It’s remarkable how much territory you can cover and art you can see in an afternoon, on foot, in Kensington. Here’s a sample of some offerings from my walk last Saturday afternoon. I started at Little Berlin, where Landscape Techne, the group show curated by LB member Kristen Neville, suggests that no matter how electronically-or technologically-sophisticated we are as a society, artists will always have a need to create landscape imagery of some sort.
I’m a big fan of Alex McLeod‘s digital creations and it was great to see them in the real world at last — printed nice and large — in the show.
Neville was there when I visited, with a group of neighborhood girls who had walked in the door and were drawing pictures at the small table in the entryway. The kids seemed to have decided Little Berlin was a worthy clubhouse to hang out in. (www.littleberlin.org to Nov. 27)
Landscape was a recurring theme that afternoon, with Jackie Hoving’s wall-spanning installation at Rebekah Templeton offering highly-decorated and beautiful camouflage in the forest. Her two works Hunter in Forest and Forest in Hunter are a call and response pair sitting across the room from each other. Hoving’s materials, which include wallpaper, digital prints, acrylic, spray paint and ink, suggest a Cuisinarted approach to imagery in which large holes in the depiction allow the viewer to fill in the blanks. Tom LaDuke’s hole-y narrative paintings at Pafa’s Morris Gallery have a similar affect, although LaDuke’s layering suggests a deep, subliminal layer buried under a bright almost gaudy surface that’s trying to emerge. And Hoving’s works are more unified with layers flattened to suggest a puzzle with pieces missing. (www.rebekahtempleton.com to Dec. 18)
Walking through Kensington on the way to Crane Arts, I passed the old PiFAS on 2nd near Cecil B. Moore and noticed there’s a new group that’s taken over the sprawling warehouse space: Indoor Rooftop Studios is the name and they had an event Nov. 11 that must have included children in attendance. The profusion of chalk drawings on the building and on the street says it was a participatory event. It’s good to see artists using the large space again! The exhibit is viewable by appointment until Nov. 23. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
At Crane Arts, Jennie Thwing’s Plastic Landscape, a film, video and sculpture installation at Nexus is terrific. Thwing mixes food and landscape in two video projections that suggest an artier Sesame Street. Peas dance on a plate spelling out “you are what you are” in stop-action jerkiness. Things go into mouths and come out of mouths–there’s an oral fixate’s obsession here. The suggestion of magic is on the works, even in the miniature landscape environments she’s set up, which convey wizardry at work behind the curtain (or under the pedestal). The audio is fine: Circus-like and music-box music offer a reading of never-ending merry-go-round. And sounds of water, paper crunching, tin foil and plastic crinkling make a backdrop for the food and trash scenes in particular. The ugh factor sits lightly but returns time and again, with closeups of milk or water dripping out of a mouth and other suggestions that what’s eaten comes back to haunt you ( pieces of chewed gum on a wall that come together in a huge ugh-y mass). Overall, Thwing delivers an eco message and one about our culture of over-consumption without preaching.
Also at Nexus this month, Anastasia Owell’s Let’s Play, a series of video game hacks in which the evil ogre to beat is the Boss. Much fun. Owell is also showing a couple of odd figure drawings like out-takes from and orgy on a Grecian urn. The drawings, with their intertwined nude bodies, have been decorated by a bunch of squares and triangles that replace the figures’ heads. The formalist elements are confusing and comical, and because the artist is so accomplished at animation, I’m wondering if these are drawings from an animated work.
(www.nexusphiladelphia.org to Dec. 3)
Philly Photo Day, sponsored by Philadelphia Photo Arts Center, was Oct. 28. More than 300 people submitted digital images of Philadelphia to the open call for images. The show is in the Crane’s Grey Area — but today’s the last day to see it. Images of people, animals, babies, architecture, fountains, backyards, abandoned buildings, grafitti. Yup, it’s a pretty comprehensive picture of the city and its people. The works are printed in a grid on large sheets of paper, each image 8×10, and, as Libby pointed out when we were talking about it, this large-format digital printing is a great sample of what PPAC does with its large printers.
I submitted a photo of a guy in a blue dress shirt and tie — an office worker on break. He’s climbing a rock wall set up on Market near 17th as part of a Toblerone candybar promotion. The disparity between his formal dress and the grungy, sweaty activity he’s participating in is what grabbed my attention. The city doesn’t always look so circus-y but more and more you can run into carnivalesque experiences if you look for them. (http://www.philaphotoarts.org/ through Nov. 20)
Not landscape, but huge figures in the Icebox are my last stop. Ledelle Moe’s two mammoth concrete sculptures lying on the floor are monoliths toppled. A horse and a woman, downed by life. The South Africa-born, Baltimore-based artist works from her memory of human rights struggles in her native land. The work’s massive size alone gives it presence–and the grid marks on the hairless bodies make them feel like two really scary pieces of meat. The show is part of Crane’s International Curatorial Exchange (ICE), this presentation in conjunction with G Fine Art. (http://www.iceatcranearts.com through Nov. 28)