Philagrafika–90 venues, holy smokes!

Philagrafika 2010, the largest international city-wide art festival in Philadelphia, celebrating the vitality of printmaking, opens this Friday, and with 90 different venues and events to consider; what’s an art lover to do?  Well, we’re going to help you here with some tips and picks.

Regina Silveira's insect invasion being installed at Moore College of Art and Design.
Regina Silveira’s insect invasion being installed at Moore College of Art and Design.

The festival is divided into three parts, the Graphic Unconscious, Out of Print and Independent Projects.  And it’s worth noting that while some of the venues don’t charge admission, some do.  But they won’t charge extra for the Philagrafika exhibit.

Graphic Unconscious


The blue-chip venues in town — Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Moore College, Temple Gallery at Tyler, and The Print Center — are clustered here. It’s a no brainer that these will be seriously good curated shows, with work never shown before — or making their debut in Philadelphia. Here’s just a sampling of what they are offering:

  • Moore:  invasive insects, scaled-up and rampant, on walls, floor, tables and tableware; and carved tire-track prints from Regina Silveira (Brazil) and Betsabee Romero (Mexico) respectively;
  • PAFA: new work from Philadelphia artist Pepon Osorio and first US showing from Indonesian artist Tromarama,
  • PMA: screen-printing on water from Oscar Munoz (Colombia).
  • Temple: printing, history and globalism come together with Swoon, Heavy Industries and Thomas Klipper
  • Print Center: youthful mix of pop culture and politics with Sue Coe, Bitterkomix (from Cape Town), Drive By Press, Space 1026 and many more.

Out of Print pairs five artists with five of Philadelphia’s historic institutions for separate projects, some opening later in the festival.

78 Independent Projects extend the festival to galleries and project spaces throughout the city, where there are some surprises and highlights.


Here’s some advice.

Philagrafika guidebook, with cover art by Carl Pope.
Philagrafika guidebook, with cover art by Carl Pope.
  • The Artists Page. This is the page we found most helpful on the festival’s website. So you might want to try that.
  • The Guide Book. ($15 at giftshops of Graphic Unconscious institutions/16.20 online.) For out-of-towners or anyone not familiar with the Philly art scene, this book will be invaluable.  It includes descriptions of the shows at all the major venues and descriptions of most of the independent projects; addresses and phone numbers; and a map and transportation tips. But it’s a high-priced book for locals who might know all the venues and can get the rest of the info online.
  • The Map.   The map is available, free, by itself, and can be downloaded online or picked up at any of The Graphic Unconscious exhibition locations.

So here’s our picks of unexpected gems in the huge lineup:

Duke Riley, a faux scrimshaw work made of resin and plastic tiles from a show we saw at Magnan Projects in 2007
Duke Riley, a faux scrimshaw work made of resin and plastic tiles from a show we saw at Magnan Projects in 2007

Duke Riley at the Pennsylvania Historical Society; part of this project, for now, is top secret, supposedly, except it has to do with Petty Island in the Delaware River, a place with a rich history.  Riley, a Brooklyn artist who stages secret missions by boat in and around the East River in New York, paddled by kayak to Petty Island and that’s about all we know.  All will be revealed Feb. 4 at the opening of Riley’s show at the PHS which will include hand-made memorabilia about the island and other nautical memorabilia referencing history.  Riley — who we first met in NY when his work showed at one of the art fairs and we said “Best of Show!!!”  — is a perfect match for the PHS, with his interest in nautical history and his work referencing old printing methods. Here’s a YouTube video of a recent project, Those Who Are About to Die Salute You, at the Queens Museum.


Cannonball Press at the Independence Seaport Museum and the Cruiser Olympia. Cannonball Press is in residence, creating their interpretation of the 1895 ship’s original letterpress newspaper, The Bounding Billow, which was read by the 400 sailors on board the vessel back then. Cannonball founders Martin Mazorra and Mike Houston’s interpretation the antique newspaper will be available as a limited edition artist’s book.  A one day public printing event with Cannonball will take place April 10 and 11 on board the Olympia

Enrique Chagoya at the Rosenbach Museum and Library. Enrique Chagoya will make a print based on the political print, The Headache, by 19th Century artist George Cruikshank. KID ALERT–There will be an opportunity to color in copies of Chagoya’s new print on Feb. 18, 19 and 20!  Chagoya speaks about his work at the museum  February 18th, 6:00-7:00 p.m.

Among the Independent Projects

ICA-Maira Kalman (there’s a post on this already on the blog)
Marginal Utility prints from nine artists, including Marc Andre Robinson, Ronnie Bass and more
Philadelphia Photo Arts Center, a group exhibition including work by Don Camp

Bottom line, enjoy the festival and remember, there may be 90 venues here but there’s thousands of ways printmaking enters your life every year.