Spring Art Preview: A Guide to What's Happening In & Out of Our Galleries This Season

By Katherine Rochester and Nicole Finkbiner
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Mar. 20, 2012

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Institute of Contemporary Art
As the title might suggest, First Among Equals takes a deliberately ambivalent stance toward the notion that artistic collaboration sows harmony. Drawing on artists who work in groups and pairs, this intriguing exhibition examines the work of Los Angeles- and Philadelphia-based artists who model different strategies for collaborative work. “We wanted to think about community in flexible terms,” says Alex Klein, who co-curated the show with Kate Kraczon. In practice, this often meant opening up aspects of the curatorial process to the core group of nine participating artists and artist groups, who used their newfound freedom to involve countless other artists from their own circles. Whether solicited by mail (Mateo Tannatt), reproduced in copies (Alex Da Corte), performed (Bodega), read (Machete Group), spatially adjustable (Marginal Utility), or interactively inscribed in a virtual plane (Extra Extra), Equals is packed with compelling propositions for how artists might support and provoke one another. (Katherine Rochester)

Through Aug. 12. 118 S. 36th St. 215.898.7108. icaphila.org

AUX at Vox Populi
Forget dinner and a movie. Make it a drag show and movie at AUX, Vox Populi’s dedicated live-arts space that opened last year. For one night only, AUX will screen N.Y.C.-based artist Michelle Handelman’s film Dorian, accompanied by a live performance by co-starring actor and famed drag performer Flawless Sabrina. Teasing out the queer undertones in Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray , Handelman’s multi-channel video installation plays with expectations, reversing the gender of characters as well as conceptions about the values of high art versus pop culture. (Katherine Rochester)

April 28. AUX at Vox Populi Gallery, 319 N. 11th St. 215.238.1236. voxpopuligallery.org

Philadelphia Museum of Art
Typically, it’s only permissible to outfit your children with masks and turn them out to the streets on Halloween. But for little-known photographer Ralph Eugene Meatyard (American 1925-1972), Halloween came early and stayed late. The optician from Lexington, Ky., routinely persuaded his family to don masks and pose in abandoned buildings or landscapes near his home. The resulting series of black-and-white photographs, “The Family Album of Lucybelle Crater,” gives the wholesome family portrait an X-Files twist: children leer at the camera with the shrunken faces of the elderly; adults sport the ghoulish mien of Frankenstein. Comprised of nearly 60 photographs from his last body of work, Meatyard casts the family unit as a monstrous but captivating oddity. (Katherine Rochester)

May 19-Aug. 5. Philadelphia Museum of Art, 26th St. and the Benjamin Franklin Pkwy. 215.763.8100. philamuseum.org

Fairmount Park Art Association
You’ve heard of staycations. Here’s an itinerary for you: Visit 51 public art sculptures in Philadelphia. Would it sweeten the deal if I told you that flashlight mobs, tango, bike rides and giant balloons were also involved? If so, then the Fairmount Part Art Association has your number. Throughout the month of April, Site Seeing—aimed at acquainting Philadelphians with our impressive public art patrimony—invites participants to venture out on various family friendly art excursions around the city. Stroll down the Benjamin Franklin Parkway or coast through Fairmount Park, all with a new eye to the sculptures that make Philadelphia one of the country’s top 10 presenters of public art. (Katherine Rochester)

April 5-29. Various locations throughout the city. 215.546.7550. museumwithoutwallsaudio.org

The Pop-Up Museum of Queer History
Aiming to show that queer history didn’t begin with Stonewall and extends far beyond San Francisco, this traveling month-long exhibit will bring to light the rich, long and largely unknown histories of queer communities both in Philly and across the globe. Some of the individual exhibits include a documentation of the use of drag in Mummers’ parades dating back to the 1880s, a sculptural memorial for queer communities in Uganda threatened by a proposed law that makes queerness punishable by death and a video history project about the lives of black lesbian elders. (Nicole Finkbiner)

April 21-May 19. William Way Community Center, 1315 Spruce St. 215.732.2220. waygay.org

Eastern State Penitentiary
The former prison has commissioned internationally acclaimed Philly-based artist Judith Schaechter to design 17 stained-glass windows that will be installed in cell blocks. Filtering light from the outside through jewel-toned panes of ornately wrought glass, Schaechter’s “The Battle of Carnivale and Lent” (2012) addresses the psychological and physical trauma of the Eastern State’s history via a secular iconography modeled on religious penance. Schaechter’s is one of 11 art installations that will be on view during regular admission hours for the 2012 season. (Katherine Rochester)

Opens April 1. Eastern State Penitentiary, 2027 Fairmount Ave. easternstate.org

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