Hundreds of shows open in Philadelphia this fall, far too many to include in this short roundup. Six shows caught my fancy, but they’re just the tip of the iceberg.
Nowhere at Arcadia (Sept. 23-Nov. 7. arcadia.edu)
Remember that map you drew on a napkin to direct a friend to your house? Its cousin, created in necessity and collected by the Hand Drawn Map Association, will be appearing in Nowhere at Arcadia University Art Gallery. HDMA—an idiosyncratic Lancaster group newly relocated to Philadelphia—rescues the hand-drawn cartographic output as an archive of how we see the world in lines, symbols, street names and X-marked spots. Some of these maps are primitive, looking like drawings on the Lascaux cave walls. Others have a looser connection to reality and are more like art or a book illustration.
Philadelphia Photo Art Day (Oct. 28. Exhibit opens Nov. 11. philaphotoarts.org)
Two public projects this fall embrace citizen participation and democratize art without eviscerating it. For the first, Diedra Krieger’s SEPTA-related cell-phone video project, part of Design Philadelphia. For the other, Philadelphia Photo Art Center (PPAC) has organized Philly Photo Day. Take a picture of the city on Oct. 28 and submit it electronically to PPAC to have your shot printed and shown in an exhibit opening Nov. 11 at the Crane Art Center. Organizers are hoping to get hundreds, if not thousands, of photos describing the city, its people, animals, buildings, the sky above, the rivers, maybe even the dark side of trash, parking tickets, decrepit housing and homeless people. The pictures will be printed small, on 5-by-7 paper, and hung in a line running around the gallery like a third Philadelphia river.
Narcissus in the Studio at PAFA (Oct. 23-Jan. 2, pafa.org)
Playing into the idea that artists are among the most self-absorbed humans, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts opens an exhibition from its collection of artists’ self-portraits and portraits of friends. PAFA, with its history of figurative art, is rich in portraiture by major American artists like Charles Wilson Peale, Thomas Eakins, Vik Muniz, Elizabeth Osborne and James Brantley. Modern-art curator Robert Cozzolino, who organized the exhibit, has a track record of unearthing surprises from the museum’s storage vaults—look for some good ones here.
Hallowed Halloween at Proximity (Oct. 1-28. proximityart.com)
Last year’s show of Philadelphia illustrators and cartoonists of the Autumn Society at Proximity was a delight. This year, the Autumn Society and the Philadelphia Cartoonists Society join arms in a seasonal theme show of original works by more than 30 artists, with a little ghoul on the wall for every taste.
Alex Da Corte at Extra Extra (Nov. 5 through mid-December. eexxttrraa.com)
Da Corte’s found-object sculptures, shown at Fleisher-Ollman Gallery and many other places in Philadelphia, riff on aftermath. Colors that are too bright and shiny things that are too shiny recall the forlorn cleanup of the day after the party. The artist returns to Philadelphia with a Yale MFA and after shows in Boston and New York with new work, but the same sad outlook.
The Best of the Rest
The major museums continue to chart deep art-historical waters, and college galleries to pop out entertaining and worthy fare. DesignPhiladelphia has a number of other worthy projects. In the commercial galleries, newcomer Jolie Laide hatches an ambitious program mixing out-of-town artists with locals. Locks, Gallery Joe, Fleisher-Ollman, Gallery 339, Bridgette Mayer and Pentimenti, to name a few, continue their solid programs—look in particular for a great installation of drawings by Astrid Bowlby at Gallery Joe (Sept. 25-Nov. 13). And on the fringes of the alternative scene, Little Berlin’s BYOTY artist’s book and zine fair (Sept. 26) is back with affordable reading matter and homebrew for all.
Read this article at Philadelphia Weekly.