Synergy all over the place

Libby and I saw a lot of young art on Friday night. Our trek took us first to Temple Gallery for the exuberant installation by Joy Feasley and friends (Kait Midgett and Paul Swenbeck).
feasley, joy

(Top image shows Midgett, founder of the late, great Project Room with her daughter Wesley and husband Eric at the very crowded opening.)
midgett, kait

Next we hit the Voxennial, the first-ever juried new talent show at Vox Populi and the two-person show “Cats v Dinosaurs” at Black Floor.
swenbeck, paul
Saturday I visited Vox again, and ran over to Moore College for the “5 into 1” juried student show organized by Philadelphia Sculptors and to the Ice Box for the Tyler juried MFA show. I’m on system overload, but it was interesting seeing so much young work all over town — several of the artists appearing in more than one venue — and to be able to notice what’s in the air and on the brains of the graduates.


I’ll just mention a few items from Black Floor and Moore here. See Libby’s post for more on Moore. I’ll cover the Vox show in the Weekly (issue of June 15) and get to the Tyler show in another post.

(image here is one of the Ikea-esque, but not, glass display cases in Feasley’s Temple show. In the case are ceramic oobleck objects by Paul Swenbeck. When Libby and I were at the opening we ran into Shannon Bowser and Clint Takeda. Takeda was jotting down a sketch of one of Swenbeck’s clay creatures in a little red notebook. There’s definitely an affinity between what Swenbeck made in clay in this exhibit and the fanciful alien characters Takeda draws and sculpts himself. BTW Takeda told us he’d just come back from North Carolina where he de-installed the show “Scarab” from its month-long run at Lump Gallery)

The Tyler and Moore shows close very soon and I’m sorry to say neither one has a web presence I can refer you to for directions and such. The Tyler show’s up today 12-6 pm, and next Sat. and Sun from 12-6 pm at the Ice Box. The 5 into 1 show’s up to June 11 at Moore College.


I saw similar imagery across a bunch of venues over the weekends. Lots of animals, animals as humans, and humans as monsters seem to be on young brains. Portraiture, self-portraiture and other documentary-type impulses are in the air, seemingly important again (I’m so glad), with photos from trips and photo-paintings documenting events from newspapers, magazines and dreams. Fabricated objects have replaced installation art, although there was some installation art — in the form of video screening rooms. And the scene, as it has for several years now, looks vigorous and energized.

5 into 1 at Moore
“5 into 1” has some great works. (The show’s title means the work is from graduates of five local colleges –juried into one show) My favorite pieces are the video, sculpture and photograph by Bobby Aiosa (Uarts grad) all three of which seem throwbacks to earlier times in art when things were, maybe not simpler, but different. Aiosa’s video, which I clocked at about four minutes, combines animation and what looks like grainy, vintage film in black and white of a person interacting with a white sculptural object that has the handle of a corkskrew and the bulbous body of a.. piece of fruit? (image right is from the video)

The video has moments of Monty Python-esque drawn-imagery (a drawing shows a Gay ’90s mustachioed gent in a bathtub that quickly fills with black ink,). The black and white action sequence with the guy and the object has the choppy, speeded-up editing of the Yevgeny Yusef videos Libby and I both saw last year at Pageant Gallery. The huge black shadows cast by the man reminding me of Fritz Lang and German expressionist filmmaking. (There was also something Charlie Chaplin-esque about it. It was man v machine and not clear if man was in charge. The result of all that vigorous turning of the handle is that a few black arrows come out of the bottom of the object. (The arrows, like the one here, are animated, and they segue into the land of animated dream-like territory).


Aioso’s photograph of a couple, the young man sucking on a brown bosc pear and holding hands with a bird-headed girl, reminded me of Max Ernst‘s surreal paintings of bird-headed female monsters. Only here the image is more dead pan and Halloweenish than surreal. (image is the Aioso’s photo)


Peter J. Long‘s cat sitting on a bed and partially covered by a wood blanket that’s made out of interlocking puzzle pieces should win a prize for materials wizardry. The cat, which had a waxy or resinous head, a faux human hair ruff and perhaps a wood body, was a crazy but effective amalgam suggesting animal, human and fantasy. (image is kitty’s close-up)

The piece was placed perfectly — in close proximity to Aioso’s photograph, the cat facing that bird woman in the photo. That was the high point for me.

Black Floor Cats and Dinos
More cats at Black Floor Gallery, drawn by collective member Annette Lee Monnier (who’s also included in the Voxennial show — but not with cats, with flags). These cats, which I believe are based on images the artist found online, are not surreal.

They are the very image of pampered pets and imbued with a kind of weirdness that cats have (able to turn on you without provocation; able to look so smart when you know they’re not). The big drawing was the best although many of the small ones captured the cat posture and cat essence nicely. (that’s an installation shot above)

Gerik Forston‘s drawings of dinosaurs placed next to the cat drawings are all black and white and red. The red is for blood, which appears in each drawing except the big wall drawing shown here. Forston’s got dino predators eating their prey, feasting or doing battle. Lots of red ink spilled. The stare-down between the big cat and the big T-Rex across the gallery is a nice touch. Forston is also a collective member.

I would have liked to see a kitty/dino battle transacted in one drawing where both artists worked together on one piece. But maybe that’s for another show.