Making it happen

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The art world, so much like the rest of the world, is built on networks of who you know and how you make use of those connections (left, Jesse Moynihan’s “We’re Closer Now,” acrylic on wood).moynihan, jesse

The current show at Ashley Gallery is a perfect case in point. Damian Jared Weinkrantz had been wanting to curate a show of young artists. He had helped hang shows for gallerist Diane Ashley in the past, and knew that her gallery would be dark for a while because of her art fair commitments in Chicago and New York.
weinkrantz, damian jared
So he asked her if he could organize a show in her gallery for the month of May. And thus we have “Lubrica Mi Vida.” He described the people he picked as “young Philadelphia artists who I was excited about on one level or another.” He added that the majority were price accessible. And although many of them are friends of his, Weinkrantz’s approach is not as random and casual as he made it seem. The truth is, this is a young man who keeps lists of artists whose work he’d someday like to curate into shows.
rywelski, liz
A number of the artists have been seen quite a bit around town– Liz Rywelski, Eric McDade, and the team of Gina Triplett and Matthew Curtius.
mcdade, eric
Rywelski, a photographer (see post footnote here) and part of the Space 1026 collective, is showing drawings that look a lot like mendhi patterns and hand-drawn versions of spirographic images. The large drawing on the wall has more of the same decorating a biomorphic landscape of polyps and valleys. This was an opportunity for her to take a chance on something new and she did. She also made a small book collaboration with Luke Ramsey that sells for $10 (image right, “That Guy,” unframed $150, 40 x 26 inches; the small pieces went for $20 each).
McDade also tried out something new–the painter of black-on-white outline images with words–showed a large color-transparency print lit by a lightbox (McDade works as a studio assistant for the lightbox queen, stained glass artist Judith Schaechter–correction: I was misinformed; McDade is a friend but never worked for Schaechter) (see Roberta’s previous post for more info on her recent work). This work still managed to feel spare, even though McDade filled the pictorial plane with content that includes a wallpaper pattern, an trapped shark filling an aquarium, a vial of pills, and a fish-tank deep sea diver. The wallpaper background–a stifling domestic trap for that big ol’ shark–seemed to be in conversation with Curtius and Triplett’s paintings. (image, “I Cannot Run No More,” 58 3/8 x 37 3/8, the most expensive piece in the show, weighing in at $2,000).
curtius, matthew and gina triplett
The husband and wife team of Curtius and Triplett, installed an array of their small paintings on wood, with fragments of decorative and alphabet motifs that hark to domestic tastes past and to medieval tomes. The paint handling is juicy and fluid. The imagery manages to join outdoor subjects to the interior patterns and the whole thing is a landscape of fantasy lives (left, detail, “Like Anchors or Helium Balloons, acrylic and ink).
Their work, along with Alina Josan’s and Julia Factorial’s suggest a search for a more beautiful, more safe past. And that theme also found a voice, I thought in the paintings of Shawn Bonsky and Jesse Moynihan, who both hark back to some childhood place, at once innocent and safe, with only a touch of scary wonder. Moynihan is the artist who drew the comic “Hiroshima Lemon” in the late lamented Philadelphia Independent, Weinkrantz said.
So many young people retreating from the real world just confirms how shaky the ground feels these days. No wonder they’re living in some nostalgic notion of a safe, romantic past.

Josan’s paintings on old lp album covers are based on photos she found in an abandoned store. The hairstyles and clothing give the age of the source photos away, and the record covers sometimes peek through with words and bits of imagery. The work may be nostalgic for fashions in clothes and music now gone, but the carefree, sometimes chaotic brush work shouts contemporary. I saw Josan’s work in a group show at Afif Gallery a few months ago and was also impressed (post here).

Using old lp record albums in a different way, Factorial, with assistance for V. Ever Nalens, explores fan worship and real friendship and the traces of the past that endure, partly by serendipity. Factorial merges words, photos, archaeology, sociology and fiction in a wry, funny series worth the time it takes to read the words (right).

Cotton-candy-colored landscapes from Bonsky included toy dinosaurs and friendly-looking monsters. Cartoons from Moynihan (housepaint on wood) also included goofy, gentle monsters and a child-like view of the world. “The Secret Knock Collective” of Eddie Borracho, Adrienne Manno, Mark Price, Miriam Singer, Sarah Yurman, D.W. and other guests showed a melange of cartoons that on close inspection looked interesting, but the variety of styles and subjects, the small scale and the tight arrangement made the work hard to absorb (left, Bonsky’s “My Life,” acrylic on canvas, 32 x 60 inches).
secret knock collective
But the collective is sort of what this show is all about. Who do you know? Who has something to say that talks to you? How do you get the work out of the studio? How do you try new work out without too big a risk? This show gives answers to all those questions. This is its last week. (right, Secret Knock’s “Dirty (Dirty),” watercolor, acrylic, ink on paper, 4 x 8 inches, $125; the collective’s pieces ranged from $5 to $125).
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