Margery Amdur: Serious decorations at Joan Shepp

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Margery Amdur
Chandeliers of screening share the window with clothing for sale and other screening art objects.

Fleisher/Ollman’s openings are always a hot spot for collectors and art lovers. So there I was at the Morgellons opening at F/O, talking to independent curator Marsha Moss, when she asked me if I had seen the Margery Amdur installation at Joan Shepp. I hadn’t. And who is Margery Amdur? Moss’ answer was, this installation is not so much decoration as it is art.

And so it was that last week I walked into Joan Shepp for the first time in my life. (That would leave Roberta now as the only remaining woman I know who has never been through the door there.) It was worth ruining my record and crossing the threshold.
Margery Amdur
A giant purse, with a hint of velcro-like teeth inside the flap rests above a clothing rack

Amdur, a Pittsburgher who recently moved into the Philadelphia area, has gone over the top with classic silver-gray screening to decorate Shepp’s window and interior. The result is Miss Havisham meets Dick Clark for the holidays. The pieces have a celebratory affect mixed with a hint of decadent menace. The chandeliers in the window droop a bit with spider-webby ennui. And swaths of silver tubing threaten to entangle anyone who comes to near, mixing opulence with do-not-touch scratchiness.

Margery Amdur
A screening mirror and chair suggest Victorian decadence

The matchmaker between the store’s window decorator, Maximal Art, and Amdur was Moss herself, who used to keep Center City’s vacant store fronts decorated with art installations, through a project called the Artfront Partnership. Here’s what Moss wrote:

I was earlier interested in Margery’s work for an Artfront, but with the revitalization of Walnut Street with new dazzling shops popping up every day, there were no vacant storefronts to be found. Bad for The Artfront Partnership but great for Center City!

So, when John Wind [of Maximal Art] asked me to recommend an artist for Joan Shepp’s shop, Margery’s work seemed like a perfect fit.

Margery Amdur
A screening what-is-it suggests a dress and a person and a robot

Whoa, I didn’t know the Artfront Partnership was still extant. More from Moss:

Artfronts still appear every now and then in areas outside of Center City. There were two on Frankford Avenue last winter and one in Germantown the previous spring. Two of the three were vandalized and so had a short life. If the hot commercial climate changes in Center City and there are again empty storefronts (and I hope not)! Artfronts will move into those spaces.

Amdur, who’s an associate professor of art at Rutgers, Camden, also has a show coming up in the new year at Projects Gallery!

As for Artfronts, I was surprised to learn from Moss in the email back-and-forth that Roberta’s and my artfront installation, Takeout, was the largest installation in Artfronts history! It brought me back to one of Roberta and my favorite questions about art–Is bigger better?

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