Between November 3rd and December 24th come for an authentic shopping experience and leave on a cultural journey.
Over 20 Years of Introducing Indonesia to Philadelphia with her Visiting Show
Philadelphia’s most visionary commercial districts encourage temporary visiting rentals, or “pop-ups”, to add liveliness and new customers to the neighborhood. Laura Cohn has long relied on this formula for the success of her visiting holiday show, From Bali to Bala. Starting in 1996, she hosted her purchases of Indonesian handcrafts in her Bala Cynwyd home, giving the show its name. After eight years of increasing popularity, she was spurred to explore other options. She never wanted a year-round store or to offer online sales, so the “pop-up” approach seemed perfect for her.
For the next four years, she occupied sites in Manayunk near her home. Then, in 2010, she decided to survey the Philadelphia region for another busy commercial district that had lots of foot traffic, strong business support, and was open to short term rentals. Chestnut Hill, and its Germantown Avenue retail district, provided the best for her, so that year she rented the former Magarity Car dealership halfway down the hill. This brightly-lit space and 15-foot-tall glass windows provided an ideal showroom for her dazzling displays of Indonesian wares. Since then, her landlord, the Chestnut Hill Business Association, and the local community have supported her return each year for the holiday season. She feels fortunate to have found large, interesting venues for the past eight years, enabling her to bring exotic Indonesia to the neighborhood for two months each time.
Starting with an empty storefront on Germantown Avenue, Cohn envisions, and then converts the raw space into a magical & colorful art show craft bazaar. She draws direct inspirtation from Balinese Hindu practices: For weeks before their big holiday ceremonies, local villagers file into the temples and work together to transform the previously empty open air pavillions into an inviting space fitting for the “good spirits” to visit. The space is transformed from empty structures into a sacred site through decorations of fabric and flowers; traditional performances of music, dance, song; communal cooking and meals, and more. Once adorned, it is ripe for the festivities to begin with days of offerings, prayers and blessings filling this magical temple. When the festival is complete in a matter of days, the community cleans the temple and returns home, leaving the temple empty until the next annual cycle of ceremonies begins anew.
Inspired by that same spirit of creativity, community, and the sacred, each year Laura Cohn and her team transform her empty storefront with tables, shelves, fabrics, bamboo, and lights that showcase glorious Indonesian handcrafts and treasures for sale, along with her own batik paintings. Cohn says “I love creating an environment that is so intriguing that you’re enticed to come in and explore – and then, once you’re inside, you feel transported halfway around the world”. During the run of the show, From Bali to Bala hosts special cultural events that reflect Indonesian culture, including Indonesian films, unusual and delicious foods, colorful sights, traditional Gamelan music, Balinese dance, discussions on different topics, and that support both Indonesian and American nonprofits. Experience the magic of From Bali to Bala in a Chestnut Hill venue that is convenient and temporary, unusual and accessible, all exemplifying the best of the “pop-up” experience.
2017 SPECIAL EVENTS to enrich our understanding of Indonesia
Saturday, November 4th OPENING NIGHT PARTY ~ 7 – 9 pm Be our guest at our Opening Night Party, enjoy wine & snacks, visiting with old and new friends, and shopping for treasures. Our special featured artists from the Modero Dance Company will perform several traditional Indonesian dances. Don’t miss it!
Sunday, November 19th GAMELAN MUSIC FROM BALI 3 – 4 pm with Gamelan music from Bali performed by Gamelan Semara Santi members and Professor Tom Whitman from Swarthmore College.
Thursday, November 30th DINING FOR WOMEN HOLIDAY FUNDRAISER 7 – 9 pm The local Weavers Way chapters of DFW’s host their annual gathering as a Fundraiser with an Indonesian Feast, silent auction, and a merry gathering for an exotic evening. Join us to celebrate a good cause. Tickets required in advance, $30 per person.
Tuesday, December 5th INDONESIAN COOKING Demonstration & FEAST 6 – 8 pm Owners of Hardena Resto will teach how to make a few delicious favorites from their South Philly restaurant before we dine together on an Indonesian dinner prepared to delight the senses. Pre-registration is required, $25 per person.
Wednesdays, November 29th, December 6th, 13th, 20th
6 – 8 pm STAG & DOE NIGHT in CHESTNUT HILL – Join us for a drink, a nosh, to shop, and then take a festive holiday stroll up and down the Avenue.
Sunday, December 10th INDONESIAN FILM SPECIAL NIGHT – KARTINI 6 pm It is our pleasure to screen this 2017 biographical feature film that highlights Kartini, the inspirational pioneer of Indonesia’s women’s emancipation movement from the early 1900’s.
To complement the film, we will host a panel discussion “Philadelphia’s Modern Kartini,” with the film’s producer from Jakarta, followed by a traditional Indonesian communal dinner. Preregistration is required, $25 per person.
Sunday, December 17th INDONESIAN TRAVEL STORIES & SLIDES 5 – 6 pm Whether you’ve visited Indonesia or haven’t yet made the trip, you can escape far away without leaving home. Through her beautiful slides and compelling stories, Laura Cohn will share with you her 30 years of living, working, and loving Indonesia.
* Unless pre-registration is required, all events are free and open to the public.