Philly Philly everywhere

Post from Brent Burket

It didn’t matter which coast I was on, Philly was all over my summer.

Tamara Kostianovsky
Tamara Kostianovsky’s lumpy topography talks body. Photographs by Brent Burket


First up was Tamara Kostianovsky’s piece in Exit Art’s Wild Girls group show. Kostianovsky’s body as topography take on the world (micro and macro) fit perfectly into a show that was so often about the tension between the forces on either side of a woman’s skin. Kostianovsky recently relocated to NY from Philly.

And then, well, I’ve been through this before. Libby tells me about a show in my neighborhood. I’m skeptical because it’s in a furniture store or, in this case, a coffee joint. I go and, well, it’s good. I think I’m going to have to just accept the fact that decent art can be found in Carroll Gardens in places that would usually give me pause. Don’t blame me. This isn’t snobbery. It’s all the crap art I’ve seen in the bars and shops in Williamsburg that’ve ruined my optimism.

Carolyn Hesse
Drawing by Carolyn Hesse of something real–or not.


But I digress. The art I’m rambling about is Carolyn Hesse’s luscious drawings that were at Naidre’s on Henry Street in July. An attack of shading and abstraction, like Kostianovsky’s sculptures there was a stress between the inner and outer worlds. However, after looking at Hesse’s drawings for awhile it was difficult to distinguish which side of the line was winning . . . or which side of the line was which side of the line.

Adam Wallacavage
Octopus chandeliers by Adam Wallacavage

Adam Wallacavage’s illin’ octopus chandeliers were hanging at Jonathan LeVine in Chelsea. Absolutely absurd and completely beautiful, I wanted to take them all home with me. In hue and tone they reminded me of Ashley Bickerton’s transmissions from Bali. In form they looked like somebody had broken into the cartoon world and stolen the lighting. When I asked the gallery attendant if I could take photos she answered in the affirmative, but requested that I not take any closeups. I don’t know why, but I obeyed. It worked out. It forced me to focus on the shadows cast in contrast to the luscious colors of the chandeliers. Is it possible for anyone from Space 1026 to do wrong? Apparently not.


Angela Dufresne
One of Angela Dufresne’s dream-colored worlds

When I was in LA last month, Tyler MFA grad Angela Dufresne’s paintings were on exhibit at The Hammer. Awash in every dream color imaginable, Dufresne’s hilariously titled imagined landscapes rocked hard and didn’t let up. My only disappointment was that this was my first encounter with her work. Loose and tight at the same time, the paintings looked like they might implode or explode. They feel as tenuous as the uncertain future they inhabit. Unstable beauty. If these paintings were my ex-wife, I’d remarry them. The future is uncertain. Beauty is now.

And quite insistently, so is Philadelphia.

–Artblog correspondent Brent Burket blogs about art at Creative Time and Heart as Arena.