Newish galleries in town

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Two galleries opened in May, but they have just penetrated my consciousness. So I visited them both in the last two days. One has installation and spare work, making it Philadelphia’s second new installation space, the other being Carbon 14 on North 3rd Street. The other has more typical Philadelphia gallery fare–paintings, assemblages (left, “redrain” and other work by William Cromar at aFSe gallery).

aFSe gallery (art studio for experiments) is showing “redrain,” an installation and other work by William Cromar (he’s the one who had “halfwayhouse,” the interlocking black and white house frames upstair at Nexus (see post).

I kept reading the name of Cromar’s show at aFSe as re-drain, but it’s red-rain, and it’s pouring down in the gallery from the ceiling, one red thread by one red thread, maybe several hundred of them, each tipped with a drip of red-pigmented bees wax. The threads are each stuck to the ceiling with a brown adhesive circle, a Band-aid I learned for gallery owner Yikwon P. Kim. The threads are evenly spaced, the thread lengths progressively longer so the underside forms a wedge. It’s meditative, elegant, architectural–and impossible to photograph well. Kim told me that Cromar dreamed of the installation–literally. And then he made it for Kim’s space.

Kim enthusiastically dropped to the floor and lay looking up at the red rain pouring down. Not to be outdone, I too flopped on the floor for the experience. Standing or lying down, the piece looks great.

That “redrain” can stand up in this space is wonderful, given that the space is carved out of a framing gallery– Framing by Walter. Walter sold the business to Kim, himself a sculptor, a couple of years ago. In May, Kim, anxious to get back to the art world and beyond framing, began using the front part of the space as a gallery (right, some of Cromar’s gypsum and paper pieces–the three on the right– seen through “redrain;” the stuff farther back is an intrusion from the framing business).

Kim and Cromar are both Penn MFAs, and Cromar is a visiting professor at Philadelphia University. His architecture background shows through in both “redrain” and the other pieces, gypsum-coated, manipulated paper on the walls.

Kim, who was born in Korea, has a body of Minimalist sculpture and performance work, as well as a fair amount of experience installing work and curating. He was part of the team that installed the Korean art at the ICA when Patrick Murphy was there, and he also helped with translation.

Stop by there when you get a chance, and if you’re an artist and think your work might fit Kim’s interests, send him slides.

The other gallery I stopped in is Afif Gallery, run by Moore (BFA) and PAFA (MFA) grad Liz Afif, at 1904 South St. The work included cigar-box assemblages by Jack Knight, “The Great Imported Cigar Box Series,” in the front room, and a group show of 12″ x 12″ art, “A Square Foot” in the back.

Some of the cigar-box assemblages seemed low energy, but the paintings–there must have been more than 30 pieces by more than 20 artists!–offered several nice surprises. Curated by Carrie Cook and Jon Schoff, it was easy to look at in spite of the show’s variety (left, an untitled piece by Jack Knight).

Of special note were Alina Josan’s painted lp-record jackets; Woon Won Ko’s architectural “Internal Landscapes;” Raquel Revilla-Sanchez’s geese-against the sky painting, “Flying;” Heather Charley’s comic “Bull Frogs Will eat Birds if They can get Their Slimy Hands on ’em;” and David John Simicik’s “Orange Dog.” The show is up until Feb. 3 (image right, one of Josan’s “Record” pieces).

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