Up in arms in Old City

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Just when you were yearning for some thoughtful work with war themes to reflect our times, what should pop up all over Old City this month but plenty war. Bekhyon Yim’s gorgeous colors, scratched into with images of soldiers, brutality and everyday life, (see “Seoul, Korea” detail, left) are at Nexus. Watch for Yim in the gallery starting a performance piece, drawing or 10 days and then erasing for 10 days, completing the erasure on 6/1.

To get to Yim’s work, you have to pass through another statement on war. Dina Wind’s “Hanging Gardens of Babylon” is without a doubt the best-named show vis-a-vis war.

And upstairs at Nexus’ Community Gallery, Kevin Reay’s “Army of One” installation is, well, dark. Just before his show opened–with its plastic and duct tape, its army-green walls, its heavy metal soundtrack, its surveillance video (pictured right) of Reay giving himself an army haircut–the Brit had some things to say about the whole war propaganda machine, marveling at the downloadable U.S. Army training game, the hype about homeland security (“We’re more at risk from other people living here than from terrorists.”), and the threat to individual rights. His saw a dangerous “rift between reality and the images of reality” in the media, he said.

Not everything showing in Old City on First Friday was about war. Linda Cordell’s ceramic spliced beasts, like “Goat Squirrel” (left), at the Clay Studio, had people pressing their noses to the window, eager for a better look.

And over at Gallery Siano at 309 Arch St., Penn MFA candidate Mark Pease’s disorienting “Ultra muir” (right) was an office tower shiny and untouched by the turmoil of terrorism. Across the street, at Gallery Joe (see below), contemplative works gave retreat from the noise of war.

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