Weekly Update – Dominic Episcopo at Bambi

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This week’s Weekly has my review of Dominic Episcopo’s photo show at Bambi. Below’s the copy with some pictures. More photos at flickr.

Flesh Photography
There’s more to Dominic Episcopo’s work than meats the eye.

Dominic Episcopo, Porterhouse TX, Ribeye NJ, Strip DE, Sirloin PA, Ribeye CA, Pork Chop FL, epson prints
Dominic Episcopo, Porterhouse TX, Ribeye NJ, Strip DE, Sirloin PA, Ribeye CA, Pork Chop FL, epson prints

Dominic Episcopo’s clients range from Atlantic City casinos to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. The Philly artist is a pro at capturing people, food, homes, hotels, cars—all with a crisp, clean look that eschews the fussy and arty. No gauze over the lens, no blurred motion. So it comes as no surprise that his fine art photography (now having a solo show at Bambi Gallery) has the same straight-ahead “just take the picture” appeal.

What separates Episcopo’s fine art photos from his commercial work is his sense of humor and his ability to focus these personal works on the periphery instead of the star, turning what’s normally background into subject.

Dominic Episcopo
United Steaks of America, digital print, 24×30″

The wry and funny series of photos wittily titled “The United Steaks of America” is a crowd-pleaser. The ribeye, porterhouse and sirloin steaks look like jigsaw cutouts of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, California and other states. The steaks were photographed, then digitally cut, pinched and otherwise tweaked into their stunning shapes. Printed on archival paper and pinned to the walls, the images have a shocking immediacy—like the punch line of a joke.

Part of the impact comes from the wrinkly butcher paper, used as the background, that here becomes such a successful trompe l’oeil trick that I thought the archival paper was wrinkled too. (It’s not.) Smears of blood on the paper and a recurring butcher knife give you more than enough “you are here” realism. The works are lovable one-trick ponies and several have been sold.

Dominic Episcopo
Wallpaper corner, epson print, 40×60″

Where the meat works are noisy and bright (the steaks as handsome as rock stars), the artist’s other works­—especially a series depicting an empty North Philadelphia apartment at 20th and Girard—are quiet, demure and humble.

Dominic Episcopo
Nougat Creme, epson print, 40×60″

Here the artist focuses on a corner of an empty room, discordant strips of wallpaper at the top of some stairs, or a crumbling wall. The tone is mournful. Because these shots are so still and crisp, their questions about what happened here and who once inhabited the space are broadcast slowly, almost as an afterthought. The photos are narratives that quietly direct you to thoughts of family and home. Many photographers are working this architectural narrative and these are nicely done.

Dominic Episcopo
Polaroid blow-ups of the sky, here in two fabulous shades of blue.

The best pieces are the half-dozen or so blow-ups of small Polaroids the artist took of the sky. The familiar too-ripe Polaroid color works nicely to remind us how changeable the sky is.

Episcopo, a New Jersey native who got his B.F.A. at University of the Arts, shoots digitally and has his work printed at Silicon Gallery. It’s a solid show and looks great in Bambi’s large gallery.

Dominic Episcopo: “Don’s Drive-in & Ice Cream”
Through Nov. 18. Bambi Gallery, 1817 Frankford Ave. 215.423.2668.

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bambi, dominic episcopo

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