First Sunday ‘Pay-What-You-Wish’

For those of you not jumping on the Penn Savers deal wagon, there are still opportunities for discounted art exposure.

This Sunday, check out the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s Gorky retrospective

Abstraction with a Palette, Gorky, c. 1930

Penn Savers!

It’s the weekly offers of Funsavers (weekly half price tickets!) but tailored for the PENN COMMUNITY (me&you)

Why you should join, Example A: Flashpoint Theatre Company, “A disgruntled store elf goes postal on a crowd full of children … or maybe he just gripes about it for an hour and drinks a lot of scotch.”

DISCOUNTED PRICE, $7.50

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Art Club Reception

Urban Scuba

URBAN!

[3 second pause]

SCUUBAAA!

Every time I see the title for this 2009 Philly Live Arts Festival performance, something within me yearns to shout it out like that. Brian Sanders’ choreography and John Luna, Lesya Popil, William Robinson, Brian Sanders’ dancing only reinforced my passion to do so.

Shown early last month (September) in The Gershman Y’s Pool at Watts Street between Pine and Lombard, this 50 minute production supersaturates its audience’s sensory experience with lights flashy enough to make you feel like you’ve been transported to a Moscow Eurotrance club, music so powerful its bass beats through the natural rhythms of your heart, and plastic bag costumes to make your skin feel like it’s slowly amphibian-izing. All this hits you, of course, while you sit shrouded in darkness and anticipation for what a performance with the title “Urban Scuba” could possibly entail.

At first, the theatrics made me wonder if Sanders purposefully borrows circus techniques and style to distract the audience from a an aesthetic lack on the dancers’ part. I soon regretted that thought. Sanders divides his 50 minutes into sections, each with a particular character, tone, and original choreography to match. Some displayed sparkingly witty humor, others a passionate lyricism—all of them showed off the team’s physical artistry and strength. In this case using an urban indoor swimming pool as the set not only worked, but also became essential to the direction and choreography: the dynamics of each short piece’s movement involving leaps into a seemingly abysmal space (which the mostly empty pool creates in the absence of the lights I’m assuming are usually on), synchronized swimming/floating/splashing, and drifting of various materials through the air and onto the shallow water. Did Sander’s brilliant creativity and inter-elemental synthesis produce a result too over-the-top for its audience to handle (i.e. am I wonky in loving this performance with so much enthusiasm)? I argue not (hope not, at least, regarding the second). On a scale of “not so great,” “had its moments,” “I liked it,” “very good,” to “amazing,” 81% of the audience chose “amazing” and none chose “not so great.”

Perhaps I respond this way because of a personal tendency to philosophize and project an unconscious desire for profundity onto situations, but “Urban Scuba” speaks to (what I think are) primal instincts within me. I felt celebration when the dancers gracefully leapt from ledges and into the air, struggle when they fought to climb up a wall with trash bags tying their legs together, disfiguration when I watched them ooze through the mucky tar/black paint/mud covering their bodies, and transformation as I witnessed their group-individual relationships and costumes (or, occasionally, lack thereof) shapeshift. The performance’s ability to make me think yet not quite grasp struck a chord. It fulfills “Live Arts” quite literally.

But more than all this, “Urban Scuba” is FUN—to talk about, to experience, to share (and, I hope, to perform!). My rating? 5 out of 5 for sure.

Submitted by Fonda Chen, class of 2010

Fringe Festival

The Philly Fringe and Live Arts shows I have been to have always been interactive in a sort of way. During the Festival in 2008, I sat in the Rotunda at 40th and Walnut with choral chanters and modern dancers moving in front, to the side, and in back of me as I sat, with the rest of the “audience” (however, I’m pretty sure we were part of the show as well), on pews in the large, acoustically magnificent, yet dilapidated sanctuary from which the Rotunda gets its name. That piece was called Urban Echo.

During this year’s Festival, I was once again physically proximal to the performers. I attended Urban Scuba which took place in the abandoned YMCA swimming pool at Broad and Pine streets. We quickly scurried down the alley to the long pathway to the entrance so we wouldn’t miss the raise of the (in this case, shower) curtain. Entering through the shower/locker rooms, as would be normal in any other trip to the swimming pool, we got into the shallow end of the pool and experienced what, even then, and especially now, seems like a dream. While we sat anxiously in our seats at the shallow, and currently dry, end of the pool, the performers danced, flew, swam, crawled, splashed, twirled, leapt, climbed, bounced, fell and glided through a created jungle of imaginative refuse. The four performers put on a circus of a show involving acrobatics, modern dance, creative movement, trash bags, packing peanuts, strobe lights, shower curtains, tar (or was it paint?), ominous beats of music and a shallow sea of water. The reason and message of the performance was never explicitly indicated. I came out thinking of an imagined reality of life existing in the sewers below and of an environmentally damned future in which the trash no longer fit into dumps and instead hung around whatever life forms remained or had evolved. While the show was pretty over the top and out there–I enjoyed just that. The beauty of the Philly Fringe and Live Arts Festival is that it is a venue for experimental theater, dance, music, and all things art. Some shows are more successful than others– but in all cases, they elicit opinions and responses from the audience and represent creative, passionate, and active members of the Philly arts community.

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Alumni Award of Merit Gala

Artwork Submissions

Who’s the Artist?

Here’s a recent quiz from mental floss blog

I found that one really tricky… but instead of brushing up on my art history, I found more art-related quizzes from the ultimate time-eater, sporcle!

Name these art movements!

Name these works of art!

Where’s the art at?

And from our VERY OWN MUSEUM:

PMA art quiz

I think we should create a quiz about art around campus… like, where did those hands come from on the gate to the fine arts building?? How many Ben Franklin statues are there? …and how manyof these statues have been peed on?