2013 Year in Review

16 Dec 2013


Carlos Basualdo, the Keith L. and Katherine Sachs Curator of Contemporary Art, stands before Jasper Johns' painting According to What (1964) in Dancing around the Bride. Photo by Constance Mensh, courtesy of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.


Pennsylvania Ballet performing William Forsythe's Artifact Suite. Photo by Alexander Iziliaev.


A scene from Opera Philadelphia's East Coast premiere of the Pulitzer Prize-winning opera Silent Night, with music by Kevin Puts and libretto by Mark Campbell, co-produced with the Minnesota Opera. Photo by Michal Daniel.

In 2013, The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage funded 52 projects, welcomed 13 new Pew Fellows, and brought to Philadelphia exemplary cultural practitioners from around the world for roundtable discussions and lectures. We are proud and grateful to have had the opportunity to support and contribute to the vitality of the region's cultural life. What follows is just a taste of what happened—click the links below to learn more.

The Pennsylvania Ballet presented the Philadelphia premiere of William Forsythe's Artifact Suite (1984), a work that the San Francisco Chronicle claimed "suggests a vision of ballet for the 21st century." With choreography marked by brilliant timing, lightning-quick rhythm, and precise syncopation, Artifact Suite still felt fresh, 30 years after its creation. Forsythe, dance scholar Dr. Linda Caruso Haviland, and Freya Vass-Rhee of the Forsythe Company gathered for a symposium to discuss how the world-acclaimed choreographer's innovations continue to reverberate through the ballet and dance realms.

Major accolades were showered on Opera Philadelphia for its production of Silent Night, co-commissioned with the Minnesota Opera and adapted from Christian Carion's 2005 film Joyeux Noël. They included positive reviews from the New York Times and the Philadelphia Inquirer. Kevin Puts, the composer of Silent Night, received the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for distinguished musical composition.

Dance-choreographer Bill T. Jones revisited his early work with Arnie Zane in Body Against Body at the Painted Bride Art Center. The challenging, autobiographical dances explore cultural and social issues of the 1980s, and remain some of the most significant examples of postmodern dance to date.

The Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania (ICA), presented Jason Rhoades, Four Roads, the first major museum exhibition of the late artist's work in the United States. Four sprawling, room-sized installations took over the ICA, each one serving as reliquary for the ephemera and detritus from Rhoades' life—as Randy Kennedy of the New York Times put it, "as obsessively self-referential as a celebrity's Twitter feed."

Crossroads Music presented the first 24-hour concert of Hindustani (North Indian) classical music in the Western Hemisphere in decades. The Raga Samay Festival included performances by leading Hindustani musicians from India and the United States, and took place from sunset to sunset, allowing for an authentic, immersive, and truly immediate listening experience.

The Philadelphia Museum of Art presented Dancing around the Bride: Cage, Cunningham, Johns, Rauschenberg, and Duchamp, which told "the story of five extraordinary artists and what happened to art and culture when their lives and work intersected," according to curator Carlos Basualdo. The exhibition design was punctuated with interventions by French artist Philippe Parreno and featured a stage for performances by former members of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company. The show traveled to London's Barbican Art Gallery and continues to demonstrate the resonance and impact the artists' multidisciplinary model has on contemporary work.

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Montgomery County Community College produced Then and Now: Jazz Cubano, a series of concerts focused on the Afro-Cuban influence in jazz, featuring stand-outs such as Poncho Sanchez's tribute to Chano Pozo and Dizzy Gillespie's Cubano Be Cubano Bop, the Omar Sosa Afri-Lectric Experience, and Ninety Miles.

As part of our capacity building and knowledge development, the Center provided grantees with further opportunities for artistic growth, published a book, and hosted a series of video-taped conversations with seminal figures in the fields of dance, theater, and the visual arts.

The Center awarded artist residencies to four current Pew Fellows. "I had such an amazing and productive time," said musician Greg Osby, speaking of his retreat to the Ucross Foundation in northeast Wyoming. "The change of environment did wonders for my creative flow and I now recognize the value of getting away." In 2014, composer and trombonist Dan Blacksberg will also spend time at Ucross, while visual artist Kara Crombie will be in residence at Bay Area's Headlands Center for Arts, musician Chris Forsyth at the Banff Centre in Western Canada, and visual artist Tim Portlock at the 18th Street Arts Center in Santa Monica, California.

We published Pigeons on the Grass, Alas: Contemporary Curators Talk About the Field, a compendium of newly commissioned interviews with 41 visual arts curators. Illustrated with drawings by Pew Fellow Sarah McEneaney, the book offers a candid assessment of the field at this moment in time. Contributors include Peter Eleey, Helen Molesworth, Hou Hanru, Valerie Cassel Oliver, Ralph Rugoff, Robert Storr, Claire Tancons, Nato Thompson, and many more.

The Center brought together Bill T. Jones and Susan Rethorst—two seminal but very different figures of the New York downtown dance world—for the first time in 30 years to muse on a variety of subjects, among them the meaning of the word "practice," the nature of collaboration, the concept of audience, and how they view—with great trepidation—what the future holds for dance.

We talked to Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Paula Vogel about the use of history in her work, upon the release of her latest play, A Civil War Christmas. She explained the "shout-out[s]" she gives to the present when writing her period pieces, as well as her commitment to make visible the experiences of Americans who might otherwise go unnoticed. Vogel's current project, which is funded by the Center, is based on the 1936 play Don Juan Comes Back from the War but is written with the input of Iraq War veterans. It will see its world premiere at Philadelphia's Wilma Theater in spring 2014.