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Weekly Update (Part 2) – Spring round-up


In the Weekly‘s Spring Guide issue is my round-up of shows I’m excited about this Spring. It’s not meant to be a comprehensive list, just a smidgen of what’s good out there. Here’s the link to the story and below is the copy with some pictures.

Planet Rock
Ice sheets, volcanoes, crickets, waterfalls and garden motifs make their way into spring’s art offerings.

Artists are always itching to connect with nature, so it’s no surprise that this spring you’ll see lots of earth, wind, water, animals and plants in the area’s art galleries and museums. No antihistamines or sunscreen required, and flip-flops are always welcome.

Climate Control
Abington’s Out of the Blue

Felix Gonzalez-Torres icy spill of blue candy putting out the fire in the fireplace at Abington.

Abington Art Center‘s “Out of the Blue” focuses on climate and environmental concerns, and includes 22 local, national and international artists. Several, like Diane Burko (Philadelphia) and J.J. L’Heureux (Los Angeles), are geo-trekkers, exploring the world by plane and ship to photograph extremes of nature like ice sheets in Antarctica or volcanoes in Iceland.

Joy Espisalla’s piece, set on the floor. The fly-over showing clouds and city is very beautiful — and ominous.

Flirting with issues of nature’s beauty and power, these artists make works that transcend National Geographic by imposing a mindset that questions what it sees. The works are in the tradition of sublime landscapes painted by Thomas Cole (Burko) or photographed by Ansel Adams (L’Heureux).

Stephen Andrews’ 365 sunsets printed on a kind of un-usable folded blanket. One of the best things in the show. For lots of images from the show, see the Out of the Blue website.

But since in 2006 we understand sublime landscapes no longer exist and global warming is real and threatens us all, the art is grounded not so much in beauty but in worries about the future.

Display case with, among other things, a photo and a story from Eileen Neff. The photo shows a large shadow moving across the continent of Europe. A digitally-enhanced construct significant to Neff for being believable as a satellite photo — and also as a faux satellite photo (which it is).

If you like behind-the-scenes, “Out of the Blue” has it-an installation of objects, books and artifacts (provided by the artists) that were triggers for their ideas.

John Tallman’s installation at Abington. See flickr set for more pix.

Also at Abington in the community gallery is John Tallman‘s installation of Day-Glo abstract paintings and sculpture which immerse you in an intense unnatural world. Tallman is an emerging local artist and Tyler grad who spent five years teaching English in Korea. He absorbed a lot of that country’s urban excitement, and his work broadcasts a techno-industrial ambience that overwhelms all thoughts of land, sea and sky. Serendipity perhaps, but the show is a nice counterpoint to “Out of the Blue.”

Out of New Orleans
Gallery 1401

John Woodin New Orleans photo, after the flood or before, I can’t tell.

John Woodin
‘s film and digital photographs at Gallery 1401 present New Orleans neighborhoods pre- and posthurricane and flood. Woodin, a New Orleans native, captured the city’s unique architectural styles on a 2004 visit. Last October he documented the severe destruction wreaked on many of the same houses, including his mother’s home. See more photos at Woodin’s inliquid page.

Out of Woodmere
Second Photo Triennial

Thomas Brummett, Fern. For more images see Schmidt-Dean Gallery’s website.

Photography lovers eagerly anticipate Woodmere Art Museum‘s “Second Triennial of Contemporary Photography,” a regional roundup that acknowledges Philadelphia’s strong and vibrant photography community and dares to pass critical judgment. (Someone somewhere should organize regional triennials for painting, sculpture and video as well-it’s overdue.)

Sarah Stolfa’s Arpson Bravo. See more Stolfa photos at Gallery 339’s website.

Among this year’s honored photo practitioners is Thomas Brummett, whose lovely, dark and otherworldly photographs focus on trees, plants and sky. Also honored is emerging artist Sarah Stolfa, not a nature photographer, but one whose nuanced color portraits (taken at McGlinchey’s bar, where she works) depict people as hothouse flowers–beautiful and exotic.

Natural Women
PAFA’s The Late Show

Nadia Hironaka’s Late Show at PAFA. See bigger here.

Nadia Hironaka‘s “The Late Show” at Pennsylvania Academy‘s Morris Gallery is a multiprojection video installation that takes you to the drive-in movies with crickets chirping and wind rustling in the trees. Hironaka’s technologically savvy piece shows a brightly lit drive-in screen on one wall and a gravel road with a car driving toward you on an adjoining wall. Recorded sounds on various speakers surround you with nature’s night sounds to create a believable immersion in the woods. I would’ve liked a little more story (a woman getting out of a car and lighting a cigarette and a moth flying up on the screen just aren’t enough), but the audio is a treat and a pleasant reminder of nature’s nighttime lullaby.

Bubble Stages at Painted Bride

Nami Yamamoto’s bubble installation at Parts to the Whole at Vox Populi a few months back. See it bigger here.

Nami Yamamoto‘s bubble installations-which have appeared at Vox Populi, the Philadelphia airport and elsewhere-suggest nature under a microscope. The artist’s new installation at the Painted Bride Art Center continues her lacey foam, paper and vinyl evocations of cell division, gurgling hot springs, champagne spills and cascading waterfalls. Made of hundreds of hand-cut bubble forms pinned to walls, floor and ceiling, Yamamoto’s pieces hint at the trap of excess, but mostly suggest plenitude and the magic of life.

Woman Photographers at ICA

Candida Hofer photo of an opera house interior which I saw at the Armory show recently. See bigger here.

At the Institute of Contemporary Art human nature is foremost for two female photographers whose concerns with forlorn architectural aesthetics might find surprising kinship. German photographer Candida Höfer focuses on depopulated architectural interiors of public spaces like libraries, opera houses, galleries and cafes.

Zoe Strauss image of a half of a house shows her focus on the architectural forlorn. For more images see her website.

And local artist Zoe Strauss trains her camera on streets and alleyways. While Strauss is known for her people pictures, there’s another stream of her work that deals with depopulated scenes in downscale neighborhoods of Philadelphia and elsewhere. Höfer, who studied with renowned German photographers Bernd and Hilla Becher, is an established international artist. Strauss, who’s self-taught, is having her first museum solo. Both artists make works of formal beauty and compositional clarity, and I can’t wait to see them under one roof.

Rococo at the Art Alliance

Eva Wylie’s piece at her Vox Populi show last year. See bigger here.

Philadelphia Art Alliance‘s “A Delicate Constitution” provides floral and animal-themed decorative riches, with four artists (Colleen Toledano, Linda Cordell, Carson Fox and Eva Wylie) installing works of rococo excess in various media in the second-floor galleries.

Carson Fox, faux flowers and a double-edged word. At the Art Alliance.

Downstairs and on the third floor Kelley Roberts, Libby Saylor and Julianna Foster add three more distaff voices in separate solo shows. Wylie, a Vox Populi member who screenprints tiny, intricate architectural and garden motifs right on the wall, has been a standout in other group exhibits.

where it’s at

“A Delicate Constitution”
Through May 21. Philadelphia Art Alliance, 251 S. 18th St. 215.545.4302.

Candida Höfer: “Architecture of Absence” and Zoe Strauss: “Ramp Project”
April 22-July 30. Institute of Contemporary Art, 118 S. 36th St. 215.898.7108.

“The Late Show”
Through May 14. Morris Gallery, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, 118 N. Broad St. 215.972.7600.

Nami Yamamoto: “Stages”
April 7-May 27. Painted Bride Art Center, 230 Vine St. 215.925.9914.

“New Orleans Photographs”
Through April 7. Gallery 1401, University of the Arts, 320 S. Broad St. 215.717.6000.

“Out of the Blue”
Through May 6. Abington Art Center, 515 Meetinghouse Rd., Jenkintown. 215.887.4882.

“Second Woodmere Triennial of Contemporary Photography”
March 26-June 25. Woodmere Art Museum, 9201 Germantown Ave. 215.247.0476.