Philadelphia Art Alliance Showcases Wetherill Mansion with Fundraiser

Former PA Governor Ed Renell and Chef Nicholas Elmi at The Phila. Art Alliance
(L to R) Former PA Governor Ed Renell and Chef Nicholas Elmi at The Philadelphia Art Alliance
By A.D. AMOROSI

On Friday, Rittenhouse Square’s Philadelphia Art Alliance (PAA) held a fundraiser, “Spring at the Mansion”, with urban planner Janice Woodcock (PAA Executive Interim Director) and publicist Nicole Cashman (PAA Board Member/Event Chair) as its hosts. A handsome crowd showed for the event, led by former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, his young philanthropist son, Jesse, Greater Philadelphia Film Office boss Sharon Pinkenson and her husband, Electronic Ink Chairman Joe Weiss. Beyond celebrity, the intimate crowd was there to celebrate the past and the future of what that property was first known as: The Wetherill Mansion.

“The Wetherill Mansion is one of the oldest art centers in the U.S.," says Woodcock. “It isn’t affiliated with any larger organization - i.e. an art museum or a university - therefore finding funding can be difficult.”  That’s why events such as “Spring at the Mansion” are important. Woodcock talked about the Philadelphia Art Alliance’s new management, new businesses such as the Parlor Shop consignment space, and the now year-old Rittenhouse Tavern, whose Executive Chef Nicholas Elmi cooked for the "Spring at the Mansion" event (it was one of his last gigs for the Rittenhouse Tavern; Elmi announced on Saturday that he was leaving at the end of May so he could open his own restaurant).

“Recently, The Philadelphia Art Alliance acknowledged a void in Philadelphia’s visual art community and re-focused its vision on contemporary craft and design,” says Woodcock. “While there, you can talk with an artist, be alone and wander the galleries, see a performance or show. The element of ‘craft’ allows for a combination of experiences unlike any other art institution.”

While working on its plans to rehab its grand piano, its lighting systems throughout its galleries, and its historic murals, Woodcock began focusing on some of the hidden elements of the Wetherill itself. One thing she discovered was how, when it was purchased by the Art Alliance in 1926, its sitting room became the men’s parlor. “While other ground-floor spaces served as living rooms for all members, the men’s parlor was off limits to women,” states Woodcock.

Cashman mentioned that she wanted “Spring in the Mansion” to be a progressive event that took guests through a journey of the impressive property. Her love of contemporary craft and design is what inspired her to join the board of the PAA in the first place, especially since she studied Design at Drexel University, and has been looking for an organization to support. “Plus, they once operated a "speakeasy" in the basement of the mansion,” says Cashman with a laugh. To Cashman, the Wetherill Mansion and the Philadelphia Art Alliance should not be viewed as stodgy and distant, but instead, as a vibrant part of Philly's aesthetic past and future. "That's how people should look at the Mansion, "says Cashman.”It should be the living room for Rittenhouse Square, something open and fun for young and old, not something stuffy."

For more info: PhilaArtAlliance.org

(L to R) John Pcsolar and Alan Sandman at the Philadelphia Art Alliance
(L to R) John Pcsolar and Alan Sandman at the Philadelphia Art Alliance

(L to R)Eddie Tully, Nigel Richard and Peter Dello Buono at the Philadelphia Art Alliance
(L to R) Eddie Tully, Nigel Richard, and Peter Dello Buono at the Philadelphia Art Alliance

Jessy Kyle Band behind Nicole Cashman at the Philadelphia Art Alliance
Jessy Kyle Band behind Nicole Cashman at the Philadelphia Art Alliance
Photos ©A.D. Amorosi for Glamorosi 2013

Posted on Monday, May 6, 2013

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