This week’s Weekly has my First Friday picks.
Little Berlin ’s “ Works on Paper Rejects ”—with drawings, prints, photos and sculpture by artists rejected from the recent Works on Paper exhibit at Arcadia University —is the hot opening this Friday. Artists are still steamed about the juried Arcadia show, comprised of only 22 works out of a record 1,256 entries submitted by 567 artists. Intentionally or not, “Rejects” will give you an idea of how difficult it is to jury a show of that magnitude.
“ Gone Printin’ ” rounds up print-based works by gallery artists and members of the Philadelphia Salon . Reasons to go include the social commentary seen in muscular black-and-white woodcuts by New York artist Peter Gourfain and the surreal pop appropriations visible in old master-horse paintings by Bruce Wilhelm (one of the founders of the new Grizzly Grizzly space). Wilhelm inserts what he calls “wormholes” into realistic landscape scenes, creating inexplicable areas of color, pattern and whimsy. The works are direct descendants of Terry Gilliam ’s Monty Python animations.
“ All That’s Left ,” Justin Pekera ’s memorial to his own life, sounds like a combination yard sale and wake. The artist’s will, artifacts and Polaroid photos chronicling 1980 through 2010 will be on view in the gallery, with private viewing hours for the family and friends and a public viewing this Friday. Don’t be put off by the somber trappings: The show is a celebration in the spirit of Maira Kalman ’s “ Various Illuminations (of a Crazy World) ” at the Institute of Contemporary Art . That show runs through June 6 and includes memorabilia and art from Kalman’s life, a cheerful reminder that’s more jewelry box than dusty time capsule. It’s not unusual for artists to chronicle their lives; what seems new in both these shows is the insertion of found objects into an autobiographical art installation, a move that furthers the idea of Marcel Duchamp ’s “readymades” by redefining art as not only the objects made or found, but as the life lived.
Extra extra , a new artist-run space in Fishtown, promises odd and endearing conceptual art. Started by Derek Frech , Joseph Lacina , Bob Myaing and Daniel Wallace —recent Philly transplants from Baltimore—extra extra will emphasize art that’s hard to show in a typical gallery (performance art and music, for example). This month’s program “ Casual Friday ” includes sculpture by Chicago artists Joel Dean , Alistair Matthews and Michael Hunter and Baltimore artist Lee Freeman . Humor, irony and world-weariness are enthroned here in works incorporating fake gold, genie lamps, a wooden chair and a rubber duck. Meanwhile the gallery includes an upstairs bookstore with artist books and zines. Ladies, if this seems like a guy-heavy venue, take heart and submit a proposal! They’re looking for you.
Carrie Scanga ’s “ View From High Places ,” a room-sized installation made of folded and embellished tracing paper “blocks,” will shift over time as puffs of air left by viewers cause the piece to quake and shift. Not related to the recent earthquake in Haiti but still a comment on the fragility of life, Scanga’s ephemeral work might make you hold your breath and tiptoe.
“Works on Paper Rejects” Through Feb. 27. Opening reception: Fri., Feb. 5, 6-11pm. Little Berlin, 119 W. Montgomery St. 610.308.0579. littleberlin.org
“Gone Printin’” Through Feb. 27. Opening reception: Fri., Feb. 5, 6-9pm. Projects Gallery, 629 N. Second St 267.303.9652. projectsgallery.com
“All That’s Left” Through Feb. 28. Opening reception: Fri., Feb. 5, 6-9pm. Proximity Gallery, 2434 E. Dauphin St. 267.825.2949. proximityart.com
“Casual Friday” Through Feb. 22. Opening reception: Fri., Feb. 5, 6-10pm. extra extra, 2222 Sepviva St. eexxttrraa.com
“View From High Places” Through Feb. 26. Opening reception: Fri., Feb. 5, 6-10pm. Tiger Strikes Asteroid, 319A N. 11th St., fourth fl. tigerstrikesasteroid.com