Friday Arts September 2017: A Taste of Vietnam, Combat Artist, Furniture by Peter Handler

A Taste of Vietnam
Produced by Monica Rogozinski

Tuan Phung and his family/team opened Bahn Mi and Bottles with the help from his father who is a head chef at the legendary Pho Ha on 6th and Washington Ave. B&B ultimate goal is to bring a whole new way to experience authentic Vietnamese street food.
They serve Vietnamese classics like Phở and Bánh Mì made with authentic ingredients but with a contemporary approach to presentation. Everything at the restaurant is made fresh and infused with Vietnamese flavors, including their original cocktails and sodas. B & B offers an impressive selection of beers that can be paired with the food or purchased to go.
Tuan Phung tells Friday Arts about his experience going back home to visit, and how proud he is to see Vietnam change from the struggling post war country of his childhood to a thriving and open society that has a dynamic and fun cultural life to offer.

Combat Artist
Producer Michael O’Reilly

While seemingly a study in incongruity, a “Combat Artist” has been a part of military operations for over one hundred years. From World War One to the most recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, more than 15,000 works from artists under fire have been stored in the sprawling basement of a Washington, DC office building. This collection is rarely presented publicly. “The Art of the American Soldier” was previously on Exhibit at The Constitution Center. This segment is from the Friday Arts archives and first aired May 2011 . The segment is complete with interviews from some of the Vietnam Combat Artists as well as one of the few woman combat artists to join the ranks of this illustrious group.

Furniture by Peter Handler
Producer: Karen Smyles

From a warehouse studio in East Falls, Peter Handler works away creating vibrant furniture pieces of aluminum and wood. Color plays a role in much of his work but the most important elements are structure and design. Handler wants people to appreciate the formal qualities of his work, but describes it as cutting the knife edge between formality and whimsy.

Handler’s career began as a jewelry maker after graduating from college with a degree in political science. He was thrown into the jewelry business when a friend asked him to watch his shop while he was on vacation for a week. Handler was bitten, purchased some books, tools, silvers and stones and started teaching himself to make jewelry. The jewelry pieces became bigger and more complex, eventually leading him to discover using machine tool equipment and working with aluminum.

Almost everything he makes is commissioned and just about anything you can think of, he has probably made. Handler says, “My starting point when I’m meeting with a client, the first thing I ask them to do is show me around their homes. I want to get a feel for their sense of style, design.” This is immediately apparent when you survey work he’s done over the years. You’ll often see the same piece in an ultra modern setting, and then one more conservative, and yet it works well in both.

When not making furniture, Handler spends most of his time working on issues dealing with climate change. According to Handler, “There are a lot of important issues in the world to deal with, but if we don’t deal with climate change, the others ultimately don’t matter.” For the last 8 years he has been working on a series of artworks titled Canaries in the Coal Mine. The works are intended to draw attention to various aspects of climate change. He also works with the Philadelphia chapter of Citizen’s Climate Lobby, is a principal for Honoring the Future and part of Interfaith Power and Light, organizations that work on issues surrounding climate change.

Friday Arts tours Peter Handler’s spacious studio to talk about all of the above and watch him hard at work on an array of powerful machines. You may end up wondering if his work is art or craft? Which doesn’t concern Handler, he just wants you to love the pieces. We do!

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