In their newest show, the members of the Philadelphia Cartoonist Society offer an entirely unique and far more imaginative version of the ABCs you mastered back in elementary school.
Currently on display in the corridor of Brave New Worlds, Drawn to Letters features interpretations of all 26 characters of the English alphabet—Atlas to Zelda—whether it be a phrase, image, the letter itself or all of the above.
Some of the pieces, like Jeff Kilpatrick’s “F is for Fishtown” illustration, take a more literal route while others rely on clever usage of alliteration. This includes Jay Bevenour’s caricature of John Oats and former Phillies’ manager Danny Ozark holding “ornate, oversized origami octopi.”
Unlike the stuffy art shows you might be more accustomed to, Letters is totally unpretentious and, well, fun. You don’t need to be an art connoisseur or a comic-book nerd to appreciate or “get” a painting of a “Kinky Koala” in a leather get-up or a velociraptor in a Victorian dress.
Additional bonus: They’re paintings you can actually afford. All of the artwork—which includes cartoons, paintings, pen and ink sketches and Chiaroscuro—is priced to sell with most of the originals going for less than $150.
That’s just how the Philadelphia Cartoonist Society rolls.
Founded by three local artists in a Fishtown basement, the grassroots art collective has been actively involved in the local cartoon and comic community for the past 14 years. It’s comprised of 80 members—an eclectic mix of illustrators, graphic artists, silk screeners and even a few fine artists.
“The roster of people and the jobs that they have beneath them in the area is kind of cool,” says exhibiting artist Christian Patchell, who also helped organized the show along with fellow member Concetta Barbera. “You can kind of see our stuff everywhere.”
The Cartoonist Society’s members have worked for the Cartoon Network, Dreamworks, American Greetings, Hasbro and pretty much every major publication in the country. Right now, it has members exhibiting in four different art shows across the city.
Patchell, 37, a Philly native, teaches illustration at the University of the Arts and design at Antonelli Institute in Glenside. As a freelancer, his art has been featured in comic books, greeting cards, T-shirts and a line of zombie teddy bears. Barbera, 28, does photography and digitization for the Library Company of Philadelphia.
Though PCS only does a few group shows a year, they try to meet up and draw as much as possible. For their “Hobo Day” event back in June, a few of the members gathered to sketch while riding the El back and forth.
“The people who don’t work as often on their own work a lot more when we’re together,” Barbera says. “We inspire each other.”
Through Aug. 31. Brave New Worlds, 45 N. Second St. 215.925.6525. bravenewworldscomics.com
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