The Parkway Central Library might not be the first place you'd look for an art exhibit in Philadelphia, but the Free Library is putting on a big show for its latest, "Framing Fraktur."
The celebration, which includes four exhibits spanning three floors of the building plus programming across the region, will be held now through Sunday, June 14.
"Fraktur" is a traditional Pennsylvania German manuscript-based folk art. In laymen's terms, in 1683 German immigrants who settled in the area began creating beautifully written documents, from birth certificates to music books to religious writings. With their elaborate, ornate typography -- the letters of which often look broken up, hence the term fraktur, which sounds like "fracture" - the documents are works of art unto themselves.
The first exhibit in Parkway Central, "Word & Image," can be found in the first floor lobby and the first and second floor galleries. The exhibit juxtaposes examples of traditional fraktur, of which the Free Library Rare Book Department holds over 1,300 pieces, with contemporary text-based art. The contemporary art, which includes paintings, drawings and woodblock prints, were provided by seven artists from Pakistan, Canada, England, Romania, Germany and the U.S. Their works weren't necessarily inspired by fraktur, but rather they feature a similar cultural connection between text and art.
Anthony Campuzano, Constant Life Crisis, 2005 is featured in "Word & Image." Robert L. Pfannebecker Collection
"Quill & Brush," which you can find in the Rare Book Department," has historical hand-drawn and printed fraktur examples. "The Artful Letter" exhibit in the Art Department Gallery includes traditional and contemporary versions of fraktur, courtesy of the Philadelphia Calligraphers' Society. "Text in Prints," in the Print and Picture Collection Gallery, highlights art that combines text and image.
"Framing Fraktur" is a huge undertaking for the Free Library, spotlighting an important aspect of local art and culture. Be sure to see the exhibits at the Parkway Central branch (they are free after all!) or attend one of the many special events. For a complete listing of activities click here