Cosmic house paint and other things

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First off, did you know the Fleisher Challenge exhibits are now the Wind Fleisher Challenge Exhibitions? That’s because awesome Philadelphia art world board-sitters and all round community-minded citizens, Dina and Jerry Wind, are contributing to the production of this, one of the best showcase vehicles for emerging talent in the region. artblog kisses for Dina (an artist in her own right and long-time member of Nexus)and Jerry!

Challenge 2, which runs to Nov. 12, includes two mammoth paintings by Jon Manteau which take Jackson Pollock‘s drips to another level, both evoking the cosmos on steroids but also the world of front porch sitting — and houses in need of paint. The works are made of layers and layers of house paint that the artist drips and moves around and scrapes and nudges into wonderful abstract passages that seem imbued with passion beyond anything MAB paints ever envisioned.

(top image is Manteau’s large house paint on wood “”My Wedding Ring is in the Belly of a Blue Fish,” made of 6 4’x4′ cabinet-grade plywood sheets, I believe that’s what Fleisher’s Warren Angle told me. Second image is detail.)
Manteau had smaller paintings in the show that were quite dark by comparison and didn’t evoke the cosmic as much as they did something brooding and psychological. His three sumi ink drawings, which I thought at first were prints, were ghostly and lyrical and they included suggestions of portholes into another world. I think they’re great. (image is one of the sumi drawings, “Cast Drawings of Dead Puppies,” I believe is the title.)

Rakovian Response

Penelope Rakov‘s cane glass pieces, one of which I had seen at the Tyler MFA exhibit at the Icebox in May, are the kind of eye candy that makes you salivate. The ribbon candy-like glass pieces (the artist has an MFA in glass) are elegant and delectable. They, like Manteau’s big works, have something cosmic about them, suggesting the beautiful buildup of beautiful things like orbs and cells and comets and nebulae.
(image is Rakov’s “Stock Pile.”)
This pedestal-sitter got a little roughed up when some viewers couldn’t keep their fingers off it and moved some of the pieces around, Angle told me. The messing didn’t affect their overall demeanor which remains one of gorgeousness.
(This piece is “Scape.”)

Part of the elegance in Rakov’s work is the repeat patterning of the canes of glass. The labor-intensive nature of enveloping one color of glass inside another and another, and the placement of all the canes together into fields suggesting millions of things all alike creates a satisfying repetition that’s not like minimalist repetition exactly but owes something to it. Whatever the deep seated need to see things in series, Rakov’s tapped into it, making works that are satisfying and beautiful if not surprising conceptually.

Zamora’s jungle
Mauro Zamora‘s mysterious, reductivist paintings which confuse outside and inside and are imbued with languor and anomie continue to look great. I keep waiting for the talented young painter to break out into something new but while I’m waiting I’ll keep looking at his works which always give you something to chew on.


Speaking of chewing it over, Fleisher’s gallery “Talkabout” discussion led by Mary Murphy is this Sat., Oct. 29 at 1:30 pm. Always a good discussion usually attended by the artists who get a chance to speak about their work and answer questions.