Weekly Update (2) – Virgil Marti’s Crazy Quilt

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In the listings this week you’ll find my mini-review of Virgil Marti’s whole house installation at Paley Design Center. Here’s that link and below is the copy. I have more pictures at flickr. And see Andrea Kirsh’s post for more on Marti’s installation.

“Crazy Quilt”
Through Fri., Nov. 17. Design Center at Philadelphia University, Goldie Paley House, 4200 Henry Ave. 215.951.2860.

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Virgil Marti’s landscape wallpaper with shrooms and flames, first installed at Pennsylvania Academy and newly installed at Paley.

Virgil Marti is in love with the ’70s—an era of shag carpets, macrame and DIY marijuana growing. The local master printer, teacher and installation artist makes beautiful, lovingly crafted homages to the era daring to combine high art, elegant design and kitsch. Marti’s installation “Crazy Quilt” at Paley Design Center is three rooms of such fun. There’s the flocked wallpaper, black lights and hippie candle room; the rococo lighting room with an antler chandelier and 3-D wall decor combining mini-lights with repeat patterns of cast plaster skulls, bones and flowers. And there’s the room with the artist’s collections of R.W. Berries figurines, hook rugs and other memorabilia of a time when cynicism and irony hadn’t yet strangled the culture.

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Flowers and skulls and lightbulbs, too, are decor for your wall.

Marti’s art-making is both Court of Louis XIV and Spencer Gifts at Halloween. And his useful objects (wallpaper, candles, lights)—like the fondly remembered objects of his ’70s youth—are romantically sentimental, innocent and decadent. Marti’s work, imbued with playfulness and a sense of awe, is a celebration—like Warhol’s Campbell’s soup can—of life’s simple pleasures. And like Warhol, Marti dares you to divorce high and low, kitsch and serious. It’s all one here, and it’s all good.

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