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From the palette to the ballot: Gallery opens doors to voters

Monday, November 1st, 2010

For most Philadelphians, voting means heading out to the local recreation center or school. But some residents in Old City will be voting with a side of art.

A gallery space at the Painted Bride Center in Old City was being set up Monday for an art exhibit opening on Friday. Meredith Doby was tacking cards to a wall right next to a polling machine. Tuesday, Election Day, she will stop work on the displays and go to another part of the building.

“I don’t know – something seems sacred about polling stations. You’re not supposed to influence anybody,” said Doby. “It is art – it can be political.”

Putting a polling station inside an art space is legitimate by election standards. The Painted Bride is the only dedicated gallery in the city to do so. Associate director Lisa Nelson-Haynes said art does not affect voting, and vice-versa.

“Everyday activities are still happening – drums beating, dancers dancing. All types of things going on while voting happens,” she said.

The only compromise the Painted Bride staff will face is getting up early to open the building at 5:30 a.m. Tuesday. Nelson-Haynes says artists usually don’t get going until around 10.

One Comment

  • Brian Hill says:

    At the Ellarslie Mansion, home of the Trenton City Museum, we are also using the space as a polling place. I find that in these tough times it might do several things, bring a community to the space that rarely visits, expose them to what we have to offer to the community, and they get to see beautiful works instead of tile walls. As Arnold Lehman (director Brooklyn Museum) once said “I don’t really care why they are coming, as long as they do!”

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