Justin "Jay P." Pross, founder of Art History 101, combines fashion with artwork in his customized T-shirts, outerwear, and accessories for men and women. Each item of apparel is handcrafted in Philadelphia and sold throughout the nation—even capturing the attention of The Game, Method Man, Daddy Yankee, and Soulja Boy, who have worn Jay P.'s work during photo shoots or on MTV.
For many galleries, art is something that resides behind a velvet rope, separated and unaccessible to its viewers. For the curators of Abington Art Center, it is something to be experienced, enjoyed, and, above all, created oneself. Located on the 27-acre expanse of Alverthorpe Manor, the center hosts classes and workshops for students of all ages and exhibitions of community artists. The outdoor Sculpture Park captures the center's sense of playful creation, inviting sculptors to craft their own temporary installations each year—this also helps erase the temptation to carve a mustache into a nearby town's statue of its mayor. The guest artists are encouraged to have their creations respond to the nature around them, such as massive faces carved from tree trunks. Inside the mansion, one can find galleries of young creators and solo exhibitions by professional artists.
The second annual Philly F/M Festival culls hordes of independent films and live music, emphasizing the interplay of the two media. Thursday night hosts the event's kick-off party as Philadelphia Slick douses the crowd with waves of toe-tapping beats and games of Simon Says. The neighborhood's lights dim on Friday as the film screenings begin at 7 p.m. with Sound It Out, a phonetically precise documentary that chronicles the last vinyl record shop in Teesside, England. Meet Me on South Street, The Story of JC Dobbs (September 24 at 6:30 p.m.) delves into Philadelphia's artistic subculture and underground crocheting scene from the 1970s to 1996 through the lens of one of its signature and now defunct musical establishments.
Before becoming a performance space, Grasso’s Magic Theatre was a cold storage facility, the building itself more than 100 years old and the stage area once housing an industrial freezer. After purchasing the building in 2001, Joe Grasso spent his nights and weekends renovating it, plying his abilities as a carpenter to refurbish and recycle unwanted building materials and furniture, from old theater curtains to the wooden pews used for seating. His son, Michael Grasso, was just starting a career in magic at the time, which recently culminated in a top-10 appearance on America’s Got Talent in 2010.
At Adventure Aquarium, patrons can not only look at sharks in a tank, but be surrounded by them. The Shark Realm exhibit allows visitors access to a 40-foot shark tunnel that houses over 25 sharks, including nurse sharks, sand tiger sharks, and sandbar sharks all within a 550,000-gallon tank. Guests can also visit the Ocean Realm exhibit to watch as the featured 7-foot great hammerhead shark swims through a 760,000-gallon tank.
Of course, Adventure Aquarium also houses a wide variety of marine animals. Their two Nile hippos each weigh in at approximately 3,000 pounds, and their mouths can open up to four feet?enough to swallow most wedding cakes in a single bite. At the aquarium's Hippo Haven, visitors marvel at these hippos as they plunge into the water and swim right up to the glass. The Jules Verne Gallery, meanwhile, houses a Giant Pacific octopus. This cephalopod stretches out eight tentacles, each covered in some 280 suction cups.
FringeArts doesn't just provide a soapbox for some of Philadelphia's most experimental performance companies and artists. It also introduces audiences to challenging and vibrant theatre, art, and music from around the world?all with the intent of creating dialogues that bridge cultural boundaries. The center achieves this through year-round programming but its core program is the annual Fringe Festival. Every September, this two-week celebration takes over the city with a year's worth of work from contemporary performers and visual artists from Philadelphia, New York City, and around the world. With no creative or curatorial restrictions, performers are free to take over traditional theatres or entire parts of the city. Events might include whimsical stage plays, art installations, or roving performances that transform streets and other buildings into stages.