Weekly Update 1- Summer Roundup

This week’s Weekly has my summer art roundup. Below is the copy with some pictures. More photos at flickr.

Philadelphia’s art scene doesn’t take summer vacation anymore.

Miguel Luciano
Miguel Luciano, interactive piece based on Puerto Rican saying that (loosely translated) means that children can be heard when hens pee (which they never do).


Miguel Luciano’s identity-fueled works at Taller Puertorriqueño use exaggerated stereotypes to poke fun at bromides about Puerto Rican identity. Luciano, a New York-based artist, turns Taller’s galleries into an interactive playroom with sculptures (including a slot machine) that let people “play” with their own identities.

Miguel Luciano
Luciano’s work is filled with mordant humor. I love the framed t-shirt that comments on the disenfranchisement of Puerto Ricans who can’t vote for president.

Last year I saw a show of Luciano’s at the Cue Art Foundation in Chelsea, and this hot young artist’s paintings—parodies of ads for KFC and McDonald’s (picture a triumphant Ronald McDonald as a conquistador slaying natives)—were outrageous and right on target. Luciano’s Pure Plantainium necklace on a chain turns the stereotype of macho gold chain-wearing hoods into a wonderful mock-heroic embrace of Puerto Rican culture and cultural stereotypes.


Miguel Luciano
Luciano’s painting based on 1930 era cans of yams which stereotypes Puerto Ricans as submissive servants.

Wexler Gallery’s “(In)Between” is a juicy little show about pleasure and death. Check out Damien Hirst’s toothless silver skull sculpture, a Philadelphia gallery coup that brings the British phenom’s high-end and much-talked-about objects to town for probably the first time. Beyond the skull (there’s also a Hirst silver heart sculpture and a print of the legendary diamond-encrusted skull), this art’s all about life being pleasurable. Short, sweet, then over.

Joe Boruchow
Joe Boruchow’s announcement card for his new work at Wexler Gallery.


Joe Boruchow’s cut paper narratives in black-and-white are perfect noir—their content and craftsmanship is astonishing. Randall Sellers’ new oil paintings are mini fantasy worlds. Known for microcosmic graphite drawings of people amid scenes of ruined architecture and weeds, Sellers proves his painterly side as graceful accompaniment to his paper works. Adelaide Paul shows forlorn limbless ceramic and stitched-leather animals, while Tim Tate chimes in with tiny videos under glass vitrines. The show also features Anne Siems’ mannerist paintings and Dirk Staschke’s sculptural gargoyles. See Annette’s post on this show.

Natasha Bowdoin's I am the sun in the morning, I am a dog at night, 2006; cut cards and gouache on paper, 36 x 54 x 9 inches. at Philadelphia Art Alliance.
Natasha Bowdoin’s I am the sun in the morning, I am a dog at night, 2006; cut cards and gouache on paper, 36 x 54 x 9 inches. at Philadelphia Art Alliance.

Speaking of cut paper, Philadelphia Art Alliance’s second floor surrenders to the pulpy planes starting June 19 with “Paper[space],” an eight-artist show in which some of our best local practitioners flash their craft for cutting, twisting and fashioning paper into objects of art. Hunter Stabler, whose lacey, intricately patterned works feature gothic symbolism and mandalas, and Natasha Bowdoin, who paints and places words on ornate cut paper constructions, will provide youthful energy and angst. Nami Yamamoto’s taxonomic arrays of cut paper leaves marries Victoriana with a modern feeling of embattled and endangered nature. Others in the show are Jin Lee, Leslie Mutchler, Donna Ruff, Dawn Gavin and Sarah Julig. Also at the Art Alliance, new works by Jolynn Krystosek in carved wax, cut paper and other materials that complement the show upstairs.

Bill Lohre
Bill Lohre, Still Life, cardboard at Bambi Gallery’s Welcome to My World.

Meanwhile, there’s even more cut paper this summer at Bambi Gallery in a group show “Welcome to My World,” opening June 6. Philadelphia expat Bill Lohre (based in New York now) brings cut-paper fairytale constructions where damsels in distress definitely don’t get helped by Sir Galahad. Other works in the show include Marie DesMarais’ metal, glass and plastic abstracts, Joshua Erb’s Holga photos and collaborations with gallerist Candace Karch.

Samantha Simpson disbelief
Samantha Simpson, one of her ballpoint pen drawings at Gallery Joe.

These shows make you want to run home and paint or draw. Ann Seidman’s lush and dreamy abstract paintings at Schmidt-Dean evoke crowds at the beach, hot air balloons over the Schuylkill and flocks of kites on Belmont Plateau. At Gallery Joe, Samantha Simpson’s ballpoint pen posters are like ornate circus posters whose themes flirt with life’s little truisms. Rachel Perry Welty brings a video piece to the gallery—a first for Joe.

Anne Seidman triangles
Anne Seidman
Untitled 2008
waterbased paint on wood panel mounted on wood.

“The Drawing Narrative” at Jaskey/Tower, curated by Rob Matthews and Matt Fisher, has magical pencil pieces by seven artists in one cool, cement-floored room.

Rob Matthews
Rob Matthews, new drawing at Jaskey in The Drawing Narrative.

The gallery has a new project space in the rear which Jaskey calls a cabin. Actually it’s one of the cabins built by HeartWorks curator Chris Veit for the auction benefit at the Crane recently. Jaskey got one of the cabins and sheetrocked the walls and voila! a wonderful project space. Right now, there’s a video piece — a nice surveillance work in which a janitor is caught on camera displaying some Jackson Pollock-like painting chops on the floor — by Jamal Cyrus, Building Movement, screening in the space.

Also check PMA’s print show “Curious and Commonplace,” opening May 31, a roundup of more than 80 antique posters from the museum’s collection of European popular prints from the 1800s. This show is especially topical at a time when contemporary art is more entwined than ever with popular culture and vice versa. Be sure to see PAFA’s “Spot Check,” the Morris Gallery show with recent acquisitions of works by emerging artists—many of them local—like Astrid Bowlby, Huston Ripley, Joy Feasley and Jane Irish. This beautifully installed show demonstrates how the institution’s been beefing up its collection.

Meanwhile, PAFA just hired a new contemporary art curator, Julien Robson, a Scottish-born art historian with an interest in Duchamp. Art is rumbling along very Duchampian paths these days, so let’s get set to see what paths Robson’s got in mind.

Anne Seidman: “Touching”
Through June 7. Schmidt-Dean Gallery, 1710 Sansom St. 215.569.9433.
“Curious and Commonplace: European Popular Prints of the 1800s”
May 31-Aug. 24. Philadelphia Museum of Art, 26th St. and the Pkwy. 215.763.8100.

“The Drawing Narrative”
Through June 20. Jaskey/Tower Gallery, 969 N. Second St.
Through June 28. Wexler Gallery, 201 N. Third St. 215.923.7030.
Miguel Luciano
Through July 19. Taller Puertorriqueño, Galeria Lorenzo Homar, 2721 N. Fifth St. 215.426.3311.
June 19-Aug. 17. Philadelphia Art Alliance, 251 S. 18th St. 215 545 4302.
Samantha Simpson and Rachel Perry Welty
Through June 28. Gallery Joe, 302 Arch St. 215.592.7752.
“Spot Check: Academy Contemporary”
Through June 8. Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Morris Gallery, 118 N. Broad St. 215.972.7600.
“Welcome to My World”
June 6-July 20. Bambi Gallery, 1817 Frankford Ave. 215.423.2668.