Live Comments – First Friday March 6, 2015, at the Vox building

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It was light traffic inside the Vox building when I got there before the show-opening time of 6PM.  But by  7:30 there was the usual jam up of bodies on the second floor with the 5 little galleries with big aspirations (Grizzly Grizzly, Marginal Utility, Practice, Tiger Strikes Asteroid, Napoleon) acting as hot spots for conversation and looking.

I talked with several people — artists, curators, a student — on this short (2 and a half minute) episode of Live Comments:

1.  Bree Pickering, Vox Populi‘s Executive Director.  Bree speaks about the member-curated guest shows this month.

My thumbnail on the show:

Theo Mullen‘s installation of delicately- and strategically-placed seemingly random found and hand-made objects is familiar. The Surreal 3D rebus didn’t hold my attention for long; Julia Klein‘s tape, coat-hanger and goo figure fragments, however, are evocative of family or portrait photographs and yet planets apart in their materials.  I kept circling around them.  There are no bad views and I wonder what comes next for Klein.  Heather Leigh McPherson‘s kindergarten-color, paint-and-mixed-media works on plexi or canvas remind me of the work of  Artblog favorite Austin Lee, yet the process-heavy details subsume content and make them seem more James Havard. I’d like to see more. David Eassa‘s cake-frosting-like painted 3D lawyer’s office suite is delicious to look at.  Complete with lawyer — on the phone –, power ties, framed Harvard law degree, books, computer, family photos, a golf set, the installation conjures a hybrid of Red Grooms and Ryan Trecartin, without the Internet vibe. The piece’s title “My Mother Always Told Me I’d Grow Up To Be A Lawyer” colors it with a nice dolop of acidity.

2. Leslie Friedman, co-founder of Napoleon Gallery. Leslie talks about Daniel Petraitis’ solo show, “Equal Hand,” which she curated.

My take: The spare display of the two round-framed wall works is gorgeous (as are the objects themselves). These are sly works about the urban environment, lost and found patterning, people and things.

Joshua Shedler, a student of Aron G. Johnston’s at Moravian College.  Shedler speaks about Johnston’s show “Analog Drift” at Tiger Strikes Asteroid.

My take: The abstract works, which seem like giant digital blow-ups of overly pixillated images, are actually finely crafted paintings in acrylic or drawings in colored pencil. Very excellent to look at, the works raise the age-old issue of scale and how blowing something up will obliterate meaning and/or strike a new meaning.

Douglas Repetto at Marginal Utility. Repetto speaks about his humming kinetic installation “forever wild (kill site record).”

My take: Where to begin?  The piece, which fills the gallery with a criss-cross of string, in seven connected and motorized systems, has a back story about birds of prey and their “kill sites,” which you may see if you’re out walking in the woods (look for lots of feathers on the ground and nothing else).  Beyond that is Repetto’s thought of what happens if those sites disappear (and correspondingly those animals).  The quiet and beautiful work is hypnotic, and there’s a bench to sit on and contemplate, Walden Pond style. The work, which has an “inking” station (Repetto called it a “bird shit” station) with jars of  colored inks, will color the strings as they move through the systems, and change how the piece looks during its 2-month installation. I can’t wait to go look again.

Other shows of note:

Grizzly Grizzly

Not captured in Live Comments but also worth your while is the group show, “Color Coded” at Grizzly Grizzly, which plays with the idea of color, as symbolic, spiritual and literal arbiter of how we interpret things in the world. My favorite is the David Foster Wallace book into which have been inserted colored post-its in seemingly every color and on seemingly every page.  This seems both folly and wholly appropriate, as if either a post-it-obsessed reader needed to take over the book herself and bling it with personally meaningful bookmarks; or as a comment on the dense, cryptic writings of Wallace.  The way the book — a piece by Ruth Scott Blackson and Corrie Baldauf — lays on the pedestal is reminiscent of a dictionary or bible, a tome to elucidate, which is highly ironic since Wallace’s writing is so dense and opaque.

Practice:

Former Philadelphia artist Andria Morales‘s performance “Public Play” at Practice had a frisson of danger and the unpredictable in it. The artist used the dating service iCupid to interact with strangers, who agreed, over the course of a month’s interactions, to participate in a public performance/date at the gallery! Andria shared a short video clip from the performance with us. Check it out! This is an example of the great, risk-taking performance scene that’s been going on in Philadelphia for some time now.

#OCGOPF

Also risky and performative, was this weekend (and next weekend as well) #OCGOPF, that is, Open Call Guerilla Outdoor Performance Festival, organized by Beth Heinly. The first round of performances took place Saturday, Mar. 7, in the City Hall Concourse, that rabbit warren of underground shops, walk ways, subway and regional rail entrances, fast food shops, Girl Scout Cookie tables and home for many of the city’s homeless.  The show goes on next Saturday, March 14, starting around 11AM with performances staggered all day and night.

Here’s a link to last Fall’s #OCGOPF at Wissahickon Park near Valley Green.  Here seem to be some photos from this weekend‘s performance.

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