The Print Center unveiled “Canicular,” a major new exhibition by New York artist Demetrius Oliver, on Thursday. The centerpiece of the art exhibition is a projected live feed of Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky, from a high-powered telescope on the roof of the Franklin Institute. “Canicular” will transform The Print Center’s galleries into an observatory, however, the exhibition will only be open for one hour a night and only then when weather is permitting (clear skies are required for viewing).
For several months Franklin Institute chief astronomer Derrick Pitts have worked in conjunction with the artist and curator John Caperton on this unique merger of art and science. “This is the kind of stuff that I’m always involved in doing: stuff that presses the envelope; stuff that hasn’t been done before; stuff that nobody really knows much about — and I love doing stuff that’s art connected to the sciences,” explained Pitts. “That’s why I got involved in this, because it’s art and science together. And so, the headaches and the roadblocks are, can we make this this kind of camera support this kind of image generation, you know, astronomical, can we make that kind of camera talk to this Internet system? And that is not easy.”
Oliver has become known for creating elegant, improvisatory, site-specific installations using photography, sculpture and video. Many of his works have included celestial imagery, metaphorically linking the moon (which is associated with the metal silver) and the silver process of traditional photography. For each exhibition opportunity presented to him, the artist has created a new piece, moving gracefully between media; he is gradually building an increasingly complex and resonant body of work.
The uwishunu.com site noted that the exhibition is “a departure from the long-established paper-based exhibitions at The Print Center, ‘Canicular’ (a term used to describe all things pertaining to dogs) questions just what constitutes a print, and ushers in a new era at the nearly century-old institution. To see the dog star in its exhibited form, visitors must arrive as Sirius rises in the night sky.”
“This is a component of it, but that’s the idea — is that they will be able to embrace this inside even though it is something outside,” continued Pitts. “It is always fun to try to do new stuff, different stuff, and the other aspect of it is it is meant to be another way to engage people in science and not to continue this crazy nonsense that science is separate from art and that kind of thing.”
A sign featuring a photographic image of dog fur created by Oliver, visible from the street, will be illuminated to announce when the exhibition is on view. An audio component, composed and performed by the artist on a dog whistle (and therefore inaudible to human ears), will also be broadcast from the front of the building during viewing times.
The “Demetrius Oliver: Canicular” exhibition will be on view at The Print Center, 1614 Latimer St., from Jan. 10-March 22. It is free and open to the public. Social media updates on both Twitter and Facebook will provide the most up-to-date information on weather reports and exhibition hours.
In a culture that perceives quitting as a last resort and urges us to hang in, “Mastering the Art of Quitting: Why It Matters in Life, Love, and Work” (Da Capo Lifelong Books) tackles our tendency to overanalyze, ruminate, and put a positive spin on goals that have outlived their usefulness. Best-selling author Peg Streep and psychotherapist Alan Bernstein demonstrate that persistence alone isn’t always the answer. We also need to be able to quit to get the most out of life. They reveal simple truths that apply to goal-setting and achievement in all areas of life, including love, relationships and work.
“We’re primed toward optimism, and culturally speaking we admire stick-to-itiveness,” said Bernstein. “Quitting should be an equal opportunity choice, and choosing to quit is not instinctive. We have to train ourselves away from the unconscious associations that quitting is for losers and a sign of weakness.”
Featuring compelling stories of people who successfully quit, along with helpful questionnaires and goal maps to guide you on the right path, “Mastering the Art of Quitting” allows readers to evaluate and rechart certain aspects of their lives.
“Rumination and self-doubt can be physically exhausting,” said Bernstein. “If you find yourself in an endless loop hoping for a positive outcome, it’s likely you’re operating in an energy deficit. Prolonged periods can impact your health, so watch your moods and physical sense of well-being. Are you routinely exhausted? Unable to enjoy activities other than prescribed ones? If so, you may be in a locked situation where you should consider whether quitting is a healthier choice. This doesn’t just apply to your habits — you can quit a job, a relationship or even a hobby that no longer fulfills you.”
Just thinking about the answers will give you insight into your ability to quit artfully and restart your life. “Culturally speaking, most advanced societies treasure the notion of improvement and mastery,” explained Bernstein. “Quitting interrupts that trope and forces us to evaluate our self-worth at a primal level: Are we failures? Do we lack the moral fiber to experience discomfort and maintain our position in life? Are we doomed to an ongoing series of failures and disruptions? The anxieties and fears raised by these associations may keep people locked into relationships or careers that are, in fact, troubling to their mental and physical well-being.”
For visitors wondering what’s new in Philadelphia in 2014, the short answer is: a lot. A long list of public spaces, exciting exhibitions, milestone birthdays and anniversaries and all-new attractions slated for completion in 2014 give first-time visitors and Philadelphia regulars plenty more reasons to make a trip — or return trip — to the region. Visit Philadelphia, the area’s official destination marketing organization, Thursday announced that for the first time ever, its powerhouse properties visitphilly.com and uwishunu.com welcomed more than 11 million visitors in 2013.
“Websites make a city, and our websites enjoyed another record year,” said Meryl Levitz, president and CEO of the newly renamed company formerly known as the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corp. “Visit Philadelphia, visitphilly.com and uwishunu.com are, of course, our main calls to action and the most powerful ways in which we communicate Philadelphia’s brand. And the stronger the brand appears, the stronger your business appears. So again, through compelling words and images and videos we want to make sure that you look good and that people can find what they’re looking for on the website for the sections that appeal to their particular interest. Our advertising, our social media, the stories we place in the press promise a certain Philadelphia experience — and the website has to deliver. And deliver they do. All of that great content means that more and more people rely on them for their Philadelphia trips.”
The sister sites saw a significant surge in mobile traffic and sent millions of clicks to partner websites during the record-setting year. VisitPhilly’s social media soared as well, with 475,000 followers and counting, a new presence on LinkedIn (the ninth platform for Visit Philly) and the second most popular account on Instagram (out of the five most populated cities). Compelling photography and videos, interactive maps and detailed visitor information make the sites effective trip-planning tools. Along with VisitPhilly’s social media channels, the online platforms communicate directly with consumers.
In addition to sharing their social media figures, the VisitPhilly team showcased a recast “With Love, Philly” campaign, along with presentations from upcoming regional premiere events: Philly Restaurant Week (Jan. 19-24 and 26-31), Philadelphia Auto Show (Feb. 8–16) and the Philadelphia Flower Show (March 1-9).
There was also a nod to the recent name change, a heralded relief among reporters and travel industry professionals that juggled with its tongue-twister name.
“The name Visit Philadelphia focuses on the relationship between our destination and the visitor. It’s a strong call to action that tells people exactly what we want them to do — visit Philadelphia,” said Levitz.
The name has been in the works since 2010, when the organization launched visitphilly.com (formerly gophila.com). Now, it is the most-visited destination website network of the 10 biggest cities in the U.S.”
Designated a National Historic Landmark in 1963, the Academy of Music was home to The Philadelphia Orchestra for more than a century, from the ensemble’s founding in 1900 to the opening of the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts in 2001. Since 1957, numerous luminaries of the musical world have performed with The Philadelphia Orchestra as part of Academy of Music Anniversary concerts.
The first Anniversary Concert and Ball, which took place on Jan. 26, 1957, showcased a star-studded line-up in which Eugene Ormandy shared his podium with Danny Kaye. The historic evening’s guest performers included classical artists Marian Anderson, Hilde Gueden, Arthur Rubinstein, and Isaac Stern, and popular singer Dinah Shore.
This year, the Academy will celebrate its 157th anniversary on Jan. 25 with a white-tie gala. Notable guest artists include sopranos Audra McDonald and Jessye Norman; violinist Itzhak Perlman; cellist Yo-Yo Ma; pianists Evgeny Kissin and Lang Lang; as well as popular artists such as Rod Stewart, James Taylor, Billy Joel, Sting and Paul Simon. This year’s featured guest is North Philadelphia’s own entertainment dynamo — Jill Scott.
“It’s such an honor to be invited to play with The Philadelphia Orchestra, such a talented company of musicians, as they celebrate the 157th anniversary of their historic home, the Academy of Music,” said Scott, who will be accompanied by pianist Robert Glasper.
The theme for the 157th Anniversary Concert and Ball is “Preserving Our Heritage,” highlighting The Philadelphia Orchestra’s commitment to continuing the cultural legacy of the magnificent Academy of Music for future generations to enjoy. The three-time Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter, New York Times best-selling poet and critically acclaimed actress acknowledges that she is a beneficiary of witnessing performances at the Academy of Music, also known as the Grand Old Lady of Locust Street.
“At the moment, I’m shooting a film, and I get excited about one thing at a time because you just don’t know the lifespan of any of this, so I try to enjoy where I am at the moment — but, when I do stop and think about it, I am really excited and geeked about it because it’s Philadelphia and it’s an amazing orchestra. It’s in the Academy of Music where I spent so much of my time growing up and learning about music. The first time I heard Kathleen Battle was there, and that was pivotal for my existence, you know, hearing that voice out of that pretty brown lady, I was like ‘Wow! You mean I could do it too?’”
Before stardom beckoned, Scott was a Philadelphian through and through and remains connected with the Philadelphia community. She is a graduate of Philadelphia High School for Girls, attended Temple University, and first garnered attention with her poetry readings in local clubs and galleries. It’s been reported that her mother, Joyce Scott, upon placing first eyes on her daughter, envisioned an exclamation point behind her chosen name, thus: Jill!
“She’s got to feel proud,” said Scott in reflecting on life as the only child in her mother and grandmother’s household. “She’s just got to because she built our situation, you know from being broke and being together and saying, ‘I’m going to give this child so much.’ I don’t know if she realized at the time because she was taking me to the things she enjoyed, but either way it shaped and influenced my creativity and my existence. It is imperative to get your children to do and see things that they’ve never done or even thought about. Even if they complain, a lot of that stuff doesn’t even matter. Who cares? Just take them anyway because you never know what will spark something in your child. It’s just a matter of offering. Even as a little girl, my mind was blown over and over again from seeing plays, going to the orchestra, seeing ballets, going to the Art Museum. All of that stuff just let me know that there was more to life.”
Scott has raised more than $100,000 to support her foundation, Blues Babe (named for her beloved grandmother, Babe), which supports minority students residing in Philadelphia and the Delaware Valley who are pursuing college degrees. In addition to actively promoting the foundation at festivals, she’s the very proud mother of her four-year-old son, Jett.
“I’m bringing my son to the Academy of Music because he’s never felt the orchestra,” Scott said. “There is a whole other sound, there is a whole other vibration, when you are sitting in an audience hearing an orchestra play. It’s so big; it’s so rich and there are so many stories inside of the music that I can’t wait for him to feel it. I wish I could sit there and hold him so that I could feel it with him at the same time when he’s experiencing it. We’ll have a lot to talk about. I’m so excited for him.”
Scott began her career collaborating with musical icons The Roots, Will Smith and Common in the late 1990s before releasing her debut record, “Who is Jill Scott? Words & Sounds, Vol. 1” in 2000. The record quickly went double platinum and earned her several Grammy nominations including Best New Artist.
“I am eager to work with artists at the highest level of their genres, and Jill Scott is one who is at the absolute top,” said Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin, now in his second season leading the ensemble. “Her many talents — as musician, poet and actor — will give us unique avenues to explore in our collaboration and her deep connections to Philadelphia make her a perfect fit for this celebration of the Academy of Music. What a thrill to combine her magnificent voice with our Orchestra’s Philadelphia Sound and what an opportunity to showcase the best Philadelphia talent on one of our starriest nights.”
The musicians of The Philadelphia Orchestra are donating their services for this concert, which will be performed without an intermission.
Philadelphia’s premier annual white-tie gala, the Academy of Music 157th Anniversary Concert, takes place on Jan. 25. The celebration begins this year at 5:30 p.m. with a pre-concert Open House Reception at the Academy of Music, 240 S. Broad St., followed by the performance at 7:30 p.m. Concert-only tickets, priced at $200, can be purchased by calling (215) 893-1999 or by visiting www.ticketphiladelphia.org.
For Gala information, call the Academy of Music Restoration Fund Office at (215) 893-1978 or visit www.philorch.org/157.
In the compendium of New Year’s resolutions offered online and otherwise, it is clear that the only way to move forward to new you is to tackle and resolve issues of the past. In her latest release, “Forgiveness: 21 Days to Forgive Everyone for Everything” (SmileyBooks Hardcover book with CD, $17.95), self-help guru Iyanla Vanzant encourages readers to dive head-first and soul-deep into a 21-day journey through the practice of personal and spiritual growth and healing. Vanzant challenges readers to liberate ourselves from the energetic blockages and wounds of the past and embrace a new way of thinking and feeling through the power of forgiveness.
“Forgiveness is the way to overcome the blockages that stand in the way of creating loving, healthy and fulfilling relationships,” said Vanzant. “Whether the challenge is forgiving yourself for your human shortcomings or forgiving the world, it is what we think that is at the root of personal transformation.”
Vanzant encourages readers to establish a practice of forgiveness and use it to rebuild their lives. Whether we are exploring relationship dynamics with loving or estranged parents, bosses, partners, children, frenemies, self or even God, forgiveness helps us gain clarity, discover new levels of self-awareness and live with more peace.
“Even if forgiveness doesn’t make sense to you, do it,” urges Vanzant. “Why? Because only forgiveness can liberate minds and hearts once held captive by anger, bitterness, resentment and fear. Forgiveness is a true path to freedom that can renew faith, build trust and nourish the soul.”
Vanzant has had a unique life filled with many personal struggles, which she has overcome and used to become stronger. Born in Brooklyn in the back of a taxi, Vanzant lost her mother at the age of 2. A troubled childhood was followed by teen pregnancy, abusive marriages and welfare. Vanzant went on to become a practicing attorney, serving nearly three years as a public defender in Philadelphia. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Medgar Evers College, a J.D. degree from Queens College Law School and a master’s degree in spiritual psychology from the University of Santa Monica. Today, Vanzant is at peace with herself and regularly conducts personal growth classes and workshops for men and women at the Inner Visions Institute for Spiritual Development.
“I’ve been doing that for quite some time,” said Vanzant of the 26-year-old center. “That’s where people come to me to do the work and that’s where we do our classes and workshops. It is my ministry. If I don’t do anything else in life, I must do Innervisions. …. It’s gone through many, many transitions, and something that we’re looking at now, something that I thought we would never do, is taking the programs online. We have such a large international audience now from all over the world, and everything is available online. Just to be able to share the teachings and information, and support people that I may never see, is mind-boggling and exciting.”
Vanzant is one of the country’s most celebrated writers and public speakers, and she’s among the most influential, socially engaged and acclaimed spiritual life coaches of our time. Host and producer of the breakout hit “Iyanla: Fix My Life!” on OWN, Vanzant’s focus on faith, empowerment and loving relationships has inspired millions around the world. A woman of passion, vision and purpose, in 2013 Vanzant was recognized by Ebony magazine as one of the Power 100.
“Forgiveness” includes a free CD of prayers read by the author and offers a powerful “get-clear” journal designed to free the mind from issues and upsets rooted in disowned thoughts, judgments and emotions.
“Iyanla: Fix My Life” airs 9 p.m./8 p.m. central on OWN. Join the conversation on Twitter using #FixMyLife.