Friday, June 7, 2013

Vegan food! Women artists! Fish x-rays! More!

Had a delightful visit to Philadelphia recently. I was surprised at how much we were able to pack into a short stay. A few highlights:

Vedge. This is a place I’d read about in magazines and seen included in lists of top vegan restaurants. It had also been highly recommended by a local, and I was trying to keep my expectations in check so as to avoid disappointment. But there was no need, as the food was every bit as delicious as the rave reviews had led me to believe. The spring pea crêpe was one of the best single plates of food I’ve ever eaten (and I don’t even like peas!). An enjoyable experience in every way – I can’t recommend it highly enough.

The Philadelphia Academy of the Fine Arts. Coincidentally, I saw The Art of the Steal recently

and so wasn’t keen on visiting the Barnes Collection or the big art museum (which would have been crowded and rushed for the amount of time we had anyway). PAFA is less heavily promoted, but it’s a real gem. The building itself is striking, and the collection of American art (including many works by former students and faculty) is a manageable size and well organized. My favorite galleries were the two at the far end, one featuring landscapes – the seascapes were of course the best – and the other dedicated to women artists. Apparently the Academy has been progressive in women’s art education, and I was happy to see such talent on display. I particularly liked the paintings by Susan Macdowell Eakins and Violet Oakley, and especially Eakins’ Girl in a Plaid Shawl (ca. 1880-85), which looks almost like a film still.

I often find the temporary contemporary exhibits at more traditional museums tedious, but I was impressed by Bill Viola’s Ocean Without a Shore.

“X-Ray Vision: Fish Inside Out.” We also stopped into this exhibit at the Chemical Heritage Foundation. They’re beautiful x-ray photos of ocean animals from the Smithsonian’s Collection of Fishes (a wonderfully and tragically poetic name*). Unfortunately, the exhibit ends today.

I’ll probably post about a few other sites in Philadelphia, including my new favorite fountain – the cat fountain outside Betsy Ross’s house.

* I did worry about the practices of "collection" and x-raying....

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