To Tiger With Love — Tiger Strikes Asteroid’s anniversary show

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[This celebratory show asked members of artist-run gallery Tiger Strikes Asteroid to write a love letter to their community space. Joshua takes a tour, sharing a few of the show’s works and its film inspiration. — the artblog editors]

Dearest readers, you are cordially invited to attend the joyous and auspicious event of Tiger Strikes Asteroid’s five-year anniversary! In an exhibition titled To Tiger With Love, both current and former members of the artistic commune were asked to write a love letter to TSA. Works were to be the same size as a standard sheet of paper (8½” x 11”) and vertically oriented. Despite this unifying theme, each work that was submitted was starkly different from the next, creating an eclectic and charming installation.

Homage to a film

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Installation view of To Tiger With Love at Tiger Strikes Asteroid. Photo courtesy of Tiger Strikes Asteroid.

The title of the exhibition makes reference to James Clavell’s film, “To Sir, With Love,” starring Sir Sidney Poitier. The film tells the story of Mark Thackeray, who takes a job teaching at a troubled secondary school in East London. After receiving much adversity from his students for months, he is finally accepted at the end of the movie at the school dance. The students present him with a thank-you gift, while a student, Lulu, sings the movie theme. Thackeray, too moved for words, decides to make education his lifelong pursuit.

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Works on view. Photo courtesy of Tiger Strikes Asteroid.
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Works on view. Photo courtesy of Tiger Strikes Asteroid.

Similarly, this exhibition is a series of thank-yous from the artists who have been a part of TSA. As part of the exhibition, TSA integrates the lyrics from the film’s theme song:

But how do you thank someone
Who has taken you from crayons to perfume?
It isn’t easy, but I’ll try

If you wanted the sky
I would write across the sky in letters
That would soar a thousand feet high
To Tiger, with love

No two letters the same

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Work on view. Photo courtesy of Tiger Strikes Asteroid.

This 20-artist exhibition is an expression of the gratitude and love that the artists feel toward TSA–an artist community that fostered growth and development like Thackeray did in his students. Each artist chose a unique approach to expressing his or her love. What is truly wonderful about the exhibition is that no two “letters” were the same.

Some artists, such as Todd Baldwin in his work, “A Mother’s Voice Saying, ‘I Love You,’” chose to express love literally. Others chose a more incoherent and esoteric form of expression, such as Adam Blumberg’s “Untitled”. I found my initial inability to discover how some works were love letters to be enjoyable. For many of the works, the viewer can only guess how they relate to TSA.

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Work on view. Photo courtesy of Tiger Strikes Asteroid.
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Work on view. Photo courtesy of Tiger Strikes Asteroid.

I had the opportunity to meet one of the currently exhibiting artists, Jaime Alvarez, to discuss his love letter to TSA–cleverly titled “Tee-Grey”. After manipulating and photographing a staged scene, Alvarez created an archival inkjet print. He finds his work to be didactic in that it tells the story of TSA through the image of the yellow tiger. The yellow color of the tiger mimics colors found in video games such as “Pac-Man,” and “Space Invaders,” and calls to mind an extraterrestrial mentality.

 

Tiger Strikes Asteroid is an artist-run and artist-curated exhibition space located at 319A North 11th Street. To Tiger, With Love is open through July 26, 2014. The gallery is open every Saturday and Sunday from 12 – 6pm, or by appointment. 

Tags

adam blumberg, jaime alvarez, philadelphia, tiger strikes asteroid, todd balwin

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