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Construction, real and imagined, at the FWM


Storefront, by FWM’s artist-in-residence Mark Bradford in collaboration with Juan Carlos Avendaño and FWM; photographic images on static cling film-laminate stock adhering to the windows.

If you are wondering just what’s going on with the Fabric Workshop and Museum, as in where are they and where are they going, you’re not alone. But at last they have dropped the coy stance about their plans.

So, as you probably know (or you wouldn’t be asking these questions), no more Gilbert Building. The FWM is now ensconced temporarily in three adjacent store fronts on the 1200 block of Arch Street. It took the three spaces to house their offices, store and gallery, which is rotating in work from their permanent collection.

Kate Stewart's installation, part of a collaboration with Nadia Hironaka that was at the Art Institute; photo by Roberta
Kate Stewart’s installation, part of a collaboration with Nadia Hironaka that was at the Art Institute; photo by Roberta

Lest you think the FWM is napping in their temporary home, the store front that’s the farthest west, 1222 Arch, has an installation by art hottie Mark Bradford et al (see picture above). The faux lumber in the windows gives a weird sense of abandonment and a squatter’s spontaneous improvisatory building project all at once. It doesn’t really give the illusion of 3-dimensionality, of a construction project inside. It looks flat, with slats of lumber painted on the window. It reminds me of the Kate Stewart flat contact-paper trees on the doors at the Art Institute’s recent exhibit Disappearance.

My favorite part of Storefront is the upper windows. The roof framing and the sky look real here–but the reality is of a reflection of a sky and a reflection of a construction project of another building altogether. The trope of a vision of construction behind the store front doesn’t really wash.

But, like Bradford’s installation, which goes through Aug. 31, the FWM is in this space temporarily. And like Bradford’s installation, it’s nice and all, but it’s not the real thing.

The real FWM energy can be found at the Morris Gallery at PAFA. Don’t miss the Senga Nengudi video installation there. It’s great. (We hope to have a Look! It’s Libby and Roberta video review on it soon).

Meanwhile, construction continues on the permanent digs just a few buildings east, at 1214 Arch. Here’s a remaining bit of coyness: The FWM refuses to predict when that will happen–like what if they predicted December and they couldn’t get in until January?? Quelle marmalade!