Drawing in the World at Rosenwald-Wolf

Howard Finster
Howard Finster
Drawing for PC, 1981
colored pencil and ink on paper

A marvel of a drawing Howard Finster made for Philadelphia College of Art (now University of the Arts) graces the entrance of the exhibit Drawing in the World at the Rosenwald-Wolf Gallery at UArts. The drawing made in 1981 for an outsider art exhibit in the same gallery — organized by Elsa Weiner (Elsa Longhauser) — stopped us in our tracks. Our eyes traced the banners of names of artists animating the surface; we admired the way Finster used Martin Ramirez-like arcs of lines to define and fill space; we pondered the past and the present all represented in this drawing–Philadelphia art history, outsider art history, and the school’s history and Rosenwald-Wolf Gallery’s history. (RWG, now run by Sid Sachs, who stepped us through the show, mentioned the gallery’s impressive list of directors including Longhauser, Paula Marincola, Janet Kardon, Leah Douglas and Gerard Brown!)

Here’s what we say about the Finster:  Keep this iconic piece out of storage already… and make it into a poster or something! We at artblog declare it a treasure–a signature piece of the school’s and the gallery’s identity.

Cynthia Lin, Crop1Gmouth815, 2006. graphite on paper, courtesy of the artist. Lin's enormous, extreme closeup of lips is the sexiest piece in the show, and suggests some sort of electronic process behind it, whether it's xerox or digital.
Cynthia Lin, Crop1Gmouth815, 2006. graphite on paper, courtesy of the artist. Lin’s enormous, extreme closeup of lips is the sexiest piece in the show, and suggests some sort of electronic process behind it, whether it’s xerox or digital.

The rest of the show lived up to the Finster! It’s a far-reaching exhibit, showing a wide variety of contemporary and traditional approaches to drawing, and it is filled with outstanding work, even though it grew out of a humble mission to support the drawing curriculum. (See the results of the school’s recent drawingathon in the Hamilton Foyer gallery across the street from RWG.)

Joshua Mosley
Pencil or pen never touch paper in Josh Mosley’s totally cyber-made drawings

Plus so much of the work in this show is related to work now showing at the ICA and Fleisher/Ollman–all serendipitous concordance. Sachs said he didn’t know about this show’s harmonic convergence with Anthony Campuzano‘s and Josh Mosley‘s solo exhibits at the ICA right now.


IMG_9768 Mel Bochner
Mel Bochner, Indifferent 2007, ink on paper

He was surprised when he saw that Campuzano, Mel Bochner, and Isaac Resnikoff are also currently in the Rich Text exhibit at Fleisher/Ollman.

IMG_9764 Anthony Campuzano
Anthony Campuzano, Vietnam/Iraq, Cronkite/Woodward, 2007
colored pencil and graphite on illustration board


Crazy! But it all works great for the artists — a trifecta for Campuzano and double whammy for the others.

Isaac Resnikoff
Isaac Resnikoff, Local News (world, country, state, county). chalkboard paint on paper. courtesy Fleisher/Ollman Gallery

Here’s some more of what we saw:

Charles Burns
Charles Burns
From Black Hole
ink on paper

It seems like no show of contemporary drawing can happen without a salute to cartoons and comics. This show includes on of Philadelphia artist Charles Burns‘ Black Hole drawings. Word is that the movie based on the book may be in its very own Black Hole, where orphan movies often get swallowed up, but we hold out hope for it here on artblog.

IMG_9755 Matt Mullican
Matt Mullican, untitled (Learning from APerson’s Work), 2008, ink paper collage on bedsheet

Matt Mullican‘s totemic bedsheet, covered with text that defies easy decoding, including lots of swear words and numbers, was made– we think this is right — under hypnosis. Several videos next to it show the artist working under hypnosis, crawling around the floor and at one point shouting. Sachs says he doesn’t know whether the process-driven artist is really in a hypnotic state or not. Either way, the idea is wacky and the bedsheet piece is nicely weird.

IMG_9775 Perry Steindel
Perry Steindel, Yapahiya, 2008
ink colored pencil on xerox, courtesy the artist

“Maps” created from the heads of Perry Steindel and Andrew Herman are not all the two artists have in common.

Andrew Herman
Andrew Herman
Marland Park, 1982
ink, marker, colored pencil and whiteout on paper
courtesy Fleisher-Ollman Gallery

Both of them have number-cruncher day jobs, according to Sachs. On seeing one of Herman’s maps of an imaginary place, Steindel said Herman put the roads in the wrong place!!!

IMG_9766 Joseph Grigely
Joseph Grigely, Thirteen untitled conversations, 2004
ink and pencil on paper, collection of Glenn Fuhrman, NY, Courtesy the FLAG Art Foundation

Sachs told us the notes in Joseph’s Grigely‘s pieces were from written conversations in restaurants. Grigely is deaf. The placement of the notes is not random. The artist sent a template for what goes where to line them all up precisely.

IMG_9771 Polly Apfelbaum
Polly Apfelbaum, Blossom Color Chart, 2000
textile dye on synthetic velvet, courtesy Locks Gallery

Polly Apfelbaum‘s Blossom Color Chart, which lights up its corner of the room, declares fabric and color and sytematization are proper spheres for drawing.

IMG_9751 Samuel Yellin
Samuel Yellin, Cresting Detail, ca. 1928

There’s a bunch of archival work in this show–many of them surprises. A plan for a fence finial by renowned wrought iron designer Samuel Yellin, a Philadelphian whose work graces so many Philadelphia and New Orleans buildings, is one of several architecture-related pieces borrowed from the University of Pennsylvania’s Architectural Archives.

IMG_9741 Martin Ramirez
Martin Ramirez, Untitled (Madonna) 1950-3
wax crayon

The show includes a 1931 study by Russian cinema master, Sergei Eisenstein, for his movie Que viva Mexico; two Henry Moore drawings (from the Penn Architecture Archive) and a Martin Ramirez–one of the artists included in the 1981 show marked by Finster’s piece.

Lee Bontecou
Lee Bontecou
Untitled #12, 1975
graphite and red pencil on gessoed paper

Another surprising but great inclusion is a drawing by Lee Bontecou, beautiful with sea and sky references (or desert and hallucination references, who knows). It’s the second-sexiest picture in the show. Let’s hear it for the ladies!!!–who by the way are well respresented here. There is also work by Jina Valentine, Judy Pfaff, Ellen Phelan and Jennifer Bartlett as well. Speaking of the distaff, on our way out we noticed preparatory printouts on the office wall for Sachs’ Women of Pop exhibit (coming up next year). Can’t wait for that show.

Women of Pop and Ed's desk
Women of Pop, working printouts above RWG gallerist Ed Waisnis’ desk in the gallery office.

And, and…we ran into Alex Gartelmann (of My House Gallery and, now, Little Berlin). He works at Uarts and he told us to check out his Window on Broad installation, which we dutifully did. The lumberjack love and heraldry (two axes raised; heart-shaped hole in tree trunk) is so extreme it’s endearing. Happy Retirement, says the verbiage. Who’s got time to retire we want to know.

Alex Gartelmann
Alex Gartelmann, Window on Broad

Drawing in the World is up to Feb. 22. Get on over cowboys and cowgirls.

The University of the Arts
Rosenwald-Wolf Gallery
333 South Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA 19102
tel: 215.717.6480