Artblog’s origins in 2003 – The Wood Turning Center and the PMA gift shop

[Dear Readers, in our tenth anniversary year we will be re-visiting some of our early posts, bringing you interesting information from artblog’s vast archive of published reviews, news and features.  Below are two posts from June, 2003.]

Inner Visions
Originally published by Libby
June 12, 2003

The power of internal secrets, and drawers filled with sacred treasures and scientific marvels emanate from the pieces in “Cabinets of Curiosities” at the Wood Turning Center.
These finely crafted cabinets are not so much furniture as curiosities in and of themselves, with their secret spaces already filled, and their public faces allusive and metaphorical.


“Cirque de Cabinet,” by Michael Brolly, John Biggs, Zac Robbins, Chris Coggiano, Tony Delong and Lynne E. Brolly, is practically alive, sitting swami-like on its bed of nails, its gold eyelids loudly winking when a viewer approaches, its antennae wiggling, and its lazy-susan belly whirring open to reveal beaded contents. Above the whirring drawer, a sealed bottle with beads hanging inside brings to mind the magic powers of African nkisi figures.


“Chest in a Bowl,” by Gordon Peteran, is as reductive as “Cirque” is complex, its box-within-a-box notion destabilized by a round bottom–a sort of blank-faced babushka doll uncovered to offer its interior selves.


Many of the pieces had the detail, wonder and affect of a Victorian science display, offering a magic-carpet ride into the interior of nature and the human mind.

The work was commissioned by the center and by the Furniture Society, which is meeting here until June 14. The show will travel from here to three other stops in Pennsylvania as well as to Houston, Alaska, Massachussets and Wisconsin.

The Sound of Art
Originally published by Roberta
June 27, 2003


I was at the Art museum the other day with my 14-year old, Stella, who’s big on shopping so we hit the gift shop.


The find of the hour was the series of cds, “Art in Concert” — musical mixes grouped around big name artists, packaged with a little biographical information and a few images. Art and music history 101 for $16.95 each.

At the cd listening station I sampled from a half-dozen cds. In a funny way, the music matches the art — upbeat for Renoir and the Impressionists, skittery for Van Gogh, etc. But the whole thing was vaguely annoying — in a Ken Burns way. Thumbnail packaging — a fast food art bite with a sound bite chaser. I guess I’m not the audience for the product.

Jim Houser

But it started me thinking about artists who use music in their art and artists who make mixes and artists who compose their own music and make it part of the work. Now there’s a satisfying blending of art and music — a product I can buy.

Philadelphia has a great bunch of musician-artists. Jim Houser, Jim Hinz, Aaron Igler and Clint Takeda, to name a few–all composers and musicians whose music weaves its way into the art they make — either as background or in the case of Hinz, (new Pew fellow) foreground.

There are video artists like Pete Rose and Matthew Suib (and out-of-towner Christian Marclay, see post of 5/29/03) whose works are an art-music synthesis of another kind.

Ben Woodward

And, of course, the Space 1026er-djs, Ben Woodward and Andrew Jeffrey Wright, who work professionally around town and knock off paintings and drawings on a regular basis and design cd covers, too. Check out the Space 1026 store, MarketEast to see more.

Then there are painters who paint about their favorite music. Thom Lessner paints portraits of heavy metal groups and designs posters for the Paul Green School of Rock and Roll. And Scott Cassidy paints pictures of his favorite cds.

Recently, I got sent a couple of cds designed by the designer of the wavy-world aesthetic, Karim Rashid.

Karim Rashid

The guy’s a serious dj. He even designed a dj station. The music’s techno-electronic-bleeding heart-liberal — post-911 lyrics about love thy neighbor, etc. I’m not up on that genre so what do I know, but it seemed authentic.

Here’s the real question. Where are all the girls here? Is the art-music connection totally a guy thing? Apart from Clare Rojas who has a band, and Patti Smith (who’s going to show some art at the ICA next fall) I can’t think of any girl art-musicians. Is testosterone a required ingredient in this sphere?