Top 5 Events: Creative Endeavors

This week’s Top 5 Events all tie to an artistic sensibility. Whether it’s viewing historic photos, learning about video game design, or watching films, your right-brain will be getting some exercise. But that doesn’t mean that if you’re not interested in artistic pursuits, you won’t find anything to do–there’s history, contemporary hobbies, and science here too! Take this week to dabble in areas that you may not be familiar with, whether it’s film (and the bad science behind bad films), sunprints, or female video game designers. You’ll gain new perspectives or skills from all of these events!

Creating Camelot at the National Constitution Center
When: Now through September Where: National Constitution Center, 525 Arch Street, Philadelphia Cost: $13 admission

Creating Camelot: The Photography of Jacques Lowe features iconic and intimate photos of the Kennedy family. “Camelot” refers to the legacy of John F. Kennedy’s presidency, evoking images of myth and fairy-tale and the hope that accompanied Kennedy’s inauguration. While this is the legacy of the president, the Constitution Center exhibit explores the man, the family, and the moments behind it. Restored photos taken by personal photographer Jacques Lowe showcase the private and public life of the Kennedys and explore how the images were used in newspapers and magazines. A large touch-screen monitor featuring more than two dozen of Lowe’s original contact sheets and a film about Lowe’s connection to the family provide extra highlights at the exhibit. Don’t miss this opportunity to gain a more nuanced view of one of America’s most well-regarded presidents through the lens of Jacques Lowe.

Mega-Bad Movie Night: Anaconda
When: February 26, 5:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. Where: Academy of Natural Sciences, 19th Street & Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia Cost: $15-$25

After hours at the Academy of Natural Sciences will feature the “awesomely awful” 1997 classic Anaconda featuring Jennifer Lopez. While the film is showing, experts will be onstage to provide quips and funny comments on the scientific absurdities of the film. After the showing, you can wander through the Academy’s exhibits, including Dinosaur Hall and Butterflies!, with no crowds and kids running around. There will also be snacks and drinks (21+), live animals, and entertaining hands-on activities. So if you’ve got a nerdy side or are looking to tap into your scientific side, this is a great place to hang out and meet other people!

Salvage and Sunprints: Experimenting with Cyanotypes
When: March 1, 12:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. Where: The Resource Exchange, 1701 N 2nd Street, Philadelphia Cost: $5

The Resource Exchange reCreate featured artist Catherine Nelson will be demonstrating how to make sunprints with reclaimed materials at this unique workshop. Participants will learn how to make film positives and expose cyanotypes by drawing and laying objects on photographic paper. After exposing the print to the sun and drying them, you’ll be left with awesome-looking sunprints! Each person will make three at the workshop. All the materials will be provided by the Resources Exchange, but participants are encouraged to bring weirdly-shaped objects from home to “photograph.” This event is a fun way to get your creative juices flowing and to learn a new artistic technique. And you’ll go home with new artwork for your dorm or apartment, as well!

Game Changers: Women Making Games
When: March 4, 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. Where: Stewart Auditorium, Moore College of Art and Design, 20th Street and the Parkway,  Philadelphia Cost: FREE!

Moore College of Art and Design is hosting a night to celebrate the success of women creating video games and animation and working in the video game industry. Three contemporary artists will share their experiences and provide an insider’s view of the gaming industry. The panelists will include: Alison Carrier, a UI/UX designer who currently works at Electronic Arts; Katy Farina, who works at Hullabalu and does freelance work for BOOM! Studios; and Casey Uhelski, a children’s book illustrator and T-shirt designer for The Yetee, which specializes in pop culture and video game T-shirts. This event is a great chance to learn about the video game industry and the women who are making their mark there!

Penn Humanities Forum: “Mississippi Damned” Screening 
When: March 4, 7:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. Where:  International House, 3701 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia Cost: Free!

The Penn Humanities Forum’s series featuring New Black Cinematography continues this week with a free screening of the 2009 film Mississippi Damned. This cinema series honors the work of Bradford Young, the acclaimed cinematographer whose work captures visions of African-American communities from New York City to Mississippi (including his recent work in the Oscar-nominated film Selma). He again presents a visual masterpiece in Mississippi Damned, which tells the story of three sisters who grow up in a small rural Mississippi town and struggle to break out of their family dysfunction. Enjoy a night of film at this FREE screening!

Top 5 Events: Free Philly Fun

This week’s Top 5 cover a variety of events—you can crowd the streets for the Chinese New Year, create poetry inspired by massive sculptures, or grab some pizza and learn about ballet. And best of all, every event this week is FREE! So don’t worry about your wallet taking a hit; drop that cash in your piggy bank or get dinner before an event instead. Grab a friend (or a bunch of friends) and enjoy all the fun for no charge!

Verbal Sculpture: A Poetic Gallery Tour by The Philly Pigeon
When: February 18, 6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. Where: Leonard Pearlstein Gallery, URBN Center Annex, Drexel University, 3401 Filbert Street Cost: FREE!

Get your creative juices flowing! Verbal Sculpture is a slam poetry gallery tour conceived and performed by The Philly Pigeon, a local nonprofit poetry organization. The setting is American sculptor Chakaia Booker’s exhibition Are We There Yet?, featuring large-scale sculptures crafted from recycled tires. Local poets will create poems, or “verbal sculptures,” that are inspired by the artwork (which also includes paintings and prints).  And you can be a part of the poetic pulse of the night. At 6:30, a writers’ open studio will be held where you can respond to prompts written by the resident poets. After observing the various themes of Booker’s work, you can create your own spoken word pieces about the art. Then at 7:00, four of the top poets from The Philly Pigeon will present a curated tour-performance of the Booker exhibition. Don’t miss this fun night of creative discourse and art!

Midnight Lion Dance Performance
When: February 18, 11:30 p.m. – 12:30 a.m. Where: 10th and Race Streets, Chinatown Philadelphia Cost: FREE!

If you don’t have to be up early Thursday morning, enjoy a night in Chinatown to ring in the Chinese New Year. The Year of the Horse will make way for the Year of the Sheep, and firecrackers will burst on the streets. The Chinese New Year Midnight Parade will be led by the Philadelphia Suns lion dancers. Can’t make it out that night? Don’t worry; there are other ways to celebrate around the city. A Year of the Sheep Parade will be held on the 22nd, or there are various events being held at International House, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, or Independence Seaport Museum.

February Japanese Film Festival
When: February 19 & 26, 7:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. Where: Room B6 Stiteler Hall, UPenn, 208 S 37th Street, Philadelphia Cost: FREE!

This year’s Japanese Film Festival at UPenn is centered on dreams and dreaming. So leave your realistic expectations at the door, and step into cinematic worlds of imagination and Japanese culture. Two films are left in the series: Ten Nights of Dreams will be shown on February 19 and Jiro Dreams of Sushi on the 26. Ten Nights of Dreams is based on the novel by Natsume Sōseki and features ten vignettes that dip into the subconscious and present fantastical and weird visions. Sometimes wacky and sometimes nightmarish, this film is an imaginative exploration of the real and unreal. Jiro Dreams of Sushi is more rooted in reality—the documentary follows 85-year-old sushi master Jiro Ono. Jiro, considered to be the world’s greatest sushi chef, is still on a quest to perfect the art of sushi despite his acclaim and his age. Despite its realism, Jiro Dream of Sushi is a film about chasing dreams and capturing perfection. And, the spectacle of beautiful image after beautiful image of sushi will leave your mouth watering by the end. These great films showings are FREE, so don’t miss them!

A Conversation with Signe Wilkinson
When: February 19, 12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.  Where: Kelly Writers House Arts Cafe, UPenn, 3805 Locust Walk, Philadelphia Cost: FREE!

Enjoy an afternoon of conversation with editorial cartoonist Signe Wilkinson. Wilkinson is best known for her work at the Philadelphia Daily News, and drew a syndicated daily comic strip for United Media from 2007 to 2011. She was the first female cartoonist to win the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartooning, served as president of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists from 1994-1995, and received a Visionary Woman Award from Moore College of Art & Design. Wilkinson’s talk will focus on “Redrawing Stereotypes” in cartoons. Whether you’re into comic books or the Sunday funnies, this discussion will be an interesting discourse on editorial cartoons, their messages, and their place in the media today. And it’s a great chance to hear from an acclaimed artist in the field for FREE!

BalletX: A Pie, A Pint, & The Process
When: February 21, 4:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. Where: Arch Street Meeting House, 320 Arch Street, Philadelphia Cost: FREE! (for Open Arts members)

So you know that en pointe is when ballet dancers are on the tips of their feet, right? But do you know how they do it? Or about the pointe shoe, and how it has been redesigned to allow dancers to stay en pointe for longer periods of time? Head to BalletX to learn about the evolution of the pointe show and contemporary ballet from the artistic staff, including artistic director Christine Cox, choreographer Norbert De La Cruz III, and Pennsylvania Ballet principal dancer Lauren Fadeley. And you can enjoy some pizza and beer (21+) too! This afternoon of audience engagement is great for everyone to enjoy, whether you known what a toe box is or not. It will also feature a demonstration by dancer Andrea Yorita. Be sure to check out BalletX’s Winter Series—discounted student tickets are just $25!

A Piece of Philly: Kate’s Top Picks

When you find yourself in a city, you might not know which way to turn first. Philadelphia is no different—you know about the historical sightseeing spots and the popular tourist locales, but what if you’re looking for something a little more off the beaten path? Well, no compilation or list will cover everything that Philly has to offer (because, if you didn’t know, there’s a ton), but we can at least start somewhere. Check out these colorful places in the city that are just some of my favorites.


World Café Live

Location: 3025 Walnut Street

You can hear everyone from well-known artists to local performers at World Cafe Live, one of the best places in Philly to enjoy good sounds. This multi-level venue, home to the renowned WXPN radio show, is a converted Art Deco factory building that hosts a variety of events throughout the year. Downstairs Live’s contemporary design and top-notch sound system make it the perfect concert hall for nationally-renowned artists. Upstairs Live is a smaller, more intimate space with an urban chic atmosphere where local acts can showcase their talent. Weekly Monday Night Jazz Jams and Philly Rising open mic nights highlight WCL’s commitment to local talent—both offer artists from the Philadelphia area an opportunity to get on stage and perform. Other awesome artists who have passed through World Cafe Live are David Cook, Melanie Martinez, and  No Good Sister. Check out their extensive full lineup here and be sure to see a show!

In the area: Both levels offer food and drinks, but for something different Koreana Food (which offers michi, bubble tea, and more) and Pizza Rustica (featuring wood-fired pizza, paninis, and charming white-and-red-checkered tablecloths) are good options. The Institute of Contemporary Art is nearby too, so check out some of the awesome art there for FREE!

Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens
Location: 1020 South Street

Yes, odds are that you’ve heard of  Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens before or you’ve been already. But who’s to say you can’t go again? And if you haven’t already, it’s a must-see. “It’s such a unique place with so much to offer every time you go there,” says Tara More, a freshman at Villanova University. “It was awesome to see that an artist had a vision to take someone’s trash or recyclables and turn it into a beautiful piece of art.” The outdoor and indoor space, covered in glistening mosaics, was designed by local artist Isaiah Zagar. He constructed the madly imaginative space out of cement and funky pieces like bicycle spokes and shards of ceramic. The result is an inspiring creative labyrinth that can be viewed during the day or at night. In addition to tours, there are exhibitions and mosaic workshops. The admission is only $5 for students, and tours are available throughout the year!

In the area: Check out the distinctive Pan-Latin décor and delicious brunch menu at Mixto before a tour, or grab some coffee and relax at local-artwork-decorated Chapterhouse Café & Gallery.

Fishtown is a Catch
Location: Fishtown neighborhood

There’s too much in this flourishing Philly neighborhood to highlight just one space, so here are just a few must-see spots. Johnny Brenda’s is another awesome venue to enjoy good food and music; the menu, which changes so often that it’s only scrawled across chalk boards, features delicious locally-grown food and craft brews from the Philadelphia region (21+). Local bands representing the city’s extensive indie rock scene love to perform upstairs in the restored two-tier concert hall. If you’re less inclined to a music space, check out “hole-in-the-wall” Sketch , an art-themed burger joint that boasts meat and vegan options and an extensive toppings list (I personally recommend the smashed onion burger and their milkshakes). While you wait for your delicious patty, you can doodle and create your own artwork too! Or maybe Mexican is more your style—Loco Pez is another spot with character. It’s an affordable taqueria inspired by taco trucks in Los Angeles, and it features wallpapering with Mexican comics and a jukebox full of classic hits. For an even more relaxed scene, you should stop by Barcade (21+). It’s exactly what it sounds like: a bar and an arcade fused into one. You can grab a drink and enjoy over forty classic arcade games (with classic prices of only a quarter a game).

Top 5 Events:
Valentine’s Day in Philadelphia

Love Park, the City of Brotherly Love…Philly has a knack for love, making it the perfect place to spend Valentine’s Day—and we’ve got you covered! There are plenty of events around the city to celebrate, so we’ve picked out some of the more inexpensive options that are perfect for couples, singles, or friends alike. So grab a bit to eat somewhere, (if you need some inspiration, there’s always heart-shaped pizzas) head out, and enjoy the city with the people you want to be around.

A Night at the Opera: Oscar
When: February 11, 13 & 15, time varies Where: Academy of Music, 240 South Broad Street, Philadelphia Cost: FREE!

If you haven’t heard about Oscar yet, you’re missing out! The rollicking operatic portrayal of the life of legendary Oscar Wilde is making a splash in Philly, and what better way to celebrate the holiday of love than by getting a dressed up and heading to the opera (don’t be nervous—the opera isn’t as intimidating as you think). The show chronicles Wilde’s trial and incarceration over his scandalous love affair with Lord Alfred Douglas. Celebrate Wilde’s career and personal story with this sweeping art form, and enjoy taking part in the cultural fun with a friend or significant other. Open Arts members can get tickets for FREE, so sign up if you haven’t already (and when the free tickets are gone, you can get advanced student rush tickets for only $10). Read more about the play and experience here.

Magic Gardens Valentine’s Date Night Tours
When: February 13th, 6:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. & 7:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. Where: Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens, 1020 South Street, Philadelphia Cost: $15

If you’re over 21, this is a great night of colors and lights to share with someone you care about. Magic Gardens is already a unique destination wrapped in enchantment and creative splendor (our editorial intern last semester wrote a love note to the Gardens); but if you add some wine and a private candlelit tour, it’s somehow transformed into an even more captivating space. On the tour you can view the more romantic aspects of the mosaic galleries and labyrinth, such as hidden symbols of love around the gardens. You’ll also learn about the love story of Magic Garden’s creator Isaiah Zagar and his wife Julia and its influence on his work. Couples even have the chance to view the mosaiced basement that is not open to the general public. So grab a date (or a friend), and experience the magic! Ticket price includes wine, and reservations are required so get your tickets now!

Sweetheart Skate
When: February 14th, 7:00 p.m. – 12:30 a.m. Where: Blue Cross RiverRink, 531 N. Columbus Boulevard, Penn’s Landing, Philadelphia Cost: $20

This event is popular every year during the romantic holiday, so be sure to get your tickets early. The breeze off the Delaware River won’t seem so cold when you’re skating next to your sweetheart. You can enjoy a night of skating to favorite love songs played by the DJ, and then cozy up by the fireplace and firepits. A special light display will illuminate the rink and the Garces Group will provide delicious food and drink. The ticket price includes free photos as well as complimentary flowers and chocolates! (If you’re looking for a more centrally-located option, head to the Rothman Institute Ice Rink in Dilworth Park)

StorySlam: The Ex-Files
When: February 14th, 8:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. Where: Underground Arts, 1200 Callowhill Street, Philadelphia Cost: $14

If you haven’t penciled in a candlelight dinner for February 14, grab a ticket to this hilarious night of self-deprecating humor. This annual storytelling competition asks audience members to step onto stage and share real-life tales of breakups and heartaches. If you want to participate, you just leave your name at the door. Ten storytellers are picked at random, and each contestant has five minutes to tell their tale. Then you judge each performance, and the highest-scoring participant wins $100 and a spot at First Person Arts’ annual Grand Slam! Get your tickets ($14) online fast before the prices go up or the show sells out!

Philadelphia Jazz Project: Love Notes
When: February 14, 7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. Where: Arch Street Meeting House, 320 Arch Street, Philadelphia Cost: $25

This romantic night of music will definitely be one that you and your date will enjoy. “Love Notes” is a special Valentine’s Day performance that is inspired by John Coltrane’s classic jazz balled “Naima,” which was written for his wife in 1959. The show one will feature a variety of Philly’s finest male vocalists and musicians, and you’ll be engaged in the musical themes of love, understanding, and passion. The ticket price (which is the pre-show price) includes refreshments, and vendors will also be selling Valentine gifts throughout the night. So come out and enjoy the smooth stylings of these jazz artists!

Top 5 Events: Black History Month

To celebrate Black History Month, we’re offering a look at venues and events that honor the importance of African-American figures in history and offer a celebration of contemporary African-American excellence. From museum explorations of historical art and happenings to modern film and poetry, this week’s Top 5 Events both take you back to the cultural history of African-Americans and offer a sample of the ways African-Americans shape Philadelphia today. So learn something and enjoy everything, because this lineup is a glimpse into history and filled with intriguing opportunities.

Underground Railroad in Philadelphia
When: February 7 & 8, 3:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Where: Independence Visitor Center Theater, Market Street, Philadelphia Cost: Free!

The Underground Railroad was an extensive network of routes and safe houses used by slaves as a passage to free states and Canada during the 18th and 19th centuries. Philadelphia was a notable stop on this escape route to freedom. You can celebrate Black History Month by learning about the people and places connected to this pivotal era in American history at Independence National Historical Park, where a slide program details Philadelphia’s role in the Underground Railroad system. A park ranger will guide you through the program, highlighting the stories of Henry “Box” Brown, “The Father of the Underground Railroad” William Still, and more. Be sure to check out Independence National Historical Park’s other Black History Month program and events!

Represent: 200 Years of African American Art
When: Now through April 15th Where: Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia Cost: Free with admission ($14)

The Philadelphia Museum of Art houses numerous collections of fine art, and among them are several by African-American artists. This marquee exhibition brings together more than 75 works from the museum’s growing collection, and celebrates over 50 artists that explore an array of mediums and themes. Some of the works include pieces by Henry Ossawa Tanner, Horace Pippin, Alma Thomas, and Carrie Mae Weems. The exhibition travels chronologically through critical historical periods, beginning with pre-Civil War works and moving through the Harlem Renaissance and into contemporary pieces. This historical and progressive breadth offers a wide perspective on the progression of African-American art.  Works vary from decorative pottery and sculptures to modern abstract pieces and compelling photography, so there’s something for everyone to enjoy!

Tides of Freedom: African Presence on the Delaware River
When: Daily, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Where: Independence Seaport Museum, Penn’s Landing, Philadelphia Cost: $10

George Washington famously crossed the Delaware River during the American Revolution, but a history beyond the well-known one existed on this waterway. Tides of Freedom: African Presence on the Delaware River explores the concept of freedom by examining the African perspective along the Delaware River. The show was created by a committee of leading African-American scholars and was curated by University of Pennsylvania’s Tukufu Zuberi. Zuberi is a practiced storyteller and PBS History Detectives host, and will introduce each major section in the exhibition. Themes of enslavement, emancipation, Jim Crow, and Civil Rights highlight the show, and uncovered artifacts will be on display in the interactive museum. This exhibition offers the opportunity to examine a story that is part of Philadelphia and American history, one that has implications historically and contemporarily. Engaging storytelling and photos, videos, and artwork explore the meaning of “freedom” in this great exhibit by the water.

Ursula Rucker: My Father’s Daughter
When: February 6 & 7, 8:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. Where: Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, 3689 Walnut Street, Philadelphia Cost: $20

Philadelphia-born Urusla Rucker is a spoken word recording artist whose compelling poetry techniques and stage presence make her an explosively strong performer. She has toured with 4Hero and King Britt, and has gained national and international acclaim. The show My Father’s Daughter is a live, epic poem that is accompanied by music and video. In the performance, Rucker tells her personal story of survival, one that traverses both pain and victory. Her raw and soulful poetry draws the parallels between her mother’s life and her own, illuminating how her relationships and struggles have shaped Rucker into the woman she is today. This show will be electric and inspiring; don’t miss out! Check out some of Rucker’s other work here.

Mysterious Travelers Concert Series: Anwar Marshall
When: February 9, 7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. Where:  Free Library of Philadelphia – Parkway Central Library, 1901 Vine Street, Philadelphia Cost: Free!

The Music Department at the Parkway Central Library, in collaboration with the Philadelphia Jazz Project and the Producers’ Guild, present free monthly concerts that feature up-and-coming artists as well as veteran performers. This month features Anwar Marshall, drummer an co-leader of a ten-piece ensemble called Fresh Cut Orchestra. The ensemble regularly plays at the Painter Bride Art Center and the Kimmel Center. Marshall’s music has collaborated with noteworthy musicians Dave Douglas, Tim Warfield, Duane Eubanks, and many others. These deep grooves and soulful sounds are sure to be entertaining, so don’t miss this free show!

Open Arts Goes “Wilde” with
Student Tickets to the Opera

What happens when a scandalous love affair, a larger-than-life personality, and imprisonment all mix together? No, it’s not the latest blockbuster headed to the theaters…it’s much better. It’s the wild life of one of literature’s most flamboyant figures, Oscar Wilde. Known for his stories that often explored the dark side of art and humanity, his most interesting tale was his own, and now you can watch his life unfold on stage. Come experience everything from Wilde’s taboo love affair to the public frenzy that surrounded him, as it unfolds at the East Coast premiere of the opera Oscar presented by Opera Philadelphia, at the Academy of Music on Friday, February 6 at 8 p.m. Looking to be the first to make curtain call? Advanced Student Rush tickets through Open Arts are only $10!

The Man and the Opera

 Oscar explores the life of Oscar Wilde, one of the most daring and unapologetic authors of the Victorian era. Wilde was a 19th Century Irish writer best known for his numerous plays and his novel The Picture of Dorian Gray. His life spans a rise to literary fame, a trial and imprisonment for engaging in a relationship with a man, and an eventual fall into obscurity.  Wilde has since come to be remembered as one of the most celebrated, albeit infamous, literary personalities of his time. Bold voices and classic musical accompaniment will bring Wilde’s story to the stage; Oscar takes on the tall task of dramatizing the life of a man who penned tales about the human condition, suffered backlash for his romantic choices, and ultimately succumbed to an ear infection.

The Experience

The lights dim, the music rises, and sopranos sing out melodic notes —  you don’t have to know your libretto from your arioso in order to enjoy Oscar. It offers something for both the opera lover and the bookworm. Unlike many traditional operas performed in Italian, Oscar is performed in English and offers an eclectic experience that is unique all on its own. It is a sensory art form that immerses the viewer in music and story, sound and action, all while the exploration of humanity and drama unfolds. When was the last time Netflix did that?

If you’re nervous about your first night at the opera or just need a little more convincing, check out what some local college students said about their time spent at the opera through the Open Arts program: Danielle Nanni, who attended Opera Philadelphia’s performance of the biblical tale Nabucco, said, “…it was incredible!” It was her first time at the opera, through Opera Philadelphia and Open Arts, and she “would definitely go again.” Several other students who were surveyed offered feedback about their experiences and said that it was “an exciting and interesting experience,” and that the Academy of Music was “a nice space, with great performances.” You won’t know what you’re missing out on until you give it a try!

Ticket to a Wilde Ride

Don’t spend another Friday night glued to Netflix; come take part in the arts and  experience the opera at a discounted price. Save the ten bucks you would have spent on pizza and grab your friends or a date and watch a performance based on the life of one the most scandalous authors of the nineteenth century. Claim your ticket here through our Open Arts website. Not an Open Arts Member yet? Sign up for free here.

Top 5 Events: Art and Culture

Sunday is Super Bowl weekend! And gameday, with all its food and friends and fun, is sure to be entertaining even if you don’t care who’s playing. So, to balance out all of that sports-centric excitement, this week’s Top 5 will focus on the opposite end of the entertainment spectrum: art and culture. From film and music to photography and the Chinese New Year, the events going on in Philly are sure to fill your cultural inclinations. So get out there,  learn something or appreciate something, and enjoy the vibrant artistic expression of the city!

AVA After Dark: La bohème
When: January 28th, 5:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. Where: Academy of Vocal Arts, 1920 Spruce Street, Philadelphia Cost: $10

La bohème is one of the world’s most performed operas, and you can see AVA’s production of it for just $10. Nineteenth century Paris comes to life on the stage, as quixotic depictions of love and loss define the lives of starving artists. The music is composed by Giacomo Puccini, who is considered one of the best Italian operatic composers; his melodies are well-known to anyone familiar with opera. Opera aficionado or not (hey, opera music can be fun), this performance is definitely a must-see! After the performance, head to the Café Momus for French-style treats and brewery (21+). Get your tickets here!

Sanctuary Series: History of Early Photography in Philadelphia
When: January 28th, 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. Where: Fleisher Art Memorial, 719 Catharine Street, Philadelphia Cost: $10

In the mid-19th century, America was already internationally known for its photography (in its early forms, daguerreotype production). This recognition stemmed largely from developments that were being made in Philadelphia. Alice Cutler will present a talk on the boom of photography in Philadelphia. Ms. Cutler currently manages the Alexander Artway Archive in Philadelphia, and received a Master of Arts in Photography from Sotheby’s Institute of Art in London. Her discussion will explore how photography was transformed by the scientific community, as well as how it was used and shaped by entrepreneurs in Philadelphia from 1839-1851. If you have an appreciation for photography or history, or are interested in learning more about the technological and artistic progression of the medium, this event is an intriguing opportunity.

St. Lawrence Quartet
When: January 28th, 8:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. Where: Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, 1528 Walnut Street, Philadelphia Cost: Free!

Enjoy a night of string sounds when the St. Lawrence Quartet rolls into Philly. Quartet-in-Residence at Stanford University, the group’s performances are internationally acclaimed for their exquisite and exciting musical performances.  The group will be performing pieces composed by Haydn, Berger, and Adams. Even if you normally appreciate music that is the opposite of this group’s forte, such as pop or folk or rock, this is an opportunity to see one of today’s most impressive chamber music groups—so don’t miss out. Open Arts members can attend the performance for free, so be sure to get your tickets here!

Penn Museum World Culture Series: Chinese New Year Celebration
When: January 31st, 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Where: Penn Museum, 3260 South Street, Philadelphia Cost: Free with admission ($10)

February 19 will mark the Chinese New Year, the Year of Sheep (or Goat). Celebrate the approaching New Year with a day of festivities at Penn Museum! There will be music and dance performances, Tai Chi and Kung Fu demonstrations, and crafts. You can exercise your creativity at a variety of workshops, including calligraphy, tangram, and paper cutting. Also be sure to check out the amazing galleries featuring Chinese and Buddhist art. Don’t miss this fun day of celebrations!

Penn Humanities Forum: “Pariah” Screening 
When: February 4th, 7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. Where:  International House, 3701 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia Cost: Free!

The Penn Humanities Forum’s series featuring New Black Cinematography continues this week with a free screening of the 2011 film Pariah. This cinema series honors the work of Bradford Young, the acclaimed cinematographer whose work captures visions of African-American communities from New York City to Mississippi. He again presents a visual masterpiece in Pariah, which tells the story of Alike, a 17-year-old African American teenager who discovers her lesbian identity and must handle her family’s response. The film won the Sundance Excellence in Cinematography Award. Enjoy a night of film with this commended screening!

Top 5 Events: Winter, Indoors & Out

The cold has arrived, and winter has taken over the city. But that doesn’t mean that fun events have stopped–there are thing to do both inside and outside in this week’s Top 5 Events. Whether it’s inside an extensive and gorgeous conservatory, or outside in an equally-impressive maze of Christmas trees, you can fight the cold or embrace it with this week’s events.

The Ultimate Recycled Maze at Linvilla Orchards
When: Now until March 1st, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Where: Linvilla Orchards, 137 W Knowlton Rd., Media Cost: $5

Do you wonder what happens to Christmas trees that aren’t bought? Think you’ve got a good sense of direction? Enjoy an exciting (and green!) way to re-purpose unsold Christmas trees. Thousands of trees are collected and arranged to create an extensive, winding maze at Linvilla Orchards. The design takes anywhere from 20 minutes to a half hour to finish, depending on how well you can navigate it. This is a fun opportunity for you to get outside with your friends, and enjoy the trees before they are recycled into chips. If it’s cold, warm up by playing some mini golf, or head into the café. Here’s some maze appreciation to get you in the spirit.

Penn Humanities Forum: “Mother of George” Screening 
When: January 21st, 6:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. Where: The Ibrahim Theater at International House, 3701 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia Cost: Free!

Expand your cultural understanding by attending the screening of Mother of George,  a 2013 Nigerian film that explores the lives of a Nigerian couple living in Brooklyn. Their inability to conceive a child is a misfortune that shakes their family and leads them to make a life-changing decision. The film captures the vibrant life of these two people; its imagery was so noteworthy that cinematographer Bradford Young , who also recently worked on the Academy-Award-nominated Selma, received Sundance 2013’s Cinematography Award: U.S. Dramatic for his work on the film. Following the screening, Bradford Young will conduct a Q&A session with the audience. Best of all: this event is free!

Longwood Orchid Show
When: January 24th through March 29th, 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. Where: Longwood Gardens, 1001 Longwood Road, Kennett Square Cost: $10

Winter has settled in Philly, but it’s still balmy at Longwood Gardens. The 4-acre Conservatory is warmed to support the nearly 5,000 colorful orchids that surround the space. The flowers hang from baskets, are crafted into elegant arrangements, and wind around structures throughout the extravaganza. The horticulturists have created their largest-ever basket orchids and an oncidium waterfall. Also, a walk through the orchid meadow is a great way to relax and unwind. So while the trees remain bare outside, head indoors for this awesome display that celebrates the vibrancy of the beautiful plants!

Clover Market: Winter Market
When: January 24th & 25th, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Where: 23rd St. Armory, 22 S. 23rd Street, Philadelphia Cost: Pay as you go

The Clover Market is always a great place to find something unique, whether it’s a forgotten antique or a detailed craft. Over 100 vendors will display their original art, antiques and collectibles, vintage clothing, jewelry, and more. From innovative art to little treasures, there’s something for everyone at this colorful market. You can also grab some food from the lineup of food trucks that will be there. This market is a great chance to pick up something to decorate your dorm or apartment, or to just peruse the awesome vintage goods that will be on display!

Philadelphia Museum of Art Pay-What-You-Wish 
When: January 28, 5:00 p.m. – 8:45 p.m. Where: Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia Cost: Pay what you wish

Campus Philly’s Open Arts is offering ticket vouchers for a pay-what-you-wish Wednesday night at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. You can enjoy the exciting and interactive collections, or even tap into your creative side or play some games. Join workshops on drawing or creating origami, stretch into yoga poses in the galleries, or browse the work of regional artists, musicians, and cultural organizations. This is a great way to experience the numerous artistic ventures that the museum offers, and you can do it with your friends and set the price that you want to pay.