Copy of Earth Day at 50 Gallery Opening

Earth Day at 50: Opening Reception

Often credited with launching the modern environmental movement, the first Earth Day took place on April 22, 1970, in a political climate thick with protests against the Vietnam War and the major American civil rights movement. On the 50th anniversary of Earth Day in 2020, it feels like a very different time. Yet, the turmoil of our own moment and the increasing urgency of the climate crisis give the historical roots of the first Earth Day new relevance.

Artists have played an important role in Earth Day from the beginning, regularly contributing graphic posters and iconography to buoy the movement, participating in Earth Day exhibitions, and offering dramatic, performative actions. Recognizing this rich legacy, this exhibition of works responds to the question of what Earth Day means (or should mean) fifty years after it was first celebrated.

The opening reception will offer a first look at the exhibition, along with refreshments and remarks from the artists and curators.

 

Year of Action: Join us in Taking Action

By Mike Weilbacher

contratsting planet (1)The New Year 2020 promises to be pivotal on a number of fronts, but especially the environment. The increasing urgency of the climate crisis has sparked higher levels of activism by new, youth-led groups like the Sunrise Movement. Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg’s lonely 2018 climates strike in front of the Swedish parliament have blossomed into climate strikes of millions of kids skipping school across the world.

The presidential election near the year’s end promises to be not only loud, but will have an out sized impact on environmental policy, with major implications for how America, and thus the world, responds to climate change.

But 2020 also marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. Philadelphia was center stage for Earth Days in 1970 and 1990, and the global holiday is now credited with launching the environmental movement. Celebrated by over a billion people each year, this April’s Earth Day promises to be huge.

In recognition of all of the above, the Schuylkill Center declares 2020 as our Year of Action and will flavor much of our programming– including our own Earth Day festival– around this concept. Nature Preschoolers will take relevant actions; our Art Department will join in the fun too. So will Land and Facilities, and many programs coming from our Education team.

We’re also asking you to take personal actions at home and in your workplace. 

How can you personally assist in cooling the climate and preserving species?

We assume as a member and friend of our Center, you likely recycle and conserve water and electricity, probably try to create less waste. So what next? Say you’d like to step up in our Year of Action– thank you! What might you do?

Share your plans at scee@schuylkillcenter.org

 

 

Nature Play Saturdays_option2

Nature Play Saturdays

Want to get outside but don’t know where to start? Bring your family for a hike and unstructured nature play with representatives from our NaturePHL program. We’ll climb, explore, and learn more about the many health benefits of outdoor activity. Meet us at the Tall Trees Playscape behind the Visitor Center and we’ll head out from there.

All ages welcome. No registration required. This event recurs every first Saturday of the month.


This program is part of NaturePHL, a collaborative program with CHOP that helps Philadelphia children and families achieve better health through activity in local parks, trails, and green spaces.

Nature Play Saturdays_option2

Nature Play Saturdays

Want to get outside but don’t know where to start? Bring your family for a hike and unstructured nature play with representatives from our NaturePHL program. We’ll climb, explore, and learn more about the many health benefits of outdoor activity. Meet us at the Tall Trees Playscape behind the Visitor Center and we’ll head out from there.

All ages welcome. No registration required. This event recurs every first Saturday of the month.


This program is part of NaturePHL, a collaborative program with CHOP that helps Philadelphia children and families achieve better health through activity in local parks, trails, and green spaces.

Latinx Community Day_colores_para_Duenas_3

Latinx Community Day

Play, explore, and discover the beauty of nature in an outdoor family festival celebrating Latinx culture. Families of all backgrounds are welcome to join us for canoeing, games, bilingual guided hikes, live music, arts and crafts, and live animal shows, with a food truck on hand to fuel the fun. The rain date will be Saturday, October 13.

 

This free event is co-sponsored by Concilio de Organizaciones Hispanas and Congreso de Latinos Unidos; please RSVP. For transportation options, contact Eduardo Duenas at 610-909-0690.

 

Juega, explora, y descubre la belleza de la naturaleza en un festival familiar al aire libre que celebra la cultura Latina. Las familias de todos los orígenes son bienvenidas a participar de paseos en canoas, juegos, caminatas con guías bilingües, manualidades y espectáculo de animales en vivo, habrá música en vivo y un camión de comida para alimentar la diversión. En caso de lluvia el evento será reprogramado para el 13 de Octubre. Este evento gratuito es co patrocinado por Concilio de Organizaciones Hispanas y Congreso de Latinos Unidos. Para reservar haz click en el enlace (link). Para opciones de transporte, comuníquese con Eduardo Dueñas al 610-909-0690.

Day Off Camp Living Underground

Day-off Camp: Living Underground

When schools are closed, we’re open! Bring your kids to the Schuylkill Center for a day of fun and exploration. Discover a whole world of creatures who are cloaked by their environment. We will investigate under rocks, logs and brush piles while learning about why these unique environments are essential to societies beyond their own. We will take and share photographs of our discoveries while reflecting on our experiences together. Please bring a packed lunch and a water bottle. Wear weather-appropriate clothing. Extended day until 6:00 pm is available for an additional $15/day.

For ages 5–12 | 8:00 am–3:00 pm | Members: $52 | Non-members: $62. Programs with a field trip may include an additional fee. Registration is required.

Please note, day-off camps will be cancelled ONE WEEK PRIOR if the minimum number of participants is not reached by then. Please register soon; space is limited.

 Canoeing

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Kids Run Wild

Come out for the first-ever Kids Run Wild race along our trails. This event will feature an age-appropriate races for kids from pre-K to 8th grade, and provide a fun and safe opportunity for kids to get outdoors and run. Every participant will receive a nature-themed race bib, finishing medal, and race packet. Required registration is $7 for members and $10 for the general public. Please register by Saturday, Sept 1. 

Register now_green

NATURAL SELECTIONS: Art in the Open: Selections from 2018 at the Schuylkill Center

By Christina Catanese

A mysterious, vine-woven figure recently appeared behind the Schuylkill Center’s Visitor Center building. Though lacking facial features or limbs per se, it feels human-ish and appears to gaze over the hill into the forest.

This sculpture, created by Brooklyn-based artist Anki King, was the first piece from our fall exhibition to be installed this summer. King harvested vines from the Schuylkill Center property while they were still growing strong in the height of the August growing season for maximum benefit to the ecosystem as well as pliability.

Over the next few weeks, nine more artists will install their work in our environmental art gallery before the show officially opens on Sept. 13. Their work spans a diverse range of practices and materials – along with this vine sculpture, there will be on display wet plate collodion photography, weavings from discarded textiles, ceramic tiles with embroidery details, drawings, polaroids, cyanotypes, printed monotypes and more.

What these works have in common is that all of the artists were 2018 participants in Art in the Open, a public art program in which selected artists create their work on Philadelphia’s Schuylkill Banks for three days. We are pleased to be offering these artists the opportunity to adapt their work to our spaces, continuing our partnership with this citywide program for the third time.

Akin to King, Sivan Ilan utilized unconventional materials in her work, challenging their typical perception as waste or undesirable materials. A master’s student in textile design at Philadelphia University, she created large woven panels made exclusively from scrap fabric found in the university’s studios.

Mia Rosenthal and Christopher Wood present different kinds of drawings which shed light on how a place participates in the drawings themselves.

Rosenthal created detailed ink drawings of items that she found on the ground on the River Trail, as well as in her neighborhood playground. These meticulous portraits of local detritus reveal something about the character of their place.

Wood, in addition to continuing his Daydrawing series (in which he has completed a new powdered graphite drawing each day since Jan. 1, 2016), experimented with ways that the environment could participate in the drawings. He left paper with graphite in various locations on the trail, sometimes weighted with different objects, and allowed the weather and place to shape the material.

Looming large in the room will be a place-specific sculpture transplanted into the gallery by Matt Greco and Chris Esposito. This team participated in Art in the Open for the third time together this year and created an aggrandized form of a bollard – those posts used to secure a ship to a dock with ropes, a ubiquitous element from the Schuylkill River’s shipping history. Blowing this often overlooked object up to a size that cannot be ignored forces reflection on how this industrial legacy may still be felt today.

These works and more draw inspiration from place in a variety of ways, and the particular location of Art in the Open, between the Schuylkill River and the deeply urban built environment of Center City Philadelphia, offers an opportunity for artists to comment on and complicate the relationship between people and nature. Transplanting these works to the Schuylkill Center site, which also borders the River Trail about 10 miles north of the Art in the Open site, gives us a chance to consider these relationships from yet another angle.

Please join us to meet the artists at the opening reception of Art in the Open: Selections from 2018 on Sept. 13 at 6 p.m. Enjoy artist talks, light refreshments in the gallery and a short walk to the outdoor installation. Art in the Open: Selections from 2018 will be on view through Oct. 27.

Christina Catanese directs the Schuylkill Center’s environmental art program, tweets @SchuylkillArt. This blog was originally published in the Montgomery News August 29.

Field Guide: Winter Understory Trees

By Melissa Nase, Manager of Land Stewardship

With so many efforts dedicated to tracking the biggest or tallest members of our forest, I thought it was a worthy endeavor to dedicate some time to these smaller, perhaps lesser known, understory trees in our woods.  While they will never be the biggest or tallest or most majestic, they deserve accolades of their own.  Many produce fruit that are prized by birds and mammals, especially during these winter months.  Others provide habitat and cover.  And others are just simply beautiful trees, small in stature, but with intricate details that are much easier to observe up close due to their size.

Dogwood (Cornus florida)
Dogwood (Cornus florida)
A common tree in both the woodland and residential landscape, this tree is easily identified by its white spring blooms in April or May.  In the winter, however, the bark and form gives it away.  With its light tan, scaly, shallowly furrowed bark, dogwoods take on an alligator type texture.  It has a graceful, pyramidal form and is often low branching or multi-stemmed.  Later in winter, the buds of new flowers will form like little caps on the ends of the upward facing branches. 

Sassafras (Sassafras albidum)
Sassafras (Sassafras albidum)
When you find a sassafras tree, you tend to find many sassafras trees.  This is one native plant that suckers readily, sending up new shoots from its root system, forming clusters of new trees.  In the forest, they are typically found in groves, easily identified by their twisted, gnarly shaped branches.  The brown bark is deeply furrowed and forms rectangular blocks with horizontal “breaks”.

Persimmon (Diospyros virginiana)
Persimmon (Diospyros virginiana)
While the common persimmon is not as common at the Schuylkill Center as the two aforementioned understory trees, there are a handful of them spread throughout old meadows and fields here.  This is another tree with distinct bark:  it resembles the scales of a dogwood, but it is thicker, more deeply furrowed, and very blocky.  You may see bright orange, plum-sized fruits hanging from its bare branches from fall through the winter.  Often they are too high to reach, but you may get lucky to snag one for a snack before the wildlife does.

Pawpaw (Asimina triloba)
Pawpaw (Asimina triloba)
You may have come across a pawpaw grove on a hike in our woods and not even have realized it.  The few young groves that exist here more closely resemble sticks in the ground during the winter than a distinct cluster of trees and saplings.  Like sassafras, pawpaws spread through their underground root system, forming new trees by sending up shoots.  They can also be propagated fairly easily through seed, although pawpaw often has trouble with pollination and therefore its fruit production is often unreliable.  Pawpaws have smooth grey-brown bark that gets slightly more textured with age and dark brown buds.  They often have arching trunks and don’t branch until more mature.

Dotted Hawthorn (Crataegus punctata)
Dotted Hawthorn (Crataegus punctata)
Dotted hawthorns grow along forest edges and in old meadows and fields.  At the Schuylkill Center, they were planted in the 1960s along a fence row toward the front edge of the property to discourage trespassing.  How would a tree discourage trespassing, you may wonder.  Hawthorns have sharp spiky thorns, sometimes several inches long, which could be very painful to any passerby.  These thorns on the branches are a good way to identify the plant, as well as their bright red berries that persist through the winter as food for birds.  It has greyish bark that is irregularly ridged and furrowed.

Enjoy our January mobile field guide as you walk, hike, and play in the winter forest.  See other Field Guide posts here.

Witch Hazel

Field Guide: October Colors

By Melissa Nase, Manager of Land Stewardship

Enjoy our October mobile field guide as you walk, hike, and play in the fall forests.  See other Field Guide posts here.

Highbush Blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum) and Blue Wood Aster (Symphotrichum cordifolium)

Highbush blueberry and Blue wood asterThe deep red foliage of the blueberry bush is a great contrast to the lighter, more delicate blue wood aster.  Both of these plants have their own unique characteristics.  Highbush blueberries produce edible fruit enjoyed by humans and birds and are a nice, sculptural addition to your garden.  The blue wood asters provide a mat of tiny flowers throughout the fall season.  They tend to reseed vigorously.  Look for them in our Sensory Garden and in our forest.

Poison Ivy (Toxicodendron radicans)
Poison IvyWhile you may have your own opinion on poison ivy, I’d like you to try to suspend your negative associations of rashes and calamine lotion and take in the beauty of the fall foliage.  Poison ivy is a common native vine that you may see on the forest floor or climbing up trees.  Often times, as in this photo, it’s easy to mistake the poison ivy branches for tree branches.  While you may question the  direct value of this plant to humans, the dark berries that it produces are an important winter food source for birds.  Plus, its bright yellow to orange fall color is a great pop of color in the autumn forest. Continue reading