Went to Projects last Friday
I went to Projects Gallery in Philly's Northern Liberties neighborhood on Friday night for the opening of dual shows: Guilty Pleasures and Obama-rama. I have a drawing in each one of these shows.
The gallery was packed and we were greeted at the door by the amazing team of Roberta Fallon and Libby Rosof, as they were handing out copies of their Obama OK book, edition of 100, to people as they arrived. Roberta and Libby also have the cool paintings that make up up the book on exhibition.
Seems like I have been to a dozen Obama shows in the last month alone, but in my own prejudiced and subjective view, this was one of the best ones that I have seen, mostly for its spectacular diversity of interpretations of the theme and the media that artists used to express their Obama viewpoints.
The below huge installation of black and white portrait paintings by Frank Hyder titled Fifty States of Obama to me was the most visually striking piece in the show, and maybe a predictor for the next election?
Frank Hyder. Fifty States of Obama. 100”H x 40”W. Ink paint on canvas
I also liked Cheryl Harper's Count on Me Obama Bank, a stoneware and acrylic paint 3D work that when executed in 2008 had one meaning and now, in view of the spectacular financial mess that we are allegedly in, acquires a whole new meaning and presence.
Cheryl Harper. Count on Me Obama Bank. 15"H x 8.5"W x 9"D. Stoneware and acrylic paint
Tatyana Fazlalizadeh's Is He Black Enough? smartly touches on the revolving issue of Obama's "blackness." During my frequent drives between Philly and DC, one of my favorite radio spots in the morning is the Baltimore area's Larry Young Show on WOLB, where Larry and the Coach discuss a lot of issues affecting the African American community in Baltimore and in general. I recall the early days of the Obama campaign, and the sometimes heated discussions on that same topic as WOLB's audience opined on Obama's blackness. Fazlalizadeh's oil flexes the representational genre's ability to take a subject and present and ground it viscerally.
Tatyana Fazlalizadeh. Is He Black Enough?. 24”H x 18." Oil on canvas
I also liked Mia Rosenthal's January 19, 2009, another ink and graphite on Bristol board which continues Rosenthal's intelligent tiny composite and obsessive drawings addressing all facets of history and issues and Alex Queral's Yes We Can!, another one of his 3D acrylic on carved phone book pieces that must be seen to be believed, as they are difficult to describe the brilliant effect that this artist accomplishes in carving a phone book. See the exhibition online here.
Guilty Pleasures was exhibited in the gallery's rear and lower spaces, and for a show with a "viewer discretion is advised" warning, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that not all of the pleasures were about sex.
In fact my favorite piece in the entire show was Atticus Adams' Love Spasm, a potent wall sculpture that was not only an unique interpretation of the subject, but also had the interesting, and perhaps unintended ability to create very sexy shadows on the wall because of its overhead lighting in Projects' lower gallery. It was also a steal at $250. Call Projects right now and buy this piece.
Atticus Adams. Love Spasm, 11"H x8.5"W x 7"D. Found Objects.
I also liked Brooke Holloway's two drawings and Cara Jung's smart sculptures as well as Jack Thompson's Siamese (Conjoined) Twins. Also quite good were Craig Cully's 49 Kisses, a wall installation of 49 tiny oil paintings and each one a steal at $180 each or $5,000 for all 49 paintings.
Craig Cully. 49 Kisses, 2.5"H x 2.5"W each, oil on panel (detail)
See the Guilty Pleasures exhibition online here.
Finally, here was talk at the show about traveling the Obama-rama exhibition to a few cities, including Washington, DC, and there was also talk from a publisher who came to see the exhibition, about compiling and publishing a book about this show. More on that later.
After the show we walked a couple of blocks to Standard Tap for dinner and brews. I have been there a few times and need to devote some time writing about this superb Philly gem of a bar with a spectacular kitchen. Suffice it to say for now that this place offers some of the best grilled octopus, if not the best, that I have ever tasted. Coming from someone who lived in several Mediterranean countries, that is quite a statement.
More on Standard Tap later; for now, the octopus was delicious, the Lancaster Stout was great and the scallop salad out of this world.