The City of Brotherly Love welcomes the City of Lights for the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts (PIFA), a month-long festival celebrating Parisian art and culture from the first two decades of the 20th century.
Because most Philadelphians primarily focus on their city’s sports teams, PIFA is determined to spotlight the city’s art and culture—even if it means lighting a newly-constructed 81-foot high replica of the Eiffel Tower in the Kimmel Center lobby twice a night for a month.
Festival events will be held at multiple dates, times, and places in the city, with both reoccurring and special one-time-only happenings. And with more than 135 events and 1,500 artists featured, there is more than enough to satisfy even the pickiest Philadelphian-Parisian.
The lightshow of the Eiffel Tower is an example of the repeated events, as it occurs every night at 7 and 10 p.m. Similarly, live musical performances, French food and wine tastings, and 10-minute French lessons are also available for free every day or night at the Kimmel Center.
French operas and symphonies will be performed by local groups such as the Philadelphia Orchestra and students from the University of the Arts. Several events are focused around famed artist Marc Chagall, such as an exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art titled “Paris Through the Window: Marc Chagall and his Circle”; even better, tickets to this exhibit will have a 25 percent discount with any PIFA ticket purchase.
Here are our picks:
Monday to Friday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Leonard Pearlstein Gallery
Fear not, busy Drexel students, for some aspects of the PIFA celebration can be found on this very campus. The Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design hosts this exhibition on period clothing and accessories, all part of the Drexel Historic Costume Collection.
The historical period in which the pieces of this exhibit were worn is was a very important time in the fashion world as corsets were lost, skirts were shortened, and colored fabric became preferred amongst women of considerable social status. Whether you’re a dedicated lover of fashion or just someone who needs time to kill between classes, “Brave New World” is a quick and easy way to inject some culture into an otherwise drab daily routine.
Through August 28, the Rosenbach Museum and Library
Tues & Fri noon to 5:00 p.m., Wed & Thurs noon to 8:00 p.m., Sat & Sun noon to 6:00 p.m.
Tickets: $5 – $10
James Joyce may be the author whose novel Ulysses uses over 265,000 words to describe a day in a character’s life, but this exhibit is a multimedia one that uses photographs, personal belongings and artifacts to describe the Irish author’s twenty year residency in Paris during the early 20th century.
Key pieces to this exhibit include pages from the manuscript to Ulysses, Man Ray’s iconic photographic portrait of Joyce, and a first edition of Ulysses smuggled out of Paris and into the United States for Dr. Rosenbach in 1922.
You don’t have to be an English major for this exhibit, but an interest in Joyce and his literature would certainly add to the experience.
Fridays through April 29 at noon, Kimmel Center Plaza
The Free at Noon concert series, which are sponsored by WXPN and are usually held from noon to 1 p.m. at Philly’s World Cafe Live, will be hosted every Friday at the Kimmel Center Plaza for the month of April as part of PIFA.
For this Friday’s concert—which, as the title shows, is both free and at noon—on April 15th, folksy singer-songwriter Eilen Jewell will be performing.
Each Free at Noon performer is announced a week before the concert. Past performers at the Free at Noon series include the Cold War Kids, Bobby Long, and Kurt Vile. WXPN is a public radio station run by the University of Pennsylvania that is known for playing alternative music.
Sunday, April 17 at 8 p.m., Verizon Hall, Kimmel Center
Tickets: $35 – $65
Ahmir “?uestlove” Thompson: a name known by many but pronounced by few. The famed producer and drummer of the Philly hip-hop band the Roots—you know, the house band on NBC’s Late Night with Jimmy Fallon—will be playing his take on early 1900s Paris, which fuses his hip-hop background and modern instrumentation with classical period composers such as Debussy and Stravinsky. Keren Ann, an internationally renowned singer, will be adding her vocals to the mix. As if that wasn’t experimental and artistic enough, the words of famous 1920s Paris expatriates such as James Joyce and Ernest Hemingway will also be added to the boiling pot of ?uestlove’s set.
Additionally, after the presentation ?uestlove will be playing a special festival DJ set in the Kimmel Center’s Perelman Theater. Local DJ favorites Rich Medina and DJ AfroDJiak will also have their turns at the turntable. Keep in mind that this is a Sunday night … and also that this is ?uestlove of the Roots.
An event as grand as PIFA is as rare and historic as the time period the festival celebrates, with local organizations of all sizes and artistic backgrounds coming together in a way that has not yet been seen by the city and is likely not to be seen again for a while.
So put down that cheesesteak and come down to the Kimmel Center to pick up a crêpe or two. Bring some amis with you,and maybe even a French poodle if you have one. Berets optional, of course. After all, this festival only lasts a few more weeks, but at least you’ll always have Philly-Paris.
Tickets and event details can be found on the official PIFA website.
Alissa Falcone is a freshman Communications Major at Drexel University.
Photo by Rusty Kennedy for PIFA.