Out of line

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The range of what folks are drawing–or what we are calling drawing these days–is up on the walls at Seraphin Gallery, in the show “Out of Line” (image, “Reviving the Ancient and Mystic Impuse [Diptych],” by Walter Benjamin Smith II, 46 x 35 1/2 inches).


The work ranges from incantatory narrative hoodoo of Dali heir Walter Benjamin Smith II to the paper-and-pins constructions of Dee Nicholas to the realistic drawing of Christopher Gallego to a latex paint installation on the wall by Mauro Zamora (image, Zamora’s “Punch” installation).

This is also a cross-generational exhibit, with work from the late Leon Golub to Ashcan heirKen Mabrey to Alana Bograd (image, Nicholas’ “Mouth d’Flowers,” mixed).

The show not only states that some parts of contemporary drawing practice may be pushing the edges; it also states that traditional drawing is far from out of line. Some of it looks pretty fresh and wonderful.


Fresh and wonderful is how “Thicket,” by Joan Wadleigh Curran looks. Curran, who has switched from the Bridgette Mayer Gallery roster to Seraphin’s, uses charcoal to elaborate on her ongoing themes of the power and adaptability of nature (image, “Thicket,” charcoal on paper, 24 x 30 inches).

Edgar Jerins’ huge charcoal also dominates in the show, also using traditional technique and charcoal. Although the hard-eyed edginess and group drama of some of his more recent work is not in this earlier piece, it still wows for its ambition, its skill, and the absorption that separates electronic game-players from the world around them (image, “Kosmo, Charley and Jack, Sonic Advance,” 60 x 68 inches).

Christopher Sweeney, who like Nicholas, Smith, Bograd and Mauro Zamora, were part of the Philadelphia Cheek exhibit at Seraphin this past summer, weighs in with an unstable and vertiginous world of cartoon obsession, crowded with activity, imagery and line (image, “Meta,” by Sweeney, mixed media, 24 x 18 inches).

In contrast, Bograd’s cartoon sensibility includes color, a bouncier sense of humor, and space–an expanding universe as compared to Sweeney’s black-hole, high-density approach (image, Bograd’s “Yesterday I thought of something. It reminds me of today,” pastel, pencil, silkscreen on paper, 19 1/2 x 18 inches).

I also liked Drew Ernst’s “Man with Tear Holding Flag and Swarm,” a symbolist drawing from the Bo Bartlett school. Ernst saves his work from pretentiousness, partly because of the humble medium of graphite; he also pictures a man who seems worried rather than triumphal and glowing. I prefer this (image, “Man with Tear Holding Flag and Swarm,” graphite on paper, 29 1/2 x 21 inches).

Chatting with gallery owner Tony Seraphin, who was back in town from St. Augustine, Fla., I learned that the nine pieces he sold in the show were all Internet sales! Here’s who: Jerins (“Kosmo”), Smith (“Reviving…”), Christopher Gallego (“Nest”), Phoebe Adams (“Field and Motion #4”), Sweeney (“Meta”), Natalie Alpers (“August #2”), Jordan Wolfson (“Interior with Chairs”), Tamie Beldue (“Sfumatu”) and Leon Golub (“Arbitrary Blue Spots with Pink”) (image, Gallego’s “Nest,” 14 x 17 inches).

That wasn’t his only recent internet sale. He also sold a huge, I mean really huge, Ken Mabrey, via the Internet–to a Philadelphia collector.

I thought this was all great news.

Seraphin noted that when PAFA bought a couple of huge pieces by Golub, the Academy passed his gallery by, even though he carried one of the purchased pieces. Instead, PAFA jefe Derek Gillman bought from Feldman in New York. Seraphin would have appreciated getting the sale. Yo, PAFA, support the local art scene [12/22: this line elicited an ouch from PAFA’s Alex Baker, and I have to agree that I was somewhat unfair, given the information in this previous post–Libby].

Seraphin said he’d like to set up shop in Florida instead of Philadelphia. I think he was trying out the sound of it. But in the meanwhile, before he decides that his idle talk sounds like singing, stop in at this show. There’s lots of great work up here, much of it still available.

Others in the exhibit are John Altoon, Martha Erlebacher, Michael Goldberg, George Herms, Sidney Goodman, Cavin Jones, Todd Keyser, Jas Knight, Mabrey, Catherine Prescott, and David Stanger.

Most of the show’s images are available on the Seraphin website.

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