Art in the nabe–Mt. Airy Contemporary


Mt. Airy Contemporary, in an ancient Civl War era carriage house behind the home of Brooklyn transplants Colin and Andrea Keefe, opened a few months ago in a space a couple of blocks off of Lincoln Drive.

Colin Keefe in front of work by John Slaby at Mt. Airy Contemporary
Colin Keefe in front of work by John Slaby at Mt. Airy Contemporary

This was our first venture out there for the exhibit On the Fringe of Nature, with work by John Slaby (he had a Fleisher Challenge last year) and Brooklyn artists Siobhan McBride (a Penn fine arts grad) and Amy Chan–three representational artists using gouache on paper. Slaby’s dreamy, wry narratives evoke a sort of hipster eden that never was. McBride’s collage-like landscapes and lichen-like surfaces reel with the tension between flat and perspectival space. And Chan’s foliage and nature-inspired closeups, collaged or 3-dimensional, are supersized without the threat of say Alexis Rockwell.

by John Slaby
by John Slaby; all art images in post courtesy of Mt. Airy Contemporary

In addition to the art, we are interested in the curating of the space–the Keefes are mashing up out-of-town artists with Philadelphia folks. If this show is any example, the aesthetics cohere notwithstanding the geographical distance.

Siobhan McBride
Siobhan McBride, Moody House

The Keefes have created an elegant gallery space in the old out-building, with pristine, hanging walls that are architectural statements–a super space for exhibiting small works. The two of them, both artists, have their artist studios upstairs. In addition, Colin works as an IT consultant, and Andrea teaches at Central High School in Philadelphia. They moved here from Williamsburg when the realized they were outgrowing the youthful demographic of the neighborhood. The gallery location grows out of having a 3-year-old and a life that’s rooted in Mt. Airy.

Amy Chan
Amy Chan

On First Fridays, they open the gate on the side of their house so people can walk into the gallery without going through the house. They’ve been getting impressive crowds of more than 100 local people with families in tow. Many of them probably wouldn’t even dream of heading to Center City for First Friday. The crowd also includes the artists and other art folks who come in from outside the neighborhood.

The model for showing art here is typical DIY. The place is a show space, not a business. If someone wants to buy a piece, the Keefes will put the artist in touch with the buyer directly. This way, there’s no business license or taxes. It’s a labor of love.

On the Fringe of Nature runs to Dec. 5.


amy chan, colin keefe, john slaby, mt airy contemporary, siobhan mcbride



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