Weekly Update – Fall in Philadelphia, go see

This week’s Weekly has my fall roundup story. Below is the copy and there are more pictures at flickr. Libby’s post on Global Suburbia.

R. Crumb, Complete Crumb10.jpg
Robert Crumb
Complete Crumb Comics #10
18 7/8” h x 16 15/16” w x 1 1/8” d, framed
Cover, 1991
Ink on paper
Courtesy of Denis Kitchen Art Agency

Social satires, politics and science give an electric charge to the fall art season. From Peter Saul’s paintings at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) to R. Crumb’s comics at the Institute for Contemporary Art (ICA), we’ll be laughing as we cry with these artists about history, war, injustice, incompetence and sex. “Global Suburbia” at Abington Art Center and “Global Warming” at the Icebox promise both serious and irreverent views on two hot-button issues.


And in this election season—which also happens to be midway through the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth—let’s not forget art and science have evolved into companionable bedfellows. Evolutionary exhibits are on the docket at the Academy of Natural Sciences, the American Philosophical Society Museum and the Wagner Free Institute.

Peter Saul, Cold Sweat, 1999, at PAFA.
Peter Saul, Cold Sweat, 1999, at PAFA.

Peter Saul and R. Crumb have energized generations of young artists with their feisty antiestablishment work. To have these two career- spanning shows here at the same time is an amazing stroke of luck. Saul’s traveling retrospective of 50 paintings and drawings at PAFA brings the master of acid-colored narratives to Philly when young artists are turning in droves to the medium. Because Saul is underexposed, this show will be an eye-opener for many. The Academy has programmed up a storm, including panel discussions, lectures, a symposium and a mixer for local art students.

R. Crumb’s “Underground” at ICA has more than 100 comics, sketchbooks and sculptural works by the ’60s underground artist who created Fritz the Cat, Mr. Natural and Devil Girl. To see his pen-and-ink drawings is to feel the genius of the artist who leaves no subject unharmed—including himself and his wife Aline. His portrayal of himself as a pop-eyed, sex-obsessed guy and Aline as a pushy aging babe is a funny commentary on relationships. Ancillary programming for the show includes a lecture by Philly graphic novelist Charles Burns and a performance by Minicomic Pile Up. Crumb trivia: The artist lived in Philadelphia as a child.

Lee Stoetzel VW Bus, 2007
Lee Stoetzel, VW Bus, 2007
Pecky cypress, cypres, steel
courtesy of Mixed Greens Gallery, NYC


The suburbs used to be considered benign. Now we know better. “Global Suburbia” dips into the suburbs and mines all the conflict therein. Lee Stoetzel’s almost full-scale pecky-wood sculptural VW bus is one great reason to make the trip north.

Ben Pinder New Manifest Destiny.jpg
Ben Pinder
Return to Symzonia
still from video

“Global Warming,” a Philadelphia Sculptors’ show, rounds up a group of international artists to sound the alarm about our melting ice caps, extreme weather and other byproducts of humankind’s dirty ways.


Winifred Lutz Drawing Dock Creek.jpg
Winifred Lutz, Drawing Dock Creek, blue elastic bands demarcate where the now buried creek used to lie.

Winifred Lutz’s installation “Drawing Dock Creek” in Independence Park is an imagined recreation of the once visible, now buried creek. Lutz’s project has evolved with the seasons, and right now you can “see” the creek’s swale—set off with blue elastic bands—running through the park. Exhibited as part of the American Philosophical Society Museum’s continued programming, the work is up until Sept. 27.

On Oct. 1 the Wagner Free Institute brings Mark Dion to speak about his playful work with archives, including the organization’s “Cabinets of Curiosities.” If you’ve never been to the Wagner, it’s a great time to go and the lecture’s free.

All in the Bones by Valerie Bramwell and Robert M. Peck
All in the Bones, published by the Academy of Natural Sciences, tells the biography of Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins, inventor of skeletal dinosaur exhibitions as we now know them.

Hadrosaurus foulkii, the first complete dinosaur exhibited in a museum—at our own Academy of Natural Sciences in 1868—is making a reappearance at its old venue, this time, with a new casting of the bones. The exhibit focuses on British artist Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins, who invented the dinosaur exhibits we now know.

where to see it
“Drawing Dock Creek.” Through Sept. 27. American Philosophical Society Museum, Philosophical Hall, 104 S. Fifth St. 215.440.3440.

“Hadrosaurus Foulkii: The Dinosaur That Changed the World.” Nov. 22-April 19. Academy of Natural Sciences, 1900 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy. 215.299.1043.

“Global Suburbia.” Through Nov. 30. Abington Art Center, 515 Meetinghouse Rd., Jenkintown. 215.887.4882.

“Global Warming.” Philadelphia Sculptors at the Ice Box, 1400 N. American St. Oct. 5-Nov. 15. 215.413.9126.

Mark Dion: “Inspired by the Wagner.” Wed., Oct. 1, 4-7pm. Wagner Free Institute of Science, 1700 W. Montgomery Ave. 215.763.6529.

Peter Saul: “A Retrospective.” Oct. 18-Jan. 4. Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Samuel M.V. Hamilton Building, 128 N. Broad St. 215.972.7600.

R. Crumb: “Underground.” Through Dec. 7. Institute for Contemporary Art, 118 S. 36th St. 215.898.7108.