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The Fabric Workshop and Museum was founded in 1977 as a way to combine world-class artistic collaborations with community outreach and education. (Photo: Steve Legato for The New York Times)
When it rains, geysers of water have been known to erupt from the floor drains of the art collective here known as Fluxspace, which makes its home in a mammoth former textile mill in the northern part of the city. The building has no air-conditioning, and on the harshest winter days its heating system borders on notional. It’s also a bear to find: one morning this week a taxi driver on his way to it ended up taking several unintended detours down trash-filled alleys, cursing the calm voice issuing from his dashboard G.P.S.
But the three-year-old collective is becoming known in the Philadelphia art world for its monthly exhibitions of work by its members and other artists. And “we actually get awesome turnout for our shows, considering the location and everything,” said Danielle Ruttenberg, one of 25 young artists who either pay for raw studio space in the building or take on chores in exchange for it. (The current exhibition, of bird-centric prints and drawings by a local artist named Tory Franklin, continues through Sept. 13.)
I had sought out Fluxspace at the beginning of Day 2 of a thoroughly idiosyncratic personal art tour (with some good eating woven in) of a city that has emerged, especially over the last decade, as a lively and unpredictable place to see new art.
There is a particularly Philadelphian brand of hardy, low-budget, do-it-yourself, do-it-for-love creativeness evident in art and art spaces across the city. It is a climate that, as new as it sometimes feels, has been embodied and nurtured for decades by organizations like two I included on my itinerary: the Fabric Workshop and Museum, founded in 1977 as a way to combine world-class artistic collaborations with community outreach and education, and the Mural Arts Program, which grew out of the city’s anti-graffiti efforts and has worked with neighborhood residents and artists for 25 years to create more than 2,800 towering murals on walls throughout the city.
New York Times
LEFT: Abu Dhabi performing arts centre now, and RIGHT: in 2013 Photo: Zaha Hadid Architects
Just off the coast of Abu Dhabi is a small, sandy atoll. Surrounded by clear turquoise water, turtles and porpoises, this flat, barren little island was once home to nothing more than weekend campers, boat parties and water-skiers. But Saadiyat – which means “island of happiness” – is adjacent to the world’s richest city, and is being given a $27billion makeover in a bid to recast Abu Dhabi as a cultural mecca.
By 2013, the capital of the United Arab Emirates will boast an offshoot of the Louvre, a new Guggenheim museum, a National Museum inspired by the British Museum, a performing arts centre designed by the British-Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid, several art schools, and various pavilions and other cultural franchises that will be able to host temporary exhibitions from around the world. A 10-lane bridge will bring millions of visitors to this meticulously planned development. More than 40 million people travel through the UAE each year; there is a market to be seized.
Two internationally renowned architects, including Pritzker Architecture Prize winner Zaha Hadid, will design temporary pavilions in Millennium Park to serve as focal points for next year’s regionwide celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Burnham Plan, the visionary document that changed the face of Chicago.
The Iraqi-born, London-based Hadid, who in 2004 became the first woman to win the Pritzker, is best known for fluid, dynamic forms that pack swirling energy, such as her new covered-bridge pavilion at an international exposition in the Spanish city of Zaragoza.
Ben van Berkel, who heads the Amsterdam-based firm called UNStudio, has turned heads with structures such as the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart, Germany, a striking showroom for cars and trucks that consists of two spiral ramps in the form of a double-helix.
How these two paragons of the avant-garde will come to terms with the late Chicago architect and planner Daniel Burnham, a committed classicist who sought to transform rough-edged Chicago into a civilized Paris on the Prairie, is anybody’s guess…
Unveiled in 1909 and formally known as the Plan of Chicago, the Burnham Plan led to the creation of such local landmarks as Navy Pier, North Michigan Avenue, double-deck Wacker Drive and the city’s continuous chain of lakefront parks. Also cited as a key generating factor in the creation of the Cook County forest preserves, the Burnham Plan is widely credited with founding the field of modern city planning.
The pavilions, which will be the site of exhibits and events about the Burnham Plan and current visions for the region, are to be located on the south side of Millennium Park’s Chase Promenade, not far from the Crown Fountain and its raucous reflecting pool.