Garden tours and jazz fests this weekend

The tour features "Giant Three-Way Plug" by Claes Oldenburg.
The tour features "Giant Three-Way Plug" by Claes Oldenburg.
Posted: June 29, 2012

THE PHILADELPHIA Museum of Art's Anne d'Harnoncourt Memorial Sculpture Garden tour engages visitors in a discussion of art beyond the museum's walls.

This garden atop the museum's parking garage opened in 2009. Installations include Claes Oldenburg's iconic "Giant Three-Way Plug," Scott Burton's "Steel Woman II" and work by prominent Japanese-American artist and landscape architect Isamu Noguchi.  The manipulation of stone in Noguchi's work relates intimately to the garden's rocky topography and takes advantage of the landscape.

"Noguchi's work was a natural fit," said Adelina Vlas, assistant curator in modern and contemporary art. "There was an allure to the relationship between his material choice and the site, generating a multilayered context that strengthens our understanding."

The scale and materiality of the sculptures is especially stimulating viewed in relationship to a landscape that changes with the season. With the museum, the Schuylkill River and Fairmount Park as a backdrop, the sculpture garden offers a lively way to view and think about art. Tours gather at the museum's West Entrance and are weather-dependent.

Anne d'Harnoncourt Memorial Sculpture Garden Tour, 1-2 p.m. Saturday, free with museum admission ($3.50-$19.50), Philadelphia Museum of Art, 26th Street and the Ben Franklin Parkway, 215-684-7602, philamuseum.org.

— Alyssa Stein

JAZZED-UP in CHESTER CO.

This weekend's Chester County Jazz Festival celebrates two interpretations of the definitive American sound: smooth and Brazilian jazz. The festival features performances by smooth-jazz guitar legend Peter White (Friday) and saxophonist Warren Hill (Saturday).

Some die-hard jazz fans spurn smooth jazz, but the genre has its roots in several popular styles of African-American music from the 20th century. Developed in the 1960s, smooth jazz took elements from classic jazz, R&B, and pop music. The resulting sound blends the familiar brass and reed instruments of jazz and catchy or mellow melodies unique to R&B in the '50s and '60s.

White's music often forgoes classic sax, trumpet and trombone accompaniment in favor of relaxing guitar riffs. Hill provides a more familiar jazz sound, reminiscent of sultry West Coast jazz ballads of the '50s.

A host of musicians round out the three three-day festival, including Sunday headliner and smooth-jazz pioneer Ronnie Laws. Guitarist B.D. Lenz plays Saturday. And the Karen Rodriguez Latin Jazz Ensemble helps open the final day Sunday, adding a dose of world culture.

Chester County Jazz Festival 2012, Friday through Sunday, prices and locations vary, some events free, 610-365-1404, chestercountyjazzfestival.com.

— Mary Sydnor Art Attack is a partnership with Drexel University and is supported by a grant from the Knight/NEA Community Arts Journalism Challenge, administered by the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance.

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