art special events

Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts

The city was chosen to host a three-peat of the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts (PIFA) from April 8-23, 2016. There were more than 60 events citywide curated by the Kimmel Center. It featured live performances and exhibits that celebrating art inspired by the theme We are what we make.

Immigrant Experience

The kickoff event was Article 13. It transformed Penns Landing into an interactive art installation to highlight the worldwide plight of immigrants. I joined thousands who trudged through darkness and weaved around shuffling wooden sculptures. Finally, we reached fields ringed by fire pots and water jugs. There we listened and saw what it was like to live as a Mexican flower picker, a Chinese peddler and more. It was a powerful and haunting experience.Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts

I was impressed by the number of free events such as the twice-daily performances of Kimmel’s  Kinetic Tree Sculpture.


Knitting Peace

Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts


Another highlight was Knitting  Peace. The Cirkus Cirkor  dancer acrobatics created 3D knitted sculptures that ultimately filled the stage. Check out their You Tube Video. The Merriam Theater was covered in a dazzling variety of white knitted pieces. Knitting covered the outside lamppost, to the walls, ceilings and theater stairways.

Huge Street Fair

The finale was a massive street fair spanning Broad Street from City Hall to the Avenue of the Arts. It felt like Carnivale– from the stilt walkers and the ferris wheel, to the zip line and the crayola-colored field of pianos to play. All of this sprang up amazingly overnight.  My favorite performance was by the musical group Squonk from Pittsburgh. Their techno opera Pneumatica, was a tour de force meshing science, art,and spectacle.

neighborhoods special events

How to Get Away with Murder

The ABC hit drama How to Get Away with Murder is Philly born and bred by creator and executive producer Shonda Rhimes (of Scandal and Grey’s Anatomy fame). So it made sense to choose a north Philly rental for the cash-strapped character Wes Gibbins. The location scouts who handled Silver Linings Playbook  picked our daughter’s then Templetown apartment to shoot the How to Get Away with Murder pilot and some interior scenes for the early episodes.

Show Shot in Philly Apartment

The crew descended on the apartment building for days. They transformed her bedroom into a production studio, though they left the ornamental white lights up. Out with her original art and tasteful décor. In with cruddy thrift store props. They even trashed the white walls, adding faded flowered wallpaper with some deep gouge marks. She was told the marks would be important in the plot, but was given no spoilers. She did get to watch the shoot and chat with Alfred Enoch,  who is still Alfie from Harry Potter for us diehard fans. It was eerie for our family that two major characters in the show are named Rebecca and Wes. ABC quickly built a West Coast replica of the rooms and stairwell after the pilot. But the original shots are all Templetown.