First Friday's:
philadelphia may 2004

Aden Restaurant Northern Liberties

Philadelphia PA - Why Not!  Why not do an art reception and dinner during Philadelphia's First Friday in May.  The weather was perfect, traffic light and we had reservations at a popular restaurant in a cool area called Northern Liberties.  The Northern Liberties section of Philadelphia is generally located off Spring Garden St in around the 2nd to 5th Street blocks.  Driving through Northern Liberties is like driving through many places in Baltimore, especially the Canton and Fell's Point areas.  A quaint corner bar in particular reminded me of the "Club Charles" in Baltimore City, a little different and a little laid back, even the bouncer / Id guy was obviously enjoying a paperback at his post.  If in Washington DC it's very similar to the Adams Morgan area but a bit toned down, not quite as big or diverse.

Paul Hamanaka

MBN Studios - this place got my attention through a few emails regarding their past First Friday openings.  Checked out the Freeform website, liked the simple straight forward design and the photos of the gallery were interesting.  One question I had, the invitation had reception hours from 6 - 11:00 PM, wow that's a long reception.  Since dinner reservations were for 8:30, dropping by before seemed like the good thing to do.  This space is not for the casual, faint of heart, art admirer, the entrance is rather mysterious.  Located at 725 4th Street, in what looks like a former warehouse, the gallery space is on the second floor.  Once there, the space is what a gallery should be like, at least to me.  12+ foot ceilings, bare brick walls, slightly uneven floor boards, couches strewn about and plenty of room to roam.  MBN Studios is by far the best gallery space I have seen in Philadelphia, maybe it reminds me of the many galleries in my old Baltimore hood, or maybe it just beats those small, cramped, "highly manicured and made to order" gallery spaces I have been to in Old City Philadelphia.  If they stay the course, I believe this space will make big news one day and that day should come soon.

On our brief visit, we met 2 artists, Tadashi Moriyama and Paul Hamanaka (pictured above).  It was the conversation with the very charming Hamanaka that blew me away.  Other than talking about his art and art in general, we found out that Paul Hamanaka worked in the same building as Tom!  What are the chances 4 suburbanites on a trek into the city for an art reception where we knew no artists, only to find one that works where we live and works in the same building where one of us works... it is a small world out there... we recommend going later than 8:00...

Inside Aden Restaurant

Aden Restaurant - was chosen purely by chance using MSN search with the phrase "northern liberties philadelphia", it's the first site on the search results.  Aden Restaurant has a nice website, with menus, prices and photos included.  We arrived right at 8:30 and our table was ready!  (One thing I love about the Philly area, they have tons of BYOB restaurants and this happened to be one.)  We came armed with a bottle of wine and a 6 pack of Miller Lites :-P.  Our server promptly (and successfully) opened our wine and was kind enough to pour us each a glass.  Aden is a smallish space but extremely interesting and full of old world charm with an open kitchen to boot.  Tables can be found outside in front as well as in a cozy garden area in the back.  Bare brick walls and frescos adorn the inside.  The menu is simple and with a few daily specials thrown in had ample selection.  Bathrooms were clean, the atmosphere great and we can say Aden gets 4 thumbs up for the dining experience!  Reservations not required but highly recommended.


First Friday Art and Dinner:
The Freeform Project
MBN Studios
725 North 4th Street
215-592-1242

Aden Restaurant
614 North 2nd Street
215-627-9844

  1. January 2006
  2. February 2006
  3. March 2006
  4. April 2006 and Connecting-Art at the UN
  5. May 2006
  6. June 2005
  7. July 2005
  8. August 2004
  9. September 2006
  10. October 2005
  11. November 2005
  12. December 2005

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