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Jeff Kilpatrick: Cartoons and a cause

Jeffro Kilpatrick
self-portrait by Jeffro Kilpatrick

Fishtown may not yet be the center for Philadelphia art, but the neighborhood has a slowly growing presence. A show by cartoonist Jeffro Kilpatrick kicked me into a wider orbit and got me into Bambi Gallery–at long last (in case this link is still down, I put the gallery info at the end of the post).

Bambi is one of those little places that mixes art, crafts and miscellany, but unlike so many of these off-the-beaten-track galleries, it really does put its main emphasis on the art. Maybe it’s because owner Candace Karch is herself an artist.

Jeffro Kilpatrick

Petey, himself, looks a little like Kilpatrick in his self-portrait above

This time, Bambi is hosting Kilpatrick’s fundraiser for the Children’s Crisis Treatment Center, a place where he volunteers to help children whole lives have been affected by family violence. The children inspired his 2002 book, Petey, about a turtle looking for home and love. Some of the original drawings for the book are included in the exhibit, and the book sells for $3. All of Kilpatrick’s proceeds go to CCTC.

The last time I saw Kilpatrick’s work was at the Art in City Hall Comix exhibit. His work there and here is winning, with beautiful lines and depression-era styling. His men are guys, his women dolls, and his turtle has a tender heart; Kilpatrick’s own tender heart comes shining through without dipping into maudlin. When I stopped by the gallery, there were red dots all over the place, and the work and artist deserved it.

Jeffro Kilpatrick
Kilpatrick’s sticker cartoons on Pabst Blue Ribbon boxes offered some play between subject and ground

Especially charming were his sticker cartoons on Pabst Blue Ribbon boxes. Pabst provided the brew for the opening, and now there’s a possibility that Kilpatrick will create another piece on a box for the brewer. Here’s something he wrote in an email:

Other people wanted some of those Pabst pieces to hang in their bars. Pabst wanted one for their Headquarters too, according to the local rep. No payment was discussed yet, but that’s cool. I just kinda did those pieces as a tip of the hat, because they always give me free beer for art shows and whatnot. I love they way they do business.

I personally love the way Kilpatrick does business, but I also like his work for what it is. His self-portrait is terrific–and looks a lot like Petey. This artist is all about people and connections to others.

Mister G (Sean Gallagher)
My favorite of Mr. G’s work, which is shows strong Barry McGee influences

In addition, two artists showing with him, Mister G (Sean Gallagher) and Andrew Hart are donating a portion of their profits from sales. All three cartoonists are members of the Piladelphia Cartoonists Society, and Gallagher, who is 18, is a protege of Kilpatrick, the society’s co-founder.

For more images of cartoons and stuff at Bambi, see my Flickr set.

BAMBI GALLERY, 1817 Frankford Ave., 215-423-2668. A FISHTOWN MEMOIR, Features character drawings by cartoonist Jeff Kilpatrick, graphic artist Andrew Hart, and illustrator Mr. G. Runs through Sept. 16.