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10 favorites from U Arts’ Art Unleashed 2014 exhibition, open through Tuesday

Chlose Sherman-PepeELY4print copy 2
Last night, I got the distinct pleasure of perusing the Art Unleashed 2014 collection; it’s essentially a huge art show, collecting work from current students, alums and faculty, where everything’s for sale—and it’s for a good cause: supporting the University’s Sam S. McKeel Promising Young Artists Scholarship Fund. The best part: It doesn’t just feature paintings. This is an excellent opportunity to acquire some high-end collectibles for your home at solid to not-astronomical prices.

One of the sweetest things about Art Unleashed is the variety of items you can purchase: there’s really tight jewelry, stunning sculpture and photography, perhaps in larger volume than paintings. The show’s open to the public in U Arts’ iconic red-doored Hamilton Hall, the building at 320 S. Broad Street, and it’s free. So even if you’re not buying, it’s a great cultural stroll. You’ll find that it’s not unlike a Barnes experience: There’s a pretty random mix of styles, often compactly-mounted alongside each other, with seemingly little rhyme or reason to the curation. You get what I’m saying.

It’s open from noon to 5 p.m., starting today, running through the 15th—and admission is free. I’m going to highlight some favorites that are still for sale. (There were lots of red dots marking “CLAIMED” status, and I’m pretty sure that come Tuesday, the good stuff’ll be gone!) I’ll just take you around the room in the way that I collected my favorites at the end of the night (check it online, if you like). Ready? Let’s go:

1. Samantha Moss (photo student, ‘14): “Forgot to Stop,” 8 x 10, $150
This is essentially a cool punk photo chick, from what I can surmise, as evidenced by a simple nasty kinetic rock moment printed on a block of metal. It puts you in a pit and manages to capture the beauty of terrifying catharsis.

Dyroff_Mistakes_012. Sean Dryoff (faculty, alumni, arts/printmaking): “A Mistake,” 20 x 24, $250
There’s something about this one; I think it was my favorite. The angle is just perfect—an easy mix of facing the camera and not at all. Clearly, there’s something in the coloring and the model that is compelling, but I don’t need him to turn around. I can see all that I need to from here.

3. Chloe Sherman-Pepe (alumni, photography ‘09): “Untitled #3,” 30 x 20, $410
These came as a series, and you can see the rest online, but this one was my favorite of hers. They’re very Grace Jones-painted-by-Keith Haring in a stark black and white palette, a series that gracefully and effortlessly captures movement (top, left).

4. You Ra Oh (student, painting ‘14): “Untitled,” 48 x 53, $700
Another favorite, this one’s huge and had great texture, listed as “cold wax, oil pastel, acrylic, charcoal, pencile on wood panel.” It has elements of maps and topography, and it’s an abstraction that distills both static, unmoving earth and undulating landscapes.

5. Angela Rio (illustration student ‘14): “Mental Health Awareness: Schizophrenia/Bipolar Disorder/Bulimia/OCD,” $800 each
These were incredible, a series of four boxes that could be considered small installations: shadow boxes that capture the essence of four mental health issues with exacting detail and artistic license. To know that this was made by an illustration student is kind of a marvel because they seem like all kinds of mediums conversing. They’re sold separately, it seems, and “OCD” is taken (top, right).

JFK6. Danny Gallego (student, painting ‘14): “JFK,” 18 x 24, $250
Another favorite: a magic mix of india ink and watercolor on paper that plays with Kennedy’s gender. Or sexuality. Or both. It’s a very Warholian Marilyn Monroe-inspired take on the handsome president, rouging his lips and shadowing his eyes. I would love this in my home.

7. Thomas Kelly (student, crafts ‘14): “#selfieawareness,” 24 x 60, $750
Perfectly capturing our of-the-moment obsession with photographing ourselves, this is a digitally-printed decal that puts a way-too-skinny white bitch in the center of a long, tall mirror taking an egregious selfie. She looks rail-thin and is even pouting a little. You want to kill her (and pull out your phone).

8. Shari Tobias (alumni, fine arts ‘90): “burka burka burka,” 20 x 17, $200
This one’s so fascinating that it pulls great worth from the work’s description: “performance art photograph, matte, frame.” Three women casually row boats in a public park not unlike Boston Commons, with only a little bit of face showing. It makes me think of the Gaga song, “Aura,” and also makes one think about a lot of things. Which is what good art does.

Newer Orleans9. Patrick Tumblety (alumni, film/digital video ‘07): “Newer Orleans,” 16 x 24, $100
There’s nothing brilliant about these; they’re just nice and affordable and would look really great in all kinds of homes and apartments. They’re nicely canvassed digital prints that capture color in vivid ways: New York Times at night, an exotic bird’s rare moment of stillness and, in my favorite, a gorgeous New Orleans house with a verdant double-decker porch.

10. Kevin McWilliams (alumni, photography ‘09): “Tomy, Philadelphia,” 20 x 24, $600
It’s hard to deny a brilliant portrait. McWilliams’ subject doesn’t seem particularly phased by the nature of posing or of being photographed. Tomy has a little bit of menace in his appearance, and yet the photo captures a little tenderness and perhaps a moment of guard-letting-down. It’s a piece of art that looks effortless, but you know that it isn’t.



Bruce Yelk dishes on bi at Sundown, his new bi-weekly party at Lit UltraBar

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We bugged Bruce Yelk for details about the idea behind his new party comin’ up next month, bi at Sundown. The teaser that came out this week (embedded below) is a slick and sexy affair. With lots of ladies. Yeah, this party’s much more than a bar crawl through the Gayborhood. This is a dance music-fueled early-in-the-evening weekend finale for the young and sexy of Philly’s LGBTQAI (and straight folks, too) set. So you have a couple weeks to prepare yourself, your look, and your body for what you’re going to do on Sunday, March 16th. Here’s how Bruce explained it to us:

Where’d the inspiration for this party come from? What made you want to get it off the ground?
I was asked by Robbie Tronco to produce a Sunday event at Lit UltraBar last year, but it took me several months to commit—mainly because I felt something new and fresh would have to happen to get people excited about a Sunday party. Plus, I work Monday mornings, so I can’t be up ’til 2am. However, roughly at the same time I kept seeing Facebook posts from my friends commenting on their Sunday Funday experiences during the early evenings.

So, I thought there must be some type of need: What would get people out of the house early in the fall and winter, but home in time to rise for work on Monday morning? So, the sundown concept really came out of addressing that concern. With it in place, everyone can get out early in the winter when it is dark at 5pm, and still be in bed at a decent hour. In the summer, it doesn’t matter as much since people take off more and are more likely to be up late. I then ran it by Robbie and a few other promoters to get their thoughts on it, and they all agreed it seemed like a good idea.

The “bi” portion is dual pronged. First, the party is bi-weekly, and that seemed to be the easiest way to convey that fact. Plus, I am known to produce several well-known LGBT events, but I wanted this event to be much more inclusive. I think bi works on that front—to let everyone know they are welcome at this event.

When did you start the planning process, and when did Lit come into the picture?
I started to really plan the concept back at the end of November. Lit was always the intended venue, but it was really cemented completely for me when I saw the layout, heard the sound system and was dazzled by the light show. The venue is just perfect for this party.

What are the DJ choices inspired by? Are you making them? And how’d the Perry Twins materialize?
I am hand-picking all the DJs. Everyone of them has an international profile, and they all spin to both mainstream and LGBT crowds. I wouldn’t get the flavor I want if I just picked exclusively mainstream or gay DJs. The Perry Twins were an easy first pick because they are amazing, and they started out spinning exclusively for the LGBT community, but now spin at the big Las Vegas club venues. I knew I wanted them, and I just sent Doug Perry a message on Facebook and asked him if he was interested. He said yes.

What kind of energy can folks expect on March 16? Who’s welcome?
People can expect a lot of energy in the room. I like happy parties, and the music will make you feel good. Why have a party if it’s not fun? Robbie Tronco will open with your favorite anthems, and he is known to really get people jumping. The guest DJs will bring a big-room sound that is really missing in Philadelphia. I think people will really love the mix of music, and I expect many raised hands in the crowd.

What have you got cooking up for April and May?
I have only booked through April right now, so I will leave May for another day. However, April is my birthday month, so look out! First, Erez Ben Ishay is a rising international superstar from Tel Aviv. He will take everyone for a trip around the world on April 13th. The crowd will hear a lot of new music on this night.

Then on April 27th—the day after my birthday but really my birthday party—I booked Kidd Madonny. If you ever see one DJ, this is it! He is truly an original and is a one-man show in the DJ booth. He was part of the performance artist duo of RKM Future Boys, who tore up the nightclub scene in the late ’90s. Well, he brings that performance art to the booth, and his energy level is through the roof. The last time I brought him to Voyeur Nightclub, the crowd would not get off the dance floor. Plus, it’s my birthday party, so there will be a few added surprises!



RuPaul’s minions, in an all-star “Battle of the Seasons,” are going to tear up the Troc Thursday

Pandora
The lovely Ms. Pandora Boxx.

To those who are acquainted with the big, fabulous mess that is RuPaul’s Drag Race, this is one huge, queen-filled blowout that’s traveling around the nation. Back in July, it was announced that LOGO’s breakaway hit would recruit girls from a mixed bag of the already-wrapped five seasons (Season Six, with a brand new trailer, hits the tube on Mon., Feb. 24th).

According to the Troc event’s page, the following girls are slated to appear: Sharon Needles, Ivy Winters, Manila Luzon, Pandora Boxx, Alaska Thunderfuck, Carmen Carrera, Mimi Imfurst and Phi Phi O’Hara. The original cast of queens announced also included Detox, Jinx Monsoon and Willam, but as the disclaimer goes, “*Lineup is subject to change*.” So, we’ll see who shows up. Drag isn’t always such a, well, tightly-run ship.

Anyway, we got some questions lobbed at the girls, and Alaska and Michelle were the ones brave enough to tap their glam fingernails on an iPhone and give us some answers. This show wasn’t one of the originals on the lineup, so we were pretty pumped to see that, after blasting through Canada, they added on some more dates to include lil’ old us. As far as the logistics, that was pretty much our main concern: How the HELL’s this gonna go down? And is the format truly a showgirl competition that Michelle Visage judges?!

AlaskaMichelle
Madames Thunderfuck and Visage were selective with their answers, and, uh, creative. So, here are the ones for which they decided to spill details:

What can we expect from this show!? It looks like such a big huge blowout of bananas gayness.
Alaska: With so many talented and varied performers, “Battle of the Seasons” is bound to be a spectacular experience that those fortunate enough to see it will never, ever forget. In short, it will surely be bananas like a motha-fuckin’ orangutan.
Michelle: That’s a fantastic description that pretty much answers your own question! It’s an organized shit show with TONS o’ talent to offer.

Do all the girls perform together at any point? Or is it just bing-bang-boom, one after the other?
Alaska: There will be some bing-bang-boom, some bada-bing, bada-boom, and some wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am. (Yes.)
Michelle: It’s a bit of all of the above. We’ve got duets, solos, groups, any which way you like, more or less.

How’d this collection of queens get pulled together for this traveling show?
Alaska: It happened very organically. This team works very well together because of their professionalism and talent. And it’s a natural mix because of the different types of performance styles that will be showcased.
Michelle: It’s all about who performs live and who’s available when, pretty much, and we take it from there.

Wait, a showgirl competition? Please explain.
Alaska: I have no idea – but I hope I win.

Have you been well-received in the past dates? We’re pumped for the last-minute Philly date!
Alaska: Yes. People still come up to me about these shows, telling me what an amazing time they had.
Michelle: OMFG yes! This tour has been the best idea yet because it lets people see the queens for all that they are. They are performing live and owning the stage in a theatre setting, and you get to see how truly talented they are.

And what does Michelle Visage have to say about judging your competition? Where does she get off? And does she pick a different winner at each night?
Alaska: If there’s one thing Michelle Visage is good at, it’s judging queens. I think the winner will be the same every night though – because it will be me!

Are you girls doing different numbers in every city or is the show pretty well-rehearsed and mapped out?
Alaska: This show is full of surprises. You never know what you’re going to get.
Michelle: It’s mapped out, but we change numbers whenever we want. Whatever moves us that day, we perform that night. It’s more fun and organic that way.

There you have it! LOGO’s NewNowNext has a collection up of some photos from the NYC date if you want a little preview.



Totem Brand’s Phillip Yi has his say on quality merch, South Street’s retail renaissance and more

Totem
The other weekend, I strolled around South Street and was friggen’ pumped to find a few developments that caught me off guard: ADIDAS is no longer an “originals” store but an outlet? There’s a pimp new Villa? What is this TOTEM!? We’ve been frequenting Ps & Qs for a minute now (their jackets are currently half-off), but Totem popped up this past July. We peppered the store’s brains, Phillip Yi, and he gave us some answers to a few of the hundreds of questions that come to mind when perusing his gorgeous storefront’s wares.

When and how’d you get this store up and running? Had you been scoping sites for a while?
Totem Brand opened in July 2013, and I’ve been working on South Street for my entire retail career. I noticed Philadelphia did not have a heritage menswear store with a focus on U.S.-made goods and outdoor lifestyle. The community has really embraced our concept and mission.

Tell us why you’re into this stuff. The general theme is American-made products, is that correct? Or, even if it’s an international brand, there’s a domestic manufacturing angle?
I think now, more than ever, quality is extremely important to customers. The U.S.-made brands we choose to feature at Totem Brand are all revered when it comes to quality and craftsmanship. I feel great offering items to my customers that are not going to fall apart after a couple wears. The more research I did into the brands that I wanted to carry, the more I identified with their mission: “Buy it once, buy it right.”

Secondly, I feel proud to support our American manufacturers. I think that it is important to keep jobs in America and help stimulate the U.S. economy.

What are some of your personal favorite brands, and why do you love them so?
Some of my favorite brands are Filson and Norman Porter. Filson was founded in Seattle, WA in 1897, and their goods are made in USA. From their 100-percent virgin wool coats and oil finished jackets to their rugged luggage, the entire collection is extremely durable and practical. Every piece only gets better with age. Everything they make has lifetime warranty. They truly stand behind their product. I love their motto too: “Might as well have the best.”

Norman Porter is an awesome denim brand. Each pair of jeans is made by hand. He has expanded his offerings to leather goods, and I am proud to carry his brand. It is truly a one-man operation located in Philadelphia. From the hickory stripe pocket bags to the hand-hammered copper rivets, the attention to detail is undeniable. We are located in Philadelphia, and it was only natural to carry a locally-made product.

There’s not a ton of menswear options in Philly, and, as I told you, I’m a super-fan of Ps & Qs down the street. You two are really nailing that niche. What do you do that’s unique to Totem?
I really try to focus on heritage and outdoor lifestyle brands. But I’m particularly trying to feature items that will remain classics over time, with an attitude towards high quality, durable, and practical fashion.

Sure seems like there’s a little South Street retail renaissance going on. I like that ADIDAS turned themselves into an outlet and that Villa (608 South St.) is great at what it does. Are you excited to be a part of it?
For a while, South Street was the go-to destination for unique shopping boutiques. Then there was a sort of deterioration when manufacturers went overseas for production. This left a lot of U.S. manufacturers out of business. This culture of “cheaper goods are better” really hurt America. I’m really excited to be a part of the retail renaissance on South Street and turning it back into a shopping destination with quality and character.

Have you been South Streeting for your whole life? What are some of your favorite South St. gems?
Yes, but so many of my favorite stores have left over the years. Still, I’m always up to grab a Bloody Mary at Beau Monde and a gyro at South Street Souvlaki.

Alright, break down the deals you’ve got going on now—and when they’ll expire. And tell us what to expect for spring.
Currently, our fall/winter goods are up to 40-percent off until supplies last. We are really excited for spring. A few brands we are proud to introduce are Barbour, Woolrich and Steven Alan.



Dita Von Teese brings “Strip Strip Hooray” to the Tower this week

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Betty Grable. Sahji Pearl. Jane Russell. Lili St. Cyr. These names elicit visions of what glamour used to look like, from a time when lingerie was more than just seductive nighttime attire. While an assortment of gorgeous dolls (and drag queens) do their best to uphold that classic vibe, no one manages to illustrate or embody the beauty of burlesque like Dita Von Teese.

The former Mrs. Marilyn Manson credits her mother for her infatuation with vintage 1940s glam. That fascination with elegant hosiery and intricate undergarments together with childhood ballet training fueled Von Teese’s ascension as the modern queen of burlesque, famous worldwide for her stunning curves and elaborate shows. But the smoldering starlet stresses that glamour is undefinable, declaring that every size and shape can be glamorous, even on a thrift-store budget. (”I was making minimum wage when I first started doing burlesque,” she notes.) The best way to develop that allure, she says, is to find what makes you comfortable, embellish upon your best features and, most importantly, dare to be different.

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Need a lesson or some quickie inspiration, sexy sisters? For the first time ever, Von Teese has taken her 90-minute spectacle, Burlesque: Strip Strip Hooray!, on the road; in fact, it’s already here. And fellas, be braced: An increasing number of women have been in attendance on the tour, Von Teese says—“embracing their own level of empowerment.”

The performer isn’t only bringing her show to her common-folk fans, but bringing more of it: Her previous gigs usually featured two acts, whereas Strip Strip Hooray! boasts four elaborate sets by Von Teese herself, plus a number of additional performers. Also, it’s important to note that Von Teese does her own hair and make-up and also designs her own costumes—a huge deal in the entertainment styling world. Garments intricately studded with Swavorski crystals are sure to be among the special on-stage features sure to dazzle attendees. The others, it’s safe to say, have precious little to do with stagewear.

Oct. 9. 7:30pm. The Tower Theater, 19 S. 69th St, Upper Darby.



Show off your favorite Art Star Craft Bazaar purchase

art_star_cutesy_but_not_cutesyIf you attended The Art Star Craft Bazaar two weeks ago, then most likely you walked away with something awesome. Perhaps it was a humorous onesie for your niece, a beautiful handmade beaded necklace or a really cool art print.

Whatever it was, the Art Star gals wanna see it.

At some point over the next week, snap a photo on your phone of your favorite item purchased at the bazaar in use and/or displayed inside your home, then upload it to Instagram using the hash tag: #ascbSCORE. Oh, and make sure you’re actually following Art Star on Instagram first.

Next Friday, June 7, they’ll be selecting one lucky winner to receive an Art Star Craft Bazaar tote bag with a special gift inside. Meanwhile, several of the best shots will also get a shout out in an upcoming blog post.

For those who already use Instagram religiously, this should be a pretty simple assignment. So far, the one to beat is @catiethekittycat, who posted the above photo of her dog rocking a Cutesy but not Cutesy hoodie.

Now, whip out your phone and see if you can top it!



Local Memorial Day Deals!

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Cute ensemble, huh? It's available now at Smak Parlour...


Arcadia BoutiqueNow through Monday, take 20 percent off any article of clothing featuring stars and stripes, including that of fave designers Alternative Apparel, DV by Dolce Vita and BB Dakota both in stores and online (promo code: STARS). Meanwhile, starting this weekend and continuing every weekend for the rest of the summer, the shop will be taking 50 percent off select vintage clothes and shoes. (819 N. Second St.)

Jay McCarrollFree shipping on all orders of $50 dollars or more (promo code: FREESHIP50). The Project Runway star is also marking down his colorful women’s Cambridge cardigans, originally $50 dollars, now just $35 dollars. Ends: Tue/28, 2pm.

Nicole MillerReceive an extra 20 percent off all sale items now through Monday either shopping online (promo code: spring20) or in the designer’s Center City location at The Bellevue. (200 S. Broad St.)

Three Sirens BoutiqueWith the exception of items by local designers/artists, this weekend, the Old City boutique is kicking off the summer season by taking up to 20 percent off their entire inventory of summer clothing and jewelry. The sale ends at 5 p.m. on Monday. (134 N. Third St.)

Concrete Polish You have till midnight on Monday to save 20 percent on your entire order when you shop the local jewelry line’s online store (check out code: BBQ). Should you want to see designer Angela Monaco’s jewels up close first, you can do so Monday night at Silk City during their Mad Decent Mondays dance party (10pm-2am).

South Moon UnderThis weekend only, take an additional 25 percent off all the store’s already marked down selection of spring/summer items. (1731 Chestnut St.)

Joan SheppPeruse the local retailer’s huge selection of Y-3 apparel and accessories for men and women as it will all be 25 percent off now through Monday. You can either shop online (promo code: MEM25) or stop by their Center City location for the full Shepp experience. (1616 Walnut St.)

KembrelSave 40 percent off full-priced items and/or 20 percent off already reduced items this weekend when you shop online (checkout code: MEMORIALWEEKEND). 



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