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Archive for the ‘Exhibits/Museums’ Category

On the first Friday of every month, Philadelphia’s art galleries stay open late and welcome everyone — from casual passerby to serious collectors — to come in and peruse their current curations.  The aptly dubbed “First Friday” has been happening, rain or shine, since 1991, and has become one of the city’s most visible and popular events.  Although historically focused on the 40+ galleries between Front and Vine and Market and 3rd streets in Old City, First Friday open houses are now hosted by galleries all over the city, from Space 1026 in Chinatown to the Projects Gallery in Northern Liberties to Highwire in Fishtown.  The best thing about this expansion is that, even though every First Friday shares the same core elements, depending on who’s showing what where, you can have a radically different experience every single time.

How cheap we talkin’: FREE!

Why this will impress your date: Because you can show you are as comfortable around refined oil portraits as you are around avante-garde video art.  This is a good thing, I promise.

The Inside Game: If you want to know who’s showing where, need to plan a route, or find galleries in a particular neighborhood, there are a lot of great resources for planning ahead, like this linked list of Philly art galleries.  Another great resource is Phrequency’s “DIY First Friday” list, conveniently organized by neighborhood. The Philadelphia Weekly also shares its pick of noteworthy exhibitions each month in its Arts and Culture section.

Score Extra Points: By doing a little homework before hand (see above) and then leading the way. Strolling from gallery to gallery is perfect for hand-holding.

Next date: Friday April 1, 2011! And then the first Friday of every month, all year round (approximately 5-9pm).

Keep reading for highlights from First Fridays past, and where to find the galleries that still have free booze!

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Bryn Mawr film prof. Homai King discussing her new book on Orientalism in cinema at ICA

The Philadelphia Institute for Contemporary Art (“ICA”), located at 118 South 36th street on Penn’s campus in University City, is a nationally recognized museum dedicated to exhibiting innovative painting, art, and sculpture by contemporary (i.e., living) artists.  Founded in 1963, the museum gave Andy Warhol his first museum exhibition, and continues to have a reputation for identifying emerging bright stars in the art world.  The ICA is closed Mondays and Tuesdays, but stays open until 8pm on Wednesdays for “Whenever Wednesdays,” a rotating series of lectures, discussions, and screenings, usually connected somehow with the current exhibits. The best part? It’s FREE! That means that you’ll have plenty of cash left to indulge in a drink or a bite at a spot nearby, like the cozy and popular White Dog Cafe.

How cheap we talkin’: Admission is FREE! The rest is up to you. White Dog Cafe has half-priced drafts 5-7pm, and their popular natural beef hot dogs loaded with toppings are $7.25. Non-alcoholic drinks like fresh-squeezed lemonade and ginger beer are $4.

Why this will impress your date: You might be seeing the next Andy Warhol!

Score extra points: By reading up on the exhibition beforehand and asking a question during the Q&A. You will look brave, smart, and articulate all at once.  That’s what I call a power move.

The inside game: The discussions are usually followed by a brief reception, complete with complimentary wine, cheese, and other snacks. If you want to be that cheap.

Next date: Wednesday! Check here for the schedule of upcoming events.

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The Fitzwater Café is a bright, cheerful, and surprisingly affordable brunch spot in Bella Vista.  A classic breakfast of eggs, toast, and home fries is only $5.00, which means you can order bottomless coffee and fresh squeezed orange juice without breaking the bank.  For those with more of a morning sweet tooth, Pancakes and French Toast are each only $5.50.  After a leisurely brunch, it’s only a short stroll to the Fleisher Art Memorial  gallery at 719 Catherine street.  In addition to curating multiple art exhibitions throughout the year, the Fleisher also offers free (with membership) art classes for both children and adults.

How cheap we talkin’: $5.00-$5.50 for breakfast, $1.75 for coffee, $2.95 for O.J., and approximately $3 for a must-have shared dessert (plus tax and tip). Entry to the Fleisher is FREE!

Why this will impress your date:  As the oldest free community art school in the United States, Fleisher will impress both history and art buffs.

The Inside Game: The key at Fitzwater Café is to be careful with add-ons. Berries on your pankcakes will cost an additional $3.00, and each omlette ingredient is $1.25.  So stick to the basics and save room (and $) for dessert!

Score Extra Points: By pointing out the other art hidden in the hallways at Fleisher: There’s a copy of a mosaic from St Mark’s Basilica near the elevators, and  near the restrooms hangs a pop-art piece spoofing the Snickers ads from a few years back with the text “Haterectomy.”

Next date:  Any day except Sunday. Fitzwater Cafe is open for breakfast 7:30am-2pm everyday, and the Fleisher gallery space is open 10-3pm Monday-Saturday. Note: When school is not in session, the Fleisher is NOT open on the weekends, so double check the gallery schedule before you go! 

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There is something kind of exhilarating about having the daylights scared out of you, especially when you have a date’s hand to cling to in the dark.  In October, through Halloween, haunted houses pop up all over Philly and the surrounding area.  These spook shows are fun, for sure –  but they’re not cheap.  Tickets to Terror Behind the Walls at Eastern State Penitentiary during off-peak hours are $20, and go up from there.  But, as I discovered on a recent date, this dilapidated prison fortress in Fairmount is pretty darn creepy all by itself, even in daylight hours.  Get your imagination going by trading ghost stories over a cup of coffee at Mugshots across the street, then go walk the long, ghostly halls of Eastern State, which many believe to be haunted. If you dare.

Why this will impress your date: Because being scared on a date is kind of sexy.  (Note: Being scared of your date is not).

The Inside Game: If you need something warmer than your date’s hand to hold onto, Eastern State will let you bring in your coffee.

Score Extra Points: By being able to give your date goose bumps with a great ghost story. Don’t have any? Borrow one fromTrue Ghost Stories or Your Ghost Stories. Both sites feature real stories of hauntings and other paranormal happenings.

Next date: Anytime. Eastern State Penitentiary is open 10-5pm, every day, year round.

How cheap we talkin’: $12 for daytime admission to Eastern State; 2$ for coffee or tea at Mugshots.

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As my date and I recently discovered, there are a whole date’s worth of cool (and cheap!) things to do, see, and eat in the small area of Center City between Walnut and Locust streets to the north and south, and 6th and 8th streets to the east and west.  After checking out the gorgeous Tiffany glass mural in the Curtis Center, we went to Lore’s Chocolates, a gourmet chocolatier, and spent at least half an hour picking out a half pound box of chocolates to enjoy in nearby Washington Square.  On our way to the park, we stumbled across even more hidden treasures: a curious little troll, and a fun, no-frills, bulk nut and candy store too.

How cheap we talkin’: Approximately $11 for a half pound of chocolate from Lore’s. $2-$5 per pound for nuts or candy from Nuts to You.

Why this will impress your date: You can whip out all kinds of interesting facts after reading this fascinating account of the making of this majestic mural, by Kim Sajet, Senior Vice President of Museum and Public Programs at PAFA.

The Inside Game: If you or your date doesn’t like chocolate, Nuts to You is a great alternative for snack fare.  So is the fruit cart on 7th – for only $6 they will jam pack a container full of melon, strawberries, pineapple, grapes and mango for you, and even throw in a banana.  They also make fantastic smoothies for less than $5.

Score Extra Points: By letting your date eat the last chocolate.

Next date: Weekdays or Saturday morning. Note: Lore’s closes at 5pm and the Curtis Center closes at 6pm. Saturdays, the Curtis center is only open 10-1pm.

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Every Wednesday until August 24th, as part of its Summer Nights Music Series, the Penn Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology hosts a live music series in its verdant garden from 5-8pm.  The museum is located at 3260 South Street, at the intersection of Spruce and 33rd, in the shadow of the Palestra on Penn’s campus.  Entry is pay-what-you-want, and beverages (alcoholic and non) are available for a donation. The lush and stately garden makes you feel like you have been transported away from the city to another time and place – making it the perfect setting for the diverse musical acts featured by the series, which come from all over the globe.  My date and I had a lovely time there, wandering leisurely among the small crowd of students, families, and professionals unwinding after work, taking in both the music and the museum, which remains open to visitors for the duration of the event.

How cheap we talkin’: Your $5 entry fee includes museum admission. (It’s free for Penn Museum members and PennCard holders). Drinks are provided with donation.

Why this will impress your date: Completed in 1915, the Chinese Rotunda at the museum is one of the largest unsupported masonry domes in the United States, housing one of the finest collections of monumental Chinese art in the country, covering some 4,000 years of Chinese history.

Score extra points: By knowing the difference between congas and bongos.

The inside game: If you get there early enough, there might be some Yuengling available.

Next date: Wednesdays 5-8pm, through August 25th, 2010.

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