Art to brake for

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I brake for art. That’s how I came upon an unexpected exhibit at 3808 Lancaster Ave. I didn’t realize the gallery that had been in that space had already closed, but I saw art in the window and stomped on my brakes (top image, “Strike First”).

Alas, the place wasn’t open, but I left a card, got a call back from one of the two artists showing work, and went to their opening night Friday.

H.D. Ivey, who is in his 50s, is showing work that I can’t imagine would fit the agendas of most galleries in town. These political, anti-war wooden sculptures mix folk art traditions and comic book influences like the cowboy and Indian images on “XY” or the wooden explosion at the base of “Strike First” (image right, “XX” in which the atom bomb becomes a voluptuous, precious egg on a pedestal).

Ivey, who grew up in Texas near the Mexican border said he was influenced by traditional Mexican folk art. “Zero” includes a ring of skeletons made bone by bone out of wood and pieced together–a father, mother, child and infant–around a bomb. This is the piece where that Mexican tradition shows most vividly.

He’s concerned with the “whole way we are waging war and killing people” since World War I, when the plane enabled aerial bombing. “In the 19th century, no one knew the idea of Groud Zero,” he said. All four of the pieces concern some aspect of push-the-button-from-afar warfare such as “surgical” air strikes. Although the pieces have a straight ahead accessibility, they are not quite as simple as they seem at first. They are beautifully crafted, and embellished with symbols and images that add mystery and surprise.

The work that originally caught my eye when I drove by was by Clayton Ryder, a young man with comic books in his background. Ryder, who is 30 (and looks 23) and hails from Rockland, NY, is interested in the patterns of science–Fibonacci sequences, crystal formations, the geometric forms found in nature. His paintings’ are kaleidoscopic and suggest computers and cartoon trips through a stretchy, patterned space. The colors are dead on, and I’m looking forward to seeing where he goes with this work, which is close to the practice of a number of young painters in Philadelphia but also has a personal vision working its way through.

The show, which is up through August, can be seen most evenings, 7 to 10 p.m. The artists are gallery sitting; the space is on loan from the owner of the building.

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