The groups of summer #1

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The gallery scene is at its slowest during the summer months, with low-energy group shows everywhere. It’s a time when galleries generally mine their storage and pick up a couple of experimental new prospects, throw them together and call it a show.

Imagine my surprise, visiting Gross McCleaf‘s “Philadelphia” exhibit, to see the Larry Francis paintings of our lives, quotidien, familiar Philadelphia locales practically flying off the walls. I thought no one even walked into galleries in the summer, let alone bought stuff (top, Francis’ “Late Shadows”).

 

Francis is one of nine painters of Philadelphia city scapes of various stripe at Gross McCleaf for the month. And each of them brought a different perspective or method to the task. Yet each was pretty straightforward and realistic.

While Francis’ paintings are up against our noses from a sidewalk perspective, Mary Ledwith gives us long perspectives of gray-toned city streets embellished with light touches of improbable color, like a blue-topped City Hall. And Chris Zmijewski offers harshly lit, nearly noir, painterly but nearly photographic images of the streets we tread (left above, “Reflections of 15th Street,” by Zmijewski).

 

Bird’s eye views came from Alexandra Tyng, who paints the architectural works of man in their grandeur, from the towers of Center City to the Waterworks.

Another bird’s eye view kind of work was Scott Noel’s pastels and paintings (also with pastelly tones) of warehouse and industrial districts with parking lots and cars, no people visible. The hazy light of these pieces gives them life (right above, Noel’s “Jany’s in March”).

 

 

Speaking of cars, David Shevlino comes out of the Philadelphia Impressionist school, but his subject matter is traffic with a Stuart Shils kind of juicy brushiness (left, Shevlino’s “Green Sign”).

 

 

 

 

Jim Williams’ subject matter and snappy colors were a little surprise–the strange angle on steps and churches, the dwarfed people, the colors of not-quite nature (right below, Williams’ “Pretzel Park Sketch”).

 

And Joe Sweeney’s one of those landscape painters who’s really all about the sky above–the agressive white clouds, the indigo sky. And for the in-the-city but not-of-the-city crowd, Chris Nissen offers “Croquet” at what looked like the Germantown Cricket Club, plus Chestnut Hill.

People seem to love to buy portraits of the places they live, and this is just the show if that’s what you want.  But it’s a no brainer, and by that I mean it was merely what it was, nothing much to think about, but pleasing to the eye.

 

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