December art galleries: Goodbyes and good buys

By Sean Corbett
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Nov. 27, 2013

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New work by artist Trevor Amery, shown in his "Counter History" installation, hits Grizzly Grizzly next Friday.

This month, the Philadelphia-spanning project CITYWIDE brought together more than 100 artists and 23 similarly-minded collectives and galleries for shared exhibits, swapped locations, unique print and ‘zine projects and the type of innovative collaboration that only our city’s weirdest, brightest and most excited art-heads could come up with (all fueled by some well-earned support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation).

So far, the organized chaos has resulted in The Soapbox (741 S. 51st St.) swapping their exhibit of printed goods, entitled The Reading Room, with Highwire Gallery’s (2040 Frankford Ave.) Work by Highwire Members; Vox Populi (319 N. 11th St., 3rd floor) brought Fort Thunder Attaks ... Again!, a performance of “noise, drums, masks and wrestling,” to Space 1026 (1026 Arch St.); and Grizzly Grizzly (319 N. 11th St.) opened their B-Sides exhibit at Rebekah Templeton Contemporary Art (173 W. Girard Ave.) while exhibiting Templeton’s Making Eyes, a sculpture exhibit by Sarah Eberle and Ben Will.

Still ongoing in several locations since the first 15 shows opened Nov. 1, CITYWIDE shows us how Philadelphia’s emerging artists and established galleries can and should continue to work together to raise the bar for experimentation and artistic collaboration—and ultimately, to keep us guessing.

One of the biggest undertakings of the month—or the absolute smallest, depending on how you look at it—was created by The Philadelphia Traction Company (4100 Haverford Ave.) and is on display at Napoleon (319 N. 11th St.) until Mon., Dec. 9. Clocking in more than 4,620 hours since April, their 13 members shrank their giant studio into an extremely detailed miniature model, entitled subTRACTION, right down to the pressure gauges, ladders, bikes and bolts in the rafters. You have to see it to believe it.

CITYWIDE slides to a close Fri., Nov. 29, from 5 to 7 p.m., with Paradigm Gallery and Studio’s (803 S. Fourth St.) group show, Locale, at The Painted Bride Arts Center (230 Vine St.).

Immediately after the sawdust settles and Philly’s galleries become themselves again, Grizzly Grizzly will welcome back international artist Trevor Amery, with (Un)Comfortable Stand-ins running Fri., Dec. 6 through Sat., Feb. 1 in a “double-header” show. His simple manipulation of the world around us has always been exciting, whether he’s stacking wood on a floating dock only accessible by canoe, in Finland or building a portable sauna for the 2012 Kathmandu International Art Festival in Nepal. This show will be no exception.

While hosting The Reading Room as a part of CITYWIDE, Highwire is also showing Ted Mosher’s photographs alongside their abstracted watercolor counterparts in a show entitled New Work, through Sun., Dec. 1. Traveling the country, Mosher shoots from the passenger-side window and later revisits the photos with his brush, resulting in a new way of looking at the split-second scenery.

Speaking of Highwire, just as November brought new art-life, December will harken the closing of its gallery, due to imminent rent increases. The collective, who’ve been part of the Philadelphia art scene for the last 25 years, say a bittersweet goodbye “with everyone on good terms,” says member Mosher, “and with plans to still meet and exhibit on a pop-up basis as we figure out the next direction the members want to take.” Their Dec. 6 opening of MicroCosmic, an exhibit dealing with memory, fantasy, history and the galaxy—by Philly artists Joshua Gabriel, Rochelle Marcus Dinkin, and Rachel Isaac—will be Highwire’s final show at its Frankford Avenue space.

In more upbeat news, December brings back Gravy Studio’s (155 Cecil B. Moore Ave.) annual Holiday Print Show, again featuring affordable prints by local photographers. Just down the street, Shane Leddy’s residential Northern Liberties gallery, Salon 1522 (1522 N. Lawrence St.), welcomes back multi-media artist and CHER Pop-Up Gallery co-founder Veronica Cianfrano, this time for a show of her own. Opening on Sat., Dec. 7, from 5 to 8 p.m., Heavy Hands will feature two rooms full of new work, including layered illustrations of bruised and dying dudes on unpaid credit card bills, large and small paintings, a G.I. Joe cartoon redubbed with war sounds and a few wacky handmade crowns. And that Leddy throws a mean opening.

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