If you got the latest Fleisher-Ollman Gallery newsletter you may have seen at the bottom, under the information about Jayson Musson‘s closing reception Jan. 24, 6-8pm, a little history of the gallery. And if you read to the end of the paragraph, you learned about the gallery’s move to 1216 Arch St. next door to the Fabric Workshop and Museum. Talk about burying the lead!
We are super excited about this move of the Fleisher-Ollman Gallery because of what it means for creating a rich, varied gallery zone for Philadelphia’s North-of-Chinatown area. The zone includes a bunch of notable alternative galleries, the AiA space, the Asian Arts Initiative, plus two internationally recognized heavy hitting museums–the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and the Fabric Workshop and Museum. With the addition of Fleisher/Ollman, NoChina has acquired what is arguably Philadelphia’s premiere commercial gallery for outsider and edgy contemporary art. And the area has become what can be argued as the new center of the contemporary art scene in Philadelphia.
When we dropped by Fleisher-Ollman to see Musson’s outstanding exhibit of fabric paintings we spent a few minutes with John Ollman and gallery director Alex Baker who were in the midst of upcoming moving day heebie jeebies. As in, when we asked John when they were moving he said “Tomorrow.” Figuratively or literally we don’t know, but it seemed the move was THE MOVE and it was coming. Gallerists love to gab, and so do we, and we picked up a lot of detailed information about the new gallery space and about Musson’s wonderful works.
First a little history of the gallery, from the gallery newsletter:
Fleisher/Ollman began as the Little Gallery on south Manning Street in 1952, moved to 16th street, and then 17th street where, in 1971, it became the Janet Fleisher Gallery and, 26 years later, Fleisher/Ollman Gallery. Ten years ago the gallery moved around the corner once more to our current location [1616 Walnut St.], and this spring we will take up residence on the 5th floor of 1216 Arch street, next door to the Fabric Workshop and Museum.
The new gallery location will be a 5,000 sq. ft, wood-floor space with a 16 ft. high ceilings. There will be one large exhibit space and some smaller spaces. The space will be radically different from the current gallery, which has polished concrete floors and a ceiling that while not low is rather intrusive with an industrial flavor to it.
Baker says the first exhibit in the new space will be “Outsiderism,” both a critique of what outsider art is and its “fetishization”–as in outsider art is the new art world darling. Australian artists Baker worked with when he was in Melbourne will be in the show as well as some area artists (one artist from the New Wilmington Art Association, for example), and big names Paul Lafolley and maybe, Baker said, Mark Hogancamp (of Marwencol fame. See artblog review of that movie). Target date for the opening of the new space is April 1, 2013.
After the gabbing, we slowed down enough to take in Jayson Scott Musson’s work. The large and small Coogi sweater paintings, luscious from afar, are psychedelic wonderlands up close. Their textures, colors, and the sinuous flow of the cloth are both hypnotic and sexy (do we have to say vagina here? the word does come to mind in any number of the paintings, which have the sexy undulations of landscapes and other natural forms). The work wears its art-historical references on its sleeve and on its titles, which salute artists from Sherrie Levine to Gaugin, with AbEx and Pop references thrown in.
Musson did have some sewing pros carrying out his instructions for re-assembly of the sweater parts, but ultimately, he was the guy who provided the stitches to tailor the final adjustments.
The show is sold out by the way, with works going to museums and collectors all round the country.
Jayson gets the vintage sweaters online. And apparently at the opening (or at another gathering at the gallery) a collector brought the artist a bagful of sweaters for him to use. In case you’re wondering, Jayson doesn’t wear the sweaters, ever.
Musson will be in an upcoming group show at the new, New York offshoot of hotshot Paris gallery Perrotin, 73rd and Madison. And, look for a writeup on the F-O show in Modern Painters and a Judy Stein review in Art in America.
Finally, in other news. F-O will be opening a new outpost, Adams-Ollman Gallery, in Portland, OR, at the end of February or March, 2013. Amy Adams, former gallery director of F-O in Philadelphia, who moved to Portland with her family last year, will run Adams-Ollman. And the opening exhibit will be work by the late Philadelphia artist Bill Walton.