Philly is a hotspot for all sorts of art. A trip to Philly is not complete without running up the east steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art a la Rocky, or enjoying the post-impressionistic art nearby at what is considered one of the most unique collections in the world, the Barnes Foundation. But the Philly art scene is more than the work of Picasso, Van Gogh, and Eakins on museum walls or the architecture that graces this old city. Our city’s contemporary art scene is thriving in all sorts of mediums – read on below, and sign-up for a free membership to Campus Philly’s Open Arts to access free and discounted tickets to these and other venues, year-round.
The Magic Gardens is called magic for a reason. Combining all sorts of everyday objects such as bicycle wheels and broken bottles, with colorful and mirrored tiles, Isaiah Zagar’s “mosaicked visionary art environment, gallery, and community arts center” has helped spur the revitalization of South Street by renovating – or beautifying – old, broken down buildings. Zagar’s “visionary art environment” provides a space for folk and local artists to display their work. Slightly off topic, it’s also a great place to take profile pictures or selfies.
The Philadelphia Art Alliance presents contemporary music, theater, painting, and sculpture all in one place. Since 1915, the Alliance has presented exhibitions by artists such as Mary Cassat and Antonio Gaudi in addition to contemporary artists and designers. If you’re interested, they offer artist talks and concerts as well as workshops. InLiquid Art + Design also serves local artists by connecting art-producers and the public through online portfolios, partnerships with cultural organization, and community-based activities and exhibitions.
Philly also boasts a number of art galleries such as The Savery Gallery. This gallery exhibits “serious work from emerging and mid-career contemporary and multi-disciplinary artists from across the globe.” Right now on exhibit until Nov. 20, Pressure Points take a look at new approaches to printmaking and questions the definition of what makes up a print. The Wexler Gallery also features contemporary art; however, they focus on merging design with fine and decorative art. The pieces in this gallery feature talented craftspeople working with mixed media, ceramics, painting, photography, print, glass, and more. Gregory Nangle’s Isomorphic Balance is on exhibition right now and features glass and bronze in “visually striking and unapologetically imperfect” pieces. Arch Enemy Arts, another gallery, focuses on “lowbrow, representational, pop surrealism, photo-realism, decorative, figurative, urban, macabre, and illustrative style art in a wide range of mediums.” This art gallery was voted “Best Art Gallery in Philadelphia” by Philly HotList in 2013.
UPENN’s Institute of Contemporary Art is free for everyone and strives to bring under-represented artists into the world’s attention. The ICA organized Andy Warhol’s (yes, the Campbell Soup guy) first solo museum tour and helped him gain “superstardom.” The Institute strongly believes in the ability of art to inform and inspire. Right now, the exhibits span many mediums and subjects – one focuses on movement and brightly painted nails while another theatrically exaggerates every day routine. Maybe when you’re there, you’ll see the next Andy!