The city of Philadelphia is rediscovering its deep cultural heritage as a source of enrichment, and economic and cultural revival. As the Lonely Planet’s guide for the “Top 10 US Travel Destinations for 2013” noted:
Forget the cheesesteaks and tri-corner hat, Philadelphia is becoming known as an art capital. In addition to the world renowned Philadelphia Museum of Art, the formerly remote The Barnes Foundation, a once private collection of Matisse, Renoir and Cézanne, has a new central location. And it’s not just the big museums—Philly’s gallery scene is exploding with new venues like the Icebox garnering international attention and turning the Northern Liberties and Fishtown neighborhoods into the new hot arts hub. First Fridays, the monthly gallery open house, long a tradition in Old City, has expanded to the refurbished Loft District, where the party goes on in a host of new bars, clubs and live music venues.
For some time, certain staff members and postgraduates at Queensland College of Art (QCA), Griffith, have had the good fortune to be involved as contributors and participants in the significant revival occurring in the Northern Liberties area. In 2011, when Professor Nicholas Kripal and the other members of the Crane Arts team purchased the nearby magnificent old school buildings adjacent to Saint 5 Michael’s Church to transform them into galleries and studios, QCA was offered a very favourable lease on one of the prime studios on the top floor, with a view over the city. Since then, staff, adjuncts, and postgraduates from QCA have mounted two significant exhibitions at the Ice Box at Crane Arts: Australia Felix in 2011, and Compression in 2012. In October this year, the Ice Box will host a major film event featuring film and animation from the Griffith Film School.