All group shows on Friday

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When the days are long and the streets emit steam, one-man shows cool off at the beach, and Philadelphia galleries are high and dry.

But First Friday still had a few highlights.

First I stopped at 222gallery‘s Neutra-boomerang-chair invitational–a display of six chairs (originally designed by architect Richard Neutra in 1942) decorated by six artists. My fave was Tim Biskup’s pattern of retro blue rectangles covered with figures and squiggles bringing to mind Miro- and Klee-influenced whimsy.

Local artist Dave Delaney’s approach to the chair was two heads rising up at floor level. Working against the retro chair design, Delaney gives us work that calls to mind high-contrast sports and advertising photos, a son of Alex Katz turning his attention to hardcore youth.

But Neutra or not Neutra, the chairs remained nothing but decorated chairs to me and left me feeling kind of neutral. But for moderne furniture aficionados, I would think these are way cool and affordable (Delaney’s costs $1,600, Biskup’s $3,000, for example), considering the combo of the chair and the art work. The birch version of the chair without art work is $850.

At ArtJaz, the work that made me want to stop and stare a while were a couple of monotypes(left) by Francine Strauss–layered, meandering images that suggested space and travel. Strauss has shown widely in the area, including at Rowen College, Spector Gallery and Borowsky Gallery.

The biggest turnout was at Third Street Gallery’s “Vive l’Atelier,” a group show of sculptors from the Johnson Atelier. I enjoyed turning the crank on David Carrow’s dark, overbearing “Director” (shown right), thereby stirring a heavy iron ball. The assemblage of metals and objects stood out for its originality in a show heavy on imitative work. (Brancusi was the number one role model.)

Joanna Platt’s St. Catherine (shown) and St. Apollina crusader helmet-like reliquary heads delivered a reminder that sainthood has its dark side. I don’t get why the reliquary in St. Catherine’s head holds severed fingers, and I’m not sure I want to find out. The head of Apollina, whose teeth were broken by an angry mob, has teeth and tooth X-rays. Both were suitably creepy, but I couldn’t help but wonder why a 21st century American artist would be inspired by this. I want to know more.

 

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