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Second Friday in Philly with Giappo

Posted on Jan 10, 2014 by in Writing | 0 comments

On the second Friday of December, in the afternoon, I decided to stop by my old friend Lewis’s Wexler Gallery. I was intrigued while walking past by what I thought were hand blown glass vases.  To my surprise, I entered the gallery only to discover that they were actually porcelain vases with rare glazes applied to them. The artist Hideaki Miyamura is a Japanese-American potter who devoted his career to the creation of unique iridescent glazes. His original inspiration stems from glazes used in ancient Chinese tea ceremonies. The vessels, wheel-thrown for the most part, are extremely technical, very well made and absolutely beautiful to look at!


Hideaki Miyamura
Jar with Yellow Crystalline Glaze, 2013
Wheel thrown, high fire porcelain with yellow crystalline glaze
12 X 14 inches

Also on view at the Wexler Gallery were the paintings of another Japanese American artist named Chiyomi Longo. Her paintings are meant to “reflect different periods of her life, representing her experiences in her native Japan and her adoptive America. Her abstract forms are expressed as feelings, restating her desire to unite and equalize different cultural influences.” Honestly, I did not spend much time with these paintings. Although they were very well done I found them to be merely decorative abstract paintings, which I am not particularly interested in, and which my lack of interest was somewhat confirmed by the press release… “Chiyomi Longo’s large abstract paintings have been featured on the walls of many popular TV and movie sets, including Will & Grace, CSI, 24, Just Shoot Me! and big screen productions such as Legally Blonde 2: Red, White and Blonde (2003) and Mr. and Mrs. Smith (2005).”

Chiyomi Longo
Kaicho of Sumi #30, 2010
Mixed media on canvas
54 X 54 inches

More importantly, I was distracted by another artist’s work, which was exhibited in the second room. As I turned the corner I was happily greeted by a wonderful salon style grouping of photographs housed in antique wood frames. The New York artist, Jefferson Hayman, “works within the themes of nostalgia, common symbols and memory.” I found his handcrafted silver gelatin & platinum prints to possess a sense of historical timelessness. Combined with both found and artist made frames, often exaggeratedly oversized in relationship to the photos, he offers the viewer a heightened perspective of these seemingly mundane objects.

Jefferson Hayman
My Wingtips, 2006
Silver gelatin print, artist made frame
Edition 17 of 25 9 X 9 inches

All three artists work will be on view through March 1st
My first stop for the evening was not my typical art show. I went to visit my good friend, and artist, Tara Capabianco who has been teaching at CHAD (Charter High School for Architecture and Design) for the past two years. Tonight was there annual CHAD Student Design Exhibit, which ranged in work from drawing, painting, fashion design and architecture. Tara teaches children in the ninth grade, around the age of fourteen. It was very interesting for me to look at this work, especially the work of Tara’s students who were the youngest exhibited. It forced me to think back to the work that I was making at that age. It was also wonderful to observe the different talents of the young students, and to see which stood out amongst the crowd displaying an original style that sparked my interest. Congratulations to Tara and her wonderfully talented group of students!

Tara Capobianco with here 9th Grade students work.

Then it was off to the polar opposite end of the art universe, The Fabric Workshop, where internationally renowned artist Sarah Sze was having the opening reception for her self-titled show. Now THIS was a big deal for Philadelphia! I guess? Szee represented the United States at the 55th Venice Biennale with an enormous installation called “Triple Point”. She is represented by Tanya Bonakdar Gallery in NYC and Victoria Miro Gallery in London. She was awarded the MacArthur Fellowship “Genius Grant” in 2003, which at the time was around $500,000!  She also received a $250,000 Exhibition Grant as part of a two-year residency culminating with this exhibition. This is Sze’s first time exhibiting in Philadelphia.

Now I am certain that I will be crucified for this review, as Ms. Sze is undoubtedly the darling of the Art World at the current moment. But to preface I would like to say that I find Sze’s work very interesting and highly intelligent. The scale and complexity of her installations are what I find most intriguing and for this particular reason I felt the exhibition at FWM fell a bit short.

I arrived at FWM around 7:30pm and before barely even walking into the first floor gallery to look at the installation of a reconstructed reception desk (Sarah Sze style) I was already being hurried along by FWM staff updating me that the exhibition would be closing shortly. The race was on!

First I went to the 8th Floor, which had an installation of newspapers arranged across the ground with the images cut out and replaced by images of nature underneath. Sze makes a comment on our everyday preoccupation with news and headlines by replacing these images of the natural world. Desk lamps, power chords, and other elements hold down the newspapers, which reference the daily grind of the office. Is she promoting a return to nature? Is she encouraging us to put down the New York Times and walk out of the office? I’m not exactly sure, however I was far too distracted to investigate further due to the fact that there were a dozen FWM staff members guarding the installation as if it were a national treasure! Is it?

Down on the second floor gallery the space was filled with her more recent rock formations, which I definitely find visually attractive, however not much more than that being placed in the current context. She was supposedly inspired while in Venice to create these natural looking rocks, which are entirely artificial. Constructed of wooden armatures the structures are wrapped in Tyvek (A synthetic material made up of a flash spun high-density polyethylene fibers) with images of lichen (composite organism consisting of a fungus and a photosynthetic partner growing together in a symbiotic relationship) printed on them. I found these faux rock formations much more interesting when they were suspended fifty feet in the air on top of one of her structures in “Triple Point”.

So in the end, as I stated in the beginning of this review, I felt that the show was not up to par in relation to her representative works. Almost as if she had given everything she had to give to the Biennale, and we were left with the second-hand remnants of her typical installations, which exist on a much larger, more complex and powerful scale.




Sara Sze will be on view through April 6, 2013

I attempted to stop by Fliesher Ollman Gallery but as usual I got there just a few minutes past 8pm and the elevator Nazis had already dispersed. I’m sorry but this drives me insane!!! Hey Fliesher Ollman have your receptions run until 9pm like every other gallery in the universe. Thanks!

My final stop was Napoleon on the 2nd Floor of the Rollins Building, home to Vox Populi, Tiger Strikes Asteroid, Marginal Utility, Grizzly Grizzly, and more! The opening was for a special pop up exhibition titled “Trusted Friends Are the Only Ones That Can Get You In The End” a two person exhibition featuring artists Ivanco Talevski and Pernot Hudson; curated by collective member Marc Blumthal. The concept for the exhibition stemmed from a conversation between the artists on the reoccurring subject matter of each others paintings and transforming those elements into a three dimensional installation/performance. This exercise forced both artists to step outside of their comfort zone, so to speak, and think critically about both their own and one another’s work.

Talevski sculpted his “abstract head form”, which appears in many of his paintings, out of pink foam and white plaster. Leaving the scraped plaster residue and the jig he used to sculpt it on the floor of the installation to demonstrate the heads emergence. He is concerned with the real versus the surreal in his paintings, the intimate spaces we inhabit, and the power of the mind to permit or prohibit him in his creative process. Hudson, who creates his paintings using intricately built maquettes along with found objects as reference material, displayed actual pieces of his studies as part of the installation. He is interested in monuments of a forgotten age and objects that have lost their meaning or function.  I found this strange exhibition to be the most interesting of the evening!

Ivanco Talevski
Large Head Floating Over Couch
Oil on Canvas 12x12in


Pernot Hudson


“Trusted Friends Are the Only Ones That Can Get You In The End”

This exhibition is only up until Dec. 18th so go check it out!

From high-end craft and photography at Wexler to student art at CHAD; Art World superstar installation artists at FWM to ground roots collective pop up shows at Napoleon, I some how managed to cover almost the entire gamut of the art world in one day.  Phew, I’m tired.

Follow Giappo on Twitter @giappod or on Tumblr

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