Weekly Update – Mr. Anthony and Ms. Rutstein

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This week’s Weekly has my review of Anthony Campuzano‘s exhibit at the Levy Gallery at Moore College and a sketch of Rebecca Rutstein‘s exhibit “Ebb and Flow” at Bridgette Mayer Gallery. Here’s the link to the art page and below are the stories with some added pictures. And here’s one and another recent post on Campusano’s art.

Touch of Classroom

Anthony Campuzano says he didn’t do well in school. But his edgy word-based drawings — currently on view at the Galleries at Moore — exude a love of language and a knowledge of self and world that comes from deep study, wherever it took place. Campuzano’s art has magna cum laude pithiness, deft touch and poetic flow. Perhaps school was in fact irrelevant. (image above is detail of a multi-panel story work, “Self-Portrait with 39th President (second person))

The artist — a rising star represented by Fleisher-Ollman Gallery — now works as a teacher in the After-School All-Stars program for at-risk children at the Abigail Vare Elementary School in South Philadelphia. His exhibit at Moore “Mr. Anthony Goes to School” celebrates his students’ artwork as well as his own.

The show’s jam-packed opening was a mini-embrace between the children and their teacher. Those who spoke about their art were clearly proud and amazed at what they’d done. And the artist, who carried a popsicle-stick-and-streamer object throughout the gallery talk, gesturing as if it were part of his own hand, told me afterward it was a gift from one of his favorite students. His love for the object and the student were clear.

(image above is a mural by the students and teacher based on “Geography Lesson,” a drawing by Campusano. In the work, the mountains of the world are lined up by height — kind of like in a school class picture, tallest in the back shortest in the front. The letters attached to the sunbeams spell out “even the sun with all its warmth is detached.” You can see Campusano’s drawing on which the mural is based here at flickr.)

The children’s drawings are fresh and unafraid. (image is a collage of the children’s art) A group of dangling beaded sculptures are like beautiful line drawings in space, and a video animation of the group’s drawings is as good as any professional Sesame Street animated collage.

The animation required many more drawings than the kids were used to making. Those involved — Alexander Brown Roach, Micah Brown, Watia Davis, Jahira Charles, Mark Keels, Shakeel Keels, Zenobia Oberton, Virgen Rojas, Diamond Simmons, Tianna Velez and Natalie Uon — required Campuzano’s urging to keep producing more and more. The students laughed about all the work as they pointed out their drawings in the looped animation, but they were clearly delighted with the product.

Campuzano’s personal art delves into memories of being young, second-guesses at past behavior and odd social phenomena (one series focuses on the words of Lee Harvey Oswald). You might think a mindset like this wouldn’t be congenial to children. But for children whose worlds aren’t full of flowers and happiness, and for whom school might not be a happy match, Campuzano is a sympathetic soul and a darned good role model.

“Mr. Anthony Goes to School” Through Dec. 14. Galleries at Moore, Moore College of Art & Design, 20th St. and the Pkwy. 215.965.4045.

sketches

Breath of Life

Rebecca Rutstein‘s new paintings at Bridgette Mayer parade the life aquatic, geographic and geologic with colors that run from bubblegum to pewter, and delicate maplike lines and shapes that suggest a world adrift. With their overlapping layers of appropriated graphing and decorative imagery on small and medium-sized panels, Rutstein’s dreamy paintings have the feel of computer games designed by Rand McNally. I wanted to push a button and animate them. While geography is the ostensible subject, the works are metaphorical. They’re really about the seismic interactions between people — something made crystal clear in her new video “21 Earthquakes.” The video — made, as were the paintings, while the artist was on a residency in Hawaii — shows the artist’s hand drawing seismic data lines as if she’s a human measuring tool. The audio merges the slow rumble of earthquake activity with the slow breathing of the artist at work drawing. It’s a perfect accompaniment to the paintings, and a great reading on human interplay and the threats lurking beneath the surface.

(image is one of Rutstein’s paintings showing the byplay between stactites and a woven calligraphy that recurs. The works are installed on a wall adorned with pale pink lava flows painted by the artist)

“Rebecca Rutstein: Ebb and Flow,” through Nov. 26. Bridgette Mayer Gallery, 709 Walnut St., first fl. 215.413.8893.

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