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A Morning of Art below South Street


by Andrea Kirsh

Mark Price
Views of Mark Price’s installation at Padlock Gallery, images supplied by the artist.

I made arrangements to visit Padlock Gallery for the first time, to catch Mark Price’s exhibition “Soft Comfort Forever Please” (and you’ll have to make arrangements; this private gallery is in owner, Ted Passon’s South Philly house.)

I admit I’m late to discover Price (although I bought a package of his buttons at Minnow when Libby and I visited a month or so ago; I wear them on my winter jacket).

The show is well worth the effort. The artist employed a wonderful graphic sense with the gallery space; his work consists of finely-drawn silkscreen images and he’s hugely enlarged details across two walls, so they extend behind some of the stretched silkscreen-on-fabric works. The hanging pieces are small, although they are grouped and might well be purchased and hung as series.

Mark Price

He’s also showing a group of stuffed “toys” (some arranged on the mantle-piece, others nestled in a tent made from one of Price’s quilts; inspecting them made me think of girl scout camp). These small, stuffed works are also made from details of the silk-screened fabric. Some are legible as Price’s fantastic monster-like beings; others are less clear creatures. But they are engaging, and selling at $10; the artist is being extremely generous. The stretched images on the walls start at $25; this is truly art accessible to anyone interested.

I asked Passon about the gallery, which dates back four years and he showed me archived images from exhibitions going back to Feb., 2004 on the web-site. It’s an amazingly-professional operation. Not what I’d expect from 20-somethings in South Philly. The world, and Philadelphia, may be flush with artists, but Passon and his coterie have taken things into their own hands and more power to them! I’ll certainly be going back. [Editor: The best time to see work at Padlock is opening night. Arranging an appointment is usually best done through the artist who is showing.]

All You Never Wanted to Know

Tim Bowen's People Time at Falling Cow 001
Tim Bowen’s People Time at Falling Cow Gallery. Photos by Andrea Kirsh

Tim Bowen’s “PeopleTIME” is conceptually simple but carries a big punch. For the last year Bowen produced two paintings a week, one based on an image (often the cover) from“People” magazine or another popular source and the second painting based on an image from “Time.” He has translated the small but eye-catching snippets of what are considered news-worthy events into mostly 30″ x 36″ canvases which he has arranged in a double-hung, continuous line around Falling Cow Gallery. The work will be up through March 31st. See it!

Tim Bowen's People Time at Falling Cow 002

Bowen’s transcription of the news photos is straight-forward and admirably-consistent through the year of painting. He is remarkably successful at conveying the sense of these press images, despite the lack of fine details in his enlarged paintings.

Tim Bowen's People Time at Falling Cow 003

I couldn’t take my eyes off them, yet the more time I spent in the gallery, the more I felt ill. And this is Bowen’s intention. I may know that as children are starving in Darfur, many Americans, abetted by a slavish press, choose to concern themselves with Tom Cruise’s behavior on “The Opra Show,” or prefer to read about a lottery winner to thinking about the death of American soldiers in Iraq. I see the magazine covers every time I go to the grocery store. I see them, but have learned to ignore them. Bowen won’t let me. He is rubbing our faces in the pervasive vacuousness of American culture, our fellow citizens who prefer to look away from the hard stuff and the big business of a press that feeds their craving for junk news. This show is bitter medicine, but we need it.

–Andrea Kirsh is an art historian based in Philadelphia. You can read her newest Philadelphia Introductions and other commentary at InLiquid.