I’m often asked, “Todd, what cool art related things would you recommend checking out in Philadelphia?” to which I typically reply, “Don’t call me when I’m at work, mom.” Well, I finally got around to writing the definitive insider’s guide to the Philadelphia art scene.

First Friday in Old City

If a gaggle of gals cluster together, their monthly cycles begin to synchronize. If a gaggle of art galleries cluster together, their opening receptions begin to synchronize. Experience the latter on any given First Friday in Old City, Philadelphia. Join the eclectic crowd and spelunker the downtown streets between 5ish and 9ish to enjoy fresh art, stale crackers and boxed wine. When the dust settles, seek refuge in one of the many Old City eateries/drinkeries.

The Magic Gardens

Depending on who you ask, Philadelphia is blessed or littered with hundreds of behemoth mosaic murals by local artist, Isaiah Zagar. Isaiah has been busy covering Philadelphia architecture in broken tile and glass for decades. As you promenade down South Street, you’re sure to inadvertently catch a glimpse of the Jim’s Steak grease stain on your shirt thanks to a shard of mirror plastered to a building by Zagar. Let that serve as a reminder to check out his breathtaking creative lab/labyrinth between 10th and 11th.

The Philadelphia Museum of Art

In a perfect world, the Philadelphia Museum of Art would be best known for its stellar Marcel Duchamp collection, not a sweatsuit-clad pseudo-athlete climbing the stairs and waving his arms. Go beyond the obligatory front step photo op and step inside. Friday evenings include free musical performances so your ears don’t get jealous of your eyes.

Northern Liberties

Philadelphia’s Northern Liberties section has recently established itself as the bohemian epicenter of the City of Brotherly Love. Dozens of privately-owned galleries, boutiques, bars, restaurants and music venues lure the “indy” crowd to the North side of town. It’s like SoHo’s illegitimate stepbrother.

The Barnes Foundation

You know the old story; Boy gets rich by developing antiseptic drug, boy collects hundreds of paintings by THE most famous Impressionistic and 20th century artists, boy hangs them on the wall next to silverware and door hinges and develops an educational/aesthetic theory, boy gets hit by a truck. The Barnes Foundation has been in a perpetual state of financial and organizational turmoil ever since. This, however, does not change the fact it is home to one of the most exquisite private collections of art in the world. Check it out before it implodes.

3 Responses to “Arty Pharty”
  1. joy says:

    Well, this website rocks, Todd. I knew your site would be a feast for my eyes, but I didn’t expect all your content to be so fun to read! Your creativity goes way beyond your works on canvas. It’s so important (to me, at least) to see the artist behind the art…your website seems to be a great portrayal of you.

  2. kristin says:

    ok, thats it. i am unofficially planning a road trip to PA. can i crash at your place? heh.

  3. PJ smalley says:

    Todd!!- You forgot to mention the venerable Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. PAFA is the country’s oldest art school and museum. Its main attraction is its stellar American art collection, mainly from the late 19th century and early modern periods. The Academy has two adjacent museums for the admission price of one, and is now home to this controversial Philadelphian masterpiece: