The Philadelphia Museum of Art is all decked out for the holidays, along with other Philadelphia art galleries and institutions, which are hosting festive holiday art events and exhibits. (Photo courtesy Philadelphia Museum of Art)
[With so much happening on Philadelphia’s arts and culture scene, we want to make Uwishunu, in conjunction with sister site With Art Philadelphia, your one-stop-shop for all that’s happening with local art. Every month, we gather our top art picks, featuring exhibits and events at both smaller, alternative galleries and art spaces, as well as at the city’s major art institutions. Be sure to check them out for yourself.]
Whether you’re expecting carats or coal this holiday season, help speed up the countdown by treating yourself to a month’s worth of cultural diversions.
Below, unwrap our picks for December’s best art happenings around the city:
• Park House Holiday Trolley Tour at Fairmount Park: December 1-9, 10 a.m.-12:15 p.m., Fairmount Park, $40 ($32 members). This December, take a note from Judy Garland and chug away on your own winter trolley ride. Presented by the Philadelphia Museum of Art, this guided tour will lead you through historical homes with ties stretching from Ben Franklin to Benedict Arnold.
• Workshops at Candy Coated: December 1-15, Candy Coated Center, 118 N. 3rd Street, $180. If you ever feel that art’s attitude is ‘look but don’t touch,’ get in on the action. This December, master printer Candy Coated offers workshops in “Intro to Screen Printing” and “Fabric Yardage Printing.” Learn how to transfer your brain doodles onto fabric and present your friends with stationary and t-shirts of your own design this holiday season.
• Craft of Candy at Philadelphia Art Alliance: December 5, 7 p.m., Philadelphia Art Alliance, 251 S. 18th Street, $15 general admission, PAA members receive a $5 discount. If you can hear the names Franklin Fountain and Shane Confectionery without your mouth watering, it might be time to introduce yourself to the sweeter side of life. A lecture and presentation with Ryan Berley, co-owner of the two Philadelphia ventures, takes your tastebuds on a tour through local candy history. Expect more than a gold star at the end of this lecture; all attendees receive chocolate and a clear toy from Shane’s.
• 125th Anniversary Open House at Penn Museum: December 6, 10 am-10pm, Penn Museum, 3260 South Street, Free. Mingle with mummies in a behind-the-scenes look at the conservation process. Put on your Indiana Jones-style thinking cap as you listen to “reports from the field” excavation talks. Travel the past by flashlight with evening tours of the Egyptian and Mediterranean galleries. With free admission, 10% off all purchases in the museum and shop, and hot cider and cookies in the Café, you won’t want to play hooky from this museum trip.
• Philly Photo Day at Philadelphia Photo Arts Center: Opening December 6, Philadelphia Photo Arts Center, 1400 N. American Street, Suite 103. Whether or not you had a chance to snag a picture of your favorite local spot on Philly Photo Day this October, the 1,800 photograph exhibition is well worth a visit by anyone proud to call Philly home. With shots of the city taken from so many perspectives, the show is like a personalized game of “Where’s Waldo?,” where mystery identities of streets and buildings put your local knowledge to the test.
• First Friday Night at the Barnes: December 7, 8-10 p.m., The Barnes Foundation, 2025 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, $20 (free for members). If you’re a First Friday aficionado, but find the thought of gallery hopping in the winter weather a bit intimidating, then spend the night indoors at The Barnes Foundation. Not only will you have the chance to browse the Barnes art collection, but drink specials and entertainment, along with a chamber orchestra performance for early birds who show up at 6 p.m., are enough to keep you glad you stayed in one spot.
Six more With Art Picks are below.
• SPEAKEASY: Soirée and Silent Auction at Christ Church Neighborhood House: December 7, 7-11 p.m., Christ Church Neighborhood House, 20 N. American Street, $20 members, $30 non-members. If you didn’t get the chance to swing over to the recent 1920s events at the Rodin Museum and the National Constitution Center, then December offers you another day to don your swankiest attire. With live music, prizes, and an open bar, this party offers enough perks to turn a black-and-white silent film green with envy. Proceeds support AIGA Philadelphia SPACE.
• M’ow M’rrrrrrow at Gravy Studio: Opening December 7, Gravy Studio, 2212 Sepviva Street, Free. If you’ve exhausted the Internet’s collection of cats, stop by Gravy Studio for the opening of an exhibition by photographer Dustin Fenstermacher. Gathered while traveling through the show cat circuit, his whimsical collection of felines frustrated by pampered pre-show preparations might even make Tard the Grumpy Cat crack a smile. There will be an opening reception on December 7, 6:30–9:30 p.m.
• 2012 Holiday Showcase at Light Room Gallery: Opening December 7, Light Room Gallery, 2024 Wallace Street, Free. If you find your holiday spirit sagging under the weight of gift-shopping stress, stop by the opening reception of an exhibition of holiday-themed photography, 5–9 p.m. at the Fairmount gallery. You’ll find more than just snapshots of snow-coated Philly streets; a selection of artist series greeting cards benefits the Gift of Life Family House, which provides support for organ transplant patients and their families.
• Art Auction 2012 at Space 1026: Opening December 7, Space 1026, 1026 Arch Street, Free. The annual art auction benefiting the member-run gallery and collective studio in Chinatown kicks off this year with a week-long series of events. Dance the night away with a Cruel Summer winter formal, spruce up your winter wardrobe with a screenprinting workshop, watch an experimental video by Space 1026 members, and more. Then, on Friday, December 14, snag some art of your own at the main event. All bids start at $5.
• Made in America at PAFA: December 13, 6-9 p.m., PAFA, 118-128 N. Broad Street, $10 in advance, $15 at the door. In conjunction with the current exhibition of Frank Furness’s architectural drawings, December’s PAFA After Dark celebrates American industry. Delve into architectural history while sampling two of the finest products our nation has to offer – jazz and cocktails from Art in the Age.
• Chinatown North Arts Crawl at Asian Arts Initiative: December 14, 6-9 p.m., Asian Arts Initiative, 1219 Vine Street. If you haven’t yet ventured beyond the Old City art gallery circuit, this art crawl gives you a chance to expand your horizons. Start with an exhibition and live music at Asian Arts, then wind your way through a maze of arts galleries till the final stop with performances at Underground Arts. Weary wanderers will have a chance to refresh themselves with drink specials at Trestle Inn.