Eleven artists are participating "Urban Ingredients," the about-to-expire exhibit at Dalet Gallery in Old City. These eclectic group of artists are bringing personal elements of urban culture to the exhibit — including sculptures, installations and photographs of city graffiti and bike races. "The central subject of this exhibition is not the urban landscape as a whole," says Dalet artistic director Irena Gobernik, "but rather its components and the unique taste of the urban realities, resulting from their interaction and reflection."
The artists involved include Darejan Adamashvili, Charles Anselmo (Remnants #17, pictured), Ricardo Barros, Elena Drozdova, Anna Fox Ryan, Carl Geisler, Lioudmila Koudinova (Russian Brighton #3, pictured), Renzo Oliva, John Pacovsky, James Pryor and Alexander Valdman.
Through Sat., July 30, 141 N. Second St., 215-923-2424, daletart.com.
"Mexican Revolution and Beyond." Could there be a drier title for a roomful of highly detailed black and white photos? At times shockingly intimate — corpses, said to be suicides, stretched beautiful and nude, and autopsies in progress, striking in their immediacy some 70 plus years after the images were captured. Juicy in the extreme, this is not strictly war or history, the images are really frozen life.
From a photo of the man who precipitated the revolution, Porfirio Diaz through Villa and Zapata to the soldiers, irregulars for the most part, male and female, the people who changed Mexico forever fill one section of the north wall at Taller.
But life after revolution is much like the story of how life changes after enlightment. Before? Chop wood, carry water. After? Carry water, chop wood. So the Casasola Archive, now celebrating its 100th anniversary of visually documenting life in Mexico, shows us what life was like, mostly in the capital, up through 1940, day by day.
Who will find this fascinating? Anyone who loves the first part of the last century and would like to compare and contrast that urban center's life and progress with others. Transportation mavens will love the old buses, trucks and cars seen from above, completely clogging a downtown intersection during a strike. One still shows a group of gay men posing for the camera, gorgeous, amused and queenly, disdainful of the inconvenience of a police raid. People earning a living and at leisure in a huge pool, modern for the time pool, people on the street and in studios, three decades of Mexican life sizzle on the second floor of Taller. As Taller's visual arts manager, Rafael Damast, readily admits, no matter how often he looks at these photos, more details become apparent to him.
Through July 23, Lorenzo Homar Gallery, Taller Puertorriqueño, 2721 N. 5th, 215 426 3311, tallerpr.org.
For just a few more days, University City is playing home to a 10,000-square-foot exhibition of artwork by the impressive faculty at Drexel’s Westphal College of Art and Design. It’s the first-ever faculty exhibit, and it’s full of surprising and diverse pieces — an altogether satisfying experience, with something weird and wonderful for everyone.
Works range from painting to printmaking to fashion, and far beyond. There are architectural blueprints and computer-generated images for many local institutions, including centers at Penn, Widener, and the Germantown Friends School. There’s a “Reading Chair” by Jack Cliggett, which consists of what looks like a bike seat connected to a miniature bookshelf and a kid-size desk to lean on as you read. The desk is equipped with a stand to hold your book up for you. Cliggett has also built an attractive bicycle out of bamboo. Nearby, there’s a wall covered with a grid of nouns: “Fish, fowl, slop, bone, curd.” The title? “Many Things Are Moved By Shovels.” There are chairs on ladders, compelling photographs, and dresses made from “sustainable leather.” Perhaps most fascinating is Karen Stone’s “Family Tree” made from human hair. The trunk and branches, all made entirely of hair, are hung with frames; inside the frames are portraits of family members that were created, in part, with the actual hair of those pictured.
That’s just the beginning: check out more of the 120 artworks HERE, or better yet, take your ass to the exhibit.
Through May 27, Gallery at 3401, 3401 Filbert St., 215.895.2548, drexel.edu.
|crappy droid photos | Patrick Rapa|
for more information.
A friendly li'l reminder from us to y'all: City Paper's annual Writing Contest entries ' in both fiction and poetry categories ' are due at 5 p.m., Dec. 11. There's lots more info here, and you can read about our awesome judges here, but for now, some quick details:
Fiction: Stories should be 3,000 words or less and previously unpublished. No more than one submission per entrant.
Poetry: One entry can consist of up to five poems.
Eligibility: Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware residents are invited to participate. Employees and regular freelancers for the City Paper are ineligible, obvs.
Prizes: Winning story and poem will be published in the Dec. 31, 2009, issue of City Paper and featured in a reading. Top two runners-up will be published at citypaper.net. Additional prizes TBA.
Deadline: We must receive your work before 5 p.m. on Fri., Dec. 11. No exceptions.
Please include a processing fee of $5 made payable to City Paper Writing Contest at the address below or via PayPal to email@example.com. Stories should be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or mailed the old-fashioned way to:
City Paper Writing Contest
123 Chestnut St., Third Floor
Philadelphia, PA 19106.
No phone calls please regarding specific entries. Manuscripts will not be returned.
|Between Spaces, cut paper, tape and mixed media, 2008|
You've got but two days to check out Sarah Steinwachs' "Square Roots" over at St. Joseph's University Gallery, an intricately dense cut-paper exhibit that reminds us that Target and Chipotle aren't the only reasons to go to City Avenue. "Square Roots" is a series of manipulated grids that focus on themes of three-dimensionality, in-between spaces and the joys of imperfection. The Tyler/Yale grad was kind enough to answer a few questions for us about patterns, the rough-and-tumble nature of her work, and the art of patience.
("Square Roots," through Oct. 30, St. Joe's University Gallery at Boland Hall, 5600 City Ave., 610-660-1840, sju.edu/resources/gallery.)
City Paper: What's the creating process like for you? Walk us through how you get from single sheet of paper to finished product.
Sarah Steinwachs: First I have to come up with a pattern. Depending on the paper this is done either free-hand or by using a guide, like a printed grid. I use various kinds of paper-grids, arches, magazines, envelopes, wax, mylar, etc. ' Sometimes the pattern is inspired by surroundings ' generally various grids that I see in the city ' though the later ones start to become more organic. The tricky thing is trying to figure out if a pattern is poetic, or profound, or visually unique, or if it is clich'd, cutesy, etc.' Sometimes I won't know this until I have finished cutting the pattern out. ' This part of the process is the labor intensive ' mark after mark, a kind of meditative journey.
The other part of the process is superimposing the patterns on one another.' This is akin to painting for me. It is direct, and fast, and very active.' I get very excited watching how the colors and shapes interact spatially with one another. I have many patterns, so I can really be very engaged in "playing" to see how space compresses, or' gets emphasized. During this stage I will also paint on top of the patterns, or run them under water, or other stresses that may alter the form, color, shape of the patterns.
CP: In your artist statement you say you were unfamiliar with the tools you were using, so the imperfections were more interesting than trying to be exact.
SS: There is something thrilling about "ruining" something that I have taken so much time and care making. Each piece is different, and sometimes they want to fall apart and become more' organic, or look like they have been effected by time, and other ones want to be rigid. I let the piece dictate what happens.
Since I began, my ability with the knife has gotten a lot better, so in order to have the irregularities take place in the process, I either have to' make more intricate patterns, or push the amount of space to actual paper so that it will get weak and break on its own. I really don't force the "organic quality," because it will look trite and made-up.
CP: How long' did it take to make these pieces?
SS: It is hard to say how long, because I don't work on one piece at a time. Generally each pattern takes 15-60 hours, and I will have several patterns ' four or five ' superimposed on one another. I spent this summer ' June through September ' working on six 12-by-12-by-4-inch pieces.
CP: Is your background in hand-cut paper, or painting, or another medium?
SS: My background is in painting, but in grad school I started drawing, and making paper constructions of brick walls. Since grad school, primarily drawing, gouache painting. Two' years ago I started working with cut paper. The impulse to cut paper was directly related to highly detailed city scape drawings of bricks, and weeds, and crumbling sidewalks ' PHILLY ' that I was making. I was pressing really hard into the paper-indentations, incisions, etc. I liked the physicality of what was happening, so I thought I would cut out the bricks to see what happened.' There was something intriguing about the fact that what was illusion became actual just by cutting holes into the paper ' it went from illusion to object. This contradiction is still what I am playing with. From certain viewpoints the piece will look two-dimensional, and others like a' relief.
CP: I love the juxtaposition of rough-and-tumble and delicate in your pieces. They're very structural, yet could crumble at any moment. What do you hope audiences get out of your work?
SS: "Wabi-sabi" is a term used in Japanese design ' celebration of imperfection. ' So often times in Japanese design you will see decay as part of the piece ' the tea bowls that were irregular, with "ugly" glazings ' as a reminder of true beauty and humility, or in a tea house you might see a crafted beam with a log found in nature side by side in the structure.
I look at Philly in much the same way ' the evolution of time that plays out on objects, neighborhoods, etc., and how profound this visual residue is, because it says so much about the beauty and ugliness of everything all at once. The problem with this is that it is overplayed and can become saccharine, so the struggle in the work is getting it to have some of these implications without being so obvious or trite, and be inventive with it.
Every last Friday, I'll bring you more from my column Last Chance.
Ashley Payne's exhibit "I'll Teach Your Grandma to Grow Gills," which is up until Fri., Oct. 2 at the Painted Bride Art Center (230 Vine St., 215-925-9914), is a Rorschach test-, Carl Jung-, Sigmund Freud-inspired doozy. Before seeing the show, I became intrigued with Payne's artist statement, which says: "In order to make these lines purely spontaneous and uncensored, I blindfold myself and allow a limited amount of time to make each layer (5-15 minutes). As a result, the lines that are produced become a visual map of my subconscious. After creating this ground, I remove the blindfold and respond to the new surface as impulsively or instinctually as I can." What emerges are delightfully vague paintings that depict nude women and dark blue whales, aggressive lines and colors that pop. Click here to see more images.
City Paper: Tell me about your process.
Ashley Payne: I start off by blindfolding myself and responding to how I feel. If I'm not in any particular mood, I'll listen to music and respond to that. It becomes like a dance. I time myself for about 10 minutes, take off the blindfold and then respond. Sometimes I'll grab another crayon or color and then put on the blindfold, and work some more. Then I'll step back and find images. Then, at that point, I have a rule. No matter how stupid or embarrassing what I first see is, I have to allow the viewer to see it. I have to develop it.
CP: Do you ever work on something, and then look at it and realize you were thinking about something you weren't even aware of?
AP: Oh yeah, all the time. It can be big things, and it can be little things. In The Way We Give Comfort, for example, there's a dog and people all touching each other in a circle ' and I didn't realize it, but I felt very comforted by those people [they represent in my real life]. Like I was being embraced by them.
CP: When did you start doing this?
AP: A year ago, when I decided that I was sick of the way I was painting. I'd think, that's good, but it's no big deal. But then I'd look at my sketchbooks, which I've kept since I was young, and I really liked what I saw. There was this amazing, authentic energy there, and I wasn't sharing it with anyone. With my normal paintings, I was giving people systematic stories ' that's unfair. I try to be an honest person, and respond to things honestly, but I wasn't doing it with my painting.
CP: Are you ever scared of what might turn up, letting your mind loose like this?
AP: Yes, it's really scary. But that's why I like it.
Every other Friday Monday this week, I'll bring you more from my column Last Chance.
This photograph is part of Philly boy Matt Hollerbush's exhibit "Passage of Time, Passage of Place," which is currently up at Group M (1050 N. Hancock St., Suite 61, 215-546-1995) through September 17. Though it's hard to tell, it was shot in the Divine Lorraine Hotel, a gorgeous, giant structure on Broad Street that embodies several conflicting aspects of the city ' it once housed the nouveau riche industry kings, then it became a beacon of the civil rights movement, and now it's in re-development limbo. One of the most compelling things about Hollerbush's photos (more of which you can see in our online photo gallery) is that he zooms in on the little things ' china, cracked paint, dirty carpet ' that could turn up just about anywhere. It has the strange effect of making every place feel the same, which is at once terrible and comforting.
City Paper: I assume not just anyone can get into the Divine Lorraine. Did you sneak in or gain permission somehow?
Matt Hollerbush: I gained access in 2006 and 2007. The first time via a caretaker and the second during the "deconstruction" phase. Both times at your own risk but with permission.
CP: Can you describe walking through the hotel for me? Were there parts of it that were unsafe to walk through?
MH: In 2006 everything was surprisingly intact,'as if the tenants had just left. Rooms with furniture, personal belongings and lots of peeling paint. The first and top floor were the most notable and beautiful in architectural and preserved details. 'The lower floor being the reception, lounge and dining area ' old-school luxury with the patina of age and changing uses. The top floor held a grand sanctuary with theater seats and another dining area. From the glass block sections of the roof to the ornate bar, the sense of what was once was inspiring.
In general, the building was in great shape structurally ' the only danger being navigating the pitch-black stairway without a flashlight to get to the next floor. In 2007, everything including the floor boards was being salvaged for resale. It was stripped of the luxuries and details, but still held the essence of past grandeur and clues of its inhabitants and history.
CP: Much of your other work is of foreign states and countries. Why shoot the Lorraine, which is in your hometown? Did you see it as being as unfamiliar as those other places?
MH: I am drawn to the unfamiliar, something outside my daily visual diet. Thus foreign places and especially visual gems like the Hotel are appealing subjects.
CP: What was your original inspiration for photographing the Lorraine?
MH: It was an opportunity to visit a time capsule.
CP: Much of your work hones in on tiny elements in a scene ' glass ware, Cheerios strewn on the ground, clothespins ' or interesting geometrical shapes and patterns. What interests you about these things?
MH: I like the sublime, the subtle suggestion or clue of what or who once was. The essence vs the obvious.
CP: By honing in on the tiny elements, you also make it difficult to tell where the photograph was shot in a larger sense. Is this on purpose, and if so, why do you do it?
MH: I don't think it's a conscious effort. I'm a fan of timelessness.
Every other Friday, I'll bring you more from my column Last Chance.
This photograph, Builder, is from David Kimelman's exhibit "Natural World" up at Hudson Beach Glass (26 S. Strawberry St., 267-319-1887) through August 26. Like his other works, it's funny, kinda uncomfortable to look at and questions our relationship with the natural world. When I first scanned through his exhibit (check out images from it in our online gallery), I thought it definitely reflected Kimelmans's concern with environmental issues and disaster. Take Builder, in which we've literally created a symbolic, crappy Earth ' kinda Truman Show-esque, no? But Kimelman says he's not trying to make an environmental statement. Read why in the Q&A below:
City Paper: How'd you arrive at this theme of "natural order"?
David Kimelman: Since I was a kid, I've been fascinated by nature and natural phenomena. As I grew up, I became more aware of how people fit into, and don't fit into, the natural world. My concerns are sometimes about environmental issues, but my main interest is in what our relationship to the natural world says about us, both as a species and as individuals. You can tell so much about a person by how he treats his mom. I feel the same is true of us people, and our mother, nature.
CP: There's a sense of humor in your work. Do you find the clashing of man and nature to be somewhat funny?
DK: Yes, I do. The images certainly raise serious issues, but a lot of the pictures are about the uncomfortable relationship people have with nature, and I think uncomfortable relationships are inherently funny. I also think humor in art makes that art more accessible and enjoyable to look at, and I want my pictures to be accessible and enjoyable to look at.
CP: I keep coming back to those two old people on the beach. How do you they represent the complex relationships between man and nature?
DK: "Long Walks On The Beach" represents the upside of the relationship. It's not all fear and alienation. In this case the subjects' environment, the beach, is fostering a very tender and genuine human moment.
CP: The term "natural order" implies that nature trumps man, and that's kind of a jarring thing to admit as a human. Are you trying to force your audience to realize that's the case?
DK: Nature does trump man, but the pictures are not really about who's stronger. It's about recognizing the role we play by being both a part of nature, and something separate, which often feels adversarial. I want people to look at the pictures and seriously consider how they fit into that role. I'm not trying to make an environmental statement. I'm trying to make people more aware of the larger context of their humanity, and how they fit into the world.
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