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Free films at Philadelphia Film Festival, Disposable Bodies at Taller Puertorriqueño, Eli LaBan’s third Emmy, and sad news, Blake Bradford

We are sad to pass along the news that Blake Bradford died. The art educator, thinker, writer, community-spirited man was beloved and will be missed. Visit the family's Gofundme page (link below) for additional information about Blake's health struggle. In other news, the Fall art season in Philadelphia chugs along with many things to pick from. We've rounded up a few that sound terrifically good.

photo of the head and shoulders of a smiling African American man, Blake Bradford, in a gray suit, blue shirt and patterned tie.d
Blake Bradford, pictured in 2009 when he was Director of Education at the Barnes Foundation. Photo by Liz Reade.


Blake Bradford died Oct. 21, 2022 (age, 52)
From the organizer of the Go Fund Me campaign for Blake and his family, Les Robinson

Hi all,

It is with great sorrow that I write to inform you that after an extended hospital stay, Blake passed away this morning, Oct. 21, 2022. Please hold off on reaching out to the family while they grieve and organize their next steps. Another update will be forthcoming as soon with details regarding funeral services and where to send condolences.

Thank you for your love and support in this difficult time.
Link to the Go Fund Me site

At Artblog, we knew Blake as a friend. He was wise, collegial, generous and passionate about the arts and about community. Before the Barnes Foundation moved to the Parkway, in 2009, I sat down with Blake, then the Director of Education, to get an inside look at how the institution would stay true to its mission in its new digs. The distillation of that interview published in Philadelphia Weekly, reveals a thoughtful and committed educator who, sadly, would not remain long at the Barnes after its move. His passing this month is a great loss to the community, and an incalculable loss to his family. We are grieving for them.

Danny Orendorff, a white man with dirty blonde, short hair, stands facing slightly to the right. He is smiling and his hands are held together in front of his chest in a clapping position. He is wearing jeans, a brownish-green tee shirt, and a blue denim jacket that is over his shoulders but not through his arms. The background of the photo is a digitally rendered blue with orange zig-zag stripes.
Danny Orendorff, Executive Director of Vox Populi. Photo courtesy Danny Orendorff. Edited for Artblog Radio.

Danny Orendorff moves on from Vox Populi to a museum in Austin, TX
From the Vox Populi website:

All great things must come to an end and Vox Populi is bidding a fond farewell to our Executive Director of the past five years, Danny Orendorff, who we are thrilled to announce has accepted a new position with a museum in Austin, TX. We could not be more excited for him.

Orendorff’s tenure has included the successful oversight of dozens of exhibitions, hundreds of programs, and countless curveballs. He initiated new collaborations and implemented his own curatorial projects like Future Ecologies and Still Doing Life; all while earning crucial support for Vox by securing grants from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Philadelphia Foundation, William Penn Foundation, Joseph Roberts Foundation, and the Wilhelm Family Foundation, amongst others.

Free Films at the Philadelphia Film Festival

From our friend at the Film Society, Madeleine Charne, Director of Education:

In a still from the Senegalese film Xalé, a woman wearing a white head wrap and dress stares solemnly at the viewer while a large group of people who are out of focus stare at her from behind.
Still from the Senegalese film Xalé. Free screenings at the Philadelphia Film Society’s Philadelphia Film Festival on Sunday 10/23 at 8pm and Tuesday 10/25 at 3:45pm.

There are free films available all but two days of our festival–so every day from this Friday, 10/21 to next Sunday 10/30 (with the exception of Friday the 28th). Here are some highlights. (See full festival program here.)

My favorite documentary of the fest, The Grab is an explosive documentary that tracks a years long investigation by a journalism team into a shadowy international scramble to buy up food and water supplies, a covert land grab with dire humanitarian, ecological, and geopolitical consequences. This documentary is fast paced–the kind of exposé you only get on camera once in a blue moon. This film is playing Saturday 10/22 at 1:45pm and Sunday 10/30 at 5pm. At the first showing we’ll have an in person Q and A with the journalist at the center of the story.

And then one of my favorite foreign films of the festival, Xalé is a Senagalese tale of a woman’s relationship to family, tradition, and her home. Using music, poetry and traditional choral structure, this film is heartbreaking and beautiful, and unlike anything else in theaters today. Xalé is playing on Sunday 10/23 at 8pm and Tuesday 10/25 at 3:45pm.

Disposable Bodies at Taller Puertorriqueño

Philadelphia Dance Projects opens its annual Dance Up Close series,October 27-30, with the world premiere of Disposable Bodies, an installation and dance work created by award-winning 2022 Guggenheim Fellow Silvana Cardell in a production by Cardell Dance Theater. Presented in partnership with Taller Puertorriqueño as a series of episodic installations, the performance of Disposable Bodies unfolds in layers of sound, movement, and images. An oversized animal sculpture represents the intensity of life and the ultimate “other.” Questioning the categorization of protected versus abandoned lives, Cardell examines anthropocentric narratives, illuminating an urgent conversation about new relationships with other species in the world we inhabit.
Direction, choreography, and videos: Silvana Cardell
Dramaturge consultant: Blanka Zizka, Philadelphia
Performer collaborators: Merian Soto. William Robinson, Makenzie Morris, Muyu Yun Ruba, Tyler Rivera, and Ama Gora.
Sound Design: by Maria Chavez, New York City
Large scale sculpture: Daniel Cardell, Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Prop sculptures by Paula Meninato, Philadelphia
Lighting design by Marien Velez, Puerto Rico/New York

Performances at Taller Puertorriqueño (2600 North 5th Street) are Thursday, October 27-Saturday, October 29 at 7:30 PM, and Sunday, October 30 at 2:00 PM. Tickets at $20 and $10 are available.

Read or Listen – N. K. Jemison
Produced by ‘The Ezra Klein Show’
From the New York Times website:

N.K. Jemisin is a fantasy and science-fiction writer who won three consecutive Hugo Awards — considered the highest honor in science-fiction writing — for her “Broken Earth” trilogy; she has since won two more Hugos, as well as other awards. But in imagining wild fictional narratives, the beloved writer has also cultivated a remarkable view of our all too real world. In her fiction, Jemisin crafts worlds that resemble ours but get disrupted by major shocks: ecological disasters, invasions by strange, tentacled creatures and more, all of which operate as thought experiments that can help us evaluate how human beings could and should respond to similar calamities.

Jemisin’s latest series, which includes “The City We Became” and “The World We Make,” takes place in a recognizable version of New York City — the texture of its streets, the distinct character of its five boroughs — that’s also gripped by strange, magical forces. The series, in addition to being a rollicking read, is essentially a meditation on cities: how they come into being, how their very souls get threatened by forces like systemic racism and astronomical inequality and how their energies and cultures have the power to rescue and save those souls.

[You can listen to this episode of “The Ezra Klein Show” on Apple, Spotify, Amazon Music, Google or wherever you get your podcasts. More information about N.K. Jemison at Wikipedia.]

I invited Jemisin on the show to help me take stock of the political and cultural ferment behind these distressing conditions — and also to remember the magical qualities of cities, systems and human nature. We discuss why multiverse fictions like “Everything Everywhere All at Once” are so popular now, how the culture and politics of New York and San Francisco have homogenized drastically in recent decades, her views on why a coalition of Black and Latinx voters elected a former cop as New York’s mayor, how gentrification causes change that we may not at first recognize, where to draw the line between imposing order and celebrating the disorder of cities, how Donald Trump kept stealing her ideas but is at the root a “badly written character,” whether we should hold people accountable for their choices or acknowledge the way the status quo shapes our decision making, what excites Jemisin about recent discoveries about outer space, why she thinks we are all “made of exploding stars,” and more.

Eli LaBan’s third Emmy!

Eli LaBan made several excellent short videos for Artblog in 2016 for a project to introduce and contextualize the “Creative Africa” exhibition that year. Pictured above is one of Eli’s videos for that project. Another is here. Eli has gone on to make videos for others in the Philadelphia community – and to be recognized by the Emmy awards three times for his work. Congratulations, Eli!

From Eli’s recent newsletter:

Big news! Earlier this month I won my third Emmy for a short documentary I made for Big Picture Alliance last year. It’s great to receive this recognition for a project bringing visibility to local community organizations, and the award caps off a season full of new projects and updates. Check out more info below:

Last year I took on a project to document the West Powelton Drumline and Steppers’ work with Spiral Q to preserve the history and culture of West Philly. Out of seven nominees in its category, it won the Mid Atlantic Emmy Award for “Historical/Cultural – Short Form” at the 53rd annual Mid Atlantic Emmy ceremony in Philadelphia on Oct 1.

After working with Big Picture Alliance as a Teaching Artist over the past year, I am now taking on the roles of Production Supervisor and Technical Coordinator, where I will be overseeing our team’s production of original videos for other organizations across the city, and training students, staff and alumni on new high-end cinema gear that BPA recently won with a $100k Sony Create Action Grant!
For more information visit!