Alexander Calder

Dilworth Park at Philadelphia’s City Hall boasts new attractions - including greenery, a café, and a fountain that becomes an ice skating rink in winter. But the newly redesigned space also draws attention to older works of art and a family that made its mark on the city for nearly a century. As WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports, one need only...to look up.


One family name spans three generations of Philadelphia’s artistic heritage; each with an artist who has left his own mark on the city. WRTI’s Susan Lewis looks at the impact of three Calders – all, incidentally, named Alexander.

Alexander Milne Calder crafted over 200 figures for City Hall, which is topped by his 23-ton, 37-foot tall statue of William Penn. During a cleaning in 2007, conservator David Cann took us to the very top of Penn’s hat:

CANN: And we can pop the top off so you can see how he’s built in sections...there are 47 sections of casting that are flange bolted together on the inside, so they could put him up here … they couldn’t put it up here in one piece...

From what was for years the tallest point in the city, one can look down at Logan Square’s Swann Fountain, whose figures were sculpted by Calder’s son, Alexander Stirling Calder. Looking up the Benjamin Franklin Parkway is the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the home of the large mobile Ghost, created by his grandson, Alexander "Sandy" Calder.  Sandy Calder also created what are, in effect, tiny sculptures...jewelry:

FOSTER: He grew up in this legacy of sculpture...he couldn’t help it, he was making stuff out of everyday objects and scraps. All of them, in a way, are very interested in public art, and Calder grew into that, coming out of his background as an engineer and a kind of  playful sense of art as part of daily life.

We listen back to Jim Cotter's recent conversation with the veteran choreographer Paul Taylor.

Jason Peifer explores the creativity stirred up during presidential elections with a visit to the exhibition Patchwork Politics: From George to George W. at the Heritage Center Museum in Lancaster.

Tom Keels takes us to Philadelphia's historic Christ Church to learn how it is remembering its lesser-known, African-American congregants and their fight for freedom.

We listen back to Jim Cotter's recent conversation with the veteran choreographer Paul Taylor.

Jason Peifer explores the creativity stirred up during presidential elections with a visit to the exhibition Patchwork Politics: From George to George W. at the Heritage Center Museum in Lancaster.

Tom Keels takes us to Philadelphia's historic Christ Church to learn how it is remembering its lesser-known, African-American congregants and their fight for freedom.

Leif Ove Andsnes, pianist, discusses his latest projects, including a new recording with the Artemis Quartet.

The Philadelphia Theater Company moves into its new home, the Suzanne Roberts Theater.

Conservator  David Cann of Moorland Studios in New Jersey  discusses the cleaning and treatment of Alexander Calder's <i>William Penn</i>, one Philadelphia's  most beloved landmarks.

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