Hello ! Gallery, bye bye world

! Gallery grand opening
A nice crowd turns out for ! Gallery’s grand opening

I don’t know how to get to 727 Oak Lane with public transportation. But after I saw the exhibit at ! Gallery, I wish I had. The exhibit is entitled The World Won’t End But Ours Will is about the earth going to hell in a handbasket. I feel tremendous guilt for getting up there all by myself in my car, even though it is a Prius.

Rice Krispie treat fruit tarte???
The toxic tarte

For all its gloom and doom, the exhibit has a jaunty air. The tone was well represented by one of the refreshments offered alongside a bunch of cookies–a fruit tart, with Rice Krispie treats substituting for the usual pastry base. I’m sure this is a fine example of jaunty toxicity.

Katrina Mortorff & Austin Lee
Katrina Mortorff and Austin Lee smile at their gallery’s opening

The gallery space is a store front that goes with the apartment rented by Austin Lee and Katrina Mortorff, and they are making their own art world. My personal take on Lee is that he is a macher–in Yiddish, a person who makes things happen. He’s the guy behind the Tyler Paints blog, and a year ago, when he graduated, he had work showing all around town. Mortroff, a couple of years behind him, is still an undergrad. Give her time.

The neighbors, some of whom dropped by for the opening, seemed delighted with the turn of affairs in their neighborhood. I talked to one of them, Kelly McShain, whose nearby cafe, “Under the Oak Cafe” is scheduled to open in August. McShain and her husband are actors who moved here from New York about three years ago so they could have some space and some trees. “We weren’t getting it in Hell’s Kitchen,” she said.

As for Philadelphia’s art scene, she declared, Philadelphia is the Paris of the United States. …I’ll take Philadelphia’s art scene over New York any day. There’s no limit here.” And then she went on to enumerate all the artists living nearby.

The exhibit itself is a credit to Oak Lane and to Philadelphia and to Tyler too. Most of the artists participating are from the Tyler network.

Katrina Mortorff
Katrina Mortorff, Bolo Bullies

Mortorff’s paintings are conceptual gems. My personal fave was Bolo Bullies, with bolo ties scattered around a canvas in a sort of hokey Western lasso pattern. The clips are all threatening, and a standard necktie interloper looks like it’s getting strangled by the state of Texas. Quite unexpected. Although it’s not on target vis a vis the theme of the show, it looked just right on the wall.

Emily Chandler
Emily Chandler, Last Meal

But plenty of the pieces were direct hits on the subject, like Bob Gonzales’ conceptually efficient piece, BOGO, a cardboard shoebox transformed into a coffin, or Emily Chandler’s Last Meal, showing an array of favorite foods carefully labeled and spread on an endless table. The tone of Chandler’s piece was Roz Chast cartoon mordant. This is no Last Supper ceremony. The eater goes whole hog. Might as well, since tomorrow…

Bob Gonzales, BOGO
Bob Gonzales, BOGO

Other highlights include Megan Bartley Matthews‘ You Guys…, an upside down palm tree, a slick and creepy Hair Lost, by Joe Piconi, and a cartoon-like crew of ski-masked revelers in Pity Party by Maggie Van Scoyck. There’s more. Like Austin Lee’s Bed Head, and Shaun Baer’s OSHA-challenge, Blood and Thunder. Also showing, Marissa Georgieou, Tom Stack and Jen Fairchild, whose traditional-looking picture of a cat and a sleeping woman sharing their breath has a stealth creep factor that came right home with me.

See this show if you can. I think a lot of these people are going to be staying on our radar. But try to carpool, at least. Flicker set here.