Art Galleries in Philadephia You Need to Visit

July 22, 2015

Home to the oldest museum in the United States, Philadelphia is the city with flourishing art scene. From the streets where you can see spectacular murals (note that Philadelphia has more public art than any other city in the United States) to hidden exhibition places, such as the extraordinary labyrinth decorated with mosaics, to sweet little art galleries exhibiting contemporary art, or the studio that is all about clay, the fifth-most-populous city in the country does not lack art content. Parts of Philly such as South Street and Old City have a vibrant night life and are home to the most exquisite galleries. The first Friday night of each month, rain or shine, the Old City Arts Association hosts First Friday, an unique and insanely popular cultural event, which started when a group of galleries in Old City held a collaborative “open house” for art show openings. It quickly became one of Philadelphia's most interesting, distinctive cultural events, and extended from the Old City to other neighborhoods. Nowadays, First Fridays often take the form of an "art walk", with a plethora of exciting events for art lovers of all kinds.
Since the choice of art galleries in Philadelphia is very extensive, we're making our suggestion.

Arch Enemy Arts - Old City's Freshest Venue

Arch Enemy Arts is located in Philadelphia's Old City District and established in 2012. The gallery claims to be the freshest new art place in the city, exhibiting both international and local artwork, encompassing lowbrow, representational, pop surrealism, photo-realism, decorative, figurative, urban, macabre and illustrative style art, in different mediums and by both acclaimed and young artists. It seems that the gallery-owners are not exaggerating, since this place won the Philadelphia Magazine's "Best of Philly"™ Best Art Gallery for its 40th Anniversary issue and scored the first place on Philly HotList's Best Gallery in 2013, and in 2012.

Images courtesy of Arch Enemy Arts

Philadelphia's Magic Gardens - The Hidden Gem on the South Street

As the name suggests, Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens is the most magical place in Philly. It is a non-profit organization, folk art venue and gallery space. This hidden gem is spanning across the area of 3,000 square feet (280 m2) and located on the South Street, notorious for its alternative and bohemian vibe. If you pay the ticket, you will enter Isaiah Zagar's mosaic and mural palace. It took him 14 years to create this unique venue, which consists of indoor galleries and large outdoor labyrinth. It hosts mosaics and sculptures made out of everything you could imagine, from bicycle wheels via glittering mirrors to old bottles. Although it can be visited in 15 minutes, most visitors take much more time to absorb the visual explosion that is surrounding them. Anyone who has entered this whimsical and colorful place claims that photos don't do any justice - you have to see it yourself.

Images courtesy of Philadelphia's Magic Gardens

Institute of Contemporary Art - Premier Contemporary Art Spot

Institute of Contemporary art was founded in 1963, and since its beginnings, it has been focused on discovering up-and-coming stars of the contemporary art world. The best example is Andy Warhol's first solo exhibition in 1965 that was hosted by the Institute and which attracted a great deal of attention, launching him into the stardom. Some of the other artists who had their first shows in this venue are Laurie Anderson, Vija Celmins, Karen Kilimnik, Agnes Martin and Robert Indiana. The place, which has been defining the latest trends in contemporary art, is associated with the University of Pennsylvania, and situated on its premises. The current building, built in 1990, is wide, spacious and providing enough room for the artists to get wild with their paintings and installations.

Images courtesy of ICA

Vox Populi - The Self-organized Collective

Vox Populi is the exhibition place and an artistic collective, which was established in 1988, when seven artists met at a local bar and decided to tackle the problem of too few artistic opportunities, through self-organized action. They formed Vox Populi, found a venue, and  recruited 30 new members. Nowadays, Vox Populi hosts solo and group exhibitions of its members, but also guest exhibitions. In addition to that, it organizes performances, lectures and gallery talks. It is the venue where under-represented artists receive valuable support and the attention they need. It is clear that Philadelphia need a space where artists can exchange their ideas and influence each other's artistic growth.

Image courtesy of Chiaozza

The Clay Studio - The Ceramics Paradise

The Clay Studio is an exhibition space, a ceramics studio and a community-oriented educational venue. It all started in 1974, when a group of artists needed a space for creating ceramic art. They were aware that professionals, fresh out of art school, are in need of a space where they could work, explore and exchange ideas. Soon, The Clay Studio became the place with educational role, with the aim to engage the whole community, from children and art lovers to professionals, and show that clay is an accessible, tactile medium. By organizing numerous educational events and exhibitions, their goal is to turn the spotlight on ceramic arts. One thing is sure - you cannot stay indifferent to the stunning works of ceramics in The Clay Studio.

Image courtesy of The Clay Studio