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The New York Times celebrates an 'African art summer' in Philadelphia

The Times checks out multiple exhibits showcasing African art across Philadelphia, finding plenty to like.

People talk about Africa as if it were a unitary thing, one culture, one mind, which it’s not. That’s my only problem with “Creative Africa,” at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and my complaint stops with the title. The project itself, a set of five small, tight, concurrent exhibitions of African material, is richly textured, and in one case sensational.

Add to it a fine survey of work by the Afro-Caribbean conceptualist Nari Ward at the nearby Barnes Foundation, and the foundation’s pioneering and under-known collection of “classical” African sculpture, and this city can lay claim to being in the middle of a full-fledged African art summer...

One show in particular draws praise. 

Cultural tides move in many directions, and Africa gets as much as it gives. It got something fabulous when, a century or so ago, a modest Dutch textile manufacturer began sending brilliantly colored and patterned fabrics its way. This story is told in “Vlisco: African Fashion on a Global Stage,” by far the most vivacious of the “Creative Africa” shows. Vlisco is the modern name of the company, which is in the Netherlands and still producing wax-printed fabric styles so closely associated with West African and Central African fashion that most people assume that they are African-made...

It’s a terrific display. And to top it off, a platform in the center of the room is crowded with mannequins dressed in couture made from such fabrics by some of Africa’s top fashion designers: Lanre da Silva AjayiLeonie Amangoua, Pepita Djoffon, Josephine Memel and Ruhimbasa Nyenyezi Seraphine, with Philadelphia’s Ikire Jones thrown in.

Original source: The New York Times
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Brightening up Boathouse Row for the DNC

All 10,000 bulbs are being replaced for the first time since the site went LED in 2005.

"We have every intention to get it done before the Democratic National Convention," Barry Bessler, chief of staff of the parks and facilities division of the city's Parks and Recreation Department, told the Philadelphia Business Journal.

"That's a tremendous Philadelphia icon, and we want it to look its best with all these people coming to town," Bessler said.
The Fairmount Park Conservancy is supplying the money for the endeavor. Bessler said "it's going to be a significant investment," but he could not confirm the total financial cost. Reliable sources, however, place it at an estimated $500,000...

The intensity of the LED lights will be significantly brighter than it is now, Bessler said, without using more wattage.

"That's a nice feature of the upgrade in technology," he said. "We will get a much brighter appearance without any more electricity."

Original source: Philadelphia Business Journal
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Eastern State Penitentary explores mass incarceration

The historic site is now engaging with the present via a new exhibit, "Prisons Today: Questions in the Age of Mass Incarceration."

Philadelphia's Eastern State Penitentiary opened in 1829 with the belief that criminals could redeem themselves, and it was cruel to crowd or mistreat them. The only light came from the skylight in the vaulted ceiling, sending the message that only the light of God and hard work could lead to reform.

By the 1930s, space meant to house 300 inmates instead held 2,000. By 1970, the year Eastern State closed, punishment was its primary mission.

Now, in a transformation that began modestly a few years ago, the penitentiary that housed such notorious criminals as gangster Al Capone and bank robber "Slick Willie" Sutton is completing a retooling of its programming to place a major focus on growing questions about the effectiveness of America's prison system.

"Prisons Today: Questions in the Age of Mass Incarceration," an exhibit opening next month in workshops alongside one of the cellblocks, lets visitors know that the U.S. has the world's highest known percentage of incarcerated citizens. It also highlights large racial disparities in prison populations and the toll mass incarceration has taken on minority communities.

"Five years ago, I would have told you visitors didn't want to hear about this, that it would make them uncomfortable. They'd take this as being political, they'd be offended or they'd think we were trying to drive a political agenda," said Sean Kelley, exhibit curator for the nonprofit that has run the museum since 2001. "At every turn, we've been proven wrong."

Original source: Associated Press
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PHS announces three pop-up beer gardens for summer 2015

This year, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society will install three -- three!! -- of their wildly popular beer gardens. The transformation of these vacant lots is fast becoming a Philly tradition. Check out the full scoop from Foobooz:

Last year's South Street beer garden will return to 1438 South Street. This season will feature "Bohemian flair" as designed by designer Karen Regan of Tallulah & Bird. This year, the South Street beer garden will include wooden trellis, container gardens, large palm and banana trees and Jack-in-the-pulpit relatives that will rise five-feet tall. The space will also offer public and private spaces, a first for a PHS pop-up garden. Look for beers from Barren Hill Brewery to be offered throughout the summer. Barren Hill will also work with Wyndridge Farm, creator of PHS Cider on an exclusive beer for the garden.

The South Philadelphia location has landed at 9th and Wharton, opposite Cheesesteak Vegas. The look here will be an urban garden with a "hipster vibe." Look for recycled bike parts and reclaimed wood. A splash of color provided by a wave of Gomphrena Fireworks will spice up the beer garden. The spot will offer bean-baggy furnishings and a return of the popular stepped stadium seating that was so popular on Broad Street in 2013. Food and drink will be provided by Royal Tavern and Cantina Los Caballitos and will also borrow from the Italian flavors of the neighborhood.
The third location will be in the courtyard of Three Logan Square at 18th and Cherry Streets. Sure to be a gathering place for

Comcast employees and other Center City office workers. This space is being designed by Sargenti Architecture, a local firm. The vibe here should be beachy with sand around the fountain and palm trees, honey locusts, whispygrasses and lush tropicals dotting the area. A wood deck, white furnishings and cabanas for lounging will make this an attractive spot during the day and after work. Food and drink will be provided by City Tap House across the street.

Original source: Philadelphia Magazine
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Newly discovered Cezanne sketches to be displayed at the Barnes

Recently discovered sketches by a master will be displayed at the Barnes Foundation on the Parkway. 

A pair of previously unknown sketches by Paul Cezanne will be displayed in Philadelphia following their recent discovery on the backs of two watercolors.

They'll be on view at the Barnes Foundation in double-sided frames, with both sides visible, from Friday through May 18. One sketch is in graphite, the other in watercolor.

The art institution says the images were uncovered during conservation work on two Cezanne paintings depicting the landscape of southern France.

Officials say the sketches haven't been seen since at least the early 20th century.

Original source: The New York Times
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The Barnes Foundation finds new executive director

After an exhaustive search, the shifting Philly institution has found a new leader.

The Barnes Foundation — now in its third year in its gleaming new home in downtown Philadelphia after a contentious relocation — announced on Wednesday that it had chosen Thomas Collins, a longtime museum leader and curator, to become its new executive director and president after a search of almost a year.

Mr. Collins, known as Thom, has served for nearly five years as director of the Pérez Art Museum Miami, previously known as the Miami Art Museum and renamed in 2012 to recognize a multimillion-dollar gift of art and cash from the developer Jorge M. Pérez. Under Mr. Collins’s leadership, the museum constructed a new building designed by the firm Herzog & de Meuron that opened in December 2013 and attracted 300,000 visitors in its first year, far exceeding expectations...

Asked his opinion about the Barnes’s relocation from the suburb of Merion — permitted in a 2004 court decision that circumvented the charter and bylaws of Barnes, who had stipulated that his collection could not be lent, sold or moved from its original home — Mr. Collins said: “To me it seems like an unqualified success. I have no reservations now about it at all, and I wouldn’t be going there if I did.”

Original source: The New York Times
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Brutal winter bruises the local economy

The relentless cold and snow has had a big impact on small businesses, including those in Philadelphia.

At London Grill, a restaurant in the Fairmount section of Philadelphia, revenue is down 10 percent more than in the usual January slump, said Terry Berch McNally, a co-owner. But weather can also be fickle: On Thursday, just as Ms. McNally was fretting about whether her Valentine’s Day bookings would fall through, the afternoon brought twice as many drinkers as usual because local employers had closed early.

When weather strikes repeatedly, losses can build up. Valentine’s Day was blissfully sunny, putting an end to the immediate worries of both Ms. McNally, who got a flurry of last-minute reservations, and Susan McKee, at Old City Flowers in Philadelphia.

Thankfully, Ms. McKee said, the biggest day of the year for florists would not be a bust. But her revenue for 2014 is down about half from what it would usually be. Inventory has been hard to get because of grounded planes. Walk-in sales have been slow.

“It’s crushing me,” she said on Thursday, when Philly was blanketed by snow and ice. “I have thousands of dollars invested in perishable gorgeous flowers that I can’t get anywhere. I have three trucks parked outside the store, and I can’t move the trucks. This day is lost. There was no revenue today.”

Orginal source: The New York Times
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Green development Folsom Powerhouse comes to Francisville

Postgreen Homes is teaming up with Equinox Management & Construction LLC to build the Folsom Powerhouse, a 31-unit mixed-income green housing project in Francisville.

Postgreen and Equinox are also aided by ISA Architects, who designed the project, and Studio Bryan Hanes, who is responsible for the landscaping. The development will feature energy efficient design, with solar power, green roof technology and advanced storm water management practices. It’s proximity to public transit, nearby shops and the Francisville community center will give residents great access to amenities and necessities.

"Our proposal adapted Folsom’s fabric and the City’s best practices in urban planning," explained Chad Ludeman, President of Postgreen Homes. "The Powerhouse name is indicative of our commitment to extreme energy efficiency, giving residents the power to live with community and environmental consciousness in mind."

Original source: Inhabitat
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New York Times lauds Art Museum's outsider exhibit

The New York Times shines a light on an exhibition of outsider art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. "Great and Mighty Things: Outsider Art From the Jill and Sheldon Bonovitz Collection," celebrates the impending donation of the collection to the museum.

To a man, and a woman, the artists in the Bonovitz collection all made some form of magic whose power and urgency throw down a gauntlet, especially considering much of what passes for contemporary art these days. Sometimes they responded to their everyday surroundings. That’s the case with the shadowy drawings and angular constructions fashioned from soot, spit, string and cardboard with which Castle, who could neither hear nor speak, recorded the rough life on his family’s farm in rural Idaho. It’s also true of the sharp, prancing silhouettes with which Traylor expressed his amusement at the human comedy of African-American life in the South.

The show runs through June 9.

Original source: The New York Times
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Eater's Top 25 Burgers list features Philly favorites

The national food blog Eater -- which also has a local chapter, Eater Philly -- recently released a list of the "25 Hottest Burgers in America Right Now." Hickory Lane and Spot Gourmet (a food truck!) made the cut. This description of Hickory Lane's entry has us drooling.

Former Rouge chef Matt Zagorski is cooking really nice food at this Fairmount Avenue restaurant. But the burger, as critic Craig Laban will tell you, is the way to go: "10 ounces of custom-ground brisket, filet, and deckle, seared to a cast-iron crisp and then snugged in the embrace of a brioche bun between delicate folds of bibb lettuce and a molten lid of tangy Cabot cheddar. It’s hard to imagine a burger this tasty as a burden. Then again, it’s so good that it’s also become clear: No change of scenery or molecular tricks will ever let Zagorski truly escape. The power of his patty is simply the best reason to visit Hickory Lane."

Original source: Eater
Read the full list here.

Redfin names next hot neighborhoods for 2013

According to Redfin, the next hot neighborhoods in the Philadelphia area will be...drumroll...Phoenixville, Brewerytown and our very own #ontheground home West Germantown.

West Germantown is a historic neighborhood that went from riches to rags. It was once the sought after destination by aristocrats, but its large stone homes sat dilapidated for years when the money left. Now these beautiful dwellings on both sides of Johnson Street are slowly and steadily being renovated.

Original Source: Redfin (via Curbed Philly)
To see the complete list, click here

AIA's Honor Awards showcase sustainable design

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) might not have a specific category in its Honor Awards for sustainability, but the organization's Architect Magazine culled through the awardees to note the greenest efforts of the year. Standouts included the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia.

Perhaps it's possible to read the lack of a sustainable design category for the Honor Awards a different way. Because sustainable design is the architectural obligation that Piano describes, then it's a given that sustainability will be a feature of prominent projects—or it should be a given, for architects and clients alike. Arguably, all of the Honor Award designs feature some green features. Nevertheless, sustainability helped some projects win out in their Honor Award categories more than others. So here is a list of the top projects in part because they emphasized sustainability.

Original source: Architect Magazine
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Dancing Around the Bride at the Art Museum

The New York Times dives into this one-of-a-kind, collaborative exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art that pays homage to late dance great Merce Cunningham.
The context brings out Cunningham’s radical use of time and space. (Steps on one side provide seats for audience members, but the performances may be viewed from any angle.) When Brandon Collwes performed a solo from “Second Hand” (1970) in one corner of the stage, Emma Desjardins and Melissa Toogood took over the rest of the platform area with a near-unison duet from “Aeon.” As the horizontal S shapes of their arms compressed, accordion fashion, into vertical ones, it was as if the man and the two women were moving in different time frames, different dimensions.
Original source: The New York Times
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Art Museum among those dabbling in digital

The Philadelphia Museum of Art is highlighted by The New York Times as one of several art institutions across the country that are utilizing digital platforms to engage audiences.
or example, next summer the Philadelphia Museum of Art is planning five simultaneous exhibits oriented to families, including an interactive watercolor project inspired by the award-winning artist and author Jerry Pinkney as well as an environment using fancy dress costumes from the early 20th century for children in a setting designed by the artist Candy Depew. “There is a small amount of technology, but that is not the focus of what we do with kids,” said Emily Schreiner, associate curator of education for family and community learning at the museum.
Original source: The New York Times
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Barnes becomes first major art institution to go LEED-Platinum

The New York Times writes about the Barnes Foundation's recent LEED-Platinum rating, making it the first institution of its kind to earn such a designation.
“From diverting 95 percent of construction waste from landfills as it redeveloped this brownfield site to a building with anticipated energy savings of 44 percent over a traditionally designed equivalent, it’s a marquee project not only for Philadelphia but the country,” the council’s president and chief executive, Rick Fedrizzi, said.
Original source: The New York Times
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Opera digitally mashed up with Barnes, Art Museum masterpieces at Academy of Music

The Opera Company of Philadelphia opens on Friday with its standard performance of La Boheme, but will also include digital images of priceless 19th century art from local museums, reports Huffington Post.
The 30 or so masterpieces were borrowed for the experiment from the Philadelphia Museum of Art and The Barnes Foundation, and transferred into digital Quicktime format. In a phone call with the Huffington Post, David Devan, the Opera's General Director, downplayed the "high-tech" aspect of the design, saying whatever technology was harnessed was done so primarily to "integrate these timeless masterpieces into a largely traditional set.”
Original source: Huffington Post
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Art Museum's 'Gauguin, Cezanne, Matisse' exhibit has imperfections, but worth pondering

The New York Times comes down hard on the Philadelphia Museum of Art's current exhibit, "Gauguin, Cezanne, Matisse: Visions of Arcadia," but still sees value in the "mixed bag of 60 works by 25 artists."
The exhibition catalog is filled with excellent color reproductions of many great works not in the show, including Botticelli’s “Primavera,” Titian’s “Concert Champêtre,” Manet’s “Déjeuner sur l’Herbe” and Matisse’s “Bonheur de Vivre.” An exhibition displaying everything in the catalog would be a once-in-a-lifetime event and a richly illuminating meditation on the classic Arcadian myth of pastoral bliss and what it means for the modern world. But if you want to know what you will see in the flesh, you have to consult the thumbnail-illustrated checklist at the back of the book. Can you say, “false advertising”?
Original source: The New York Times
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Behind the B Corp 'badge of honor' with Mugshots, Workplace Dynamics

Mugshots CoffeeHouse & Cafe and Workplace Dynamics in Exton are profiled as proud, eco-conscious members of the B Corp movement, reports Entrepreneur.
Mugshots owner Angela Vendetti says just making it through the extensive certification process is something to be proud of as an entrepreneur. "There are all kinds of questions about your waste policy and what you do for the environment," Vendetti says. "They ask about cleaning products and energy, everything from what you offer your employees to how you consider your neighbors in the decisions you make."
Original source: Entrepreneur
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NYT: New Barnes more comfortable and user-friendly

The New York Times cites state-of-the-art lighting and avoidance of plastic fakeness as winning points of the new Barnes Museum, which opened in Philadelphia this week.
Barnes’s exuberant vision of art as a relatively egalitarian aggregate of the fine, the decorative and the functional comes across more clearly, justifying its perpetuation with a new force.
As a result, his quirky institution is suddenly on the verge of becoming the prominent and influential national treasure that it has long deserved to be. It is also positioned to make an important contribution to the way we look at and think about art.
Original source: The New York Times
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With "Made in America" in Philly, Jay-Z helps Budweiser get back on music stage

Ad Age goes behind the scenes of Jay-Z's big announcement on Monday, which aims to breathe new life into the old Budweiser Superfest music series.
Rebranding the event "Made in America" is a play on words: It underscores the Anheuser-Busch brand's American heritage, as well as a song featured on Jay-Z's 2011 album with Kanye West, Watch the Throne.
Company execs say this is part of an effort to target a younger, more multicultural demographic.
Original source: Ad Age
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Science Leadership Academy's Lehmann weighs in on on tech in education

Slate's report on the Education Innovation Summit in Arizona includes some time with Science Leadership Academy principal Chris Lehmann.
Lehmann expressed concern that too many in the burgeoning education sector hope to replace teachers with tech. "Before we rush to embrace the idea that the market might do education better than educators," he says, he wants to see a lengthy conversation about the “worst consequences of our best idea."
Original source: Slate
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Introducing the Academy of Natural Sciences' museum exhibition and book

The exhibition, which opened last weekend, takes visitors along with academy scientists as they search for new species and study humanity’s collective impact on the environment. The book embraces a larger agenda.
To wander through "A Glorious Enterprise: The Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia and the Making of American Science" is to absorb the 19th century's passion for botany and zoology; the 20th century's mania for exploration of distant, difficult or desolate places; and present-day preoccupations, particularly environmental issues like water quality.
Original source: Academy of Natural Sciences
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Vote expected this week on 40-foot sculpture for new Barnes

The New York Times teases the Philadelphia Art Commission's expected Wednesday vote to approve plans for a 40-foot high stainless steel sculpture at the new Barnes Foundation site on the Ben Franklin Parkway.

The sculpture, called “The Barnes Totem,’’ was designed to echo the vertical forms of the red maple trees lining a path to the museum’s entrance. Mr. Kelly selected the site in collaboration with the landscape architect Laurie Olin and architects Tod Williams and Billie Tsien.

Original source: The New York Times
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Soup's on: PhilaSoup promotes innovative education projects

Philadelphia sisters Claire and Nikka Landau and friend Jason Tucker have established PhilaSoup as a monthly dinner bringing together dynamic educators to fund the most ambitious and innovative projects, reports NPR.

On a recent Sunday night, the trio of friends welcomed about 45 teachers and other members of the local education community to a cozy gathering at the University Barge Club, a 19th-century boathouse on the banks of the Schuylkill River. As folks walked in, they were asked to fill out name tags -- with their names and the names of their favorite children's books.

"Teachers all over Philadelphia are doing terrific projects," Claire said. "It's really exciting to gather and break bread with teachers from across the city doing exciting things."

Original source: NPR
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New show at Art Museum explores Van Gogh's mental state

Van Gogh Up Close has opened at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and art lovers can get a better sense for the mind behind the artist's great works.

Cornelia Homburg, one of the curators of Van Gogh Up Close, a new show at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, says she finds it "very difficult when an artist’s acts as an artist are exclusively viewed through the fact that he was a disturbed person." So the show ignores that person and instead takes a close look at how van Gogh, the systematic artist, liked to look closely at things, and how that made a crucial contribution to the history of modern art. One wall shows him paring his still lifes down to essentials.

Others have him zooming ever further -- onto a lone moth, a flowering branch -- or trying his hand at the classic undergrowth scenes called sous bois. His innovations are set into the context of the era’s photography and Japanese prints. Revisionist art history has revised the madman from sight. The works of art "are sufficient in themselves," says Joseph Rishel, Homburg’s co-curator.

Original source: The Daily Beast
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Zoe Strauss: Ten Years opens as 'parameter-expanding exhibition' at Art Museum

Philadelphia-inspired photographer Zoe Strauss and her series "I-95" is part of her new exhibition at the Museum of Art, reports The New York Times.

The exhibition, opening on Saturday, is billed as a mid-career retrospective, though Ms. Strauss’s career path is anything but conventional. For one thing, she conceived of "I-95" before she had gained any kind of experience as a photographer, before she had even bought a camera. Just five years into the project she received a Pew fellowship and was selected for the Whitney Biennial. Two years later came a monograph, "America," that nodded to none other than Robert Frank.

Original source: The New York Times
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Franklin Institute's largest gift, $10M, pulls it within striking distance of expansion goal

The Franklin Institute has received the largest gift in its 187 year history, according to Philanthropy Today.

Philadelphia’s Franklin Institute has received the largest pledge in its history, $10-million from the businessman Nicholas Karabots, The Philadelphia Inquirer writes.

The donation puts the science center within $6-million of its $64.7-million campaign goal to fund an addition and other upgrades.

The new wing will be named for Mr. Karabots and his wife, Athena, and house exhibits on the brain and neuroscience as well as conference and classroom facilities.

Mr. Karabots, a South Bronx native who made a fortune in printing supplies and property development, said he was inspired to make the gift when he visited the institute "and saw what they were doing with all these kids. I went up to the observatory and there were four inner-city kids who were spending a year learning astronomy. I was impressed."

Source: Philanthropy Today
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Judge upholds Barnes move to Philadelphia

As construction on the Parkway wraps up, The Barnes Foundation has been given the judiciary green light to leave Lower Merion, according to the Associated Press.

Montgomery County Orphans Court Judge Stanley Ott ruled Thursday that there is no new evidence to consider.
Petitioners had asked Ott to re-examine his 2004 decision allowing the Barnes to leave its suburban home.

They contend the 2009 documentary "The Art of the Steal" includes new evidence that he didn't have when he originally ruled. But Ott disagrees.

Source: The Associated Press
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Philly's finest farm-to-table offerings

Local restaurants are getting a reputation for farm fresh ingredients, according to OffManhattan.

To taste the freshest produce in the region, you can shop one of the city’s many farmers market, haul your selections back home, and crack open a cookbook. Or you can take the effortless route, and settle into one of the top farm-to-table restaurants in Philadelphia.

Uniquely positioned between ‘Jersey Fresh’ territory and Amish Country, Philly offers its chefs an impressive variety of local, seasonal ingredients from which to craft their award-winning menus. And diners will be excited to know that much of this produce makes its way from farm to plate just one day after harvesting. Yes, the peppery radishes and buttery greens in your appetizer salad may have been plucked from the dirt just hours ago.

Source: OffManhattan
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Shaping our city: Philly's open spaces becoming a model

Philadelphia's rich landscape heritage makes for a city painted in shades of green, according to The Huffington Post.

The transformation of the urban core, as I've written before, is hot, hot, hot. Currently, there's a great deal of attention focused (justifiably) on the much-talked-about opening of the second phase of the much-talked-about High Line in New York, which has put yet more vim into that city's vigor. But if you want to see some serious va-va-voom, set your sites on Philadelphia (and don't get all snarky quoting W. C. Fields now). Philadelphia's exceptional array of parks and open spaces, and the visionary, entrepreneurial and civic-minded people behind them, is where to really see a city center in high gear (and the BYOB restaurant scene is taste bud nirvana).

For more than three centuries, city planning, landscape architecture and a unique civic ambition that emphasizes horticulture as much as the pedestrian experience in its public spaces and streetscapes, have made Philadelphia a fascinating city. From the five squares that were at the core of William Penn's 1683 plan to Dan Kiley's mid-20th-century design for Independence Mall, which connected Franklin Square to the north and Washington Square to the south, the city has a landscape heritage that few others can boast.

Source: The Huffington Post
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National Geographic names Philadelphia a top hiking destination

With thousands of hiking friendly acres, Philadelphia is one of the best places for a walk in the the woods, according to National Geographic.

An astounding 10 percent of Philadelphia is parkland, and the cherry on top of the 9,200-acre network of green is the Wissahickon, a beloved overgrown gorge that plunges deep beneath the clamor of the city. "The Wissahickon is the best thing in Philadelphia," says Sidney Goldstein, a local Meetup.com hiking group leader. "It feels like you're in wilderness." With 57 miles of trails, there are plenty of opportunities to get lost.

Source: National Geographic
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R5's Agnew helps N.Y. group bring Union Transfer music venue to Spring Garden St.

The Bowery Presents rock club group will open Union Transfer in Philadelphia in the former Spaghetti Warehouse building on Spring Garden Street, with help from local impresarios Sean Agnew and Avram Hornik, according to The New York Times.

The Bowery Presents empire of rock clubs and theaters has already expanded from the Lower East Side to New Jersey, Massachusetts and Maine, and now it is spreading to Pennsylvania.

Working with two local partners, the company is opening Union Transfer, a new performance space near Center City in Philadelphia with room for 600 people. The first show will be Clap Your Hands Say Yeah on Sept. 21, and other coming shows include Shellac on Sept. 29, Wild Flag on Oct. 19 and Boris on Oct. 28, according to an announcement on Tuesday by Bowery Presents. About 200 shows a year are planned for the space, which was once a train depot and more recently a Spaghetti Warehouse restaurant.

Source: The New York Times

Read the full story here.

Philly is only East Coast destination for mummies

Mummies of the World exhibit opens at The Franklin Institute, making its only East Coast stop in the U.S. on its worldwide tour, according to the Daily Mail.

The wraps are coming off a blockbuster exhibit this weekend at The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia.

A haunting new exhibit entitled 'Mummies of the World' is set to open this Saturday. It will be the largest travelling exhibition ever assembled of mummies.

The exhibit will feature 45 mummies of humans and animals, ranging from 250 years old to nearly 6,500 years old.

Source: Daily Mail (UK)
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Philly insider trip tips from a new resident and CNN journo

A Philly newcomer and CNN correspondent writes about where to go and what to see here, including a shout out to Philly Beer Week.

Philly is one of the nation's oldest cities, which means you can walk a lot of places. The majority of the time, walking is the best bet, considering parking can be a nightmare. Pay your meter, otherwise get a ticket or towed. (There's even a reality show about the Parking Authority, and they mean business.) Check out the art on the walls with a walking tour of the Mural Mile to get a distinctive look at the city's charm.

Source: CNN
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Rare fungus named after Academy of Natural Sciences botanist

A new species of lichen is discovered on a rock in Pennsylvania and is named in honor of a Philadelphia plant expert, according to Science Daily.

A Philadelphia botanist who has studied rare plants for 50 years, but has never attained the honor of having a plant named for him is finally getting his due, but with a barely visible organism so rare it may never be seen again.

Dr. Alfred "Ernie" Schuyler, emeritus curator of botany at the Academy of Natural Sciences and a world expert on rare plants, recently was honored when a colleague discovered a new species of lichen and named it after him. The barely visible lichen (LIE kin), Vezdaea schuyleriana, is known to exist on a single boulder in rural central Pennsylvania, northwest of Lewisburg -- and nowhere else in the world.

Source: Science Daily
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Art Museum acquires works of seminal photographer Paul Strand

The works of one of the most significant artists in the history of photography have a new home at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, reports International Business Times.

Recognized as one of the one of the most significant artists in the history of photography, Paul Strand (1890-1976) is known for his explorations of the modernistic possibilities of camera. His abstract collection of 'street photographs' of people he caught unawares in urban New York settings has particularly attracted the attention of the masses.

Through his contributions to modernistic art, the American photographer soon became the leading inspiration to the likes of Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, Henri Cartier-Bresson, and Robert Frank.

"The Paul Strand Collection at the Philadelphia Museum of Art will rank among the finest and most significant groups of works by key figures in the history of photography held by any museum in this country," said Timothy Rub, the George D. Widener Director and Chief Executive Officer, in a statement.

Original source: International Business Times
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Museum without walls: Free, outdoors, open 24/7

The month-old Museum Without Walls audio program uses technology to give many of Philadelphia's outdoor sculptures museum-quality perspective, reports the Associated Press.

Its self-guided audio tours are available 24-7 in several different formats: You can call phone numbers listed with each sculpture, use a free smart phone app, download the audio at http://museumwithoutwallsaudio.org to an MP3 player, or scan a special bar code (known as a QR or quick response code) on the free "Museum Without Walls" map at locations around the city.

The project's first phase includes 51 outdoor sculptures at 35 stops along a three-mile stretch of the bustling Benjamin Franklin Parkway from downtown to leafy Fairmount Park, a route popular with bicyclists, runners and walkers.

Original source: Associated Press
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Alessi: Ethical and Radical opens at Phila. Museum of Art

The world-renowned Italian manufacturer of designer household objects has long collaborated with top architects and designers, and the resulting artistic innovation is the subject of of a new exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, reports ArtNow Magazine.

On November 20, 2010, Alberto Alessi, President of the company and grandson of its founder Giovanni Alessi, will be honored at the Philadelphia Museum of Art with Collab's distinguished Design Excellence Award.

"The objects in this exhibition demonstrate the results of Alessi's unique, risk-taking approach to design and, consequently, how they blur the boundaries between industrial manufacturing and art," said Kathryn Hiesinger, Curator of Decorative Arts After 1700.

The exhibition is organized into two sections: family and factory history and a survey of past, present and future Alessi objects by collaborating designers, including the radical experimental projects Tea and Coffee Piazza of 1983 and Tea and Coffee Towers of 2003. The introductory section includes a map of the exhibition plan designed by Alessandro Mendini.

Original source: ArtNow Magazine
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Temple-rooted Stuzo acquired by Dachis Group, will remain in Philly

Fairmount-based Facebook app developer Stuzo was acquired by Dachis Group, an Austin, Texas social business consultancy, reports Technically Philly.

We're looking to bring on board more technical, project management, and account talent," said Pfau.

Stuzo started in 2005 as a platform for college students to trade textbooks and other goods at Temple University before pivoting to become one of the first developers on the Facebook Application platform.

The company began building apps like MyHeritage before focusing more on promotions for other brands like Coca-Cola and Proctor and Gamble, quickly becoming one of the largest Facebook development shops in the country.

Original source: Technically Philly
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WSJ: The Barnes in a new light

The new home of the Barnes Foundation along the Ben Franklin Parkway is both challenging and controversial, and the Wall Street Journal's hard-hat tour reveals a new take on classic art.

Tod Williams, of Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects in New York, pointed out the siting of key features: a three-story garden that will interrupt the art galleries; a long, low water feature near the visitor entrance; a cantilevered light court connecting the galleries with an L-shaped building containing a café, gift shop, auditorium and other amenities.

Another innovation is a small second-floor gallery that will house Matisse's famous 1905-06 painting "The Joy of Life," currently in a stairwell and difficult to see. "It was not [handicapped] accessible," Mr. Williams said, "so we were able to break the rules. There were not too many opportunities, but that was one of them."

Decisions on interior details are still being made. Using a full-scale model, Mr. Williams said, "We are investigating changing the color of the wood, we're investigating changing the color of the fabric, we're investigating whether to use the exact moldings that they used. We're investigating the floor. One of the things that may be controversial is detailing that is more contemporary."

Original souce: Wall Street Journal
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Irish travelers: Philadelphia, here we come

The travel section at Ireland's Herald.ie is high on Philadelphia for a variety of reasons, imploring the Irish to visit for our safe downtown, good eats and arts and culture.

It's puzzling why Philly isn't on most Irish people's radar. It's more historic than Boston, as Irish as Chicago, 30pc cheaper to live in than New York and has a food culture to match San Francisco.

The city centre proper, (known as Center City) is thriving, unlike many US urban areas. Sections of 15th Street are hubs of restaurants and nightlife, while the area's aptly titled Avenue of the Arts is the local equivalent of London's West End or New York's Broadway theatre districts. The best bit? It feels perfectly safe to walk around, by day or night (don't try this at home, kids).

Original source: Herald.ie
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Pew: More people moving to Philly than moving out

A new report by the Pew Charitable Trusts indicates an encouraging trend of more people moving into Philadelphia since 1993, reports The Philadelphia Inquirer.

According to the Pew report, the number of people moving into the city has increased steadily, up from 31,837 in 1993 to 42,250 in 2008.

Overall, the number of people moving out of the city is growing less rapidly, increasing slightly from 47,291 in 1993 to 52,096 in 2008.

"I would say the trend is looking as if we may be seeing a reversal of long-term decline in city population," said David Elesh, sociologist and demography expert with the Metropolitan Philadelphia Indicators Project at Temple University.

Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
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St. Louis loves Philly for what it really is

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch travel section mentions booing Santa Claus but quickly moves on, digging deeper than most national media last week to reveal the insider's view of Philadelphia.

Once you get beyond the fighting façade, Philadelphia is a city of tiny secret gardens, a diverse art and theater scene, a crazy diverse food/pub scene and a thousand walkable historical monuments and museums. Also, it's cheap as can be. You've got to work to spend $15 on a martini.

I moved here six years ago from St. Louis. The things I loved about St. Louis are the same things I love about Philadelphia--people are friendly, the streets have the same names (you copycats!) and there's no need to go to any chain restaurant ever.

Original source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch
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Jassi Chadha enriches entrepreneurial ecosystem with TiE-NJ/Philadelphia

Wildly successful entrepreneur Jassi Chadha has brought his expertise to TiE-NJ/Philadelphia, a newer chapter of the global entrepreneurship organization, reports SiliconIndia.

TiE NJ-Philly is an offshoot of TiE Tristate. New Jersey and Philadephia had quite a lot of entrepreneurs who would often find it difficult to make it to New York for various events of the Tristate. Hence the need for a chapter in this geographic area became a necessity. Today under the leadership of Chadha, the TiE-NJ-Philly Chapter is helping the budding entrepreneurs in this geography to realize their goals and dreams by conducting various events, providing mentoring, and networking opportunities.

"There are aspects of entrepreneurship like optimism, excitement, energy, and a sense of adventure that is inspiring to read and get excited. It also drives people to do more and pursue big dreams. However, the path of entrepreneurship is often lonely, hard, and the journey hectic with challenges of different sorts. That's why entrepreneurs need to be supported and find the right support in programs that TiE offers," says Chadha.

Original source: SiliconIndia.
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Connecticut arts panel looks at Philadelphia murals for inspiration

Members of the Norfolk Arts Commission visited Philadelphia last week to get a close-up look at some of the thousands of works of the Philadelphia Mural Arts Programs, reports The Hour.

"I was blown away by how these community murals in Philadelphia brightened the neighborhoods. It's inspiring to hear the stories of how these murals got made, and how it brought the community together," Becker said. "This is how to revitalize neighborhoods and instill a sense of pride, something I see Norwalk needs help with."

Launched in 1984 to combat graffiti, the city of Philadelphia Mural Arts Programs now bills itself as the largest public art program in the United States.

Original source: The Hour
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Flying Kite among new online operations tackling local news

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports on two online news publications that have launched recently, including yours truly.

As the market for news fragments, new models for journalism are emerging. Two of those experiments, Flying Kite and Patch, launched in Philadelphia last month.

"This is a fresh way to get fresh content about all the innovative things happening in our city," said Danielle Cohn, (Philadelphia Convention and Visitors) bureau spokeswoman.

Original source
: The Philadelphia Inquirer
Read the full story here.

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