This week’s Weekly has my December First Friday roundup. Copy below with a few pictures.
“Slo Mo” at Germ Books and Gallery is a valedictory exhibit celebrating three now-defunct artist collectives— Pifas , Bobo’s on 9th and the Philadelphia Athenaeum . The group show, curated by Pifas member April Glaser , has colorful and psychedelic works by artists affiliated with the three spaces. It will hardly be a sob-fest. Paintings, sculptures and video by artists Lindsay Kovnat , W.J. Hyatt , Brian McKelligott , Bobos and others will make the show as jolly and noisy as a New Orleans Second Line parade.
Speaking of noise, Bobo, the three-piece performance art band, will play at Germ in January. Owner Dave Williams says he expects the high-energy show to spill over from the gallery in the rear into the bookstore space. These collectives may be finished, but this is a chance to see some of the art that helped make them special.
Before artists discovered video, ethnographers and anthropologists were using the media to study and document aspects of the natural world including human behavior. “ Ethnographic Terminalia ” at the Icebox brings together artists and ethnographers from around the world (including some Philadelphians) in an exhibit that demonstrates how close art and social science can be. Canadian artist Trudi Lynn Smith ’s Portable Camera Obscura , a square, room-sized tent outfitted with lenses, will capture the space around it and reflect it—upside down—inside on the tent’s walls. If you’ve never experienced a live camera obscura, this is your chance. The topsy-turvy distortion of the world could be a symbol of what social scientists and artists actually do—distill life down to something indirect, ephemeral and metaphysical.
Stephanie Spray ’s ethnographic video projection of a boy’s life in Nepal is social science, but it’s also very like the art of Emily Jacir or Phil Collins , both of whom work with ethnic populations making videos that look documentary but are ultimately more mysterious. Both artists and anthropologist/ethnographers are collectors, sometimes obsessively. And this show has a wonderful collection of domestic cat artifacts on view from the Museum of Natural and Artificial Ephemerata in Austin, Texas. The collection, like the museum, is both an art project and a serious anthropological/ethnographic collection by Scott and Jen Webel who’ve been running the museum in their house for 10 years.
Projects Gallery and Brandywine Workshop jointly organized “ Print Out ,” a two-month exhibit at Projects of work made at the renowned print workshop. Brandywine specializes in offset lithography made by artists of varying ethnic backgrounds who have been in residence at the workshop. December’s show features works by established artists of national and international reputation like Tomie Arai , Kenneth Noland and Yung Soon Min .
January’s show switches to recent prints by African-American artists including young artists with rising reputations, Hank Willis Thomas and Deborah Willis along with well-known and respected local artists like John E. Dowell, Jr. and Allan L. Edmunds . Proceeds from sales of national and international artists’ prints will benefit Brandywine.
Artist cooperative galleries come and go but MUSE is celebrating its 32nd anniversary with a members show that proves their hardiness, if not their secret to longevity. The gallery artists are all represented in the big group show, and works range from colorful abstract paintings by Patricia Burns to deadpan cartoon portrait paintings by George W. Shinn and extreme close-up portraits of spooked-looking horses’ heads by Steve Messenger .
“Slo Mo.” Dec. 4-Jan. 31. Opening reception: Fri., Dec. 4, 5-9pm. Germ Books and Gallery, 2005 Frankford Ave. 215.423.5002.
“Ethnographic Terminalia.” Through Dec. 20. Opening reception: Fri., Dec. 4, 7pm. Crane Art Center, Icebox Project Space, 1400 N. American St.
“Print Out.” Dec. 4-Jan. 31. Opening reception: Fri., Dec. 4, 6pm. Projects Gallery, 649 N. Second St. 267.303.9652.
“MUSE 32nd Anniversary Show.” Through Dec. 27. Opening reception: Fri., Dec. 4, 5pm. MUSE Gallery, 52 N. Second St. 215.627.5310.