Around the town

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I’ve seen a lot of stuff lately, so I thought I’d throw up some pictures of some of what I liked:
Portraits of people at a bar, nursing drinks, looking into space, looking like regulars from Sarah Stolfa caught my eye first. She is one of 18 students in the Drexel University Senior Photography Thesis show at Nexus Gallery. Stolfa’s people were filled with individuality, confronting a familiar milieu. We see people in the movies in these poses, with these affects, but never in a photograph. (image, “Joanna”).I was also intrigued by Jeffrey Stockbridge’s photos and installation of found objects and book. The objects were things people left behind in abandoned homes, including portraits and writings. The photos of those homes and some of the writing were collected in a book. And four of the photographs were up on the wall. It was the whole installation, “Occupied,” and the book that caught my interest.Regine Repale’s “La Miche” stood out from her other work for any number of reasons. I liked the stripes and the plaids, which play out over and over in the room. I liked the space behind bracketed by the drapes. I liked the addytood of La Miche. The picture reminded me of the Malick Sidibe photographs in the African Art show at the Art Museum (see Sidibe’s photo here).Finally, George McCardle’s close-up studies of nature and things, although not totally unfamiliar, were beautiful (image, “Untitled 2”).At Fleisher/Ollman, Huston Ripley’s ink on tissue dot matrices reminded me of a sexy version of Adolf Wolfli’s bordered and rohrshach-looking creations, little faces embedded in big ones embedded in big figures. (Ripley’s “Untitled,” 12 1/2 x 19 inches).

Also, Linda Stoudt’s pop cartoon inspired oil on gessoed paper or cardboard pieces are reductive natural (and not so natural) shapes in intense colors, some of them with peeled corrugated cardboard becoming part of the composition. The Don Colley notebook pages were fun, exuberant, but I wasn’t sure why they were getting the full Leonardo daVinci treatment (image, Stoudt’s “Quote.”)
Marcy Hermansader’s solo show there, “One Thousand Subtractions,” was about her father’s mental deterioration from Alzheimer’s. Using the interiors of security envelopes, she interweaves images of her father, suggesting missing pieces and disintegration. Some of these were stronger than others, but it seemed like an exercise, plus I found the subject so depressing, having lost my own mother to dementia, that I could not find a way to enjoy this work (image, “Wavy,” woven color xerox, 9 x 11 7/8 inches, 2003).At Muse, paintings by Louise DeSalvor Masi with embedded bits of lace, scarbes, hankies, wedding gowns and embroidered linens had their own way of blocking out flat space. Some of the paintings looked like mancala game boards, some of them like landscapes. But the paint was beautiful, scratched into and full of rich surprises (image, “8 Woven Squares”).Also there, a variety of pieces by Sissy Pizzolo were based on dolls and a sense of loss. I liked the drawings with Xerox best. The combo of the drawing and collage were loopy, and the way Pizzolo broke the edges of her paper and marched fearlessly with her collaged xerox into the black border was swell. Other pieces were stitched and fierce (image, “Empty Dresses”).At Rosenfeld, Marianne Mitchell’s acrylic paintings and pastels virtually pop off the walls. Mitchell, whose father is part of the Mitchell & Giurgola architecture team, went to China and Japan to study art after college, bypassing the MFA route, and her work, according to Richard Rosenfeld, is steeped in Asian philosophy, balancing yin and yang. But what I got out of the paintings was architectural space–rooms with shafts of light, dark corridors, walls absorbing heat and cold–and lots of beautiful color in compositions that challenge balance at the same time that they capture it. One of the small pastels was inspired by Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s “Gates” catching–and not catching–the sun. Mitchell, having lost both her parents to diseases that might be helped by stem cell research, is donating a portion of the proceeds from the show to Project Restore, a stem cell research group at Johns Hopkins. Also showing at Rosenfeld is Diane Pieri. (left, Mitchell’s “Flickering”)
At Rodger LaPelle, Peggy Reavey’s “Women Who Hum and Men with Trees” exhibit of surreal paintings have strong moments when the patterns and textures and weird space take over. Here’s “Prom Night in Eden.” LaPelle mentioned that Reavey is the ex-wife of David Lynch, who used to work at the gallery (hey, not so recently). Also showing there were assemblages by Harvey Weinreich.
Painter Rachel Bliss and a bunch of Greenfield Elementary School students under her tutelage are showing at Snyderman. (I mention Greenfield because that’s where my kids went, and also because the kids did some swell portraits). Bliss’s human monster-animals continue to gaze out with tender eyes from gnarly faces and juicy paint. Bliss was making this kind of work before it became the Space 1026 religion, and she’s still at it. I’ve always loved it and I continue to do so (image, “Scout”).
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