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May First Friday, Frankford Ave


May 14, 2010   ·   2 Comments


The super hip 2100 block of Frankford Avenue was hopping on First Friday.  With people spilling out onto the sidewalk, the biggest crowd was at Rocket Cat Café, on the corner of Frankford and East Norris.  They were hosting ‘Give Pizza Chance:’ a pizza party at the opening of their pizza-themed art show.  As someone who is allergic to pizza, I didn’t exactly go into this show with much hope of liking it, but its whimsy won me over.

A pizza-centric night at Rocket Cat

Joshua Camerote’s video art ‘The Sun Never Sets on the Za Empire’ played in the corner, with pizza worked into borrowed footage, replacing things like turntables and the two suns that Luke Skywalker gazes at in Star Wars.  Alexandra Jones has knitted a very appealing, giant ‘Yarn Pizza’ that I wanted to take off the wall and wear as a blanket.

Alexandra Jones' 'Yarn Pizza'

As I stood next to it, almost everyone who approached Mike Metzner’s ‘Amateur Pizza Collector,’ – several jars of pizza suspended in what looked like formaldehyde – called it “creepy.” With slices weirdly magnified and distorted by the liquid, the pizza-meets-Mutter Museum installation definitely merited a closer look.  On the whole though, the pizza party was kitschier than it was thought-provoking.

View from the second floor of ExtraExtra

ExtraExtra was the place to get your contemplative kicks.  Their new show, Soft Focus, is a grouping of objects spread sparsely across the gallery floor.  Installed by Derek Frech, Joseph Lacina, Bob Myaing, and Daniel Wallace, ExEx’s founders, they range from single objects (a studded-belt) to more complicated pieces (meticulously-arranged rainbow of PMA buttons).  By placing the objects on one plane, the four hope to decontextualize, and therefore, recontextualize them.  Rather than look at the array of PMA buttons as a piece unto itself, we are meant to see it in the context of the objects that surround it.  The four artists challenge us to make fresh connections, and there is a lot to be said for this idea, but the simplicity of some of the objects (a tower of beer cans) don’t seem to lend them well to this endeavor.

Jeff Waring's 'Plucked from the Hill'

The most visually interesting of what Frankford Ave. has to offer this month is Jeff Waring’s Becoming and Unbecoming show at Highwire Gallery.  Waring’s method is something like lather, rinse, and repeat.  He combines natural and man-made materials on a canvas, leaves them to weather in the sun and rain, and keeps layering, layering, layering.

'Hairy Puri Pour Over'

You might expect works that include acorns and dried leaves to be stale and brown, but thanks to paint, acrylic and ink, these are beautifully color-soaked.  And Waring keeps the show interesting by varying textures; the canvases alternate between chunky, smooth, and somewhere in between.

'Rising Up'

Waring’s weathering process also does interesting things to canvas shape, especially the show’s pièce-de-résistance, Rising Up, which undulates pleasantly.  Up close, it’s studded with acorns and scrabble tiles, and from a few feet back, it’s a beautiful tapestry, nicely highlighting Waring’s play between nature and art.

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2 responses to “May First Friday, Frankford Ave”

  1. Carl says:

    Your assessment of the show #1 denies the fact that art can be fun #2 does not take into consideration that the artists involved in the pizza show created work that people could enjoy/access without judgment (unlike the very “venerable” and seasoned observer who decides that such works are kitschy) #3 proves the point that some person – not making interesting work – feels capable of critiquing a show yet does so not for purposes of understanding, trying to love, not trying to hate, trying to appreciate…but rather a more self-aggrandizing – trying to be clever – “i can talk about art” – here’s the verdict – sort of article.

  2. emily friedman says:

    I enjoyed the pizza show a lot actually, and did find it to be fun, which I think does come through in the post. Describing the show as whimsical implies that it was lighthearted and fun. In describing certain pieces, my goal was indeed to show appreciation for them, for example, the sheer loveliness of the Yarn Pizza and ‘Amateur Pizza Collector’s ability to draw people in for a closer look.

    I think enjoyment and appreciation of art is implicit in any art review. Why go to shows and write about them if you don’t find it enjoyable? By no means do I presume to have the one true opinion; these are simply the reactions that I had and the ways in which I tried to understand what I saw. One person’s review isn’t the final verdict on an art show, movie, book, etc. What’s great about any art show, and especially a fun, accessible one like the pizza show, is that everyone will come out of it with different impressions.

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