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No turkeys here

lapellehimselfI ran around last week and saw bunches of things. While I’m reviewing much of it for PW (see Dec. 1 paper) I’ll give you a little preview here.

Lapelle in Pawprint

First off, I stopped in to see Artblog pal and contributor, Rodger Lapelle whose Lapelle Gallery is one of the longest running venues in the city. Lapelle, (right, in front of a painting by Romi Sloboda) is also an artist whose work is shown around town.

His gallery consistently exhibits work I can get excited about. Among the figurative painters in his stable is the edgy, my family as sci-fi monsters painter, Roland Becerra, whom we’ve told you much about here (and I’ve written reams about in PW).

Lapelle is a good businessman who adapts to the times and that no doubt is key to his success as a gallery owner. He is one of the first gallery owners I know of in Philadelphia to use e-Bay to sell art. He’s internet savvy and he’s not even of the internet savvy generation.

He’s also a major raconteur and when I started writing for PW in 1999 I began having lengthy conversations about the Philadelphia art scene with him every time I swung by the gallery. His enthusiasm coupled with concern is infectious.

Anyway, one bit of news from Lapelle is that he’s been profiled on PAW Print, a Philadelphia writers magazine that’s online and has a periodic print presence. Check out the article by Mike DelVecchia. The piece goes on and on, and, just like its subject, it’s full of juicy tidbits about the history of art — as per Rodger — in Philadelphia.


Hiebert at Gallery Joe


Christine Hiebert‘s drawing exhibit at Gallery Joe is, I don’t want to say, for the initiated, but it’s work that’s doggedly abstract and almost anti-drawing. And as such, it’s difficult for casual viewers. I happen to like it alot. (image is a new tape mural that runs up, down and delicately over the surfaces of the entry wall.)


Here’s an example of a response from what I assume was a casual viewer: Random entry in the guestbook — “garbage.” (image is a freehand drawing on view in the vault) That insensitivity to the hyper-sensitive work is probably typical of an art audience that mostly wants easily digestible wall baubles.


This is work most worthy. It’s intellectually and visually challenging. But when I was thinking about it last night I came up with this comparison. Hiebert’s drawings are like a blog and Hiebert is like a blog-drawer. (image is three tape drawings from the vault installation)

The work represents the outpourings of a fluid mind switching gears and distilling thoughts into edited chunks. Here the chunks are lines, not words, but they come from the same I gotta tell you a story impulse.


Warren Muller and Inliquid at the Bride


I finally figured out what’s wrong with those shows at the Painted Bride cafe. The space sucks — it’s like a basement rec room and just about any art gets wounded by the brut aesthetic. This all became clear when I noticed Warren Muller‘s elegant found object chandelier hanging in the space. (image left) The chandelier was such a brilliant addition it elevated the ambiance to a more normal level. It’s still a hard space but thank goodness for the chandelier. Light, the space needs more light. They could also get rid of that red paint in the rafters. Talk about lowering the ceiling.


Anyway, right now, collborators Matthew Curtius and Gina Triplett have painted the room with curlicue decorative murals on which they’ve placed their many curlicue decorative paintings. The work, which comes from the solid stream of curlicue decorative art that’s a gusher these days, is pretty good and definitely well done. ( image) Check it out soon (and see inliquid for more info) while Muller’s chandelier (on loan from the PB lobby which is getting a roof job) is still shedding light on the space and picking up the pace.

Spector’s miracles


“The Great (re) Masters” is up so short a time (to Dec. 10) at Spector that I have to rush you these images so you’ll shoot out of Old City Coffee and go look. The show is a miracle of happy updates. There are many lovely and funny and odd works riffing on the great warhorses of the canon (Leonardo, Michelangelo, Rubens).

It’s interesting to see who selected what to remake. Thom’s Lessner‘s “Peaceable Kingdom” seemed a stretch for the rock star-loving artist, until I noticed that he’d transformed William Penn and the Quakers into a rock band in the background. (image is detail)


Late entrant to the show, Kate Moran‘s piece based on the Piero della Francesca “Duke of Urbino” is a gem — literally. The hand-made object, with its gold-leaf-adorned frame, is so tiny (approx. 1″ by 1″) it’s a jewel. (image)

Libby told you about Max Lawrence’s show at Vox Pop and I’ll weigh in Wednesday in PW. Lawrence’s hot out of the studio piece, (all the work in this show was made yesterday), The Moorish Chief, is a remarkable remake of the great Charlemont picture in the PMA.


It is a gorgeous update, complete with elegant Eastern patterning and hair defined down to each strand in quiet, precise purple and white lines. (image) Lawrence is an up and coming portraitist and this piece, with its sad and somber face and Philadelphia references, is so good I can’t believe it wasn’t snatched up at the opening. Some things were — like Moran’s Urbino,Lessner’s Kingdom, Pinky Pierce’s remake of a Paul Klee that’s better than the original.

In fact much of the work here is better than the originals. Blasphemy? Go see for yourself.