Friday quick hit

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When I first started writing for the Weekly I did a piece about where to find the coolest spot in Philadelphia’s museums (we all know museums are the coolest places– but which one was the coolest?) I ran around with a hardware store thermometer and took notes and wrote it up. The PW online archives don’t go back that far so I can’t link the story alas. But I’ll tell you what won — PAFA. Upstairs in the Furness building in one of the salon-style rooms the temperature was delightful, even better there was a bench to sit on, and cool, green, pastoral Hudson River School paintings to look at. Runner up was the PMA’s interior plaza with fountain where there are benches, the sound of water, and Cezanne’s cool green and blue paintings to chill you. (top image is “Atmosphere and Environment” by Louise Nevelson, that is it’s the base for the big black sculpture which is now undergoing conservation offsite. Click here to see larger version)

I didn’t need the cool when I dropped by the PMA last week. But I did need a dose of what museums do — curating. My agenda included “The Silver Garden” the black and white photography exhibit in the noisy utility ramp called the Julien Levy Gallery. (I’m dying for the PMA’s Perelman Building to open so photography can get a real space at last.) “Garden,” which went up in February to coincide with the Philadelphia Flower Show in March and is still topical (when do flowers and trees get out of date) is superb. They dug deep into the collection and dusted off some ancient photographs that are amazing for being old but amazing also for what they are. Like Charles Aubry‘s “Still Life with Dahlias” (1864) (right) an albumen silver print which is so full of the spirit of death it makes you straighten up a little an pay respect.

In addition, the show of 60 works has blockbuster images by Ansel Adams, Harry Callahan, Imogen Cunningham, Paul Strand, Josef Sudek, Edward Steichen, and Brett Weston and lots of work by local photographers like Andrea Baldeck, Tom Baril, Tom Brummett, Ray Metzger and more.

There’s flowers in backyards, flowers in shop windows, gnarly tree roots, deep woods scenes, faux flowers and mushrooms! I had just seen a Ray Metzger forest photo when I stopped by Gallery 339 to see the Stuart Rome show, and Jerry Uelsman‘s “Untitled” (1965/70) (above left) with a black twig creating a black hole in front of a whited out forest scene reminded me of the Metzger I had seen with black tree/white woods. There’s a bunch of reasons to see the show up to July 17 and pair it with the exhilirating Stuart Rome prints at Gallery 339. See post for more on Rome.

(image is “The Garden” by Ray Metzger from the Silver Garden exhibit. It looks like paper trash rolled up and stuck into a fence?)

More museum views later. Libby and I are off to PAFA this morning for the preview of the “Light, Line and Color: American Works on Paper (1765-2005)” which runs to Sept. 4.

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