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Series, process, progress

Art-in-process that looks nothing like the process the City of Murals is used to is underway at Gallery Joe in the vault. If you stop by there you can see artist Xylor Jane working on a piece that, when I stopped by, looked like a square iris.

Jane, whose first name has the same root as wood (a la xylem and phloem), bobbed up and down a ladder in the few minutes I stopped in, looking from the floor then hopping up to add another mark or two, then looking from the floor, etc., which I thought interesting and somewhat contradictory since her work is based on mathematical schemes. I hadn’t realized that once the scheme is set in motion, looking was still part of the equation.

Jane has until Jan. 6 to complete the piece for the exhibit’s First Friday reception. Although the gallery doesn’t have regular hours next week, Kirlin indicated she’d be there a lot, so you have a decent chance of getting in to watch.

Jane’s piece is part of a show called “Series” of serial art. (The wall drawing, however, is serial only in the process, not the product).

Astrid Bowlby’s etchings are six works all from the same plate, each piece increasing in complexity and density. Each one is beautiful and evocative of the microcosm and the macrocosm all at once–and the progression is a revelation (image, detail from “Round robin series,” each 14″ x 14″).

Douglas Florian’s five gouache and collage drawings on the backs of grocery bags (the pieces still have the bags’ serrated edge) suggest the gathering of matter and light into a dragon-like force. There’s a story-book quality to this work–its color scheme and directness, and indeed Florian is an illustrator and writer of poetic children’s books. (Gallery Joe’s Becky Kirlin showed me one of his books, and I’m in love enough to track it down to buy for a baby I know). The drawings are part of an ongoing series called “Sefer Shel Or: The Book of Light,” a series of books, each of which contain 613 pages (6+1+3=10, said Kirlin). I found myself interested that Florian was using numerology–as well as letters, but the numbers and letters themselves meant nothing to me. But the mysticism of the image drew me in and kepts me looking (image, detail from “Sefer Shel Or: The Book of Light”).
Words are critical to what Annabel Daou has thrown up on the wall, a series of 120-plus drawings inspired by not-nice words. Everything about the drawings, from the choice of imagery, the method of application and the seemingly haphazard taping together of scraps of paper reflects the language in this series, “dirty little drawings.” But even more I liked “Filthy Language,” with its flow-chart lines that reminded me of Mark Lombardi’s political corruption flow charts, only Daou charts the power of the words (image, detail of “trash” from “dirty litle drawings”).
Others in the show are Sharyn O’Mara and her net-like series of walking drawings; Michelle Oosterban and her series of delicate drawings of rocks, flowers and water that looks anything but traditional; Sherae Rimpsey, a newcomer to Philadelphia, whose 77 little drawings–hard-to-define objects that resemble fingers and other body parts resting in space–challenge the notion of what a drawing can be about and how it can look; Hadi Tabatabai, whose low-key grids have a spiritual aura; and Susan Tiger, whose drawings of raindrops mixed with liquid graphite document the progress of a thunderstorm (image, detail from “Flank Fatigue: The Failure to Preserve or Maintain #1-77”, ink, pen, oil paint, oil stick on paper).