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Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Museum Mile

Museum Mile Gets
The Gross Clinic
Extended to City Hall
By Richard Carreno
Junto Senior Staff Writer Bio 

City Hall Joins Museum Mile
Add City Hall to new gallery space along Museum Mile.

Mayor Michael Nutter has unveiled 'The Art Gallery at City Hall' in a renovated 800-square-foot space (Room 116) that CH officials call 'environmentally friendly' and part of an effort 'to promote the city's rich artistic and cultural heritage.'

The ongoing inaugural exhibit is titled 'On the Rise' and features 'emerging' artists from three non-profit arts groups, the Center for Emerging Visual Artists, Inliquid, and Philadelphia Sculptors.

The gallery is open from 10 am to 4 pm Mondays to Fridays.

The Doctor is In
The Gross Clinic (1875), arguably America's greatest 19th century painting, painted by arguably America's great 19th century painter, Thomas Eakins (1844-1916), has gotten a new lease on life thanks to a new restoration by the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

The results of that do-over, in all its glory, will be highlighted when the picture goes on display from July 24 to January 9 in the museum's satellite, the Perelman Building.

The painting will be displayed along with another large-scale portrait of an operation scene, The Agnew Clinic (1889). The well-known Gross Clinic is jointly owned by the PMA and Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA). The Agnew Clinic, though lesser known, is another dramatic -- and, for its time, controversial -- picture. The painting, depicting a mascetemy being performed on a young woman, is on permanent loan to the PMA by its owner, the University of Pennsylvania.

Conservation was directed by curator Mark S. Tucker.

Starr chamber
The PMA will get the 'Starr treatment' when Stephen Starr, the culinary impressario, takes over the museum's cafe and restaurant next month. He'll also operate the cafe in the Perelman Building.

About time.

All of the museum's feeding and watering areas and catering services have been under contract for past 16 years to Restaurant Associates, a New York outfit that has treated food service at the PMA with little or no culinary imagination and derring-do. Think automat.

Enter the Starr-man. Whether Starr deserves one to five stars for his other 13 local foodie enterprises (the Parc, on Rittenhouse Square is one of my favourites) is best left up to the critics. But no one can fault him for lacking inspired themes and creative prop-driven environments. (The Parc looks like it was moved hook, line, and baguette from Boule Mich). Expect high-style artsy.

A Brush Job
Museum Mile's gateway at PAFA, in what will be the new Lenfest Plaza between the the museum's Frank Furness-designed main building and its satellite Hamilton Building, will be Broad-brushed. Angled precariously at a 60-degree angle over Broad Street, a 53-foot high sculpture of a paintbrush will be featured.

The sculpture, to be done by Claes Oldenburg, will be an instant public art icon, as Oldenburg's Clothespin, installed in 1976, has become. Similarly, his Split Button, at the Penn's University City campus, has become a campus centre-piece. And Robert Indiana's Love sculpture that transformed a less-than-lovely Centre City rock pile into Love Park.

I like the sculpture's whimsy, as well. A dollop of 'paint' will will be on the ground below the brush.

Bravo PMA!

No financials were announced by the museum.