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February 8th, 2006
Philadelphia Foundation Gallery Exhibition Explores 'The Art of Access'

Fifty multi-media works by 26 local artists affiliated with the Samuel S. Fleisher Art Memorial are featured in the Spring exhibit at The Philadelphia Foundation’s Community Art Gallery, opening Thursday, February 9, 2006.

“The Art of Access: Community-Based Art for All Ages spotlights Fleisher’s mission of guaranteeing access to professional arts instruction for area residents, especially people of color and low income populations,” said R. Andrew Swinney, President of the $300 million community foundation hosting the exhibit. “Samuel S. Fleisher believed that the arts are vital to the life of the community. He wanted to reduce barriers, both real and presumptive, to participation in the arts, especially those barriers stemming from isolation, poverty or immigration. These values are still highly relevant today, and The Philadelphia Foundation is honored to host this exhibit”.

The exhibit, the 23rd in a series designed to introduce the Foundation’s patrons and the community to the many arts organizations in the region, opens with a reception on Thursday, Feb. 9, from 5 to 7 p.m. The exhibition is free and open to the public Mondays through Fridays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Foundation’s offices, 1234 Market Street, Suite 1800, through May 26.

“The Philadelphia Foundation established the Community Gallery to demonstrate the role of the arts in enhancing the vitality of the region and to promote greater access to the arts. We are extremely pleased to host this exhibit and help to advance opportunities for artists to explore their creative potential,” said Swinney.

The Samuel S. Fleisher Art Memorial is the nation’s oldest and largest tuition-free, community-based art school. Fleisher founded what was then called the Graphic Sketch Club in 1898 to guarantee access to professional arts instruction for children in the neighborhood where his factory workers lived. When he passed away in 1944, he left his estate to perpetuate the institution, said Meg Wise, Fleisher’s director of development.

Programs at the Samuel S. Fleisher Art Memorial include tuition-free art classes, low-cost workshops, gallery exhibitions, and artist residencies and classes in public schools and after-school venues. These programs bring enriching encounters with contemporary art to the public and provide learning environments where people of all ages, backgrounds and skill levels may explore their creativity, develop their critical capacities, and deepen their appreciation of the visual arts, said Wise.

The current exhibit includes prints, ceramics, oil paintings, drawings, watercolors and sculptures. Among the works on display is a plaster relief by Frank Gasparro, a Fleisher alumnus who went on to become chief engraver for the U.S. Mint.

The exhibit is sponsored by Wachovia Trust and Evergreen Investments.

To RSVP for the opening reception, call Elizabeth Hubbard at The Philadelphia Foundation at 215-563-6417 or e-mail ehubbard@philafound.org.

The Philadelphia Foundation, established in 1918 as the community foundation serving Southeastern Pennsylvania, connects people who care with causes that matter by helping them to establish charitable endowments. Over 700 of these funds award $21 million in grants and scholarships each year to 1,000 nonprofit organizations, said Swinney.

The Philadelphia Museum of Art is among the largest museums in the United States, with a collection of more than 227,000 works of art and more than 200 galleries presenting painting, sculpture, works on paper, photography, decorative arts, textiles, and architectural settings from Asia, Europe, Latin America, and the United States. Its facilities include its landmark Main Building on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, the Perelman Building, located nearby on Pennsylvania Avenue, the Rodin Museum on the 2200 block of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, and two 18th-century houses in Fairmount Park, Mount Pleasant and Cedar Grove. The Museum offers a wide variety of activities for public audiences, including special exhibitions, programs for children and families, lectures, concerts and films.

For additional information, contact the Communications Department of the Philadelphia Museum of Art phone at 215-684-7860, by fax at 215-235-0050, or by e-mail at pressroom@philamuseum.org. The Philadelphia Museum of Art is located on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway at 26th Street. For general information, call (215) 763-8100.

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