Driving Philly art west–to York College

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Roberta and Steve gave me a drive to York College in York, PA, Thursday afternoon, to hear Roberta speak and to see a show she curated of Philly artists. The percentages of time in the car versus time with art were bad.

Roberta relieved and happy after her talk
Roberta relieved and happy after her talk

But the exhibit Three Artists and Their Collectives has an interesting premise: a view of art being made in collectives in Philadelphia, as represented by Beth Heinly (two collectives–Little Berlin and Philly Comix Jam), Dustin Metz (FLUXspace) and Manya Scheps (Pifas and Poached Pack Collective).

And Roberta gave a slide-filled talk in which she shared lots of examples of Philadelphia collectives and the work they exhibit–almost a catalog of who’s doing it and what they’re doing.

York is a couple of hours west of here. But having this show as a smart move of the new York College art galleries director, Matthew Clay-Robison. Even though from this end he seems so far away, in fact he’s not that far from here, and he’s not that far from Baltimore (closer than Philly is to Baltimore), and this gallery is an opportunity to stretch what’s happening in contemporary art a little further off the beaten track.

Beth Heinly's stretch cigarette, resting on four pyramids folded from Camels boxes
Beth Heinly’s stretch cigarette, resting on four pyramids folded from Camels boxes

The whole event was pretty swell. A gang of artists, friends of artists, and family of artists showed up (nice nibblies; dry campus). When I heard there was going to be music, I pictured noise, Bardo Pond, Sweatheart. After all, it’s a show about collectives. The music turned out to be a swell little jazz combo. It was gallery-opening music York style, and I totally enjoyed it!

Annette Monnier wearing great striped glasses. Beth Heinly is right behind her.
Annette Monnier wearing great striped glasses. Beth Heinly is right behind her.

Beth won the prize for the least material work, a projection of her comics website, the 3:00 book; and the most material work, a stretch cigarette supported by origami pyramids made of Camels boxes). How nice to meet Beth’s mother, and to see Annette Monnier’s new striped glasses (worth 15 minutes of conversation about Modern Eye)! (Beth, by the way, has work up at Brave New Worlds Comics along with other members of Philly Comix Jam who participated in creating a page each for a hilarious tabloid zine, What Makes a Man Dress up Like a Bat. The zine is free, and you can pick it up at Brave New World or wherever else they got dropped off (I found my copy at Cafe Ole). The original ink drawings are up on the walls at BNW).

Dustin Metz and his Self Seeing Portrait, one of several works with literal quotes from art historical sources.
Dustin Metz and his Self Seeing Portrait, one of several works with literal quotes from art historical sources.

Dustin Metz‘s paintings are exuberant, the subject matter a mix of personal and art historical. Each one is a meditation on what’s real and not real in a painting. And the paintings, with their relaxed brushiness, look like he just knocked them off with ease, although the complexity of content in each proves that’s a lie. (Dustin’s family was there, too.)

Scheps installation, an art show within the art show, includes an interview with the Poached Pack, a fictitious collective of real artists.
Scheps installation, an art show within the art show, includes an interview with the Poached Pack, a fictitious collective of real artists.

And Manya Scheps satiric installation of a show within the show by the collective the Poached Pack, plays havoc with real and unreal in a very different way from Dustin’s work. The exhibit is a reprise more or less of her UPenn BFA thesis exhibit. But here the concept is ramped up another notch–a show by real artists who supposedly belong to a non-existent collective, in a show of people from real collectives.

Detail of Joanne Schiavone's installation, also at York College.
Detail of Joanne Schiavone’s installation, also at York College.

Also opening at York College’s other college gallery was a lovely exhibit by JoAnne Schiavone, a repeat of her recent UArts MFA exhibit, Fluid Edges. I didn’t see it here in Philadelphia, but feel lucky that I got a second chance. The silvery, topographical-looking prints, “Inner’s Creek,” that line two of the gallery walls are involving, overwhelming and delicate.

Seeing this range of Philadelphia work outside the city buoyed me up! It looked great and full of surprises. I like sending the message about what’s happening here to over there. And I like that over there might find its own place in the area art world because of it.

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