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Do Something: Browse Civically Engaged Art

The Barnes opens a new exhibition that spotlights an urban art movement. Plus, a new comedy show finds humor in Trump's America, YIP talks criminal justice and more ways to be an active citizen this week

Every Monday we round up a handful of fun ways to get involved throughout the week to make your city better. Have ideas for upcoming events? Email tips here. And find more evergreen ways to get engaged—from helping local schools and fighting homelessness to greening up your neighborhood—in our Do Something guides.

Talk Criminal Justice Policy

Temple’s Department of Criminal Justice and Young Involved Philadelphia team up for a well-rounded discussion on criminal justice policy in Philadelphia. Speakers include the Juvenile Law Center‘s Marsha Levick (pictured), Dr. Caterina Roman from Temple’s Department of Criminal Justice and Dr. Evan Sorg from Rowan University’s Department of Law and Justice Studies. The talking points focus on the past, present and future of criminal justice policy. Look out for remarks about historic policies that made a difference, recent policy changes that shaped the face of criminal justice in Philadelphia today, and areas in which criminal justice reform advocates should focus their energy to create the most impact. Before going, read some of our criminal justice coverage. Tuesday, February 21, 4:30-6 p.m., free, Room 110B at the Science Education and Research Center at Temple University, N. 12th Street. 

Laugh It Off

If you’re desperate for a reason to laugh in the midst of all these near-constant news updates about something else Donald Trump is doing to terrify humanity, a handful of local comedians have your back. Trump’s America: An Attempt  at a Comedy Show is a new monthly Trump-themed comedy revue that seeks to find the humor in “the dystopian reality in which we currently live.” Steve Clark, a two-time winner of First Person Arts’ “Best Storyteller in Philadelphia” prize, hosts, bringing to the stage a diverse collection of local funny folks like Rachel Fogletto, Jim Grammond and “Philly’s Phunniest” champ David James. This go-round of the show takes place at the first black-female-owned comic shop in America, Amalgam Comics and Coffee. Wine and beer will be served. Friday, February 24, 8:30 p.m., $5, Amalgram Comics and Coffee, 2578 Frankford Avenue.

See Art that Defined the Modern Urban Experience

This weekend, The Barnes Foundation launches a new exhibition highlighting contemporary interpretations of a medium of art known as Flânerie. The movement, basically a means of capturing city life through street scenes and passersby, has been used for decades as a way to depict the modern, city-life experience, sometimes to a rather controversial degree. This exhibit, called “Person of the Crowd: The Contemporary Art of Flânerie,” includes some of those more contentious moments, offering viewers a visual history lesson on how some of our most civically engaged modern artists utilized Flânerie to launch guerrilla campaigns, taking on urban issues like gentrification, gender politics, racism and homelessness. More than 50 international artists—or in this case flâneurs—are included in the show, including creative masterminds like Marina Abramović, Vito Acconci and Zhang Huan. An extra component taking place around Philadelphia features live street performances and urban poster projects throughout the show’s run. The exhibit opens with a costume opening party on Friday night from 6 to 9 p.m., and continues through May 22. February 25-May 22, $25, The Barnes Foundation, 2025 Benjamin Franklin Parkway. 

Celebrate Black History Month With Tunes

Photo: Amy Schroeder

LiveConnections—the program in-residence at World Cafe Live committed to cultivating unique and educational musical experiences—celebrates Black History Month with a performance on Friday night that posits the question: What kind of music would Mozart have made if he lived in Cuba? The Harlem Quartet (pictured), a group working to promote diversity in classical music, joins Latin jazz percussionist Arturo Stable for an evening of lush tunes marrying Mozart compositions with Stable’s repertoire of new works based on the sounds of his native Cuba. Throughout February, LiveConnections also presents a handful of closed-to-the-public educational sessions for around 900 public school students, including a session next week entitled “African-American Spirituals: Roots and Reverberations.” The show promises West African music infused with American gospel, blues and hip-hop. Friday, February 24, 7:30 p.m., $25, World Cafe Live, 3025 Walnut Street.  

Go to Church for LGBTQ Youth

Martha Graham Cracker may be celebrated as Philadelphia’s premier live-singing drag queen—and yes, she’s fantastic—but have you heard Cookie Diorio? The diva—who’s opera-trained and inspired by Southern gospel spirituals—can bring a room to its knees with her velvety vocals and staggering stage presence (she’s seven feet tall in heels). Just ask those who saw her sold-out performance last fall during the Fringe festival. This weekend she reaches into her gospel repertoire for a cabaret-style show that raises funds for The Attic, an indispensable gathering space and resource center for local LGBTQ youth. ​”Fire In My Bones: A Gospel Jubilee“—a production put on in partnership with the Ending Racism Committee at the Unitarian Society of Germantown—takes listeners on a journey through her unique experience growing up as a black queer person of faith. The show is equal parts hilarious and poignant, with enough “rhythmic hand-clapping, high-heel-stomping and wig-whipping” to make you feel like you just stepped into an all-inclusive Sunday service in Alabama. Get ready to shout “Amen!” Saturday, February 25, 6 p.m., $20, Unitarian Society of Germantown, 6511 Lincoln Drive.

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