Silhouettes and drawings rule the new school.
Philadelphia's art scene doesn't take summer vacation anymore.
Miguel Luciano's identity-fueled works at Taller Puertorrique�o use exaggerated stereotypes to poke fun at bromides about Puerto Rican identity. Luciano, a New York-based artist, turns Taller's galleries into an interactive playroom with sculptures (including a slot machine) that let people "play" with their own identities. Last year I saw a show of Luciano's at the Cue Art Foundation in Chelsea, and this hot young artist's paintings--parodies of ads for KFC and McDonald's (picture a triumphant Ronald McDonald as a conquistador slaying natives)--were outrageous and right on target. Luciano's Pure Plantainium necklace on a chain turns the stereotype of macho gold chain-wearing hoods into a wonderful mock-heroic embrace of Puerto Rican culture and cultural stereotypes.
Wexler Gallery's "(In)Between" is a juicy little show about pleasure and death. Check out Damien Hirst's toothless silver skull sculpture, a Philadelphia gallery coup that brings the British phenom's high-end and much-talked-about objects to town for probably the first time. Beyond the skull (there's also a Hirst silver heart sculpture and a print of the legendary diamond-encrusted skull), this art's all about life being pleasurable. Short, sweet, then over.
Joe Boruchow's cut paper narratives in black-and-white are perfect noir--their content and craftsmanship is astonishing. Randall Sellers' new oil paintings are mini fantasy worlds. Known for microcosmic graphite drawings of people amid scenes of ruined architecture and weeds, Sellers proves his painterly side as graceful accompaniment to his paper works. Paul Adelaide shows forlorn limbless ceramic and stitched-leather animals, while Tim Tate chimes in with tiny videos under glass vitrines. The show also features Anne Siems' mannerist paintings and Dirk Staschke's sculptural gargoyles.
Speaking of cut paper, Philadelphia Art Alliance's second floor surrenders to the pulpy planes starting June 19 with "Paper[space]," an eight-artist show in which some of our best local practitioners flash their craft for cutting, twisting and fashioning paper into objects of art. Hunter Stabler, whose lacey, intricately patterned works feature gothic symbolism and mandalas, and Natasha Bowdoin, who paints and places words on ornate cut paper constructions, will provide youthful energy and angst. Nami Yamamoto's taxonomic arrays of cut paper leaves marries Victoriana with a modern feeling of embattled and endangered nature. Others in the show are Jin Lee, Leslie Mutchler, Donna Ruff, Dawn Gavin and Sarah Julig. Also at the Art Alliance, new works by Jolynn Krystosek in carved wax, cut paper and other materials that complement the show upstairs.
Meanwhile, there's even more cut paper this summer at Bambi Gallery in a group show "Welcome to My World," opening June 6. Philadelphia expat Bill Lohre (based in New York now) brings cut-paper fairytale constructions where damsels in distress definitely don't get helped by Sir Galahad. Other works in the show include Marie DesMarais' metal, glass and plastic abstracts, Joshua Erb's Holga photos and collaborations with gallerist Candace Karch.
These shows make you want to run home and paint or draw. Ann Seidman's lush and dreamy abstract paintings at Schmidt-Dean evoke crowds at the beach, hot air balloons over the Schuylkill and flocks of kites on Belmont Plateau. At Gallery Joe, Samantha Simpson's ballpoint pen posters are like ornate circus posters whose themes flirt with life's little truisms. Rachel Perry Welty brings a video piece to the gallery--a first for Joe.
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