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Where is Maud This Week?

As President of the Alliance, I am new in town – just moved here from Detroit in January. To discover Philadelphia, I am exploring arts and culture of all kinds. Major productions, hidden gems. Tourist attractions and things only a resident would know about. Music, history, science, theatre, media arts, you name it.

So let me take you on this journey with me. Every week, I will write reports of where I am going or what I have experienced. Come with me to find out what is inspiring, intriguing, thought-provoking, or simply fun. You can help by telling me what I should see, where I should go! Contact me at maudl@philaculture.org to recommend where I should go next, and find details on these events and attractions at Phillyfunguide.com

The 78 Project Movie
This week I went to the International House on Drexel’s campus. Folksingers were asked to record a traditional song, in one take, using 1930’s recording equipment to cut a disk. I loved the look of joy on each performer’s face when the recording was played back to him or her. Each artists listened intently, then broke into a huge smile that was both about the recording but also their own performance. Unlike today’s digital recording studios, the 78’s are so immediate, and so real! You watch the needle cutting into the acetate, and then you get to hear yourself with the sound quality of two generations ago. The experience was about live performance more than recording – and the settings were everywhere, out of doors, in halls, kitchens, or living rooms. The movie also took you to the National Archives where Lomax’s original recordings of Muddy Waters and other artists are kept, and a visit to the one company that still makes the acetate disks, and someone else who cleans and restores old ones. Kudos to producers Lavinia Jones Wright and Alex Steyeraark, for creating such an intimate portrayal of singing and collecting sound! You can explore it yourself at www.the78project.com.

Jamie Wyeth at the Brandywine Conservancy & Museum
January 17 opens a new exhibition in Chadds Ford, the work of a member of the distinguished family of artists. It shows six decades of his work, in the location of his childhood home, his first studio, and his most consistent muse, the Brandywine Valley. For me, it’s also a trip to the countryside, because Brandywine is a wonderful combination of landscape art and land preservation, saving the watershed and the rural nature of the place the artists loved. The exhibition continues through April 5.

Represent: 200 Years of African American Art
Who knew that the PMA had such an outstanding collection of art by African American artists?! Much of it has always been on display, but if you didn’t happen to know the artists, you wouldn’t know how much is there. I’m not an art historian, but I still recognize many of the artists’ names. I’m looking forward to seeing the work of artists I don’t know, too: paintings, sculptures, decorative arts, textiles, and ceramics, both as art and as expressions of racial identity. I had a glimpse of the catalogue already, which is even more extensive than the exhibition and will be an incredible reference. I was privileged to attend the black tie event to open the exhibition on January 17, and look forward to meeting many people there. The exhibition continues for several months, don’t miss it!

Follow @philaculture and @MaudLyonCulture on Twitter to find out where Maud is going next!