Valerie Gay is Chief Cultural Officer! Commonweal Gallery, Locks Gallery, Woodmere Art Museum pop with artist news, Roberto Lugo, Tim McFarlane, an opportunity and Pittsburgh!

There's lots of movement and momentum happening in the arts this spring. Commonweal announced its representation of five artists; Locks Gallery now represents Dona Nelson; Roberto Lugo is leaving Tyler teaching to concentrate on his art and life. ALSO, not to bury the lead, Valerie (Val) Gay is appointed incoming Chief Cultural Officer by Mayor Cherelle Parker! This is an awesome appointment! Parker is making the role a Cabinet level appointment, something Artblog and Artists for Democracy advocated, also awesome! We think Val Gay's appointment bodes well for the arts sector in our city. The News is full of other fun and informative things today. Be of good cheer, arts and culture lovers! See you next week.


Valerie Gay named next Chief Cultural Officer by Mayor, Kelly Lee to step down

From the Peter Dobrin article in the 3/13/2024 Inquirer

…The post [of Chief Cultural Officer] is expected to be elevated to a cabinet-level position within the mayor’s administration

Valerie Gay is the city’s new head of arts and culture, several arts insiders said Wednesday
A trained soprano with degrees from Temple University and the University of the Arts, Gay, 58, was most recently deputy director of audience engagement and chief experience officer at the Barnes Foundation. Previously, she had been executive director of the Art Sanctuary.

Arts leaders said they were thrilled with Mayor Cherelle L. Parker’s appointment, not only for Gay’s experience, but also because the post is expected to be elevated to a cabinet-level position within the mayor’s administration.

“With Val’s appointment we believe that the arts and culture sector now has several champions embedded within the administration,” said Patricia Wilson Aden, president and CEO of the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance. “This is such a strong affirmation of the mayor’s response to the arts and culture community’s advocacy of appointing a high-level cabinet person, and we are very happy Mayor Parker has responded — and by bringing in someone at helm that is so very well-qualified. No one could better bring all of the qualities that we are looking for in our next arts and culture leader.”

Below is excerpted from a message from Kelly Lee, outgoing OACCE Director:

It has been an honor to serve as the City of Philadelphia ‘s Chief Cultural Officer and the Director of the Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy (OACCE) since January of 2016. During these 8 + years OACCE provided almost $6 million in funding to 7,688 Philadelphia-based individual artists and arts organizations to provide cultural programs in communities, pay artists and arts organizations to compete in City’s public art commissions, and fund individual artists and small arts organizations through grants.

…The incoming Chief Cultural Officer, Valerie Gay, is a talented and dedicated arts leader who I am sure will build on these accomplishments to strengthen Philadelphia’s arts sector and will continue to bring quality arts to Philadelphia’s neighborhoods and communities.

Thank you, Philadelphia arts community, for an amazing 8+ years.
Kelly Lee

An iconic work shows a deep brown silhouette of a head and shoulders, like a sculpted bust, in front of a grid of boxes in 8 rows and 8 columns, the box filled with small objects, some human-made and some natural objects like stones, wood chips, chips of glass. The frame surrounding the whole is a black and red triangular pattern. The image suggests a metaphysical game board and a player who has control over all
Anne Minich, ”The Object Poet,” 2019. Found Objects and Oil Paint on Wood, 26’x26’x2.5’. Courtesy of Commonweal Gallery. “To alter one single aspect of this accidental structure… would mean to change our way of being in the world.” (Flusser, 1991, p. 20)

Commonweal announces representation of five artists, Marian Bailey, G. Farrel Kellum, Adam Lovitz, Anne Minich, Seneca Weintraut

We are excited to see this list of awesome artists! From the gallery: COMMONWEAL is honored to announce that now, in our third year of operation and after 20+ exhibitions featuring more than 50 Philly-based artists, we have the privilege to officially represent five phenomenal talents. Read more here.

Read Lane Timothy Speidel’s review of Anne Minich’s solo exhibit at Commonweal.
Read Lane Timothy Speidel’s review of Seneca Weintraut’s solo exhibit at Commonweal.

Donal Nelson paintings at Thomas Erben Gallery, New York
Dona Nelson, from her solo show at Thomas Erben in 2015 Gallery, NYC. Photo courtesy of the gallery.

Dona Nelson joins Locks Gallery!

Artblog has long admired Dona Nelson. It’s great to see this news!!! From the Gallery: Locks Gallery is honored to announce its first solo exhibition with the renowned painter Dona Nelson (b. 1947). Nelson has been recognized as one of the most technically innovative painters since the 1970s. The exhibition features a selection of recent single and double-sided paintings from 2019 to the present and will be accompanied by a catalogue with an essay by Terry R. Myers. There will be an opening reception on Friday, April 5th from 5pm to 7pm featuring a discussion between the artist and Ian Berry, Director of the Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College.

Nelson’s gestural, richly complex compositions demonstrate a rigorous commitment to exploring the possibilities of material invention. Since 2003, the artist has been making double-sided paintings displayed on steel stands, liberating their canvases from the wall. These paintings are novel in the way that each side is distinct yet “strongly interconnected, both conceptually and artistically” as put by art critic Brooks Adams. Nelson initially works on each canvas from above, laying them face down on milk creates without looking at the underside. In a process of staining and soaking with fluid acrylics and then subsequently re-stretching the canvas, each material and technique is extended to its maximum potential. “Material is intelligent, more intelligent than meanings I or others might ascribe to my painting,” says Nelson. Read more at the Locks Gallery website.

Read Kate Brock’s review of an exhibit that Nelson anchored at Atelier Gallery in 2022.

Black and white portrait of Angela Davis decal on the center of a ceramic teapot with an ornate gold handle and a spout fashioned out of a gun barrel.
Roberto Lugo, “To Disarm: Angela Davis Mugshot,” 2019-2020. Stoneware, china paint, enamel, and gun parts. Collection of Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers University. Museum Purchase with funds from Michael B. McCulley. Photo: Wexler Gallery.

Roberto Lugo announces he’s leaving Tyler to concentrate on art and life
The Village Potter, whose motto is “Pottery Saved my Life,” is moving on from teaching. We’re happy for him. From his Instagram: “…I’m so excited to go to @nceca this year as it will be my last year as a professor at Tyler. I’ve made a decision to focus on my Artwork and life. I have loved my time at Tyler and all of the wonderful students and faculty. I know this program is in great hands with @laurensandlerstudio and @mooreofanartist and look forward to seeing the program grow with the person they hire for the position. Peace and Love everyone.” Read the statement at Lugo’s Instagram page.

A large gallery at Woodmere Art Museum shows art installed on a polished terrazzo floor, on walls, and on walls on an upstairs balcony that spans the walls of the gallery.
Woodmere Art Museum, 81st Annual, 2023. Installation shot. Courtesy of Woodmere Art Museum.

Woodmere 82nd Annual Juried Show – 48 Artists announced
The Woodmere Annual exhibition presents the work of Philadelphia’s contemporary artists. Each year, a different juror prepares a call for artists, soliciting submissions related to a distinct theme or idea. This year’s juror, Juror Joanne Grüne-Yanoff invited makers to submit works that reflect on the question: What is Belonging?

Forty-eight artists working in sculpture, assemblage, ceramics, embroidery, painting, photography, video, mixed media, printmaking, drawing, collage, found object, and textile address the concept of belonging, illustrating the intellectual rigor and creative diversity that characterizes our city’s art community. The exhibit is June 8 to Sept 1, 2024. Read more at the Woodmere Museum website.


Vermeer, Monet, Rembrandt: Forging the Frick Collections in Pittsburgh and New York, April 6 – July 14, 2024

The Frick Pittsburgh partners with The Frick Collection in New York City for the first time to explore the celebrated collections of 19th-century industrialist Henry Clay Frick and his daughter, philanthropist Helen Clay Frick. Vermeer, Monet, Rembrandt: Forging the Frick Collections in Pittsburgh and New York amplifies the Fricks’ shared passion for art collecting, looking at how their iconic acquisitions shaped the museums they established, and asks how we define great art today.

The painting “Girl Interrupted at her Music” (ca.1658–59) by Johannes Vermeer included in Vermeer, Monet, Rembrandt, was featured earlier this year in the Rijksmuseum’s sold-out landmark Vermeer retrospective in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

“When Henry Clay Frick acquired “Girl Interrupted at Her Music” and displayed it briefly in Clayton, the 17th-century Dutch artist was just becoming more widely admired, thanks to a group of French 19th-century writers and artists who had discovered and promoted his work. It was a characteristically astute choice by Frick, and we’re tremendously excited to bring it back to Pittsburgh for its first public exhibition in our region,” remarks Elizabeth E. Barker, Executive Director of The Frick Pittsburgh.

More information at the exhibition website.
Tickets here.

The historic buildings of The Frick Collection (New York) are currently closed for renovation and enhancement, their first comprehensive upgrade since the 1930s. The Frick Collection will reopen in late 2024.


A poster with white letters on grey background with a print image of a strong looking man in the left announces an art exhibit, “Imprint: Dox Thrash, Black Life, and American Culture” from Mar. 23-Aug. 4, 2024.

Dox Thrash at the AAMP – Show is through August, 2024
From the AAMP (African American Museum in Philadelphia) Join us on Friday, March 22, 2024, from 6 – 8 PM as we unveil the captivating legacy of visionary artist Dox Thrash during our free reception.
From his humble beginnings in Griffin, Georgia, to his groundbreaking contributions to printmaking, Thrash’s story is one of resilience and creativity.
Don’t miss this opportunity to explore rarely-seen works and delve into the vibrant life of an artistic trailblazer.
On view from March 23 to August 4, 2024. Register here

A serious-looking Black man wearing glasses and a black t-shirt stands in front of a black and white painting.
Artist Tim McFarlane, featured in a solo exhibition, ‘All of This is True,’ April 2-May 18, 2024, Bridgette Mayer Gallery

Tim McFarlane, All Of This Is True at Bridgette Mayer Gallery
Bridgette Mayer Gallery is pleased to announce our spring exhibition: All Of This Is True, a new solo show by Tim McFarlane. All Of This Is True will be on view from Tuesday, April 2 to Saturday, May 18, with an Artist Reception & Happy Hour on Friday, April 5 from 5:00 to 7:30 PM.

All Of This Is True will mark McFarlane’s sixth solo exhibition with Bridgette Mayer Gallery and represents almost two years of exploration and reexamination within the artist’s oeuvre. McFarlane considers the various identities and dualities that are baked into the human experience, pulling us in different directions and ultimately creating contradiction within ourselves. He invites and even celebrates this contradiction in this new body of work, taking his cue from Walt Whitman’s Song of Myself: “Do I contradict myself? Very well then I contradict myself, (I am large, I contain multitudes.)” More information at Bridgette Mayer Gallery.

[Ed. Note: Tim McFarlane is a member of Artblog’s Board of Directors.]


A poster in light blue, purple with black letters on white space announces a double comic release at Partners and Son on Mar. 25, 6-9 pm. The comics launch features Nick Bunch “Desert Rats” and Derick Jones, “Nose Bleed”Comics launch at Partners and Sons, Derick Jones and Nick Bunch!
Saturday, March 23rd, 6–9pm

Artblog is very happy for Derick Jones, creator of the comic Nose Bleed that runs on our pages! Congratulations, Derick!

Partners and Son is thrilled to welcome Nick Bunch, Derick Jones, Eileen Echikson, and Ana Woulfe to the shop for a reading, signing, and performance to celebrate the release of Desert Rats by Nick Bunch and Nose Bleed by Derick Jones.


12 Gates Artists Residency – Applications due April 7, 2024
The Philadelphia Residency is a six-month career-building and creation module established by Twelve Gates Arts (12G) to provide early-career artists the physical and communal space, resources, and industry knowledge to plant roots and flourish in Philadelphia. The pilot residency convenes a cohort of two promising Philadelphia-based artists in a collaborative environment for creation, skill building and exchange. In addition to providing studio space, living stipends, and exhibition opportunities, TPR hinges on resident collaboration and discourse. To this end, the residency offers a robust season of participatory exposure programming that not only empowers residents to seek out the skill sets and knowledge they desire, but also provides direct access to Philadelphia’s makers, writers, creators, and producers. Ultimately, TPR is an opportunity to create, culminating in a final group exhibition.

More information and how to apply here.