Summer in the city: American Idyll at LaPelle

Andrew Prayzner
Shapiro Wash-Wax, by Andrew Prayzner

My favorite Rodger LaPelle quote for the day is that print-maker Cindy Ettinger’s Old City house “is all Zagar-ized.” Of course, sometimes it seems that half of Philadelphia has been Zagar-ized. I love the word. You get the idea if you’re a Philadelphian–mirrors, tiles, broken shards and words stuccoed to cover the building. Other tidbits: LaPelle is being interviewed for a new print publication in town–The Key (I never heard of it and wanted to see a copy, but La Pelle couldn’t find his); and 15 real-estate lookie-loos came through his building, which is for sale, but he got not a nibble.

For a disspirited gallery owner, however, LaPelle has mounted a pretty nice summer group show, American Idyll: Seven Artists, with more than 40 pieces of art. In addition to summery themes like bikinis and nature and swimming pools, there are shades of surrealism woven through much of the work.


Andrew Prayzner continues his exploration of post-9/11 suburban weirdness. My fave was Shapiro Wash-Wax, where a bevy of bikini-clad babes surround a sort of phallic Maypole gizmo (oh, I know that’s redundant). The lasses stand ready to rub and shine. Prayzner, who showed at the Voxennial and Operation RAW, paints the de Chirico plazas and palazzos of Lower Merion and Upper Holland with a mix of twinkle, horror and irony.

Siobhan McBride
Rainbow Rock, by Siobhan McBride

Siobhan McBride’s
brand of surrealism mixes Gauguin blobs of nature with symbolic birds–her personal strange visions of paradise found. The birds are a little awkward and out of scale to whatever their loopy environment. I’m not sure what these are about in a big sort of way, but they amused me and I enjoyed looking. McBride, like Prayzner, graduated from the MFA program at Penn in 2005.

Dustin London
Weave, by Dustin London

Dustin London’s ink drawings of spaces- and places-that-never-were sport madly textural hatchings. I especially liked the simpler images, where the picture was more about the hatched textures and hairy visions of nature, and less about the details of place. Some examples were Haystack, Weave, Cactus Flower and Rugg II.

John Klinkose
Columbus Discovers New World, a coming of age narrative painting by John Klinkose

Also in the show is a single surrealist painting of a robot with a human inside, from illustrator Adam Rex, whose work was at the Green Line Cafe recently (see post). Cartoonish semi-human fantasy figures from Brian Zegeer made me think of book illustrations. And figures in swimming pool scenes, by painter John Klinkose, are in some cases narrative, in others all about the play of water and light on skin. David Pappecino plays peek-a-boo with female nudes behind scrims of abstract gestures.

For a few more images of this show, visit my Flickr set. The show will remain through August at Rodger LaPelle Galleries, 22 N. 3rd St., Philadelphia, PA 19106, 215-592-0232.