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‘Trust Falls’ at Fjord Gallery, with work that is fine in a new gallery space

Corey Qureshi writes a wonderful review of the show, Trust Falls, at Fjord Gallery, newly relocated to the Tie Factory on North 5th St. Corey questions the pandemic-inspired theme with the group curating colleagues and friends into the show, which our writer says "feels otherwise themeless." But some of the work is reverberant and Corey shouts out a number of pieces by Samantha Mitchell, Zach Zecha, Matthew Higgins and Joseph Lozano. The show is up til Sept. 10, 2022, on Saturdays and by appointment.


After a few years of hiatus brought on by global precarity, Fjord Gallery makes their reappearance with a new group show called Trust Falls. When asked about a thematic concept, one of the space’s curators, Anthony Bowers, explained to me how the show came together via pandemic associations. The artists, their families, and the co-directors all entrusted one another with their respective safeties, which lends a cohorted aspect to this show of Philadelphia-based artists that feels otherwise themeless. On top of their return to activity, Fjord has relocated to a new space in the catacombic studios of the Tie Factory on north 5th Street. The small gallery is a bit dank, with an openness that confronts you with art from many directions, though mainly via the walls.

An abstract multimedia work of art, displayed on a gallery wall.
Zach Zecha, “Gemini Season and Tarot Checkers,” 2021. 42″ x 57″ x 5″, Wood, cardboard, drywall, paint, chalk. Photo by Corey Qureshi

Zach Zecha‘s seemingly slapdash “Gemini Season and Tarot Checkers” brings a smile as you spend time with it. The mixed media framing implies a typically-galleried rectangular wall shape that won’t actually conform to a clean quadrilateral. Straight lines are interrupted, colors cut each other off, though not overwhelmingly so. The piece brings you to a hypothetical woodshop, throwing things together with what could be an implied commentary on process and what “completed” work looks like.

A close up shot of an ink drawing, showing the stroke lines.
Samantha Mitchell, Detail of “Blue Bajada,” 2022. 36″ x 36″, Ink on paper. Photo by Corey Qureshi

Across the room hangs another process-focused piece in Samantha Mitchell‘s “Blue Bajada.” A minimal impulse is pushed to an extreme here, lonely in its monotony. Thousands of blue ink pen lines dizzyingly build out wide columns that are uniform yet imprecise. The countless markings are meditative in their space-taking, producing an illusion of near-motion. From certain angles the blur of blue looks sewn into the page, adding a texture that leads to wondering what making something like this could be like.

“Tropical Wasteland” is the loudest, most vibrant work in Trust Falls. Matthew Higgins‘ oil painting takes viewers somewhere without all the mental energy of placing themselves in fantasies, unlike the aforementioned pieces. Parts of mountains, a lone palm tree, and a body of water focus a world otherwise hectic with abstraction. Alternation between smatterings and concentrations of color cohere and distort, — the sky is doing at least three different things at once, feeling broken — a potential gesture at chaotic states nature has taken on lately, though this might be more of an afterthought or projection on my behalf. The style, the hues, and the framing within the painting itself that suggests a Polaroid gives the whole thing a specific kind of nostalgia.

A photo of a painting on a gallery wall, depicting plants and two people facing each other.
Joseph Lozano, “Entanglement,” 2022. 40″ x 48″, Oil on Panel. Photo by Corey Qureshi

History is more explicitly examined with Joseph Lozano‘s “Entanglement,” an oil painting with two things going on. First, this painting is a study of the conjoined twins found in the Mütter Museum, a gorgeous rendering that makes the Thai brothers ghostly in their translucence. Their forms fade into the second aspect, a silhouetted series of shelves holding many small potted plants. The deep, wine red of the entire painting beside the siblings (and a watering pot) exudes lifeblood long drained from their corpses. A few juxtapositions: Life vs. Death, the overlapping entanglement of life in leaves of various plants and bodies, the unchosen aspect of this overlap, the fluid that preserves these two subjects.

While the few pieces I haven’t focused on are interesting in their various mediums and themes, they raised the questions I now have about Trust Falls‘ curation. If I stood there and did the math, I’m sure there are enough threads to tie everything by thematic degrees, but is doing a show centering your greater COVID-pod cohesive enough? Listen, there are no rules, and I’ve definitely organized my own zines and shows of performers with no connection to one another besides me, the mutual “community” conduit. But considering the general apathy about COVID anymore, I found myself left cold by Fjord’s year-three commentary. If you know about any of these artists or if the work enumerated in this write-up seems exciting to you, it’s still definitely worth checking out the great work in this show while it’s up.

Trust Falls is free to view @ Fjord Gallery 1720 N. 5th St., G7, from August 6 – September 10, 2022 on Saturdays from 2-4pm or by appointment, with the exception of Labor Day weekend.