Friday Arts

South Restaurant, Philadelphia Art Alliance, and artist John Sloan




South: A feast for the “Soul”

Produced by Karen Smyles

Robert and Benjamin Bynum have been livening up the food and entertainment industries here in Philadelphia since the early 90’s, and are carrying on that tradition with the opening of their newest venture South. Located on the North side of Broad Street, the restaurant is introducing diners to “New Southern” cuisine and topping it off with music from some of the best local and national jazz acts around.

This shouldn’t be surprising because it was in their blood. Their father, Benjamin Bynum, Sr., opened the Cadillac Club at 3738 Germantown Avenue in 1965, which later became the popular Impulse Discotheque. Between working at Impulse for their father and growing up over corner bars he owned when they were growing up, they got a good taste of the business. So, Robert went off to college to prepare for the business side of things and Benjamin prepared by going off to culinary school. These are the roles you’ll still find them in at South.

Currently, they own several restaurants in Philadelphia including Paris Bistro, Relish, Green Soul and Warmdaddy’s, but they wanted to do something bigger in Center City, similar to their Zanzibar Blue that closed about nine years ago. Zanzibar was fine dining and a very popular jazz club. South is all that and more.

The chef is Paul Martin from Louisiana, who has worked with the Bynum’s in their other restaurants. Martin has crafted a menu inspired by the best of Southern cooking using traditional southern ingredients, but considerably more upscale.

The restaurant provides spaces for just about whatever you might be in the mood for. There’s a comfortable bar/lounge area, a spacious open dining room, the chef’s counter where you can sit and watch food prepared and the jazz parlor.

Friday Arts talks with Robert Bynum about how it all came together and why they felt it was so important to bring it all back to Philadelphia. We also meet Chef Martin for background on the new direction of contemporary Southern food and watch him prepare a few of the most popular dishes. Philadelphia jazz musician, Gerald Veasley shares what’s happening in the jazz parlor.


Philadelphia Art Alliance: A Home for the Arts and Fine Food

Produced by Monica Rogozinski

The Art Alliance and Le Cheri have brought together the ideals of craft and design. The Art Alliance was founded as an artists club on Walnut Street in 1915, and has always found value in combining good food, good art, and good conversation. In 1926 it moved to its current location in the Rittenhouse Square neighborhood. In 2007, the Art Alliance refocused its mission exclusively on contemporary craft and design.

Le Cheri by Chef Pierre Calmels, utilizes the Art Alliance’s ideals of craft, executing an ever-changing French menu. In turn, the gallery has altered its hours to accommodate those who plan to view the exhibit around the time of their lunch and dinner experiences.

The Art Alliance’s current exhibit entitled “HUSH,” created entirely by Tyler School of Design professors, will be on display until April 24. Its goal is to create a conversation between the differing artists through subtle tranquil pieces. One of the four artists, Jessica Jane Julius, investigates the process of turning something intangible into something tangible using glass beads as her medium.

The Art Alliance isn’t the only art space that has embraced fine dining. The Kimmel Center has recently redesigned its gift shop into Volver, the flagship restaurant by Chef Jose Garces, and the new FringeArts building was conceived with restaurant LA PEG as part of its mission. Both restaurants and their respective venues will be featured in future segments of Friday Arts that explore the intertwining of art and food.


The Puzzling World of John Sloan

Produced by Michael O’Reilly

John Sloan was an artist who lived and worked in both Philadelphia and New York City at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century . He went to Philadelphia Central High School with William Glackens and Albert Barnes (of BARNES INSTITUTION fame) and when he was living in New York City, he was friendly with playwright Eugene O’Neill and John Reed (the main protagonist in the movie REDS). In between high school and New York, he was an illustrator for The Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Press where he excelled at producing a weekly puzzle. A newly restored collection of these full-color puzzles is featured in a recently installed exhibition at the Delaware Art Museum, in Wilmington, Delaware.

While in New York, Sloan pursued the life of a painter and was a part of the “ashcan school” – this was an artistic movement in the United States during the early twentieth century that is best known for works portraying scenes of daily life in New York, often in the city’s poorer neighborhoods. Paintings of gritty realism produced only lackluster sales, and yet Sloan continued to teach and paint, advising his students, “I have nothing to teach you that will help you to make a living.”

When Sloan died in 1951, he was survived by his wife (forty years his junior) Helen Farr Sloan, herself an artist and a former student. It was she that began to organize, catalog and donate Sloan’s paintings from a vast collection of unsold work to museums, including the Delaware Art Museum, which holds one of the largest collections in the country of John Sloan’s work. Everything from puzzles, on display in this special exhibition, to paintings; The work of the Sloan’s, both Helen and John, is hung upstairs, together, on view in the permanent collection.


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