First Friday started early for Libby and me with a trip to the Perelman Building at the PMA with Collab board president Vesna Todorovicz Sacks, who showed us the Collab 2013 Design Excellence Award show of Australian designer Marc Newson. Not only is the work a delight — playful, colorful, sleek and clean, the design of the show itself is very cool. Like an exploded 3D version of a model home, the show features a garage with a Ford Concept Car, a kitchen, living room, two bedrooms and bath–a highly engaging little pad to dream yourself into. The Australian designer, who also created a nickel-plated Surfboard (2007) and a clunky but endearing-looking bike (all on view in the garage) made a video that’s also on view, which shows the creation of the surfboard and its use in some of those 3-story waves surfers love to challenge — mesmerizing. The car, by the way, made in 1999, is way ahead of its time. It has swivel seats to let you get in and out and the snub-nosed squaring design that was nowhere in car design until recently.
Vesna mentioned Collab’s spring lecture with Hod Lipson, who will speak about 3D printing. The lecture is Saturday May 10, 2:00. at the PMA. Lipson is a Cornell University robotics engineer and apparently he has printed food — an entire dinner’s worth! Stay tuned for more about that lecture. Marc Newson At Home to April 20 at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Collab Gallery, Perelman Building.
Old City – Technology writ large
After hanging out with Marc Newsom’s cool vibrations, I headed to New Boon(e), Gallery Joe and the Center for Art in Wood in Old City. All three galleries have wonderful offerings, and while New Boon(e)’s is down now (closed Feb. 10), the video projection by Dimitra Ermeidou — which pixillated and conflated the photos of numerous geo-political power players and Forbes billionaires into a slo-motion, daze-inducing monster — is great. It definitely is mining the sci-fi/horror movie ambiance of contemporary real-politik. These are spooky images, whose faces will not clarify no matter what, but whose ominous presence is riveting and repelling. Ermeidou had a group of chairs set up in front of the large projection, as if a conference was in session (no table) to which you were not invited. But the projection itself is the meat of the work — compelling. Face mash-ups are not new of course, but this one, with Gothic undertones, seems to hit the right material with the right tone. Dimitra Ermeidou at New Boon(e) closed Feb 10 http://newboone.com
Meanwhile, coolness reigns at Gallery Joe in Mia Rosenthal’s drawings of the electronic days of our lives. Whimsical and cartoon-like, the works ask you to big questions about your relationship to your devices. Walking through the show I felt like I was tip toe-ing through people’s private lives. What’s on your desktop? How many unread email messages do you have? Do you want people to know? And more importantly, how much time are you spending with your favorite toy? Chip will be weighing in on this show, so come back for that soon. Mia Rosenthal at Gallery Joe to Mar 22 http://www.galleryjoe.com/
There was a big crowd at Center for Art in Wood when I stopped by. David Stephens, whose work is in the front space, was being interviewed before his talk that evening. Stephens’ works are large and powerful icons that call to mind totem poles (or Transformers–they suggest armature on top of moving parts with joints). Both menacing and benign, they carry messages in Braille on their bodies that call to mind ideas about sight and insight, but also technology, with words translated by bits and bytes into symbols of what they really mean. Stop by and see this work. David Stephens at Center for Art in Wood to April 19 http://www.centerforartinwood.org/
Chinatown – Hot and cold and hidden meanings everywhere
The extreme focus on the objects of our lives in Erin Riley’s show at Space 1026 makes her work hot. Hot to look at hot to handle — what are you going to do with a drop dead beautiful weaving of a gun? Riley, an artblog favorite — we have been following her for years — weaves tapestries of angst and unhappiness based on images people post on the Internet. The range of objects here in this show, from guns to tampons (eeeeuw) immediately makes you ask what’s up with people’s need to document everything. And whether that documentation empowers or disempowers them it creates an undeniable stream of disturbing images of a particularly fraught time in human history. The show closes today–get over there! Erin Riley at Space 1026 to Feb 21 http://space1026.com/
At another extreme altogether, printmaker Stefan Martin’s show at Marginal Utility waxes old school, with deep blue-green walls hosting framed images on the wall. The show is up until late March, so luckily I can get back and really see it. What I noted First Friday was the enormity of the crowd happily caucusing in the small space and those great, greeny-blue walls. The show is organized by Michelle Post (another artblog favorite), who studied with Martin. Stefan Martin at Marginal Utility to Mar 23 http://www.marginalutility.org/
The hottest imagery of the night is Chad States’ show at Napoleon. Pass through the black curtain and enter a chamber with a kind of man-made bonfire on the floor that casts its fiery red/orange glow and seems to be eating up an image sitting beneath it. The piece, called “Night Sweats,” evokes many references, from the obvious medical reference in the title to the idea of hidden cultures and societies with rituals obvious to the members and indecipherable to those outside. Whatever the desire on the part of States, the piece is a powerful visual installation. See it this weekend before it’s gone. Chad States Napoleon to Feb. 23 http://napoleonnapoleon.com/2014/01/02/chad-states-night-sweats/
A kind of twisted domestic milieu runs through Erica Prince’s works at Vox Populi. Prince (don’t hate me, she’s also an artblog favorite), plays with found objects and other things she crafts, putting them together in little tortured relationships that can make you uncomfortable, or sometimes smile. I love this stool with the hodge-podge of dishes on top. It speaks to me of clutter and attempts to organize, something I am constantly dealing with.
In the next room at Vox, Maria Dumlao’s video projections heat up the space, with utopian-type landscapes, apparently grabbed from social media. I immediately took a picture to post on Instagram.
Erica Prince, Maria Dumlao to Mar. 2 at Vox Populi http://voxpopuligallery.org/