Outsiders inside at Sun King Gallery

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A smashing orbit of color, metal and lights from the outer limits are holding the fort at Sun King Gallery and Pyramid Museum, (the gallery formerly known as Art Around).

Sun King gallery with robots by Danny Vazquez and paintings by Eric Abaka
Sun King gallery with robots by Dino Vazquez and paintings by Eric Abaka seen here at night with a red light washing over the space. Picture by Max Maddox

We made an appointment to meet up with curator Max Maddox to see the show, The New Arkestra, which features a surprising pairing–robots by Dino Vazquez, and outsider-y drawings of our gang and the mean streets transformed in a visionary explosion of light, color and words, by Eric Abaka.

Dino Vazquez's robots seen from the inside during the day at Sun King Gallery
Dino Vazquez’s robots seen from the inside during the day at Sun King Gallery

Here’s some verbiage that came on the press release.

Sun Ra: “Space is not only high, it’s low. It’s a bottomless pit.”
The Overseer: “Do you really wanna continue this game? I can let you off easy now. Later… maybe not.”
Sun Ra: “Just play.”
The Overseer: “I like your style, Ra.”
Tania: “You’re a rocket scientist, and you can’t get it up?”
Sun Ra: “We are all instruments. We are all meant to play our part in the vast Arkestry of the cosmos.”

Eric Abaka, painting. Abaka was a Philadelphia artist who is now in Chicago.
Eric Abaka, painting looks like our gang meets the Rapture. Note the guy on the left who looks like Donald Duck and the Horace Pippin clouds. Abaka was a Philadelphia artist who is now in Chicago.

We’re not too clear just what Sun Ra and the New Arkestra have to do with the show, other than Eric Abaka, who comes originally from Philadelphia, is somehow a Sun Ra fan and a bit of a visionary, too.

Vazquez robot. Many of them had lighting components and one even had an interactive foot pedal to make one of the parts move on the face.
Vazquez robot. Many of them had lighting components and one even had an interactive foot pedal to make one of the parts move on the face.

Vazquez isn’t so much a visionary, even though his robots suggest a sci-fi world of the future. The materials, made from things like recycled laundry spinners and kitchen gear, are pretty down to earth, and so is the artist. He doesn’t even consider himself an artist. No orbiting here. However, as many outsiders (many of whom do not consider themselves artists) he has a need to express himself. And in addition to the robots he makes beautiful ballpoint pen drawings, a bunch of which are on display at the gallery. At $100 each, the drawings–which have an ornate decorativeness that evokes a combination of science fiction laser beams and Ming dynasty dragons–are a deal.

Dino Vazquez drawings.
Dino Vazquez drawings.

Vazquez’ normally displays his robots in a store-front window display at 5th and Allegheny. Vazquez’ storefront isn’t even a store. It’s just the place Vazquez displays his tin army for the pleasure of the neighborhood. Maddox happened by there, liked what he saw, and asked about letting the gallery exhibit the robots.

A close up of one of Dino Vazquez's robots
A close up of one of Dino Vazquez’s robots

We loved walking among Vazquez’ knights in shining armor, even though cozying up was out of the question. They’re pretty unthreatening thanks to their familiar materials and Vazquez’s light touch. Maddox told us that Vazquez has pretty good success selling the robots and that he’s shown them in New York.

Vazquez, who like Abaka is self-taught, makes a good fit with Philadelphia’s brigade of assemblage and bricolage artists.

Eric Abaka's painting on a shower curtain faces off with a Dino Vazquez robot.
Eric Abaka’s painting on a shower curtain faces off with a Dino Vazquez robot.

Abaka’s high-keyed oil-stick and collage visions, include one painted on a plastic shower curtain, rod, holders and all!! The image is child like and exuberant. But the other drawings burst with words and fierce explosions of color with a fervor that marks them as visions of some fifth dimension.

Sun King Gallery and Pyramid Museum
2011 Chestnut Street
215 972 1644
Tuesday – Thursday, 3 to 6 p.m. and by appointment to Sept. 31.

Tags

dino vazquez, eric abaka, sun king gallery

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