From Jane Cassaday's "Dear Philadelphia"—
“…But you know what, I surrender,
your openhearted narrow streets,
trolley-tracked arterials form one room
of lighting-crack hearts to the next…”
For the Comfort of Automated Phrases is local poet (and CP horoscopist) Jane Cassady's first book, comprising poems written in the last eight years. She explains it as a series of love letters to all types of things — from Zumba to Beyoncé — and a souvenir that “helps me keep my emotional bond to the people and places I’ve visited." She began writing poetry in 2000, when living among other creatives in Laguna Beach. “I felt like I’d finally found someplace I belonged,” she says; she counts the poets of that scene — people like Daniel McGinn and Rachel McKibbens — among her biggest influences.
The collection is playful and light, best suited for sunny days. Cassady's words of affection for Philadelphia, for example, impart a warm feeling of solidarity. If your bus came an hour late, though, it might not be the right time to give this a read.
The collection's release party is 6 p.m. on Sat., July 21 at Cake and the Beanstalk (1112 Locust St.); aspiring poets are invited to join her and read their own work.
To step into the Twenty-Two Gallery is to enter a separate plane of existence, far removed from the frantic pace of the city beyond its walls.
Melissa M. Bryant reigns over this quiet kingdom, speaking with me at a small table in the center of the paintings that comprise "Interlude," her current exhibition. The artist maintains that “you learn quite a bit about life by being still,” an idea captured in the surrounding oil paintings that are meant to embody mindfulness. Bryant's work is mostly made up of landscapes — her “first love” — as well as several portraits and still lifes. A large canvas of Mother's Day flowers preserves their vibrance before they begin to wilt, and a scene depticting a winter dawn captures a transient moment of morning peace. Her whimsical brushstrokes are remeniscent of the en plein air Impressionists, colorful and full of contemplation.
Only through attentiveness, Bryant maintains, can we truly take the time to appreciate these scenes of nature that surround us. A look at her paintings and a moment in her presence are a welcome respite from the fast-paced working day, and may help you pause to appreciate the breeze in Rittenhouse Park next time you pass through in hurried transit.
Through Sept. 9, opening Fri., July 13, 6–9 p.m., Twenty-Two Gallery, 236 S. 22nd St., 215-272-1911, melissambryant.com.
Inside Butch Cordora’s Washington Square West studio, the local conceptual artist shows me the large, yet-to-be-framed mugshots that now comprise his latest exhibition, "Hot and Busted."
Cordora searched thousands of photographs (2,219 to be exact) on the websites of correctional facilities across the country until he found subjects meeting his aesthetic specifications: “Piercing eyes, square jaws — that kind of soap-opera beautiful, like 'Oh my God, you’re so hot.'” Oh, and they’re all Caucasian.
“I had wanted white guys on purpose,” Cordora explains. When browsing the different websites, he focused on the areas of the country where there would be a larger selection of light-skinned beauts. It would be “too easy,” he says, to add African-Americans, a race he notes is all too often associated with crime and punishment in the U.S. “For the white, straight, handsome male,” however, “the world is their oyster.” These are the kind of faces that HHo
One of the men resembles a young Brad Pitt, with a firm jaw and a faint smile. Some, however, have a more haggard appearance. One looks up with tourmented eyes from a head angle that’s reminiscent of Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars: Episode III. With tousled hair and pallid skin, his beauty hovers just beneath the surface of obvious strain.
These photographs seem more mysterious and profound than the pop art-y paintings of Cordora’s last show, “Absolution Lab,” and his popular 2010 calendar “Straight and Butch” in which he posed nude with an assortment of naked heterosexual men.
The inspiration for “Hot and Busted” stems from Cordora’s visits to a friend in jail. Though the man in question will not be featured, Cordora claims his mugshot is equally captivating. “You look at him, you’d think he has the world by the balls,” says the artist. However, after 2 DUIs and a house arrest broken on account of soy-related cooking, Cordora’s friend was locked up for six months. The artist visited him every week, and “I just became fascinated – with jail, with the booking process, with the whole idea of taking your freedoms away.” Each mugshot in the show reflects the emasculation and defeat up to the point at which the photograph is taken, explains the artist. Each portrait is therefore not only a face but also a depiction of the harrowing experience of arrest that recalls the mistakes of his friend. “Hot and Busted” is about this push and pull between an attractive face and a crushing experience.
But who are these Luciferan adonises, the focus of the show?
Cordora refuses to reveal names or origins, and he’d prefer you guess their crimes – the list includes everything from armed robbery to failure to possess a saltwater fishing license. Similarly, these convicts and would-be convicts have no idea that their likenesses are being blown up to two feet by two feet and hung on a gallery wall. Questions of morality and legality tossed to the wayside, Cordora cares only that the viewer share his fascination with prison and the contradiction embodied by its most beautiful.
opening reception Fri., July 6, 6 p.m., through Sept. 2, Ven and Vaida Gallery, 18 S. Third St., 215-592-4099, venandvaida.com.
Art-geek extraordinaire Courtney Sexton presents a weekly selection of Philly's must-see gallery exhibits. This week: found asparagus and a dude living in a gallery like it's the apocalypse.
“The Last Days of the Apocalypse of Now” at Pageant Soloveev
According to Jay-Z, Beyonce, the Illuminati, and a lot of high school kids on facebook, 2012 is the year of the apocalypse, and Tyler artist Nick Lenker decided to explore what it might be like during one’s last few days on earth. In his installation/performance piece this weekend, the artist will spend three days (beginning 8 a.m. today and ending at 11:59 p.m. Sunday night) living in the Pageant Soloveev gallery and performing various tasks. Visitors are welcome to come share the space; they may not be privy to all of the events that take place, but they are encouraged to drink, as Lenker will be bartending each night between 9 and 11 p.m.
Lenker’s project is “influenced by ideas about domestic space, rites of passage, masculinity, gay subcultures, and the artist’s own experience as a Jehovah’s Witness.” After this weekend, “remnants” from the project will be on view May 2–5 at Tyler’s Temple Gallery.
April 13–15, Pageant Soloveev, 607 Bainbridge St., 215-925-1535, pageantsoloveev.com
Impressive permanent collections may have put our area museums on the map, but it's the rotating exhibits that keep visitors coming back. Every Thursday, Abigail Minor updates you on the newest and most browse-worthy. This week: bicentennials, earthquakes and mysterious cannonballs.
"The Nature of Discovery" at The Academy of Natural Sciences
The nation’s oldest natural history museum is celebrating its bicentennial this year with The Academy at 200: The Nature of Discovery. Themed rooms figuratively set in a Bahamas coral reef, a tent for bird skinning in the middle of a Southeastern Asian jungle, a Mongolian yurt and a soggy Philadelphian marsh immerse visiting explorers in the Academy’s past and current scientific strides in avian, paleontological and climate studies. Available for touching is a marine reptile fossil cast, meteorite and brain coral fragment. The opening of this exhibit is accompanied by a two day weekend extravaganza of an outdoor light show, a wandering Barbershop Quartet, and the science tune-singing Diggity Dudes.
Sat.-Sun., March 24-25, 10 a.m.-9 p.m., exhibit through March 2013, $10-$12, The Academy of Natural Sciences, 1900 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, 215-299-1000, ansp.org.
Impressive permanent collections may have put our area museums on the map, but it's the rotating exhibits that keep visitors coming back. Every Thursday, Abigail Minor updates you on the newest and most browse-worthy. This week: Avatar art, moth death and steel mazes.
Impressive permanent collections may have put our area museums on the map, but it's the rotating exhibits that keep visitors coming back. Every Thursday, Abigail Minor updates you on the newest and most browse-worthy. This week: Glass flowers, dog bones and mixing messages and media.
Photo: Ronnie Hughes
Liberty in Bloom
Combining the Liberty Museum’s concept of a delicate freedom with the Philadelphia International Flower Show, "Liberty in Bloom," opening this Sunday, presents a collection with the same aesthetic balance and color of Mother Nature without all the pollen. Light ricochets off the smoothly formed flower sculptures and jewelry by local glass artists such as Bernard Katz, Jonathan Mandell and Anna Boothe, which are available for both viewing and purchase. Free admission through March 31 with a Philadelphia International Flower Show ticket stub, and artist Deborah DiMarco leads a free “flameworking” technique demonstration March 8.
Demonstration Thu., March 8, 5:30-8 p.m., through April 29, $2-$7, National Liberty Museum, 321 Chestnut St., 215-925-2800, libertymuseum.org.
Inspiration can strike an artist anywhere. Whether it be a fleeting glance at street graffiti while a passenger on a train, a setting sun while standing alone in a desolate alley or maybe even the death of a trusted companion. The latter example was the case for Laurie Anderson. Her dog, Lolabelle, passed away in April and in response Anderson went to work. The resulting collection, entitled “Forty-Nine Days in the Bardo,” is currently on display at Philadelphia's Fabric Workshop and Museum. Tonight, Anderson will present an accompaniment piece to the exhibit, Animal Stories. "In working on this exhibition I realized that whales, dogs, snakes, horses, ants and many other creatures have played a big part in my work,” explains Anderson in a her artist’s statement. “Animal Stories ... will be a collection of stories about animals throughout my work life.”
“Forty-Nine Days” is a sprawling set of ten charcoal works, each piece measuring 10 feet 4 inches by 14 feet 4 inches. It was inspired by The Tibetan Book of the Dead, which describes a bardo as a forty-nine day journey from death to rebirth. Done entirely in charcoal and presented as a diary narrative, the works are striking and modern. And they’ll be on display until Nov. 19.
Having performed all over the world, Anderson isn’t giving specific details about tonight’s show, but we’re guessing it will involve the violin and electronics — trademarks of her previous performances.
Tonight, reception at 6 p.m., performance/lecture at 7 p.m., The Fabric Workshop and Museum, 1214 Arch St., 215-561-8888, fabricworkshopandmuseum.org.
Sweden has been a hub of contemporary furniture design for over 50 years. But when it comes to the goods, few actually consider the craftsman. For this exhibit, Swedish furniture and home good designers will have their sleek-yet-functional works spotlighted. Each artist — all female — has been featured in Gallery Pascale, Stockholm’s first design-exclusive gallery; but more recently in 17 Swedish Designers, the book by gallery owner, Pascale Cottard-Olsson. Pieces range from glassware like vases and other decorative housewares to modern furniture and even woven textile installations. Think upscale Ikea.
Opening reception Sun. Sept. 18, 4:30-6 p.m., through Jan. 29, free, American Swedish Historical Museum, 1900 Pattison Ave., 215-389-1776, americanswedish.org.
"Metaphor For Memory" is a collaboration between the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts and Philly's Center for Emerging Visual Artists. Participating artists, like Joseph D'Uva, Josh Emery and Terri Perpich, were asked to "visually explore the power, function and universality of memory: its origins and creation; its visual expressions and sensory triggers; its verity and distortions; its importance in the stories of our lives as the reservoir of remembrance."
Through July 1, Center for Emerging Artists, 237 S. 18th St., Third Floor, cfeva.org.
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