Inclusion/Exclusion, a map-inspired show at Yell Gallery

[Roman investigates a new art space that emphasizes interaction between audience and artwork, and encourages confrontation. — the Artblog editors]

Yell Gallery opened its doors in November 2013 in East Kensington, Philadelphia, at the corner of Susquehanna Avenue and Martha Street. Rob Goodman, owner of the newly constructed building, was inspired as an artist/art instructor, and by a practical sense of space usage and his partner and founding director Mukethe Kawinzi, to be a patron of the arts.

Yell Gallery is quickly becoming known as an arts and performance space where confrontation of change and challenge is beautiful.

A successful exhibit on all fronts

Rob Goodman, Mukethe Kawinzi, and Kasey Walsh.
Rob Goodman, Mukethe Kawinzi, and Kasey Esposito.

This month’s exhibition, Inclusion/Exclusion: Poetics of Cartography, succeeds on many levels. The first level began through individual conversation with not only Goodman and Kawinzi, but also board president Bodunrin (Bo) Banwo and board member Kasey Esposito. They all shared the same clear vision for the purpose of Yell Gallery.

The second level of the new exhibit’s success is the gallery’s ability to network within the larger artist community. This allowed the curator to fine-tune which artists’ work best conveyed the theme of the exhibition.

The third level is the presentation of art in different media and styles, ranging from the simple to the very complicated.

The fourth level on which the exhibition succeeds is its engaging and friendly environment, “with no divide between the audience and the artist,” according to the Yell Gallery website. Several artists were present, acting as hosts for the exhibition.

The exhibition consists of the work of 10 different artists, and aimed, according to Denis Wood, “…to destroy existing modes of map making…to  emancipate dream and desire as subjects of the map.”

Most notable was the work of Emily Erb and Nile Livingston, with compliments to Shawn Thornton and Joel Chartkoff.

Nile Livingston’s mixed-media contribution, Neighborhood Series, included an embellished Google street-level map/video of Baltimore Avenue in West Philadelphia. Her art is superimposed, “observing the day-to-day pedestrian archetype” that inspired this series, Livingston says.

Two of these framed drawings, colored with Sharpie paint markers, added vibrant color to “capture the fleeting moods of the West Philadelphia community,” Livingston explains. These are “Grocery Shopping” and “An Old Lady Shopping”.

I am hopeful that someday Livingston will have the opportunity to exhibit all the drawings of this passionately inspired series, along with the video.

Drawing on a global perspective

Board member Kasey Esposito in front of “World Map” by Emily Erb

Emily Erb is an accomplished artist known for drawing or copying images onto dye-colored or painted silk panels, which range in size from modest to huge.

Her “World Map” measures approximately 4′ x 15′. It depicts the world not as a land mass, but as the masses of people and creatures which inhabit it. Those present explained to me that the work gives the observer time to pause to see the ecology of life, and view the world as less of a singular place, or give it a label.

Erb presented her keen wit by installing dark curtains onto the frame of her work “The World at Night”. The curtains emphasized the globe’s pattern of lights, as seen from space, that appear at night and where there is little or no light.

A familiar North American map work, “Native Languages,” with a language color key, prompts you to think of the people that inhabit or once inhabited the land, instead of just considering location. Erb transcends location to embrace humanity.

Inclusion/Exclusion: The Poetics of Cartography is on view at Yell Gallery until Saturday, March 29, 2014. Hours by appointment. Inquires can be directed to

All photos by Roman Blazic. Roman is the second of three generations to participate in the arts. He is a board member of the Friends of Penn Treaty Park and author of Hidden Art: Rorschach Inkblot Test. Roman is an active supporter of the Fishtown and East Kensington art scene, and also contributes photographs to the local community groups and newspaper.