[Text by Sam Gulino]
[Photos by Chris Trigaux]
On June 16, on a perfect early-summer evening, a bunch of Philadelphians, most of whom didn’t know each other, got together for a cookout.
They brought marinated cucumbers and lasagna. Pasta salad and Hawaiian chicken. An ominously-labeled “Juicer Pulp Salad” that turned out to be incredibly tasty. People helped themselves to the piles of burgers and hot dogs that came off the grill. And bottles of Brooklyn Brewery Lager, Pennant Ale, and Brown Ale were distributed.
In the beautiful outdoor Green Space of the Crane Arts Center, there was eating and drinking and laughing and the making of new friends. Some residents of the surrounding neighborhood, which has resisted gentrification, passed outside the vine-covered fences that enclose the Green Space. Peering in, one commented loudly that it “must be some kind of art thing.” They were invited to come in and join us. They declined. The resistance goes on.
As the sun set, the event moved into Crane’s cavernous Ice Box exhibition space and the same Philadelphians who had filled the Green Space with laughter and conversation sat silently as the first slideshow began. The works of local artists, many of whom were in attendance, filled a wall.
The silence didn’t last long. There were gasps. There was applause. There was laughter. There was one clearly audible “oh, wow.”
It was an evening that appealed to many different tastes. Some people were drawn to the burgers. Some only wanted the vegetarian fare. Some liked the slideshows with serious subjects. Some preferred the lighthearted pieces that left them laughing. But the crowd was able to agree on two things…that it was an evening that was over far too soon, and that we had served them some damned good beer.