Your monthly guide to gallery hopping.
“The Souvenir Shop”
Another month, another major arts conference. So goes the spring in Philadelphia. April brings the National Council on Education for the Ceramics Arts (NCECA). Opening on First Friday, “The Souvenir Shop” is one of nearly 100 ceramics-based exhibits going up around the city in conjunction with the conference.
The show explores souvenirs’ unusual mix of nostalgia with consumption. Featuring pieces from local and national artists, the show is an especially good fit for Art Star’s funky DIY mission.
“I love that as part of the conference, attendees from all over the country will come in to see this show and be able to purchase souvenirs that tie NCECA, Philadelphia and ceramics together,” says co-owner Megan Brewster, who has a degree in ceramics and worked for five years at The Clay Studio, NCECA’s local producer.
Notable pieces in this show include Stephen Kent’s porcelain magnets and Amy Santoferraro’s Fishtown fish. (Erica Palan)
This show is the perfect antidote to spring fever but you may never want to see a human in a sundress again after peeping the work. On view at the Mütter Museum and curated by Sasha Koozel Reibstein, “Corporeal Manifestations” exhibits the work of 11 ceramic sculptors, who deal with the human body in its most elaborately bizarre, grotesque and thoroughly unflattering states.
The show interprets the traditional display of medical specimens through a contemporary lens, as in Roxanne Jackson’s sculpture of a fleshy gray skull with a ballin’ gold grill or Melissa Mencini’s bust of a deformed young girl. Even Jason Briggs’s abstract compositions are unmistakably Mütter in their mishmash of muscles and flesh.
The show fits into the ceramic fever that is currently gripping Philadelphia right now in the midst of the NCECA. Out of the 95 independent exhibition sites, “Corporeal Manifestations” is hands down the creepiest. Certainly worth attending, but save the post-opening dinner date for some other evening. (Manya Scheps)
Small ceramic figures in various states of languorous undress populate Wexler Gallery’s upstairs space in “The Hermaphrodites: Living in Two Worlds.” The group show, like rabbits in spring, has sex on its mind. Beautifully crafted, delicately painted and glazed, the statuettes by Tip Toland, Chris Antemann and others depict men, women and double-gendered beings who kiss and caress and expose little aroused body parts. As you tower over them, these naughty cousins of Royal Doulton figurines reveal an animal strangeness. Their elfin size and theatrical, boudoir sexual displays make these creatures exotic and highly charged. Guest curator Leslie Ferrin posits “The Hermaphrodites” as a metaphorical show about dualities, like the duality of ceramics, which has one foot in the world of craft and the other in the world of high art. But this lofty conceptual conceit is a mere add-on to the steamy atmosphere of eros that is the larger presence in the show. (Roberta Fallon)
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Calendar: June 17-24