First Friday started early for me at a meeting convened by Brooklyn’s Bruce High Quality Foundation. The group of artists — which founded its own university — is on a cross-country tour in conjunction with Creative Time, to take the pulse of the nation’s art education system. But instead of having an agenda of their own (that’s what I wanted to hear) they asked what the Philadelphians in attendance thought about art education. As people went around the room and introduced themselves and then spoke about their relationship to the institutions of art education (BFAs, MFAs, those with none of those degrees, those who teach), the talk went sour fast and as a BHQF person said, it sounded like a support group for the disillusioned. It was depressing. I had to leave before the meeting ended so I’m not sure where all it went after that but it seemed that folks are irked at institutions for many reasons but especially for charging so much tuition and then somehow failing to deliver a good product for the money.
The evening took me and my friend Ann up to the Art Museum for a Roberto Capucci-inspired student fashion show and competition, a very colorful and well-attended event spinning off the museum’s current Capucci exhibit. Models walked through the crowds and up and on to a catwalk where they pivoted and twirled the dresses and then walked off. Highly fun and the student dresses were great!
Today Andrea and I went up to Frankford Ave to Extra Extra and to Girard and 2nd to the Soil Kitchen — a true flashback to the 60s Whole Earth coops of the world, with a DIY vibe and innocent optimism. A project of the San Francisco group, FutureFarmers, free soup, free soil testing and a workshop on how to make vegetable stock were going on when we got there, all sponsored by the city’s Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy and funded by the William Penn Foundation. I have a very broad definition of art but I have to say that this seems like urban planning or development and not like art. I am reminding myself that I loved Tim Eads’ pedal powered butter churn up at FLUXspace, which is kind of like what’s going on here– a low tech approach to thinking about the future. But Tim’s spark of mad scientist combined with con artist is also very different to this earnest endeavor to bring people together to make soup.
Final stop today, at Extra Extra, which was spookily empty. A guy was out front working on the armature for the new storefront windows for the space, but apart from that, the alternative space was bereft of bodies. We looked at the installation and loved the walls but puzzled over the cardboard plinths with stuff on top — odd-looking squashes, flowers, feathers, eggs, mushrooms. The plinths are inserted in holes in a platform in the center of the room, an installation motif that echoes — oddly enough — Alex Da Corte’s installation last month at the gallery.
That’s it, people. Onward.