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May 8th, 2008
Fleisher Art Memorial Dedicates Children's Garden

The Samuel S. Fleisher Art Memorial, the nation's oldest tuition-free art school, announced the completion of a special children’s garden named for artist and former Fleisher Board member, “Bootsie” Weiss. Ms. Weiss, whose artistic medium is mosaics, provided a gift to the Fleisher to fund the project. A ribbon-cutting ceremony to officially dedicate the Garden is slated for May 10, 2008.

Central to the planning for the two-year project was the site plan and landscape architectural design, developed pro bono through the Community Design Collaborative by Jason C. Elwell, RLA & Patrick J. Stuart of Elwell Studio, in Harleysville, Montgomery County. Elwell is a landscape architect who also teaches Landscape Restoration and Construction Documentation Studios at Philadelphia University.

“The Bootsie Weiss Children’s Garden was our first project with the Community Design Collaborative (CDC) and Fleisher. Patrick and I were brought in to a very organized charette process guided by the CDC. Our goal was to extend the quality and characteristics of the interior of the school to the outside, and also to focus on creating a supportive environment for children’s learning and presenting of art.”

Additional landscape features of the Garden include a massive custom-designed wrought iron gate executed by artist Warren Holzman. A focal point of the Garden, the gate marks the entry to the courtyard and connects it to the adjacent Palumbo Park, a public park in South Philadelphia.

Meg Wise, Director of Development of the Fleisher Art Memorial, stated, “We are so pleased with the final results,” she says. “This was a long project that took the collaborative efforts of very many talented people. I think the Garden reflects Ms. Weiss’ vision of providing a place to inspire children and where they can display their art with pride.”

Editor's Note

Members of the media are invited to the Ribbon Cutting ceremony on Saturday, May 10, 2008 at 12:00 Noon. Mr. Elwell and Ms. Wise are available for interview and comment.

About Elwell Studio

Elwell Studio is a landscape architecture firm providing land planning and site design services for commercial, municipal, academic and residential sectors. Emphasis is placed on the collaborative process, working with architects and engineers on feasibility studies and land-use approvals through detail design.

About the Fleisher Art Memorial

Now celebrating its 110th anniversary, the Fleisher Art Memorial honors Samuel Fleisher’s legacy to “invite the world to come and learn art” through tuition-free art classes, exhibitions, and artist residencies offered at local schools and social service agencies through its Community Partnerships in the Arts program. In recent years, annual registration for classes taught at Fleisher is close to 4,000, including over 900 youth who attend its Saturday program. Over 500 youth learn through artist residencies at their schools, and each year Fleisher hosts nearly 8,000 visitors at exhibitions and cultural events. The Fleisher Art Memorial is located at 719 Catharine Street, Philadelphia, PA 19147.

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