City Hall celebrates its new art gallery

No one was beaming more last night than the parents of Philly’s art czar, who has created a silk purse out of a sow’s ear!

Irwin and Wilma Steuer, proud parents of Philadelphia Chief Cultural Officer Gary Steuer

Irwin and Wilma Steuer were there to cheer for their son Gary, the city’s chief cultural officer, and to admire the The Art Gallery in City Hall, which he has created at a time when the city’s fiscal picture is three degrees worse than dire. We said we thought Steuer was wonderful, a wizard for making this materialize. His parents agreed.

The beaming was pretty much universal for a crowd of about 150 art lovers and movers and shakers–from Fairmount Park Art Association’s Penny Balkin Bach to exhibiting artist Ben Volta to ex-pol Moore College pres. Happy Fernandez–who squeezed into the resplendent gallery space and poured into the hallway, where Steuer and Mayor Michael Nutter addressed the shiny faces (shiny from a mixture of sweat and delight).

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Gary Steuer in front of a sign declaring the new gallery’s mission. The baby blue sign matched the blue and yellow ribbon that the mayor snipped with a pair of giant scissors.

Steuer said the gallery–and the offices, which unite all the city’s art programs, from Percent for Art to Art in City Hall and more, in one space for the first time–were made as green as possible, including some donated sustainable flooring made from recycled materials, from InterfaceFLOR (wall color of the offices are green, too!) He thanked a long list of people who made this happen with nearly no cost to the city.

Taking a picture of Steuer was tough. He was a moving target–that’s no doubt how he gets so much done.

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The mayor arrived looking exhausted, but then he warmed to his subject and the heat and in room and ultimately did a little beaming of his own about the city’s amazing art community and the new gallery.

Nutter, after multitasking on his Blackberry while Steuer spoke,  called for young people to step away from their computers and come on down to City Hall to enjoy the art!


Last night was the soft opening, and today, from 10 to 4, the gallery is having an open house. The inaugural show, On the Rise, is a collaboration with The Center for Emerging Visual Artists, InLiquid and Philadelphia Sculptors.  The show has work by 12 members in all from the three groups. The show runs to Aug. 6.

The Art Gallery at City Hall, 700 square feet, with work by Darla Jackson in the foreground, Ben Volta to the right on the wall, two by Miriam Singer to the left of that.

You can read more about how the city eked out this marvel in the Inky.