First Friday, poop and all

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Tiny but well-rounded

It was a lovely night last Friday and the strollers were out in abundance. The crowd at Muse Gallery looking at the “Monumental Micros” exhibit was so thick it congealed making the journey through the nice exhibit something akin to squeezing by passengers in a crowded elevator.

“Micros,” a joint project of Philadelphia Sculptors and Sculptors Inc. of Baltimore, is a concept show. All the work is tiny, supposed to be no bigger than a match box. Many of the pieces had some humor, as befits sculpture you can put in your pocket, although, as with many concept-shows, some work felt a bit perfunctory — fulfilling the “smallness” challenge without adding anything more.

Three boat-themed wall pieces by Jennifer Becker of Baltimore seem to rise above with personal iconography and charm (a big bunny in a tiny boat, a tube of paint in a hand-knit sweater, a boat made from a photograph). (image, top)

My friend Bay and I did the snake walk in the crowded space and found a number of things to enjoy.

The impulse to miniaturize sculpture works best, I think, if you’re making a realist piece. There were great numbers of abstract works — in cast bronze and other materials — and whether on the wall or on the pedestal, the abstract sculptures were hard to read and seemed, well, diminished as objects.

Philadelphian John Constanza’s three cartoon-like, narrative environments installed in matchboxes were appealing, especially one that portrayed a viewer staring up at a mini-version of one of Costanza’s own sculptures — an endless column of egg-like shapes. It was very sweet. Not only that, but guess what, he’s a poop artist! Check out his “Oops,” the dog. (image above left, made of paint and ceramic objects) Not that we’re obsessed or anything…

Flatlands

Next door at Third St. Gallery, Rhea Dennis’ hand-made paper and paint constructions were flat, and charming and sweet as cherries on the wall. With their obsessive dot, dot, dotting motifs and primitive imagery (dogs, birds, mountains and streams full of fish) the nicely-textured works had sophisticated nativist written all over them. (image is detail of “Dvina”)

Across the street at Artist’s House, Barbara Berg’s South Jersey landscapes were lovely — and sold out. (Her prices seemed moderate — in the $400 – $900 range) Berg said her scenes came right from her neighborhood. She lives near Delaware Bay and the images were of marshlands, paths in the sandy flatlands and woods). She’s painting what she loves and you can tell. (image left is Berg’s)

Also at Artist’s House, Tony Rosati’s watercolors referenced Japanese wave imagery and were nice if not compelling. I liked his dark sky, cosmic monoprints better. (image is Rosati’s watercolor “Breakers”)

Finally, at LaPelle Gallery, Peter Grimord’s photo-collages of bridges from around the country made striking black and white linear designs. Grimord’s designs which take some of the more lyrical, arching aspects of the bridges and reverse them for a kaleidiscopic affect, are framed with industrial-looking aluminum frames so that the whole object has a bridge-y affect.

I liked the artist’s interactive sculptures as well. They were constructed like bridges (girders and cantilevers and hardware all over the place) and looked like colorful, delicate see-saws. Their interplay with the space was formal and abstract but because you could touch them and make their moveable arms go up and down and their shadows dance, their playfulness undercut the formalism. I played away — and loved it. (image bottom is one of Grimord’s sculptures — in the background is one of his photo-collages)

Bottom line, whether flat or 3-D, there’s nice work out there this month. And Libby and I have only just begun to look.

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