First Friday – Pentimenti’s group show, Little Berlin’s funny performances and Uarts grads at the Icebox

Our itinerary covered many miles — from Old City to the deepest reaches of Kensington, so we needed the car.  We suppose you could bike it but we can’t.  What we saw generally tickled us.  The conversations were great and enlightening and below is a bunch of pictures with some running commentary.

For the last couple summers, Pentimenti has mounted a group show based on an open call.  Reaching outside her comfort zone and current stable of artists, gallerist Christine Pfister has again this year rounded up a lively show.

Leah Frankel’s mathematically-inspired egg array at Pentimenti

Leah Frankel’s free-hanging field of hand-blown eggs billowed gently in the breeze created by the passing viewers.  Frankel told us her piece was inspired by math….In case you’re wondering about all the souffles she’s cooked to make the piece, she told us that in fact she received eggs from a food kitchen in exchange for making quiches to be served in those kitchens.  We like the project and we like the finished piece, which has some sideways affinity with Felix Gonzalez Torres’ giveaways only Ledbetter has given the product away not in the gallery but in the soup kitchen.

Tim Eads, house paint dripped on Rand McNally maps

We continue to admire Tim Eads’ multi-faceted ouevre.  Tim debuted his bike pedal-powered butter churn last year at FLUXspace, a great old-fashioned, new-fangled functional kinetic sculpture.  Then at Jolie Laide, he had some wall paintings made by a fan pushing air at paint drips leaking from a paint can.  Recently, his lightbox digital prints appeared in the lobby of the Meridien hotel, his lit-up plastic-bag wall sconces were at Rebekah Templeton, and his Rube-Goldbergian toy slot machine was at the grand opening of the School House Studios.  Whew! Busy guy! Here at Pentimenti, he’s got dripped house paint on some cut up Rand McNally maps.  We love the Jackson Pollock meets grafitti-and-spin-art vibe.

Judy Gelles and Linda Brenner, installation in Pentimenti’s Project Space. photo courtesy of the artists

In the Project Space, Judy Gelles and Linda Brenner collaborated on “Hopes and Fears,” a grid of photos and post-it notes. “I fear the loss of love…I want my mom to live forever…I hope this new job works out…I wish there was less acrimony in the world…I worry about my children. It’s a mother’s job,” were some of the sentiments on the notes, each one adorned with an inked fingerprint by way of a signature. The artists had asked for people’s hopes and fears during a one-day residency in LOVE Park–the basis of the grid. We watched as gallery-goers earnestly chose their Post-It colors and wrote their feelings. The new hopes and fears formed a cheery contrast to the stark Hanne Darboven-ish grid.

Also good in this show are Laura Ledbetter’s part cartoon/part abstract drawings and Jacque Liu’s beautiful pastel wall constructions — bon-bons on the wall.


One Night Only (UArts seniors) at the Icebox

Stephen James and Nick Maimone’s video at the Icebox in One Night Only

The Icebox was burbling with sounds of seniors from University of the Arts, whose works sprawled through the big space and also the Icebox’s anteroom, the Grey Area.  We have to say we’re partial to this group since we taught some of them in our senior practices class in 2010.  Sadly, Tyler Held’s piece with a flat screen tv and a basketball hoop — which we’d seen at his thesis show — was missing, since it was too heavy to be installed on the Icebox’s apparently not so strong walls.  Tyler said he was going to have the piece at FLUXspace some time in the future. Stephen James and Nick Maimone’s collaborative video, with Steven sitting blankly, sometimes with eyes closed, occasionally smiling, getting Cheerios dumped on his head reminded us of Bill Viola’s The Crossing, a water piece that starts with a drip of water on to a body and ends in a deluge.

Stephen James, wall label

Nick and Stephen’s work is humble and sassy at the same time, an unbeatable combination. And we loved the ad hoc “wall label,” if that’s what it was — a brown paper bag with a couple names on it stuck to the wall by the force of a nearby fan.

Brandon Miller, photo on wood.

We found Brandon Miller’s photos on wood moving and a new direction for a sculptor who loves photography.  Miller’s images of himself and his family (father pictured above) are barely visible, submerged under the beautiful wood grain that asserts its dominance in the age-old  Man v. Nature conflict.

Michael Olivo, animation, at the One Night Only show

Michael Olivo’s animation is positively mesmerizing.  A skeleton sits on a couch, and periodically its torso and head gyrate like some unseen twisted rubber band has been let go to get the bones to move. Or maybe the bones are taking a bow (the perfect song-and-dance act for a show called One Night Only).  We don’t know what the message is but the still and moving image kept us riveted.

Little Berlin
Leslie Rogers’ first curatorial outing at Little Berlin brought together a bunch of live and video performances by a group of artists from Philadelphia, Boston, New York and  San Diego. It was quite the scene. As our buddies Kelani and Beth–sitting in LB’s swell grill, beer and weenie roast zone outside the gallery–said to us when we arrived, “It’s like high school in there!” We weren’t sure what they meant exactly until we got inside.

Vincent Finazzo, “Art 1,” performance installation

Rogers gave us the annotated tour of the show, which was great and helped a lot in deciphering what we were seeing. For example, Vincent Finazzo’s installation — which showed four people sitting at an arts and crafts table — was about Finazzo’s high school experience as an artist surrounded by jocks in the high school lunch room. The performance here, which included the hoodied artist making art and three guys eating fast food and acting like obnoxious jocks, included a moment where the artist “escaped” only to be chased by the jocks and brought back, fireman-carry-style, slung over one of their shoulders. This was a really great idea and executed wonderfully.

John Sinclair, “All the love you can take,” performance installation

In another corner of the gallery, John Sinclair had set up a replica of his childhood lair in the basement.  He was typing notes on an old typewriter and mainly trying to get people to sit down with him and make out.  While we were there LB member Masha Badinter was gamely sitting on the couch looking coy and in character as a teenage girl sitting uncomfortably on a couch with a boy who’d just put his arm around her.  Thumbs up for this installation and performance for revisiting the past and not getting bogged down in nostalgia.

We learned about All-Star Cheerleading, a world of competitive cheerleading we didn’t know existed, thanks to a still projection of the lightweight fly-girl atop the human pyramid and a photo of girls scrambling to form the pyramid, by Hannah Walsh! It looked positively bacchanalian, and again thanks to Leslie Rogers for the commentary.

Nick Paparone, Jamie Dillon and Dave Dunn, Personal Pain

The performance band Personal Pain, made up of Nick Paparone, Jamie Dillon and Dave Dunn, did a number that was notable for its noise and beat and for Paparone’s writhing, gyrating performance that riveted in spite of the song’s lyrics (repeated, mantra-like shouts of “Fuck You, Little Berlin!  Fuck You, Mom!  Fuck You, Dad!).  Paparone, by the way, is newly graduated from Columbia and worked with Rirkrit Tiravanija on Rirkrit’s recent show at Gavin Brown’s.  Nick told us that show will travel to Stockholm and he’ll be going over there to help with that as well.  Notably, Rirkrit’s show had a soup kitchen and a t-shirt  factory.  If you remember, Nick is co-founder, with Jamie Dillon, of the internet phenomenon Print Liberation, a t-shirt factory based in Philadelphia.

At the end of the evening, Zac Paladino would be handing out awards to the various artists for their works. Just like in those big high school art shows, we’re pretty sure everybody got an award of some kind. (We didn’t stay to see the award ceremony–if you know who won what, please put it in the comments!) Curator Rogers takes off soon for Virginia Commonwealth University to pursue her MFA.  Good luck, and come back soon!

Meanwhile, kudos to Little Berlin for fixing up their raw space at Viking Mills and turning it into a great white box with a fantastic courtyard for performing and hanging out.