Report from the fringe

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There’s more than one way for an artist to show work, and it doesn’t have to be on a clothesline–but the tiny little cubby of a gallery, Well Fed Artists, on 3rd Street between Market and Arch, is pretty close to a clothesline.

The art there is hung “salon style,” or not only next to but above and below. The place has pictures that you need to crane your neck to see.

And kind of like City Hall, it’s a pay-to-play kind of place (oh, so are all galleries, but this one does it in a low-rent, honest kind of way). You pays your money and you gets a piece of wall three times a year.

I stopped by one chilly afternoon and found co-owner Jim O’Kane (the other owner is Maggie Hobson) sitting at the desk, surrounded by lots and lots of work, some of it his own.

O’Kane, like most artists, isn’t quite comfortable describing himself as an artist because he does so many things–whatever crosses his mind, he said. For example, he’s got a a claymation project for which he wrote the script. It’s out there looking for a producer. What he doesn’t do is repairs, he joked, when a doorknob came off in my hands.

Last First Friday, I mentioned some artwork I had seen in this gallery, but I didn’t know who painted it. So here’s the info: The pieces were by Faye Koplovitz, a 2002 graduate form Philadelphia University, who’s painting while she wrestles with the job market.

The oily little paintings are really painting/collages. They’ve got pieces of screen embedded and embellished with paint; they’ve got bitty images cut from old magazines and decoupaged on; they’ve got thread embedded.

Over the phone, Koplovitz said she was interested in issues like ecology and and earth, but also in isolation. Her statement on the wall at the gallery also mentioned “poverty and the effects of technological advancements on Western Culture.”

So even if this is an interim endeavor for her, Koplovitz is not to be taken lightly, and these paintings are juicy, textured and a bargain. If I hadn’t spent my last penny (literally) on some batteries for my camera, I would have put my money down. “City at Dawn” (shown at top, about 16 inches) is $55. The smallest pieces, about 4 inches wide, like “One Bird” (shown left), are $9.

Just to give a sense of the range of stuff in this gallery, I also put up an image of some of Todd Marrone’s cartoon figures, that go for $25.

Inbetween, there’s all sorts of stuff, some not very good, some of interest. The artists have to pass a minimal jurying.

As a shopper, you take your taste in your hands when you go in there, but how much do you have to lose with prices like these?

And how much does an artist with no track record have to lose? Well, if you look at the gallery’s website, you can see what the deal is. Then you do the math.

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