This past weekend I ventured up to Philadelphia for my first gallery crawl in that city. I was pleased, especially considering it was Labor Day weekend and many galleries were closed. A particular disappointment was not getting to see Gallery Joe. Maybe next time...
On Saturday afternoon I hooked up with Roberta Fallon and Libby Rosof, co-authors of Fallon and Rosof's Artblog. Let me tell you, if you get the chance to meet these passionate and energetic ladies do not pass it up. Though I think I wore them out by the end of the day, these gals move quick and know everyone in Philly. I was in awe of their connections but appreciative of their introductions. I was able to meet the owner of each gallery discussed above. Thanks guys!
What I want to do here is post a photo review of sorts. I don't have the time or inclination to go in depth about each of these shows but for those in DC or elsewhere who have never been to Philly, let this serve as an introduction.
(I hate how Typepad compresses the images, so be sure to click on them for full view.)
1) Various shows at Vox Populi
I found Vox to be a rough co-op space. On view this weekend were shows that you would expect to see at a contemporary art gallery trying to be hip. In one room was some sort of installation where the artist set up a computer, music and those cheap string lights found in 50% of college dorm rooms today. Yawn. In the picture above was a small show in the gallery's project space. I didn't catch the artist's name but the work was mildly interesting. In the middle of the picture is a large paper piece where the artist drew by hand lines resembling graph paper. He then cut out portions of the paper to reveal a maze (or what looked like a maze). I immediately thought of Adam Fowler. The work was all over the place but had black and white has a commonality. I hear the building that houses Vox may soon be torn down. Here's hoping they land on their feet.
2) Summer Group Show at Larry Becker
Ahh! A commercial gallery with a focus on minimalist/reductive work. How nice! The gallery was actually closed when we arrived but because Roberta knew I really wanted to see this space she gave Larry a call and he opened the gallery for us. I found the group show hit or miss but being in the presence of such simple work (as opposed to Vox) was refreshing. Again, I wasn't on a reporting mission this weekend so I didn't grab any names. I found owners Larry and Heidi to be quite nice and knowledgeable and I look forward to following their program.
Christine Pfister's lovely space at Pentimenti was probably the nicest I saw. I had the opportunity to speak with Ms. Pfister for quite some time and I was definitely impressed with her and her program. The current show was nice if a little tame. I liked Isabel Bigelow's simple nature paintings (one shown above) but found Luis Castro's sculptures a bit tedious. I'm not sure if either has shown in DC but I could definitely see a market for their work here.
4) Shelley Spector @ Painted Bride Art Center
When I first walked inside this unique alternative space and saw the work on display, my first reaction was "Oh no, more crap installation art." But when I got closer I found a real vision in the work and fantastic craftsmanship. Ultimately I decided this was perhaps my favorite gallery show I've seen all year. For those who have read this site more than a week, go ahead and pick your jaw up off the floor.
Spector's work was incredibly sincere yet at the same time optimistic and happy, even in the face of dealing with death. The crew over at Artblog have already reviewed the show (here) and covered it well. Check it out for more details.
5) The Crew
This is a shot of me with the ladies... the lovely Roberta and Libby. How lucky was I?!
Though this show was way, way, way overhung, I still enjoyed it. Apparently McFarlane has made a big change in his work recently. I haven't seen his older work but these were solid efforts. I liked the idea of building the compositions up using quickly executed, hand-drawn squares stacked on squares. The end result were painting active with energy yet stable. You couldn't look at one painting without seeing three others at the same time so I'm left to imagine that the paintings would be even stronger with room to breathe. I seriously think the show should have included 1/3rd of the number of pieces. But the space was relatively small and Ms. Mayer (who was quite approachable and informative) clearly wanted to share as much as she could. It just doesn't do the work any service.
7) Cy Twombly at the Philadelphia Museum of Art
The contemporary art galleries at the PMA are extremely weak. Actually, I'm a bit shocked by how bad they are. Or maybe I expected too much. Whatever. I did stumble upon a fantastic gallery dedicated to an installation of Cy Twombly paintings and I was floored. It took me a long time to get onboard with his work but now there's no getting me off. Though I was put off by the protective rails near the floor, I thought the installation was fantastic. There's not much new to be said about Twombly's work so just enjoy the images.
No images of this show but it's been widely covered on the blogs. I thought William Eggleston was the standout here. I also decided that no matter if you're a "maverick" or not, there's no excuse for such dull (i.e. boring) images. Thanks to Eggleston though I got something fun to look at.
I had a wonderful time in Philadelphia and I look forward to returning. For those who have never been (and live in DC), it would make a great day trip on a Saturday. Just don't try to book Roberta and Libby as your tourguides... they're mine!