The Uncanny Valley

Notes on art, culture and preservation

Archive for February 2013

Don’t miss “The Changing Face of Preservation,” a special collaboration between Grid and Hidden City

leave a comment »

Homes in Overbrook Farms. Photo: Peter Woodall

Homes in Overbrook Farms. Photo: Peter Woodall

It’s not too late to grab a free copy of Grid magazine‘s March issue on historic preservation. This collaboration with Hidden City Daily takes a hard look at the challenges, and many benefits, of saving Philadelphia’s treasures. Adaptive reuse, DIY repair, and historic designation are all effective means of preservation practice — although not all are without their controversies, as the movement to create a historic district for the Overbrook Farms neighborhood shows. (Also up at Hidden City: my follow-up on how the Overbrook Farms nomination is threatening to derail the entire historic designation process.) Thanks to Grid‘s excellent reporting, it’s easy to see how preservation isn’t just about saving pretty buildings, but about building a sustainable city as well.

Have a look at the digital version of this issue here.


Written by cwmote

February 23, 2013 at 4:29 pm

Celebrate Honest Abe’s B-day with a free tour of the Union League

leave a comment »

Photo: RegBarc

Photo: RegBarc

One of Broad Street’s most recognizable bastions of gentlemanliness and old-fashioned elitism, the Union League of Philadelphia will open its doors to the public for a limited time on Saturday. The annual open house commemorates the birthday of Abraham Lincoln, to whose cause the founders pledged their loyalty in 1862 as the Civil War intensified. Visitors are entitled to free guided tours of the establishment, which includes the Second Empire house impressively designed (and fabulously quoined) by John Fraser, as well as the Horace Trumbauer addition fronting 15th Street (where you actually have to walk to get inside). While the Union League is open on a limited basis to non-members year-round, this is the one time that guests won’t feel out of place because of their affinity for Stoli in their martinis or their opposition to repealing the estate tax. Etiquette, you know.

Union League of Philadelphia, Broad and Sansom Streets (enter on 15th Street), free entry Saturday, February 9 from 11am to 2pm. No reservations required.

Written by cwmote

February 8, 2013 at 11:09 am

More Art Notes: Phila. Museum introducing Pay-what-you-wish Wednesday Nights with free movies, yoga

leave a comment »


A scene from Art After 5. Now try to visualize all these people on mats lost in meditation…

A propos of First Weekends and extra art hours comes this announcement from the Philadelphia Museum of Art. After souring many of its patrons when it cut back its pay-what-you-like Sundays to just the first Sunday of the month, the Museum is introducing a new name-your-price admission feature for Wednesday nights during extended hours from 5:00 to 8:45pm. Beginning February 13, you’ll come across art talks, live music, free film screenings, and a casual atmosphere of culture and chance encounters that makes you recall how fun real dating was before OkCupid. Think of it as a less snazzy cousin to the hugely successful Art After 5 Fridays, only with patrons taking yoga classes(!) by the grand steps instead of sipping overpriced Steven Starr cocktails.

It’s hard to complain about more museum hours, and it looks like the events calendar will offer something for everyone. And seriously, lovelorn singles, some of the date scenarios practically write themselves: see if you can go wrong with a little Cezanne and a screening of Amélie on February 27.

Written by cwmote

February 4, 2013 at 8:32 pm

Art Notes: Dilworth Plaza rising, First Friday expanding

with one comment

Today is First Friday (already!), but here’s something new to try rolling off the tongue: First Weekend. Turns out that the Old City galleries have been such a success despite the economic downturn (cynical translation: are so desperate for sales precisely because of the economic downturn) that they will offer educational programs and restaurant partnerships for Sunday brunches along with their usual extended Friday night viewing hours. Will sidewalk artists expand their encampments accordingly? All legends start somewhere.


rendering of Pulse (image: Knight Arts)

Speaking of encampments: you know how the City started wrecking the old Dilworth Plaza outside of City Hall as an excuse to evict the Occupiers? Here’s some evidence that it was more than just a really good excuse: structural steel improvements to the concourse connecting the Market-Frankford station to the plaza have been successfully completed. Next step, now that your commute will become a little less hellish: the plaza makeover will become visible at the surface level by the summertime. Part of the makeover will be visibly enhanced by the installation of Pulse, a sculpture by Janet Echelman, made possible by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. We’re not sure if the sculpture consists of the reflecting pool or the curvy flares that slice through it, but whatever it is, it looks cool — and Philadelphia’s homeless (and Occupiers…but I repeat myself…kidding!) will probably be deterred from camping out around it when the plaza reopens in 2014.

Otherwise, it’s one of those can’t-go-wrong weekends. Groundhog Day? Super Bowl party? Puppy Bowl party??? Get with it, man. Opportunity knocks.

Written by cwmote

February 1, 2013 at 1:36 pm