We’ve moved!

Posted August 29, 2008 by Dan Pohlig
Categories: Last Post

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After several months of camping out on WHYY.org’s front lawn, we are taking this blog into the house.  Starting now… no nnnnow.  Ok, nnnnow.

So for all of the Arts and Culture reporting, commentary and discussion you want, check out The Sixth Square at whyy.org.  There’s a feed on the page so you can subscribe to get all of the latest updates right to your blog reader. For those of you who want the whole url, it is: http://whyy.org/blogs/thesixthsquare/

Hopefully we’ll be able to continue some of the exciting discussions that we’ve had about Temple’s new art school campus, the American Revolution Center at Valley Forge National Historical Park and the various television shows that I happen to like (maybe).

We’ll also be bringing in some new bloggers to fold to talk about anything and everything artsy and cultural-y.

So come on in.  Pour yourself a drink.  Light up your cigar and lets talk culture!

These aren’t your typical Sesame Street puppets

Posted August 26, 2008 by Dan Pohlig
Categories: Performing Arts

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Usually when folks think of WHYY and puppets, they think of some talkative little creatures with an inclination towards letters, numbers, near and far.

In a feature for WHYY’s Arts and Culture Desk, Alex Schmidt visited with some of the performers – both human and otherwise – who will taking part in the Philly Fringe. Apparently, puppet-using performers face a little bit of dilemma – to categorize themselves as puppet theater or just theater. Alex talks with folks on both sides of that choice and finds out what inspires them to be “puppet practitioners.”

In addition to recording the audio that went into the piece, Alex also shot some video so that you can get a sense of what these puppets look like. Meet Venus, Eve and… a… giant squid:

For children in LGBTQ families – a safe haven

Posted August 21, 2008 by Dan Pohlig
Categories: This Philadelphia Culture

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WHYY’s Alexis Landis visited Mountain Meadow Summer Camp, a camp for kids who are from LGBTQ (that’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer) families or who are themselves LGBTQ.

You can click on this link to catch the story, which ran this afternoon WHYY.

The story was co-produced by WHYY’s John Sheehan.

They also brought back some photos from their visit and assembled them in a slide show:

Next generation of radio stars!

Posted August 18, 2008 by Dan Pohlig
Categories: This Philadelphia Culture

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I’m a little late in posting this to The Sixth Square, but on Friday, Alex Schmidt did a quick story about a program headed up by the Asian Arts Initiative:

Chinatown Youth Radio Philadelphia (ChYRP) is an intensive, 3-week summer experience for high school students to create a blog and podcast featuring radio stories of Philadelphia Chinatown. During the course of this summer pilot program, youth learned the skills involved in creating a radio story, engaging community members, and the new media technology involved in radio podcasting.

Her story includes some cuts from the work done by the youth radio stars.  Unfortunately, the listening party to celebrate their work came and went on Friday evening and I can’t seem to find any links to their stories or podcasts.  Hopefully those are available or will be available soon.  If I find them (or if someone can post the links in the comments) I’ll be sure to share them.

Hardhat tour of the new Tyler School of Art

Posted August 15, 2008 by Dan Pohlig
Categories: Art Education

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[UPDATE: Hi folks.  I’m loving that this post and issue is generating such a great discussion.  Just want to let you know that we’ve moved The Sixth Square to WHYY’s server.  Please consider continuing discussion of this story at its new home.  Click here to read the post and comment.  Thanks! – Dan P.]

Temple University’s Tyler School of Art is currently ranked in the top 15 art schools in the country. It’s about to make the move from its suburban setting in Elkins Park to join the rest of the Temple Campus in North Philadelphia.  From WHYY’s Arts and Culture desk, Alex Schmidt took a tour of the new facility with the architect. Here is a a slideshow of Alex’s tour.  Read the story below.

For more descriptions of these photos, check out our Flickr set.

Listen to this story here.

Carlos Jimenez, the architect of the new Tyler School of Art, only makes it out to Philadelphia from his home in Texas once a month to check on the progress of his building. In the few days he spends on site, he scrutinizes every detail of the construction.

“It looks like they’re making good progress here,” he says, pointing to one of several areas that is getting closer to completion in anticipation of the school’s mid-fall opening.

Jimenez is an award-winning architect who is on the faculty of Rice University.  He has built other art schools and museums but at 250,000 square feet, Tyler is by far the largest.  It accommodates several sub-departments – photography, graphics, ceramics, printing, metal, fiber, painting and drawing, sculpture, and glass blowing.  Jimenez’s challenge was to connect all of those into one whole, within a strict space, and on a tight budget.

“It has been a rewarding job but also a difficult job. You want to do lots of things and there are always lots of limits. The difficult thing is how to balance all those aspects of a job that by nature is highly complex,” he explains.

According to the construction schedule, there are only two months left until the art school is set to be completed.

The entrance, which will be a staircase flanked by sloping lawns, is still a mountain of dirt. But inside you can start to see what a Tyler student will experience.

Continuing the tour, Jimenez explains the idea behind the entrance.

“We are now in the main lobby. The idea that everybody comes to this passageway, and you right away are encountering this very dramatic circulation point,” he says.

An even more dramatic passageway with 30-foot high ceilings leads out from the lobby and into the school. On one side of this hall is a wall of enormous windows looking out on what will be the largest green space on Temple’s campus. Opposite the windows, there are wide, rectangular columns painted a bright green.

“You know color is a way of enlarging the limit of a budget because what i mean by that is you still have to paint these walls, but it doesn’t have to be white. For instance, these are mechanical shafts. All of these green areas have functions that are particular objective,” Jimenez says as he points out the columns.

Here on the ground floor are the most heavy duty studios — glass blowing and sculpture. At the end of the long passageway, you ascend a staircase to the second floor — for graphics, metals, fiber and printing. Jimenez calls the very top floor, which is the space for drawing and painting, the attic. You can see the shape of the sloping angle of the roof, as you would in a house’s attic. Only this attic has floor to ceiling windows looking out on a sprawling city view. North Philadelphia looks both urban and bucolic from up here, with trees peeking out between the buildings.

“This is the longest north elevation on the entire campus. And the purpose of that was that they get this even light,” he says, “all the studios face north. If you place them on the east, you have dead light in the afternoon. On the west you have the opposite.”

One of the biggest challenges for Jimenez has been creating a building that is inspirational to artists without over-asserting its own design. Down on the lower ground level, where the photography studios are, we came across a strange, acutely angled corner. I asked Jimenez what would go in it.

“The question you raise is an interesting one, because it’s for them to take over,” he answers.

“It’s for the artist to come up with the next stage of the architecture. If I were an artist and I come in here and I see that, then I would do something with that wall. The architecture is there for you to participate in, or to ignore if you want to. That’s sort of what i always hoped to achieve with this building.”

Faculty will start moving into the new building in October.  Students will start using it – or not using it – in January.

Attack* of the women’s sabre fencers.

Posted August 12, 2008 by Shai Ben-Yaacov
Categories: Fencing

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You may or may not have heard that the first Olympic gold medal awarded to an American was in women’s sabre – and the U.S. swept the event, picking up the silver and bronze as well.  While the U.S.’s lack of a long history of fencing and pedigree in most of the weapons means they don’t often contend for a medal, the States were well ahead of the curve training young women to fence sabre, resulting in total dominance in these early years of international women’s sabre.

Mariel Zagunis, once again showing she’s at her best when the cameras are on her, beat her teammate, number one ranked Sada Jacobson.  Jacobson was widely expected to win the gold when women’s sabre first became an Olympic event in Athens, but she lost her semi-final bout to Tan Xue of China.  Zagunis snatched the first women’s sabre gold ever awarded without facing her higher ranked teammate in the final legs of the competition.  I can only surmise that Sada was more than a little dissatisfied with the bronze, and some of my own fencing friends were convinced that had she fenced Mariel, she would have beaten her.

Little did we know that that very scenario would play out at this games…in the gold medal bout, no less… and that Mariel would put a thorough beating on her teammate (final score 15-8, but honestly, it could have been even more lopsided).  This is now a true rivalry between two American fencers contending for the top spot on the world stage…something I’ve certainly never seen before.  Throw into the mix 18-year-old fencing phenom Becca Ward, and you’ve got an American contingent that dominates the way the Italians dominate women’s foil (they did not sweep this year, by the way, but Valentina Vezzali, probably the best women’s foil fencer since women were fencing in those funny looking bloomers, won her third straight olympic gold).

By the way, here’s NBC’s story about the Americans sweeping women’s sabre.

*Attack [verb/noun]: Movement towards your opponent with intent to hit (In foil and sabre, initiating the attack carries with it the “right” to hit one’s opponent.  The other fencer needs to defend the attack in some way to gain the right of way.)

Advancing* your sports knowledge.

Posted August 12, 2008 by Shai Ben-Yaacov
Categories: Fencing

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Wow. Where do I start. I guess a good beginning would be why I would want to blog about fencing.

I’ve been fencing since I was twelve, competing locally and nationally, and was a starter on the Brandeis University fencing team. Since college, I’ve been fencing consistently, though not competing anymore. I also taught fencing for two summers at a local summer camp.

What is fencing? If I started to answer that question, this blog would become a book. I think rather than try to explain the rules, the actions, the three weapons, etc…, I’ll direct you to one of probably a hundred sites that do this more precisely than I can. Here it is.

So since I’ve started (religiously) watching the fencing events at this Olympics, I’ve had quite a bit to talk about with my wife (also a fencer) and brother (him too) regarding interesting bouts, personalities, updates to the sport, exposure of the sport, etc… One recent morning, Jennifer Lynn pointed out that many of the offhanded comments I’ve made while watching the events might be of interest to the fencing and non-fencing communities alike.  So here we go…hope I’m not being too tedious about anything (feel free to ream me out if I am).

For the next few days at least, I’ll post my thoughts on the competition (four events have already happened) and about what’s interesting about this latest forum for fencing on the world stage. Hope you enjoy it.

*Advance [verb/noun]: forward movement in fencing consisting of an initial step with the front foot followed by a step with the back foot, starting and finishing in the en garde position.