PAFA Echoes and other reverberations

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On my way to see Jack Pierson’s work at Rosenwald Wolf Gallery I trotted up the newly rehabbed South St. west of Broad. Capitalism in bloom, there’s a new shop selling knick knacks, a veggie take out place and lots more — the street is a stroll worth taking instead of a stretch of blight. Which is not to say there aren’t still boarded up buildings. Like the old Royal Theater whose wooden window covers are popular venues for wheat pasters.

I halted in front of Royal. Wasn’t that a spread of silkscreen posters for Monique van Genderen’s upcoming show at Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts PAFA? The blue, orange and white graphic was ok but greater was the idea that someone must have commissioned street art advertising a local museum show. (see image) Several years ago, PAFA commissioned several artists at Space 1026 to poster and sticker the town advertising a big Andy Warhol retrospective. It was a good idea then (although official Philadelphia didn’t think so) and it’s a good idea now. More renegade than a mural, the official/unofficial-ness of this street art is buzzy. I hope we see more of it.

The Pierson exhibit – truly a category bender as Colette mentions in her post of Sept. 12 — has an excellent whattizit monster wall drawing, (“untitled,” right) some paintings on the plaster (“untitled,” below), found object word pieces (top image, “Johnnie Ray” and “Come ye back”), a found-photo-collage and the artist’s own color photographs. The show’s a nice combination of the conceptual and the hand made with a touch of the street. All a little forlorn. It feels like a 3-D zine and reminded me of Raymond Pettibon and Dave Schrigley, whose zine, “Grip,” I bought at Arcadia’s Printed Matter show a while back.

Curator Sid Sachs told me he’d been trying to get a show of Pierson’s work for some time. He first saw some work in the Whitney Biennial in 1993. (An installation of a table and chairs, an ashtray full of cigarette butts, a stack of records, it evoked a corner of the artist’s studio, said Sachs.) That biennial also included work by Raymond Pettibon and the curators placed Pettibon and Pierson in the same space.

Half-way through my looking, Uarts had a fire drill in the R-W building and students flooded out of the building. Sid and I were stuck in the Hamilton Hall lobby (which houses a portion of the show.) Looking back across the street I saw a vision in pink emanating from the Window on Broad, the gallery’s window installation space. There was a chandelier, too. Was it another Virgil Marti piece?

No, it’s Adam Wallacavage, said Sid. The Space 1026er, a photographer who works routinely with found objects, especially old fashioned toys like kewpie dolls, rubber duckies and the like, made the chandelier whose central motif is white elephant trunks. Though probably not intended, the piece is a great trumpeting salute to the cross-town work at the ICA.

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