Posts By libby


Fringe Festival – Headlong’s This Town is a Mystery

One Fringe evening this week, my friend Wendy and I left Center City via the Broad Street Subway to the Erie stop, and then caught the 56 bus for a long and winding ride to Torresdale Avenue in Tacony. Along the way we saw miles of factory buildings and warehouses. Once we hit Tacony, the landscape changed to small shops and blocks and blocks of row houses. The performance we were going to was in one of those row houses, performed by ordinary people, not dancers, not performance artists–the people who actually lived there! The show was part of This ... More » »

Christian Marclay, Detail of The Clock, 2010, Single-channel video with sound, 24 hours,  © Christian Marclay. Courtesy Paula Cooper Gallery, New York

On time with Christian Marclay’s The Clock

Shared memories of Star Wars and Buster Keaton serve as a lingua franca that crosses international and personal borders. Unlike art, which in so many ways aims at an elite audience and serves to differentiate the into-art group from other people, the love of movies unites us all. When Christian Marclay created The Clock, his 24-hour video cycle that mashes up movies by the minute, who did he have in mind as his audience? Only visual art lovers? Or everyone? Was he hoping his bouquet to the movies and to time would earn him a new audience, a crowd of ... More » »

Matt Kalasky (center) moderating a discussion about artists residencies at Fjord

Consider the artists residency, or not

Matt Kalasky called for a discussion about artists residencies on his publication, The St. Claire. The event, July 19 at Fjord, turned out to be a sort of grad school bull session about the nature of and usefulness of artists residencies. Their usefulness turned out to be the more useful topic of discussion, and by time the 20 to 25 people in attendance were finished, they realized ARs might not be so much about punching a ticket and decorating a resume but rather something they could find useful–or not. I tried reporting the discussion via our Twitter, @theartblog, but didn’t ... More » »

Our basecamp on Oak Island

Travel: A kinder gentler beach

The whole North Carolina June vacation started at the University City Arts League auction. Someone had donated a week at a nice beach house for bidding. My arm kept popping up to raise my bid until I exhausted my competition. Yesss. We did not know what I had bid on or where it was, really. After a bit of research into Oak Island, which is in the Cape Fear area north of Myrtle Beach, we decided to drive (a big thank you here to Michael Connelly’s The Fifth Witness, on audio, which engrossed us down and back). On the way ... More » »

A gas cigar lighter in the smoking room!

A visit to the Union League–mostly picture post

Murray bid vigorously to take home from the University City Arts League annual auction a four-person tour. He succeeded, and so Friday, we and two friends, Ed and Sharon, went to the Union League, one of the last three Union Leagues remaining in the country. We learned from our tour guide, archivist Jim Mundy that during the Civil War Union Leagues were as numerous as mushrooms, formed all across the North and West to lend support–financial, moral, political, practical–to the Union cause. My own memories of the Union League were not kind–a bunch of self-important old white men. But the club, while retaining ... More » »


Another art resource

Thanks to Uri Halevi for featuring us on his Art Faves page, which he describes as “a visual, one-page database of the Internet’s most useful, interesting and unique Art websites, blogs, tools and apps that gives our users exactly what they need.” We’re in great company. The site is part of, which covers subjects from architecture to weddings.     


The pianos of summer in University City

Artist-modified pianos are scattered around University City to June 17, waiting for a public with itchy fingers. When the project Heart & Soul launched Wednesday night, June 6, the eight transformed pianos looked so inviting that people of all ages sat down to play. Say you make it your mission to play every one of them, you can find the map of the locations at Here’s a 1.5-minute video of what I saw at the launch. The pianos are a borrowed idea–New York and Lancaster, PA beast us to the punch. But as public art, they far outshine those ... More » »

One of the netsuke from Edmund d Waal's collection, from

Book review – The Hare with Amber Eyes

When a well-known curator and artist inherits a collection of 150 netsuke–button-sized Japanese carvings in ivory or wood–he starts to think about how it came into his hands. Netsuke are button-sized Japanese carvings in ivory or wood that according to Wikipedia have a functional use–to hold up purses of men in kimonos, which otherwise have no pockets. The inquiry becomes a quirky family history about power, wealth, inheritance and obsession. The Hare with Amber Eyes is by Edmund de Waal, former curator of ceramics at the Victoria & Albert Museum and a ceramics installation artist in his own right.   ... More » »

Douglas Witmer in his studio

Interview with Douglas Witmer on art and modesty

Artist Douglas Witmer thinks a lot about community and how he can create an ideal one around him–and beyond. You may know him as a co-owner, with his brother-in-law, of the Green Line Cafes, which I think of as the community hub of University City. Or maybe you know him as a musician, or by his art work. The thread that weaves through everything he does is that commitment to community, and how he’s just a part of a larger whole. The modesty carries over into his philosophy of art, including issues related to whether we should care if art ... More » »

Minna and Ben rowing while we lolled in the stern.

My heart in San Francisco

Recession-proof Union Square is finally looking a little frayed around the edges. On this visit we saw a number of closed storefronts where there had been businesses before. We also saw scrappy young galleries closer in to the center of things, which says to me that rents are down. But the place is still glorious–and green. Even the hotel is green, with recycling bins and reduced linens laundering. Big deal, you may say, but on a recent trip to New York, we stayed in a hotel room with only trash cans. In a parking lot next to Crissy Field in ... More » »

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