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"Return to Nature" by Leslie Kaufman as part of Exquisite Copse. Photo: Nigel Thompson/AL DÍA News.
"Return to Nature" by Leslie Kaufman as part of Exquisite Copse. Photo: Nigel Thompson/AL DÍA News.

Palumbo Park transforms into an ‘Exquisite Copse’ for Da Vinci Fest Live

The outdoor exhibit is an homage to Leonardo Da Vinci and surrealism.

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Ever since Oct. 11, one taking a stroll down the 700 block of Catharine Street could stumble upon a changed Palumbo Park. 

In addition to the mural adorning the side of the neighboring Fleisher Art Memorial and the hand-selected fauna provided by the nearby Da Vinci Art Alliance, it’s also been home to an outdoor art exhibit for the last two weeks as part of Da Vinci Fest Live.

It’s known as “Exquisite Copse,” and features 12 exhibits incorporated in different ways throughout the park’s walkways and foliage. It is the product of a collaboration between the Da Vinci Art Alliance and Philadelphia Sculptors.

The exhibit as whole is an homage to the innovation of Leonardo Da Vinci and mirrors many stylistic elements seen in the surrealist movement. 

Take sculptor Nina Valdera’s piece in the collection, "Reflected," which brings to life Da Vinci’s ideas of the cosmos and uses LED lights to create illumination.

It is her first long-term public art installation. Last year, Valdera had a featured piece as part of the Site/Sound: Revealing the Rail Park event celebrating the future of the Reading viaduct in Philadelphia.

“That was a great first time for me to have public art, but it was just for one day, she said.

"Reflected" will be in Palumbo Park along with the 11 other exhibits until Nov. 6. 

It’s use of illumination and light, while celebrating Da Vinci’s cosmos, is also, Valdera hopes, a depiction of a brighter future beyond the dark times the country is experiencing amid a pandemic and equally chaotic election cycle.

“There is a light at the end of the tunnel, and we’re all in this together,” said Valdera.

Her message regarding the current times is subtle, but there are other pieces in the Exquisite Copse collection that speak more directly to the times.

One is Bina Shah’s "Caged," that portrays an abstract, red individual locked in a small wooden cage sealed by chicken wire. The installation at first glance has a chilling effect for its seeming reference to the children, families and other individuals caged at the U.S.-Mexico border and in ICE detention centers across the country.

Across from Shah’s exhibit in the park is Naomi Teppich’s "Covid Alive," a metal and clay installation that is an abstract representation of the coronavirus cell. A metal-wire skeleton of a cell is adorned with clay formations that resemble the red mushrooms that appear in every digital depiction of the virus. 

Exquisite Copse will adorn Palumbo Park until Nov. 6 and can be seen virtually through the Da Vinci Fest Live website, which also has a Spanish-audio walkthrough.

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