Friday, August 13, 2010

The Bride's Neighbor

Had I not looked up I wouldn't have seen him. At first I thought it was a person on the fire escape of the building next to The Painted Bride Art Center. He is the purveyor of artistic history being made there - very fitting since he is himself artistic history. The Bride's mission statement says it all:

Bride Mission

The Painted Bride Art Center collaborates with emerging and established artists to create, produce and present innovative work that affirms the intrinsic value of all cultures and celebrates the transformative power of the arts. Through performances and exhibitions, education and outreach, the Bride creates a forum for engagement centered on contemporary social issues.

Bride History

Founded in 1969 by a group of visual artists who had recently graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts, the Painted Bride Art Center is a presenting arts organization located in Old City, Philadelphia. The Bride is part of the Alternative Art Space movement, which is a small genre of cultural organization in America that grew from a movement in the late 1960s and early 1970s. This movement sought to establish organizations where artists had greater control over the presentation of their work and were able to present the work of the underrepresented in commercial or larger established institutions such as women, people of color, gay and lesbian artists and the disabled. The Bride has evolved into an innovative, internationally recognized, artist-centered, multi-disciplinary institution.

The artistic goals of the Bride are to: provide a laboratory for “exchanging and exploring” ideas; support the creation of new work; collaborate and work with Philadelphia artists in creating and presenting new work; showcase new work that provides opportunities for community exchange and encourages activities and dialog beyond the stage or gallery; expose audiences to a deeper understanding of the artistic process; and advocate for artists and assist in furthering their careers.

...As the avant-garde has evolved to include more issue-oriented work, so have the efforts of the Bride evolved. The Bride is especially committed to Philadelphia-based artists and to linking them to community groups and issues.

...For 40 years the Painted Bride Art Center has remained an artist-centered space committed to the artistic process, the artist’s role in the community, and diversity. The Bride continues to address the needs of the Philadelphia’s artistic communities while remaining a strongly mission-driven organization.

In just the few weeks since I have been in Philly I have become aware of many more alternative exhibition spaces of all kinds, some a few years old, some just starting. I wonder if The Bride set the template 40 years ago. I feel at home.

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