My First Friday delayed

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I completely took a powder on First Friday, missed the demo (never met one I didn’t like), slept through the shows. Sorree. But the good news is I rallied on Saturday and hit a mix of shows I wanted to see and shows I felt I ought to see.

The number one show I wanted to see was at Gallery Joe, which I will leave for Roberta, because I know she went there Friday and therefore has dibs. But I do want to say that it didn’t disappoint.

There’s a monster, under my bed

I must add, though, that if I hadn’t had a hint of who was showing, I might have been shocked. “Becky,” I said to gallerist Becky Kirlin, having looked at all the work out front, “You’ve gone over to the dark side.” She laughed and suggested I take a look at the work in the vault–Josephine Taylor’s “Mummy” (top). It kind of made me think of Judith Schaechter’s figures (shown right above, Schaechter’s “Child Bride”) without the baroque backgrounds.

Anyway, this show of fine works on paper takes the medium to the monsters under the bed. I was counting my pennies, dreaming of buying, as I stood there. My choices were a Rob Matthews and a Sabeen Rogers. But I could have considered any of them.

Wall shadows

I also stopped at Nexus for Nick Cassway’s “Who Died: Retinal Afterimage Portraits.” Cassway is continuing his exploration of portraits of some sort of spiritual essence beneath the skin. The first ones I remember were etched glass, the shadow of the etched-in portraits more material than the etching. This latest permutation brings immateriality to a new level. Each paddle (see installation shot) is a negative (white-on-black portrait) of a dearly departed we all experienced at some level, from Bob Hope to Jane Barbe.

Who, you ask, might Jane Barbe be (her portrait bottom paddle). She might be “The Telephone Lady” (each portrait subject is identified in some detail on the back of each paddle), the voice actress who told us telephone customers that “The number you have reached is not in service; please check the number and try your call again,” and a number of other disembodied messages, like the date and time and weather. What a great choice for this project! Anyway, she’s dead and gone, but if you focus on her portrait on the paddle for about 30 seconds and then look at the white wall, a positive image of her, just like all the others, appears in front of your eyes. Spectral.

Anyway, since I’ve been in the morbid thoughts zone for the past couple of years, this hit the spot.

Nexus and the angry inch

In the front of Nexus was one of those gimmicky group shows in which the contributors all had to create an object no larger than one cubic inch. I suppose it’s to be expected, given Philly Sculptors lilliputian matchbox-sized sculptures back in the fall, but I wasn’t feeling kind, my eyes hurt (they are bright red, too boot) and the magnifying glasses had scratches all over the center where they hit the shelf or the wall. Maybe I’m just cranky and getting old and I can’t see so well any more, but these tiny works (oh, well, some of them were pretty swell), weren’t even identified. I don’t know who did what, except for a one-inch ruler matted and framed and signed by Burnell Yow! Thanks, Burnell.

This is not the first time, recently, that Nexus has failed to identify what’s up on its walls. What a disservice to itself and its artists. I know it’s a coop, and we should be grateful that the art gets shown, but what’s the point if we don’t know who did it (yes, art is about the artist’s ego). So I put up one image that had enough graphic punch to survive my photo skills. I have not a clue who did it. These three were part of a series of seven, one inch for each day of the week.

Upstairs at the Clay Studio, Amy Smith’s show, “My Stone Boat,” had a stand-out piece, “….a pounding summer rain,” the pattern of rain in the sand enlarged and exaggerated to a nearly insect-like web, with a suggestion of bubbles and dirty gray, sticky foam.

Since it’s Mother’s Day I’m taking the rest of the day off (oh, I’m always taking days off, I admit), but I saw more stuff so I’ll be back tomorrow with some views on MFA shows in Old City and more.

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