Features appear in each issue of Pennsylvania Heritage showcasing a variety of subjects from various periods and geographic locations in Pennsylvania.

Interpreting a city through the eyes of its artists offers unusual – if not unique­ – perspectives and insights. As these artists choose a wide variety of styles and media, so, too, they select landmarks, people, and special moments not only to convey a portrait of their city, but to capture its spirit and collective psyche as well. Their resulting images prove diverse; they are distinc­tive, humorous, moving, pro­vocative, appealing, moody, and sometimes haunting. Combined, they evoke the spirit of the city and allow viewers – perhaps for the first time in their lives – to see their familiar neighborhoods and beloved monuments in ways they had never imagined.

For Philadelphia’s residents and visitors, more than one hundred and fifty artists, through a cross-section of contemporary techniques and styles, have probed the depth and complexity of the city’s visual culture and character. They used photography, paint­ings, lithographs, screen­-printed fabrics, even computer-mediated video prints, to create images that are memorable to residents, engaging to visitors, and irre­sistibly seductive to the artists themselves. Through works spanning six decades, they have – independently and collectively – created a graphic celebration of the art and life of Philadelphia. Despite their independent visions and their diverse approaches, they share a common bond: they are students, teachers, staff, and alumni of one Philadelphia institution, The University of the Arts. And their work has been showcased by the Uni­versity in a splendid volume appropriately entitled Philadel­phia Images: Philadelphia People, Places and Pastimes by Artists from The University of the Arts.

The University of the Arts, the nation’s only university devoted exclusively to educa­tion and professional training in both the visual and per­forming arts, has played a distinguished role in the class­room and in the national arts community. Established in 1987 through the merger of century-old institutions, the Philadelphia College of Art and Design and the Philadel­phia College of Performing Arts, in addition to Philadel­phia’s historic Shubert The­ater, the university is renowned for its academic program that spans the spec­trum of artistic expression. In its brief lifetime, it has also become a model for financing higher education.

The Philadelphia College Art and Design traces its origins to 1876, when it was founded by a group of businessmen, including William Platt Pepper. James Claghorn, and Coleman Sellers. Estab­lished as the teaching arm of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, then known as the Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Art. it was a re­sponse to the flourishing inter­est in art and art education stimulated by the nation’s Centennial Exhibition held in Philadelphia in 1876. The Phil­adelphia College of Art and Design originally emphasized design applications for industry. The school began granting degrees in 1939, and the insti­tutions changed their name to the Philadelphia Museum and School of Industrial Art. An­other name change occurred nine years later when the teaching arm of the museum became formally known as the Philadelphia Museum School of Art, reflecting expanded programs that trained artists in many areas, including the fine arts. The school received ac­creditation in 1959 and again changed its name-this time to the Philadelphia Museum College of Art. Broadening its programs throughout the years to embrace the wide variety of visual arts and re­lated disciplines, the college legally separated from the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 1964 to become the Philadel­phia College of Art.

Throughout the school’s evolution and accompanying name changes, it consistently produced first rate artists and craftsmen. Alumni include photographer Irving Penn, metal-worker Samuel Yellin, filmmaker Joe Dante, and painters Sidney Goodman and Neil Welliver. Its faculty has boasted such luminaries as Maxfield Parrish, Franz Kline, and Alexander Stirling Calder.

The performing arts pro­grams of The University of the Arts date to 1870, when Wen­zel Kopta, John Himmelsbach, and Rudolph Henning, all graduates of the prestigious Conservatory of Leipzig, es­tablished one of the first European-style conservatories of music in America: the Phila­delphia Musical Academy. Attracting students from throughout the East Coast, the Philadelphia Musical Academy claimed an enrollment of two thousand pupils within a decade! Many of these early students, teachers, and gradu­ates became founders of the illustrious Philadelphia Or­chestra when it was formed in 1900.

The Philadelphia Musical Academy became an independent college of music in 1950, one of only eight in the coun­try. In 1962, the Philadelphia Conservatory of Music – the city’s second oldest music school, founded in 1877 – amalgamated with the Phila­delphia Musical Academy, and ten years later the Academy assumed control of the historic Shubert Theater. Opened in 1918, the Shubert Theater offered a tradition of quality performances by actors of stage and screen, including Mickey Rooney, Angela Lans­bury, and Liv Ullman.

Still offering only a music program, the school changed its name to the Philadelphia College of the Performing Arts in 1976. One year later, school officials took an important step toward fulfilling their dream of an ideal program of studies: the Philadelphia College of the Performing Arts acquired the former Philadelphia Dance Academy, founded by Nadia Chilkovsky in 1947. After introducing a School of Theater, the Commonwealth’s first performing arts college estab­lished formal programs in music, dance, and theater. Distinguished alumni of the Philadelphia College of the Performing Arts include pia­nist Andre Watts, composer Vincent Persichetti, dancer Judith Jamison, and jazz artist Stanley Clarke.

The year 1983 was a bench­mark in the history of both the Philadelphia College of Art and the Philadelphia College of the Performing Arts. That year the two venerable institutions – neither unfamil­iar with change and transition – launched a multi­year process that culminated in 1987 with the emergence the nation’s first university of the arts.

The University of the Arts now offers students a remark­able variety of career opportu­nities in an exciting era when the arts involve sophisticated technologies that are trans­forming the design, information, and communications industries. Currently, the University’s students prepare for more than one hundred and fifty careers in the arts, with access to computer-aided applications in architecture, graphic and industrial design, music, choreography, and animation. Undergraduate and graduate degrees include twelve different concentrations in music, opera, theater, and dance, and fifteen in design, the fine arts, and crafts. The school also offers students a special advantage: the oppor­tunity to collaborate with each other in many disciplines. For example, film students can engage theater students to act in their videos, invite composi­tion students to create musical scores, and enlist architecture students to design sets. In one of the more unusual collabora­tions, jewelry students have created “ornament for the body in motion,” which have then been choreographed and performed by students en­rolled in the University’s school of dance.

Collaborative relationships between The University of the Arts and external communities are also being fostered on a large scale, and viable working relations with business and industry are being carefully nurtured. The University’s industrial design students have worked on projects for blue chip corporations such as IBM, Black and Decker, Polar­oid, and Tyco Toys, for which a number of products have been manufactured. In collab­oration with the Graphic Arts Association, the school re­trains employees in the tri­state area in advanced electronic imaging technolo­gies responsible for transform­ing the publishing industry. Through a partnership funded by the Commonwealth’s Ben Franklin Partnership, the Uni­versity’s industrial design department has been estab­lished as a design resource for both large multi-national cor­porations and small busi­nesses, providing design management seminars and direct counseling services.

In what has emerged as a national model for artistic collaboration, The University of the Arts recently organized and produced “Festival Mythos” in partnership with the Native Land Foundation­ – and nearly one hundred na­tional and regional arts organizations and cultural institutions! During fall 1991, the city-wide event explored the impact of world mytholo­gies on the visual, performing, and literary arts. Such an extensive community activity encourages the art forms taught by the University.

Reaching directly into its surrounding constituencies, The University of the Arts forged an important artistic alliance with six community­-based organizations in Phila­delphia and Pittsburgh to serve major Latino, African­-American, and Asian popula­tions. This alliance strengthens each participating agency, aids students in finding careers in the arts, and promotes art forms reflecting the commu­nity’s distinctive diversity.

Occupying seven buildings on Philadelphia’s South Broad Street – also known as the city’s “Avenue of the Arts” – The University of the Arts has played an important role in the transformation of the area into the city’s cultural center. In 1986, the University completed the renovation – costing more than four and a half million dollars – of the 1,790-seat Shu­bert Theater, adjacent to the Academy of Music. The school manages several smaller the­ater and recital facilities, in­cluding a 300-seat theater in the former ballroom of the Drake Apartment Building. Its galleries also mount more than forty exhibitions each year.

The area will witness dra­matic changes as The Univer­sity of the Arts expands its vision. In 1993 the institution will open a new public theater facility, christened the Arts Bank, in a former bank build­ing at Broad and South streets. And South Broad Street has been selected as the site for future theaters, including the proposed new home of the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Wilma Theater. It is no coincidence that The Univer­sity of the Arts is playing a vital role in planning the neighborhood’s development.

Perhaps the most dramatic proof of the University’s vitality – not to mention its importance and influence – is the seemingly endless stream of works that pours forth from its devoted student body and dedicated faculty. These im­ages portray Philadelphia both as it was and how it is. The artists have virtually captured an important American city in an important way: through their own eyes. And these visions are, in themselves, a legacy to be savored and treasured for generations.


For Further Reading

Burt, Nathaniel. Philadelphia Discovered. Philadelphia: Greater Philadelphia Magazine, 1964.

Chew, Paul A., ed. Two Hundred and Fifty Years of Art in Penn­sylvania. Greensburg, Pa.: Westmoreland County Museum of Art, 1959.

Eliot, Alexander. Three Hundred Years of American Painting. New York: Time, Inc., 1957.

Lippincott, Horace Mather. Phil­adelphia. Philadelphia: Macrae, Smith Company, 1926.

Merlihan, James, ed. Philadel­phia Images: Philadelphia People, Places and Pastimes by Artists from The University of the Arts. Philadelphia: The University of the Arts Press, 1991.

Philadelphia: Three Centuries of American Art. Philadelphia: Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1976.

Richman, Irwin. Pennsylvania’s Painters. University Park, Pa.: Pennsylvania Historical Associa­tion, 1983.

Taylor, Joshua C. America as Art. New York: Harper and Row, 1976.

Wainwright, Nicholas B., ed. Sculpture of a City: Philadel­phia’s Treasures in Bronze and Stone. New York: Walker Publish­ing Company, Inc., 1974.

Ward, John L. American Realist Painting, 1945-1980. Ann Arbor: UMI Research Press, 1989.

Weigley, Russell F., ed. Philadel­phia: A 300-Year History. New York: W. W. Norton and Com­pany, 1982.


The editor wishes to thank The University of the Arts for its graciousness in providing illustra­tions which originally appeared in Philadelphia Images: Philadel­phia People, Places and Pas­times by Artists from The University of the Arts.


Josey Stamm is an attorney, artist, and arts administrator. As general counsel and director of external affairs of The University of the Arts, she has established innova­tive programs with major arts organizations and individual artists that have enhanced the University’s educational resources and its public role. She served as a founder, in collaboration with Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, of The Jamison Project, directed by renowned modern dancer Judith Jamison, and based the company at The University of the Arts to involve students. In 1986 she collaborated with the American Music Theater Festival to present the first International Colloquium on Music Theater, attended by performers, directors, composers, librettists, and critics from around the world. The author is director of The University of the Arts Alliance and serves as a board member for a number of nonprofit organizations, including the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. She is also producing director of Festival Mythos. Prior to joining The University of the Arts, the author practiced law in Philadelphia. A graduate of the University of Rochester and Tem­ple University School of Law, she was a special student of the Phila­delphia College of Art.