Given just how many worthwhile art exhibits have come through our city over the past 12 months, there were bound to be a few that slipped through the cracks. And while it may be too late for you to check them out for yourself, it’s really never too late to give props where they’re due. Here are five awesome shows we’re kicking ourselves for having missed in 2012.
March 2-13 at Space 1026, 1026 Arch St.
As you may recall, this past spring, FiberPhiladelphia2012 unleashed more than 50 exhibitions across the region, celebrating the most innovate textile and fiber art from around the globe. Space1026’s group show was no exception, showcasing the eclectic creations of five artists, each varied in their individual techniques and disciplines. From the bold sweaters of Brooklyn-based designer Annie Larson to Megan Whitmarsh’s groovy soft-sculpture totems and the provocative tapestries of local mixed-media artist Erin M. Riley, the exhibit certainly encompassed the festival’s core goal to challenge traditional notions of what fiber art is and can be. Even better, it put the fun back in functional.
Shiny Monsters: An Installation
by Adam Wallacavage
May 17-Aug. 19 at Philadelphia Art Alliance, 251 S. 18th St.
As far as light installations go, it really doesn’t get much more exciting than Adam Wallacavage’s world-famous, animal-themed chandeliers, especially his popular octopi collection. Inspired by 16th-century Baroque and a love all things kitsch, the Philly-based photographer and artist utilizes traditional techniques of ornamental plastering—though “traditional” is hardly the adjective that comes to mind upon seeing a light fixture sprouting vibrant green and purple glazed tentacles. In fact, that might be the only adjective one couldn’t use to describe his most recent solo show, which somehow managed to be simultaneously whimsical and haunting.
Philadelphia Pickup Truck Expo 2012
June 2 at the Icebox, Crane Arts Building, 1400 N. American St.
Didn’t know Philly had a pickup truck expo? Yeah, neither did we. For this first-ever, one-day-only event, local artists, galleries and art organizations were invited to park their trucks inside Crane Art’s Icebox gallery and pimp out the flatbeds with whatever sort of installation they could imagine and execute in 24 hours. The end result was a collection of more than a dozen mobile masterpieces ranging from a miniature, art-filled greenhouse to a racetrack diorama with remote control cars. One truck was even yarn bombed from fender to bumper. Here’s hoping we can look forward to another expo in 2013.
The Department of Alternative Affairs
June 24-July 29 at the Art Gallery at City Hall
What happens when you invite three Kensington artist collectives to City Hall and give them complete creative control of a gallery space? Well, probably not what you would expect. Instead of simply showcasing their work, the members of Extra Extra, little berlin and FLUXspace moved in a few desks and filing cabinets, creating a conceptual installation/functional office. The catch: They did it all disguised as a phony city department, equipped with their own faux elements, including a tweaked city seal. Minus the occasional performance piece such as “Meditation Mondays,” to the unknowing eye, the installation was nothing more than an office. There was, however, actually a greater statement behind their elaborate ruse: that Philly’s artist-run galleries and collectives do provide a valuable public service, even if they’re not selling anything.
The Rolling Stones: Portraits and Performance Photographs
Oct. 14-Dec. 21 at Calderwood Gallery, 631 N. Broad St.
DesignPhiladelphia really beefed up its list of art and design exhibits this year, so, sadly, one of the easiest launches to overlook was arguably the coolest of them all. Several of the most iconic shots ever captured of the rock ’n’ roll legends covered the walls inside Calderwood Gallery’s massive Center City showroom, giving local fans a rare photographic timeline of the group’s entire 50-year career, as well as a chance to examine every nook and cranny of Mick Jagger’s face. The photos came courtesy of a slate of renowned international photographers, including Ron Galella, the “godfather of U.S. paparazzi culture,” and Mark Seliger, former chief photographer of Rolling Stone magazine.