February First Friday Picks

Don’t miss the art party!

By PW Staff
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Jan. 31, 2012

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Monsters & Marvels at Asian Arts Initiative

The Asian Arts Initiative is offering a captivating—and rather damning—look at the evolving portrayal of Asians in American graphic fiction and its impact on contemporary culture. Monsters & Marvels: Unmasking Asian Images in U.S. Comics 1942-1986 features more than four decades of comic books from the collection (the largest of its kind) of science-fiction writer and cultural studies scholar William F. Wu. The exhibit juxtaposes the disturbing historical representations with a library of present-day graphic novels by Asian-Americans such as Ken Chen, V.V. Ganeshananthan, Larry Hama and Naomi Hirahara. Interactive elements include life-sized cutouts that allow visitors to put themselves inside the images as well as an installation that matches the hues used for comic-book Asian skin tones with their garish Pantone color-chip equivalents. (Nicole Finkbiner)

6-8pm. Through March 23. Asian Arts Initiative, 1219 Vine St. 215.557.0455. asianartsinitiative.org

Untitled (Social Engineering) at Vox Populi

In his second show at Vox, Portland, Ore.-based sculptor and installation artist Erik Geschke gives a mortal twist to an iconic modernist structure. Modeled after Buckminster Fuller’s geodesic dome (think playground climbers), Untitled (Social Engineering) substitutes bones for slats to create a Flintstones -meets- Addams Family jungle gym of doom. Crafted from 65 plastic femur bones cast from human cadavers (Geschke used models sourced from a medical supply company), the 8-feet-wide, 4-feet-tall sculpture treats modernist aspirations with the black humor of hindsight. While the geodesic dome never became the basis for the harmonious community Bucky envisioned, Geschke’s piece blasts past the wistful homage to the dome in order to deliver a vicious condemnation of purported “grand solutions.” (Katherine Rochester)

6-11pm. Through Feb. 26. Vox Populi, 319 N. 11th St. 215.238.1236. voxpopuligallery.org

1000 Works Project at Gallery 543

Marathoners train for months in order to complete a grueling 26.2-mile run. Milking the trite arts-meets-sports metaphor with impressive results, mixed-media artist Emily Manalo Ruiz embarked on a rigorous training of her own. Inspired by the daily grind of her husband’s marathon prep, Ruiz decided to keep her eyes on the prize and create an artwork every day for six months with a clear goal of 1,000 pieces by project’s end. Comprised of roughly 2-by-3-inch flags sewn from salvaged fabric and hung in a 14-feet-wide, 7-feet-tall grid, with 18 larger flags draped on either side, the heft of Ruiz’s project is no less quantifiable than the miles clocked by an ambitious athlete. Modeled on the patterns of old battle flags, the project connects both to the difficulty of maintaining a steady artistic practice and the naval history of the gallery site itself. (K.R.)

6pm. Through Feb. 3. Urban Outfitters HQ, BLDG 543, 5000 S. Broad St. 215.454.5500.

Cathedral at Tiger Strikes Asteroid

Unlike most artists who find out their exhibition date has been moved up five months, Philadelphia-based artist Matthew Sepielli was delighted: “I like the idea of it being a quiet show,” he says, referring to the exhibit’s tenure in the February drab. Like the winter months themselves, Sepielli’s exhibition of 10 paintings sculpted from white plaster will be dimly lit. Depending on the time of day or night, viewers will peer at these panels with little more than the aid of a single lamp. A looped video of a nighttime walk through a forest echoes the exquisite isolation evoked in the text from which Sepielli’s show takes its cue. Looking to Raymond Carver’s iconic short story, Cathedral (as well as Jun’ichiro Tanizaki’s In Praise of Shadows), Sepielli carved a single cathedral window into the plaster surface of each painting and hung the panels at a height and distance that suggests a cathedral’s nave. Contemplating these elliptical panels in the winter half-light, you may just notice a single orb making its slow ascent over the snowy surface of the plaster. Like Carver’s story, Sepielli’s Cathedral suggests that after all is said and done, there may be a glimmer of hope. (K.R.)

6-10pm. Tiger Strikes Asteroid, 319A N. 11th St. 484.469.0319. tigerstrikesssteroid.com

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