bombs). Adams expressed surprise about this. Later, during several talks, I agreed that it was a very fine opera, but as with many works of art its connection with reality was more figurative than literal.
I have myself always agreed with the atomic bomb’s use to end World War II. I used to tell my students that many of them would not be in my classes, or anywhere else for that matter, because their parents or grandparents would have been killed in the invasion of Japan.
Even so, the mythology surrounding Oppenheimer expresses something that is in a way even more powerful than reality: Though the use of the bombs was inevitable and well justified, its aftermath lives on, and shows us that the unthinkable can actually occur.
April 11, 2009
Editor’s note: The writer worked on the Manhattan Project with J. Robert Oppenheimer.
Venice without the Venetian blinders
I was delighted to read Richard Carreño’s observations about Venice. I, also, have never had a first rate meal there!
April 12, 2009
Editor’s comment: Nor have I.
I was delighted by Richard Carreño’s negativity toward Venice and everything Venetian. Perhaps this article will result in a few less ill-informed tourists crowding the walkways and bridges, blocking my full view of Titian’s glorious altarpiece, Assumption of the Virgin in the church of the Frari, the Bellini Madonna in San Zaccaria or enjoying the ride on the vaporetto from Fondamenta Nuova to Torcello, the earliest island that was settled but had begun to decline by the Ninth Century.
Perhaps Mr. Carreño, like most tourists, did not venture down to the Castello section, past the Arsenale to the Via Garibaldi and its many fine restaurants. There you will eat well, and it will be authentic Venetian fare, not pasta with red sauce. But please don’t try it. You might like it and then keep coming back!
Anne R. Fabbri
April 26, 2009
‘Saturday Night Live’
Brett Harrison’s “Can we talk about “Saturday Night Live?’” hit the proverbial nail on the head. SNL hasn’t been in the least bit funny since the original cast members took their exit to further success or relaxed retirement, including— in some cases— drug-induced death.
For more than ten years, tuning in to SNL revives the memory of Woody Allen’s character in Manhattan, watching a SNL-look-alike show from the control room and protesting, “This isn’t funny”, only to be groaned at by the producers.
The plain and simple reason SNL remains on the NBC slate is as a venue to sell advertising that NBC can take to the bank.
April 7, 2009
Re Anne R. Fabbri’s review of “Contemporary Voices” at the Woodmere Art Museum—
I will hazard a guess that the audience at this and other Woodmere shows could also be described as a “Menopause Medley.” These are individuals of a certain age, who are mostly well to do, and who already own enough art to be serious about purchasing more. Young artists don’t consider venues such as the Woodmere, the Sketch Club, the Plastic Club, etc., venerable though they may be, as their energies are directed face forward to the large commercial galleries of New York, Philadelphia and beyond.
Art Schools such as RISD, PAFA, UArts and MICA charge hefty tuition and, in addition to art instruction, provide star art students with fellowships, scholarships, internships, community service projects, study abroad opportunities, etc. Their careers are given a kick-start even before they graduate.
The Woodmere tradition has been to herald amateur talent as well as the professional, but today’s young artists are hard-boiled careerists. If not satisfied with the opportunity offered in the world of fine art, they will find their way into today’s “creative economy” with few regrets. Did not Andy Warhol free them from the embarrassment of earning money for their art?
April 1, 2009
I love the idiosyncrasy of her picks (which don’t single out any one age group or style) and her main point! Great review.
April 1, 2009
“Contemporary” means living— not young. Anne R. Fabbri’s remarks are both ageist and sexist.
I look forward to seeing the show. If it turns out to be mediocre, as your article suggests, it will not be due to the age or sex of the artists.
April 2, 2009
Anne R. Fabbri replies: It is neither the age nor the gender of the artists that matters; it’s their mindset. Victoria Skelly is very rough on young artists, and I disagree completely with her. I have interviewed many of them and worked closely with others. They are far more idealistic than we can ever imagine. They are imbued with the desire to communicate a sense of identity and humanity to everyone in the world and are the least materialistic members of the younger generation. I admire them tremendously.
No one enters art to make money. May I suggest that Ms. Skelly attend more gallery openings such as those held at the Sage Gallery at 333 South Street as well as other temporarily vacant stores on South Street. These artists have painted and fixed up the empty stores and, in exchange for paying the monthly expenses, the landlord has given them permission to create a gallery in the space. The work is exciting and refreshing and will revise her erroneous impressions of artists as the ultimate materialists.
Victoria Skelly replies: Please do not misinterpret my response! I am a daughter of two lifelong artists whose friends are artists and the mother of two daughters who have chosen the arts as their metiers. When I say that young artists are careerists, I don’t seek to criticize them, but rather applaud their dedication as such. Students at my younger daughter’s art school are full of life and energy and vision, just as you indicate. They also, by virtue of the orientation of their age, see less of a schism between the fine arts and parts of the commercial art world than perhaps you ( and the folks at Woodmere) do. Young art students want to be paid well for their work, as they deserve, because their schools seek to prepare them for the world that they will enter once they graduate.
I applaud the efforts of Philadelphia groups such as Sage Projects that attempt to “repurpose” empty storefronts with art exhibitions and musical performances. To my dismay, each semester my daughter’s art school in Baltimore arranges at least ten bus trips to New York, but only one or no trips to Philadelphia. We need do something about that, don’t we?
Albee’s At Home At the Zoo
Re Dan Rottenberg’s review of Edward Albee’s At Home At the Zoo—
I’m not surprised that you turned At Home At the Zoo into an East Side-West Side argument, since that is so much on your mind. I thought it a fair and fun way of getting into the Jerry-Peter dichotomy.
I think I appreciated the play more than you– not feeling at all that Act I is an anachronistic mis-alignment. Part of the excruciating pleasure of Act I is precisely how difficult it is for Peter to talk about his peter and Ann to talk about her animal. What Albee says about the play is that, like many of his plays, it contains a message about wanting people to lead their lives fully, deeply, richly— which requires them to take risks, act dangerously, move towards the precipice. I like that message, and I think the play conveys it beautifully.
When Peter keeps denying he can see the dark underbelly in Jerry’s story and in Jerry, then Jerry sacrifices himself for Peter. Peter has to be saved by connecting with chaos and to stop living a life in denial of his own animal nature, which scared him during his college fraternity incident. Since I am in full agreement with this message and found the play expressing it coherently and powerfully, I loved it and hope to see it a second time before.
Besides your review being helpfully provocative, it is an important balance to Toby Zinman’s sycophantism before the Albee God.
April 1, 2009
Congratulations on your knowledgeable and perceptive review of Edward Albee’s At Home At the Zoo. It is right on the mark, with one thing that should be clarified.
Ann would never have talked so openly about her sexual desires in the ’50s. Instead she just would have had an affair with the lifeguard at the shore, the dentist, doctor, veterinarian or her children’s teacher. Nothing else would change. That’s the way it was.
Fortunately, things are different now. People speak more openly of their needs and desires, and probably there is less hanky-panky. Or does it matter less? Perhaps another survey is needed.
Anne R. Fabbri
April 1, 2009
Casinos and the Barnes
Re “Gambling with the city’s future”—
As usual, Robert Zaller has spoken the bleak truth: Neither casinos nor the Barnes Foundation move will make the city a better place to live. Governor Rendell should be ashamed of himself.
April 3, 2009
You can add the Valley Forge Convention Center to your list of impending casino sites. Few people in the suburbs or the city know that this is planned, because news coverage of this fact has been practically nonexistent. If Barnes is rolling over in his grave over the heist of his Foundation, surely William Penn is doing the same over this plan to seed gambling culture all over his green country town.
April 1, 2009
Shooting Three Mile Island
“Shooting Three Mile Island,” by Reed Stevens, has to be the clearest, most descriptive and human accounting of that day I have ever read. The author is a genius. Do more of her.
March 31, 2009
Reed Stevens is indeed such a good read, for obvious reasons.
On the subject matter of nuclear power plants, they’ve proven themselves to be the most cost efficient possible known means of generating energy.
Based on my sources, there are so many vitally important issues, such as the advantages of nuclear power, which are ignored and discarded for trumped up reasons that totally lack any element of level headed logic or common
April 1, 2009
Reed Stevens replies: I will be excruciatingly polite and agree that nuke power might save us. One day. (First, population control.)
Hamlet at the Lantern
Re “Why Hamlet still matters”—
I just watched the video interview of Geoff Sobelle and Charles McMahon of the Lantern Theater interviewed by Jim Rutter several times this morning. It is quite a revelation to see the artists, hear their thoughts from their own lips, watch their body language, observe their spatial dynamics and listen to their tonal emphasis.
Their messages, responses, insights and emotive qualities are quite more revealing and informative on video than in just a text format. To have these two artists visit me in my study this morning is quite unique and fulfilling. Having them visit me with just a point and a click is delightful!
I want you to know that I very much like and appreciate the video interview format added to the text.
Are there other text plus video interviews posted on your Review in the past that I may have missed? Will you have more video interviews?
This is precisely what WHYY -TV should be doing for artists in our region, but it does not. Thank you for making this happen.
Drexel Hill, Pa
April 3, 2009
Editor’s comment: We haven’t offered video interviews before but hope to post them more frequently in the future. For another video interview by Jim Rutter (about InterAct Theatre’s Jihad Jones), click here.
Art meets science
Re “Art meets science: Ellen K. Levy at Rider U.,” by Robert Zaller—
Incredibly perceptive, and beautifully written. Congratulations!
April 5, 2009
Editor’s note: The writer is an art historian and critic.
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