Last weekend I had visitors. One of my colleagues, MA, and her daughter, MAjr, were here. MAjr had a dance audition on Saturday morning at a local university downtown. The audition seemed to go well, but you never can tell with these things. Supposedly they’ll notify the students in 2 weeks whether they got in or not, so cross your fingers (and toes) she gets in!!
Anyway, while MAjr danced, MA and I walked around Center City for a bit. The day was bright, sunny and clear, but it was a bit chilly with the wind. Still, nice for walking, especially in the sun. We walked to City Hall, took the obligatory tourist photo of MA in front of the LOVE sculpture in JFK Plaza/LOVE Park with the Philadelphia Museum of Art in the distance, and then wandered down to Rittenhouse Square. While we were petting dogs up for adoption (volunteers with eligible dogs wearing the orange “adopt me!” vests appear at random around the city), MAjr called to let us know she was done and to meet her back at the main hall. Her timing was a good thing. I don’t think Aussie would have appreciated it if I had come home with a new sibling for her (best to not upset the household balance the two of us have) and those dogs were so cute…ah well.
After a trip back home so MAjr could shower and change, we decided to go to the Philadelphia Museum of Art for the afternoon to see the Frida Kahlo exhibit (it’s been on my list!). We were joined by MAjr’s friend S. S’s dad J generously drove us to the museum and even offered to see if he could use his company discount to get us in. Unfortunately, discounts don’t apply to traveling exhibits, but we had a random confluence of luck that ended with us acquiring 4 tickets for only $20 (normally $20 each!)! As we were getting in line, a woman stopped us and said that they had two extra tickets they’d sell for half price. MA and I said great! There’s two tickets for only $20. But we still needed tickets for the girls. We got in line, and as we approached the counter, MA saw a $10 bill lying on the ground. She picked it up and handed it to the women behind the counter, telling them to put it in the donations box or something (have I mentioned MA is a sweetheart and very honest? well, she is!). As we were figuring out the two remaining tickets (the entrance time, etc.), a member walked up and turned in two tickets (members get free tickets) that they didn’t use. The woman the member gave them to then handed them to us and said enjoy! Wow! Talk about luck! [Side note: I think maybe we should have bought a lottery ticket with all that luck…]
Anyway, we had about 30 minutes before our scheduled entrance time, so MA and I headed for the 12th Century European art, and the girls split and went for the modern and contemporary collection. We agreed to meet up after we’d been through the Kahlo exhibit and then we’d go get dinner. 12th Century European art is largely religious and religious influenced, and includes many church commissioned pieces. Some of the stained glass is so beautiful, and the woodworking extraordinary. After a brief wander and some gaping at the reconstructed stone arches, MA and I headed off to get in line for Frida.
I was beyond excited when I heard the Frida Kahlo exhibit created in honor of the 100th anniversary of her birth would be coming to Philadelphia. I’m a huge fan of Frida, and have been since high school when I had an art teacher tell me I kind of looked like her. When I asked who she was, he told me to go look her up (what a good educator, no?). So I did. And I fell in love. The movie Frida with Salma Hayek was very true to her life, having been based on the biography by Hayden Herrera (which yes, I do own and have read). Frida Kahlo was a fascinating woman, a feminist before feminism. And her paintings are such intense self studies. Her eye was unflinching, exposing everything in her art. MA said at the end of the exhibit that she was exhausted and drained from the intensity of it all. I’d have to agree.
The exhibit itself was incredible. It included a free audio tour, which normally I avoid, but decided to try since it included commentary from Herrera, various artists, and the exhibit curator. The audio did a wonderful job of putting her paintings in context with what was going on in her life at the time they were created. In addition to the paintings, the exhibit included many photographs from Frida’s personal albums, many never seen by the public before. Many had scrawled notes/commentaries written on them by Frida, offering even more insight into her life. As MA said, the exhibit was intense, offering the most complete picture of her life possible through the combination of audio, photographs and her paintings. Well put together, well organized, and absolutely amazing.
Overall, I’d say the exhibit is more than worth the $20 entrance fee. Even if you aren’t a huge Frida fan like I am it’s definitely worth the $20. I could have spent another couple of hours wandering and just staring at everything. I even learned a few things by having them put in context through the audio tour. And I really want to go back and see it again before it leaves May 18th.
We met up with the girls again and after a few photos on the Museum steps decided to head down to South Street for some dinner and wandering. S’s dad J had finished his errands, and once again generously offered to act as chauffeur and drive us there and then decided to join us. We opted for cheesesteaks at Gianna’s Grille, agreeing that since it was the first trip to Philly for MAjr, cheesesteaks were a necessity. Gianna’s is a bit of a dive, but their food is consistently decent, and they have the option of getting fries with Old Bay seasoning (which I love). After a tasty dinner of cheesesteaks and fries, we wandered up and down South Street for the better part of 2 hours, window shopping and chatting. MA even did a little bit of gift/souvenir shopping.
It was a wonderful day. I had such a good time with everyone. I can only hope that MAjr gets in to the university so MA is forced to visit more often!