African-American Exhibits, Shows & Performances Highlight Philadelphia’s Fall Arts Calendar


As the fall arts season swings into high gear, culture vultures visiting Philadelphia will find plenty of African-American exhibitions, shows and performances to pack their travel to-do lists. Autumn brings the sculptural works of internationally renowned artist and Philly native Barbara Chase-Riboud to the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the multi-medium talents of two generations of the Philadelphia-based Tiberino family to the African American Museum in Philadelphia.  The season’s jam-packed arts calendar rounds out with performances by the city’s internationally renowned dance troupe (Philadanco) and the 15th anniversary of an award ceremony that this year honors Berry Gordy (Marian Anderson Award). Here’s a look at the upcoming season:


Barbara Chase- Riboud, 74, with her work 'Malcolm X #3,' 1969

Barbara Chase- Riboud, 74, with her work ‘Malcolm X #3,’ 1969

At the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Barbara Chase-Riboud: The Malcolm X Styles presents a comprehensive survey of more than 40 works by the author, sculptor and native Philadelphian. Her first solo museum show in more than 10 years, the exhibit focuses on her Malcolm X styles, which were inspired by her experiences during the Civil Rights movement. Through January 20, 2014. 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, (215) 763-8100,

Black Bodies in Propaganda: The Art of the War Poster

Black Bodies in Propaganda: The Art of the War Poster

The Penn Museum takes a fascinating look at war propaganda in Black Bodies in Propaganda: The Art of the War Poster. Curated by PBS History Detectives host Tukufu Zuberi, the provocative exhibit presents 33 wartime posters, mostly targeting Africans and African-Americans, from the Civil War, World Wars I and II and African independence movements. Through March 2, 2014. 3260 South Street, (215) 898-4000,


Tides of Freedom: African Presence on the Delaware River launches the Independence Seaport Museum’s “River of Freedom” series with an exploration of the concept of freedom through the lens of the African experience along the Delaware. PBS storyteller Tukufu Zuberi narrates the journey through recently uncovered artifacts from the museum’s collection, gripping first-person accounts and interactive elements, including an ongoing social media discussion encouraged at various points of the exhibition. Through 2015. Penn’s Landing, 211 S. Columbus Boulevard, (215) 413-8655,

With an abundance of talent spread over several generations, the Philly-based Tiberino family of artists has long had a history of nurturing creativity. This season, The African American Museum in Philadelphia exhibits works by Ellen Powell and Joseph Tiberino and their children Joseph, Ellen, Ralphael and Gabriele. The Unflinching Eye: Works of the Tiberino Family Circle includes ceramics, paintings, stained glass, mixed-media murals and other works by the family and other artists associated with the family. September 27, 2013-March 30, 2014. 701 Arch Street, (215) 574-0380,


This season, audiences have two opportunities to catch the internationally renowned dance company Philadanco. On October 5, 2013, the troupe’s up-and-coming stars perform fresh new works in Danco on Danco. Painted Bride Art Center, 230 Vine Street, (215) 925-9914, Then, on December 6-8, 2013, the company presents A Tribute to Christopher Huggins, a program featuring selections by the famed choreographer. Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, 300 S. Broad Street, (215) 893-1999,,

Part of the national celebration of diasporic African dance, Dance Africa Philadelphia! (DAP!) presents three days of African dance with such dance ensembles as KuluMele, Big 5 Upfront and Illstyle Peace Productions. DAP! rounds out the celebrations with music, lectures, exhibitions, master classes and the Afro Beauty: Health and Wellness Marketplace. November 7-9, 2013. Various venues in West Philadelphia, (215) 387-1911,


Set amidst the rise of anti-colonialism Southern Africa in 1895, The Convert follows the emotional and powerful story of Jekesai, a young girl forced to choose between her newfound religion and the gods of her ancestors. Written by Obie-award winning playwright Danai Gurira, the play explores the collision of traditional African cultures and Western influences and the impact that still reverberates today. October 9-November 10, 2013. Wilma Theater, 265 S. Broad Street,

During one summer weekend at Martha’s Vineyard, the LeVay brothers bring their girlfriends home to meet their parents. What could possibly go wrong?  Previously seen on Broadway last season, Stick Fly offers a raucous portrait of an affluent African-American family, keeping it real with humor and on-the-mark observations about family life. October 24-December 22, 2013. Arden Theatre, 40 N. 2nd Street, (215) 922-1122,

The only festival of its kind in the world, the 12th annual First Person Arts Festival returns for a 10-day celebration of the power of storytelling. Scheduled artists include Toni Morrison and Philadelphia’s first Poet Laureate Sonia Sanchez. November 6-16, 2013. (267) 402-2055,

The Marian Anderson Award celebrates its 15th anniversary with a star-studded evening of popular music in tribute to the founder of Motown, the groundbreaking musician, producer and star-maker Berry Gordy. Old school meets current chart-toppers with host Chris Tucker and special appearances by Smokey Robinson, Kool and the Gang, Cody Wise, Boyz II Men and Philadelphia’s own Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff. November 19, 2013. Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, 300 S. Broad Street, (215) 893-1999,

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