This fall's blockbuster show won't be inside the Philadelphia Museum of Art but outdoors, on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. It's "Open Air," a public-art project by the Mexican-Canadian artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer. The nighttime light show, created by 24 powerful searchlights placed along a half-mile section of the Parkway, is both technologically sophisticated and participatory - a cellphone app will allow members of the public to alter the position and intensity of the lights. (The artists also, after protests from bird lovers, has promised modifications to decrease the lights' effect on migrating flocks.)
"Open Air" was commissioned by the Association for Public Art, formerly the Fairmount Park Art Association. Is it really art or merely a spectacular entertainment? We'll find out at 8 p.m. Thursday, when the show opens. The lights will be on for three hours nightly through Oct. 14. Learn more at http://openairphilly.net.
If outdoor art doesn't appeal, plenty of traditional museum stuff awaits you through the end of the year. Keep reading.
Winslow Homer's Life Line (Philadelphia Museum of Art, Saturday-Dec. 16, 215-763-8100 or www.philamuseum.org) While living in an English fishing village in 1881-82, Homer was inspired by a shipwreck to explore the ocean's power in paintings such as The Life Line. The Philadelphia Museum of Art, which owns this masterwork, has organized a major exhibition around it.
"A Mine of Beauty" (Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Sept. 29-Dec. 30, 215-972-7600 or www.pafa.org) Under this title, PAFA will exhibit a recent gift of 110 watercolors by Philadelphia native William Trost Richards (1833-1905), one of America's most important landscape painters. The show also will include a selection of his oils.
Power to people (Institute of Contemporary Art, Wednesday-Dec. 30, 215-898-7108 or www.icaphila.org) Jeremy Deller is a British artist who puts people at the center of his work. Beginning this week at ICA, Philadelphians will be able to sample this Turner Prize winner's installations, photographs, videos, posters, banners, performance works, and sound pieces.
Workshop narrative (Fabric Workshop and Museum, Saturday-mid-November, 215-561-8888 or www.fabricworkshopand
museum.org) Since its founding in 1977, the Fabric Workshop and Museum has provided a fertile creative environment for dozens of artists in residence. The exhibition "An Odyssey," curated by Mark Rosenthal, will showcase ways they have expanded contemporary artistic practice.
Duchamp's legacy (Philadelphia Museum of Art, Oct. 30-Jan. 21, 215-763-8100 or www.philamuseum.org) The Art Museum has organized "Dancing Around the Bride," a show of more than 200 works, to illuminate how Marcel Duchamp influenced four major American artists - composer John Cage, choreographer Merce Cunningham, and painters Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg.
Early Franz Kline (Allentown Art Museum, Oct. 7-Jan. 13, 610-432-4333 or www.allentownartmuseum.org) Before he became a bold abstract expressionist, Kline painted the coal towns of northeast Pennsylvania, where he was born. The Allentown museum is exhibiting some of these pictures, juxtaposed with later works, in the show "Coal and Steel."
"Creative Hand, Discerning Heart" (James A. Michener Art Museum, through Dec. 30, 215-340-9800 or www.michenerartmuseum.org) The Michener has organized a two-part exhibition that seeks to reveal connections among prominent contemporary artists in the region. The first part, which opened Sept. 8, presents the artist as seeker, storyteller, observer, and dreamer.
"Picturing Poe" (Brandywine River Museum, through Nov. 15, 610-388-2700 or www.brandywinemuseum.org) A number of famous artists, from Edouard Manet to Robert Motherwell, have been inspired by the writings of Edgar Allan Poe. This exhibition, continuing at the Brandywine Museum through Nov. 15, reveals how more than two dozen artists and illustrators responded to Poe's often bizarre imagery.
Dessner retrospective (Woodmere Art Museum, Oct. 13 to Jan. 6, 215-247-0476 or www.woodmereartmuseum.org) The Woodmere in Chestnut Hill will present a retrospective exhibition for Philadelphia abstract painter Murray Dessner. The show will cover more than 40 years, from hard-edged abstractions of the late 1960s to his recent softly atmospheric compositions.
Centennial finale (Delaware Art Museum, Oct. 20-Jan. 13, 2012, 302-571-9590 or www.delart.org) Delaware will close its 100th anniversary celebration with a juried exhibition of work by 97 artists living within 100 miles of the Wilmington museum. Encompassing a variety of media, the show will identify trends expected to emerge regionally.
"The Female Gaze" (Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Nov. 17-April 7, 2013, 215-972-7600 or www.pafa.org) Linda Lee Alter's collection of art by women, which she presented to PAFA two years ago, is the source of this exhibition of work by more than 150 artists of local and national reputation are represented.
Speaking of full spectrums, there's plenty going on in the museum world in the region this fall. Here's more from contributing art critic Edward J. Sozanski:
"Full Spectrum" (Philadelphia Museum of Art, through Nov. 25) The Art Museum is celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Brandywine Workshop with this exhibition of prints by more than 50 artists. (215-763-8100 or www.philamuseum.org)
Ferrer in Lancaster (Lancaster Museum of Art, through Nov. 11) The Lancaster museum just opened the first major survey of works on paper by Rafael Ferrer, The Puerto Rican native worked and taught for many years in Philadelphia beginning in 1966. (717-394-3497 or www.lmapa.org)
"Ancestors' Bones" (Mechanical Hall gallery, University of Delaware, through Dec. 9) Martha Jackson-Jarvis transforms vintage photographs of African American families and communities into multimedia generational narratives. (302-831-8037 or www.udel.edu/museums)
"Parting Gifts" (James A. Michener Art Museum, through Dec. 9) A selection of donations to the Michener museum honoring the Bruce Katsiff, who recently retired after more than two decades as director. (215-340-9800 or www.michenerartmuseum.org)
"A New Look" (Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, through April 14, 2013) This installation at PAFA uses a famous painting by Samuel F.B. Morse, Gallery of the Louvre, to investigate art education, mentorship and practice. (215-972-7600 or www.pafa.org)
"Signature Artists" (Noyes Museum of Art, through Nov. 25) Thirty jury-selected artists from throughout New Jersey are exhibiting at the Noyes in Oceanville. All have previously shown in museums or galleries. (609-652-8848 or www.noyesmuseum.org)
"Ooga Booga" (Institute of Contemporary Art, Sept. 26-Dec. 16) The ICA will re-create this center for independent art, design, fashion, and music in the heart of Los Angeles' Chinatown (215-898-7108 or www.icaphila.org)
Animals in art (Reading Public Museum, Sept. 29-Jan 13) Two related exhibitions in the Reading will showcase depictions of animals in works from the museum's collection and contemporary glass sculptures of animals by Will Dexter. (610-371-5850 or www.readingpublicmuseum.org)
"Form, Fashion, Reflection" (Philadelphia Museum of Art, Oct. 6-March 10) The first major overview of the multi-disciplinary approach to fashion design practiced by Ronaldus Shamask, who was inspired in part by origami. (215-763-8100 or www.philamuseum.org)
"Finding Home" (Noyes Museum of Art, Oct. 5-Jan. 27, 2013) Seth Camm paints portraits of residents of an Atlantic City homeless shelter as a way of calling attention to their situation. The Noyes will exhibit a selection. (609-652-8848 or www.noyesmuseum.org)
"Dancing Into Dreams" (Princeton University Art Museum, Oct. 6-Feb. 17, 2013) This exhibition at the Princeton University Art Museum will present a group of exceptional ceramic drinking cups from a single Maya center in Guatemala. (609-258-3788 or www.princetonartmuseum.org)
Four Visions/Four Painters (Berman Museum, Ursinus College, Oct. 6-Jan. 11, 2013) The work of four painters associated with the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts - Murray Dessner, Bruce Samuelson, Elizabeth Osborne, and Vince Desiderio - will be on view at the Berman Museum. (610-409-3500 or http://ursinus.edu.berman)
"So Beautifully Illustrated" (Delaware Art Museum, Oct. 6-Jan. 6, 2013) The Delaware museum surveys the work of Katharine Wireman (1878-1966), a student of Howard Pyle who became known for her magazine covers. (302-571-9590 or www.delart.org)
Documentary classics (Allentown Art Museum, Oct. 7-Jan. 13, 2013) Photographs that Walker Evans made of the social landscape in the Lehigh Valley during the Depression will be on view in Allentown. (610-432-4333 or www.allentownartmuseum.org)
"Generations" (Woodmere Art Museum, Oct. 13-Jan. 6), This exhibition examines the relationships among three artists - Louise Fishman, her mother, Gertrude Fisher-Fishman, and her aunt, Razel Kapustin. (215-247-0476 or www.woodmereartmuseum.org)
"City of Gold" (Princeton University Art Museum, Oct. 20- Jan. 20) The Princeton museum will explore the history and archaeology of an ancient city in Cyprus known for its splendid gold jewelry. (609-258-3788 or www.princetonartmuseum.org)
"Painted Rooms" (Winterthur, Nov. 3 through spring) Winterthur will display 14 "portraits" of rooms at the famed decorative arts museum painted by British artist Michael John Hunt. (302-888-4600 or www.winterthur.org)
"Double Portrait" (Philadelphia Museum of Art, Dec. 2-April 14, 2013) This Art Museum show considers the careers of illustrator Seymour Chwast and graphic designer Paula Scher. (215-763-8100 or www.philamuseum.org)