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Weekly Update – Heartworks Sizzles


This week’s Weekly has my review of the Mazzoni Center fundraiser, Heartworks, the exhibit and auction at the Icebox. The auction is Saturday night. More photos at flickr

Anne Magnusen
Anne Magnusen’s faux Basquiat painting made specially to be auctioned this weekend at the Heartworks fundraiser.

Though many artists donate art to worthy causes, they don’t always donate brand-new work or favorite pieces. Christopher Veit, organizer of “HeartWorks,” the week-long art show and auction, got a tsunami of dazzling works by more than 80 artists (many of them with national and international reputations) to land in Philadelphia.

Proceeds from the auction Saturday will honor and support Mazzoni Center, a local organization that administers medical care to the LGBTQ community. Veit says the Mazzoni Center saved his life when he almost died from HIV/AIDS in 2006, and this show—exhibited in the Crane Arts Building’s Ice Box—is his thank-you note.

Because many of the artists included care about the artist/curator and his cause, the caliber of work in the show runs high. Several of the best works were created specifically for the event.

“HeartWorks” is a big show of small works. From jewelry and unique clothing to paintings, photos, sculpture, drawings and video, what you get ranges from the beautiful (Jack Pierson’s Cactus Garden photo and Virgil Marti’s darkly gorgeous Untitled white skull and mirror piece) to the funny (Dufala Brothers prints and the Alex Bag drawing) to heartfelt or existential works by Philly’s own Zoe Strauss, Shelley Spector, Gabriel Martinez, Eileen Neff, Alex Da Corte and lots more.

Cabin One installation looking at Cabin 2 and 3
View looking from Cabin 1 through to Cabin 2 and 3 of the nice installation at the Icebox.

Veit built three little cabins in a row to house the silent auction works in Ice Box’s white whale of a space. It was a great strategy for small, medium and tiny works that would otherwise be swallowed up in the vast Ice Box. The art hangs in the chambers according to a timeline that reflects Veit’s friendships and influences.

Heartworks Installation
The festive little cabins seen from the outside. Plywood with a cloth scrim around them and lights behind the scrim. They remind me of a tent community in the desert.

The journey begins in Cabin 1 with works by early influences such as his sister, cousins, and high school and college friends. Cabin 2 holds works by friends from his desert home in Joshua Tree, Calif., while Cabin 3 displays art created by more recent friends and artists he met in conjunction with the show.

Alex Bag
Alex Bag’s Noli Me Tangere (Heathus/Mary-Kadalene), part of the live auction and made specially for the curator.

The live auction pieces hang outside the cabins on the wall behind the auction stage. (Celebrity auctioneer Alasdair Nichol of Antiques Roadshow presides over Saturday’s auction.)
Don’t miss show-stoppers like Alex Bag’s old master-sendup drawing Noli Me Tangere (Heathus/Mary-Kagdalene) depicting a Saint Heath Ledger and sinner Mary-Kate Olsen. Bag doesn’t make a lot of drawings, but she created this one for Veit for the show.

Jeni Spota
Jeni Spota’s Giotto’s Dream, for Chris, made for the curator for this show.

Anne Magnuson’s faux Basquiat painting (top of post) with Philly references to cheesesteaks was also made specifically for this event. Chicago artist Jeni Spota, known for her cake-icing-thick paintings and miniaturized depictions of biblical scenes, pulled out the stops in a work titled Giotto’s Dream, for Chris.

In the first cabin, jewelry by the Curator's sister, Missy Singley and a digitally altered photo by Veit, himself. There's lots of photography in the show.
In the first cabin, jewelry by the Curator’s sister, Missy Singley and a digitally altered photo by Veit, himself. There’s lots of photography in the show.

Red-hot photographer Ryan McGinley, also a friend of Veit’s, donated an energetic photo of a nude roller skater, a celebration of skin and youth from his ongoing project documenting carefree, naked young people. Andrea Zittel, friend, neighbor and hiking buddy of Veit’s, donated a starburst painting on birch plywood that’s reminiscent of the colors, intensity and mesmerizing atmosphere of the desert. (This is the high-priced ticket at live auction, with the minimum bid at $15,000.)

Veit says art enthusiasts are coming to the auction from all over the country and that interest is high on many of the works. So, many donated so much and with such love that “HeartWorks” is already a success even before the gavel strikes.

>>HeartWorks Exhibition, FREE through April 25.  Crane Art Center, Icebox Project Space, 1400 N. American St.  Gala and art auction, Sat. April 26.  $125 per couple; $75 per person; $35 artists/under 30.  Tickets for gala/auction at inliquid (click buy tickets) or Wilma Theater Box Office, 215 546 7824.