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First Friday, the tour


I’m always glad to find a new gallery, so I headed in to Union 237 (shown, inside the gallery) and introduced myself to Director of Art Brian B. Brown, who told me the place opened just two weeks earlier, and because of the Christmas break, had technically only been open a week and a half.

He practically begged me to see the work downstairs, so I entered the space-age canopy and took a look at the gallery’s “urban art” room, with works by street artists with names like Pose2, Past, and Bird. I especially enjoyed the way these young artists were stretching beyond the basics of grafitti.


Past’s “Red” and “Brown” (shown, Brown) seemed like internal examinations of the nature of letters and brush strokes.


I was reminded of ultra-insider painter David Reed (blue painting shown) and his meditations on brush strokes, but Past was taking the thought in a new direction, the shapes taking on a sinuous, alive quality beneath the skin of things.


Brandt Elling Peters’ “Step on it, Fella, step on it!!!” (shown) reflected anime and other comic forms. What brought the fairly familiar imagery into another realm was the background, imagery of adults bleeding through the yellow. I guess someone’s been telling Peters he has to grow up–soon.


Tom Smith’s “Hungry for Style” (shown) takes the transition from wall art to the canvas literally and figuratively, as does Bird’s Landscape3 (not shown), a transition that Brown says the gallery itself will undergo as large, wall-sized canvases take the place of the murals. Plus there was some work on paper from out-of-towners in a glass case that looked interesting, including cartoony work by Robert Nunez.

The gallery was also showing a video, but I didn’t hang around long enough to see what it was, so I can’t report. It remains to be seen if this is a place that will carry serious work, but I think it’s worth keeping an eye on.


The other place I stopped at was FAN Gallery, which looked warm and cozy from the outside and was drawing a crowd, thanks in part to the Irish music from the band Ceol Mor.


It turns out that one of the musicians and the artist were one–R.M. Bender, a painter of pleasant landscapes plus a smattering of still lifes (shown left, October Light). The three musicians played guitar, bazooki and a hand-made Irish wooden flute. Some red dots decorated the walls.

The confluence of music and art seems to be quite the rage. On the way to the Clay Studio, I passed some people handing out information about Arts in Motion. Their motto: “Art is for everyone. That means you.”

I told AIM artist and musician Eric Haeker that this was my motto, too. He probably thought I was nuts.

Anyway, Arts in Motion seems to have a number of projects cooking, including a gig at the Kimmel Center Jan. 18 and 19 with the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, Arts in Motion providing computer generated visualizations to enhance the aural experience.

Considering this was January and immediately following New Year’s Day, the crowd was pretty big wherever I went.