Posted tagged ‘whyy’

These aren’t your typical Sesame Street puppets

August 26, 2008

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

August 21, 2008

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:

Hardhat tour of the new Tyler School of Art

August 15, 2008

[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.

Advancing* your sports knowledge.

August 12, 2008

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.

A Complete List of 2008 Barrymore Award Nominees

August 7, 2008

WHYY’s Alex Schmidt filed a story about last night’s announcement of the 2008 Barrymore Awards.  In the piece she references several of the theater companies which are in line for the most awards.  After the jump, you can see the complete list of nominees.

[Source: The Theatre Alliance of Greater Philadelphia]


Looking to DC for a model of bike sharing

August 5, 2008

The Sixth Square is WHYY’s arts and culture blog.  Culture can include a lot of things.

For example, Philadelphia has a thriving “bike culture.”  To some cycling approached a belief system while others pick up a bike every so often for a nice ride or to get some exercise and of course, many people fall somewhere between.

Those who count themselves among this “bike culture” may be getting some new neighbors soon if attempts to start a bike sharing program are successful here in Philadelphia.  Bike sharing, popular for several years in Europe, is coming to America.  WHYY’s Bill Hangley recently did a story about how Philadelphia is looking to Washington DC’s new program to see whether bike sharing can work here.

Bill talked to some advocates of the program who are skeptical that DC’s program can work since it’s on such a small scale.’s blog, The 13th Floor, agrees that DC’s program has some flaws:

But there’s one aspect of the program that just might doom it altogether. From DCist:

It takes at least a couple of weeks to process memberships, so if you sign up today, you can be one of the first people to try out the new program.

“At least a couple of weeks”?? I’m sure people are excited about the notion of being about to grab a bike and go, but won’t a two- or three-week wait be a huge discouraging factor?

For this to work in Philadelphia, it has to be easy to use, convenient, inexpensive and reliable.  The stations need to be everywhere and there has to be bikes available at all of them.  In other words, when it comes to bike sharing, go big or go home.

Encouraging an expansion of Philly’s “bike culture” can only help in the long run.

Breaking News: Nutter announced head of Office of Arts and Culture

July 18, 2008

WHYY’s Elizabeth Fiedler did a story for this morning’s edition of… uh… Morning Edition about an impending announcement by the Nutter Administration on the new Arts and Culture Tsar.

Well, the announcement has been made and… ok, they’re not calling him a Tsar.  They go with a much less russified title – Chief Cultural Officer.  The lucky winner is: Gary Steuer, formerly Vice President of the New York based non-profit Americans for the Arts. He starts in October.

The entire press release can be found after the jump.

In Liz’s story, she talks to well known blogger and art critic Roberta Fallon, whose blog makes frequent appearances in this blog because, well, she knows a LOT about the region’s art scene.  (While I tend to be more of an expert of “culture”… as in pop culture… as in reality television and Judd Apatow movies.)

I absolutely love that Liz got one of the stars of the blogosphere for her story instead of one of the usual suspects in the institutional art world.

(Edited to Add) One more thought.  I love that the city has acknowledged the importance of the arts by providing some support for arts and culture with the establishment of this office.  However, I worry a little about the constant pounding by both the city and “institutional” arts advocates about the “economic benefits” of arts and culture.  If the arts – performing, visual, and otherwise – did not bring in any cash for the local economy, wouldn’t it still be important to show support for artists?

I suppose if the city has to justify the use of tax dollars to support art by calling it an “investment” with a monetary “return” then that’s what it has to do.  But it should be enough to say, “Hey!  Having great art in this city makes us all a little more well-rounded, smarter and just better citizens.”

It has been said time and again.  A great city has great art.