The necessity of protecting cultural heritage – which includes public art – was a driving force behind the restoration and re-installment of El Gran Teatro de la Luna.
The long-awaited rededication of Rafael Ferrer’s El Gran Teatro de la Luna (2012) (“The Huge Theater of the Moon”) was held on Tuesday, May 14th at 5:30pm in Fairhill Square Park, located at 4th Street and Lehigh Avenue in Philadelphia. With Ferrer in attendance, the ceremony for the vibrant, playful sculpture featured a children’s festival and performances by both the AMLA Youth Latin Jazz Ensemble and AMLA Adult Latin Jazz Ensemble.
El Gran Teatro de la Luna had originally been installed at Fairhill Square in 1982 after the Association for Public Art commissioned the artwork for its Form and Function program, but the base of the sculpture, a municipal utilities building, was removed amidst concerns over deteriorating park conditions. El Gran Teatro de la Luna remained absent from Fairhill Square, in storage, for 14 years.
The necessity of protecting cultural heritage – which includes public art – was a driving force behind the restoration and re-installment of El Gran Teatro de la Luna. It was through the city’s Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy, with funding from the NEA and matching support for the artist by the Association for Public Art, that Ferrer was able to restore and repaint El Gran Teatro de la Luna for the City of Philadelphia. The exuberant aluminum artwork was officially reinstalled at Fairhill Square Park as part of Philadelphia’s Parks & Recreation’s site renovations.
- PlanPhilly: “Return of ‘El Gran Teatro de la Luna’ tops Fairhill Square improvements“
- Newsworks: “Buoyant Ferrer sculpture again enlivens North Philadelphia park“
- uwishunu: “Join In The Festivities”
About the Artist
New York based artist and percussionist Rafael Ferrer was born in 1933 in Santurce, Puerto Rico, and lived and worked in Philadelphia for many years. In 1970 he executed Deflected Fountain 1970, for Marcel Duchamp on the East Terrace of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
His sculpture El Gran Teatro de La Luna (2012) was commissioned by the Fairmount Park Art Association (now the Association for Public Art) in 1982 for Fairhill Square Park in North Philadelphia. From his early days as a musician and his Surrealist-influenced abstract drawings and conceptual/process actions and installations, to his lush tropical paintings, maps, and works on paper bags, Ferrer’s work defies categorization.
Ferrer has repainted and restored El Gran Teatro de la Luna for the City of Philadelphia through the Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy, with funding from the NEA and matching support for the artist by the Association for Public Art. The sculpture was recently reinstalled as part of Philadelphia’s Parks & Recreation’s site renovations.
His artwork was featured in a major retrospective at El Museo del Barrio in New York City in 2010, and a 2012 survey of works on paper at the Lancaster Museum of Art, PA. His work is included in the permanent collections of many museums in the US and abroad.