Taken literally, the word “equinox” means the two days every year, at the beginning of spring and autumn, when the earth’s axis is neither tilting toward nor away from the sun, and when we enjoy precisely the same amount of daylight and nighttime in a 24-hour period. This season, though, the trio who run the Arch Enemy Arts gallery—Noah Musher, Lawren Alice and Patrick Shillenn—are using the word figuratively. Their big spring exhibit, titled Equinox, opens on Fri., April 4, two weeks after the actual equinox, but the gallery owners hope to evoke the spiritual vibe of the astronomical event by bringing together an assortment of work that balances lightness and darkness in equal measure.
Arch Enemy’s mission since opening in 2012 is to regularly showcase pop-surrealist artists on a scale that doesn’t exist elsewhere in Philadelphia—and hasn’t since the days of the defunct gallery Lineage, which stood only a couple blocks away from Arch Enemy’s current space on Arch Street. What’s particularly refreshing about the brilliantly themed collections of new art that Musher, Alice and Shillenn (pictured above in the gallery) curate all year long is that, in a generation where irony tends to be not just a mode of expression but a default state of existence, they find and celebrate unique young artists whose bizarre weirdness is deployed in the service of sincerity, not snark.
Thus Equinox will showcase among others painter Hannah Yata, whose giant oil renderings of, for instance, lush human nudes with the heads of fish, suckling on the teat of a gasoline pump, might be seen as satirical, yet aren’t meant to be funny so much as painful. Or Philly artist Scott Kirschner, whose deep-hued canvases use the imagery of birds—from peacefully soaring doves to steampunk crow masks—to draw the viewer into a dreamlike reverie with mythological overtones.
The Equinox opening will also feature live painting; a special appearance is planned by Nix Herrera, the Syfy channel’s artist reality-show star.
Fri., April 4. 6-10pm. 109 Arch St. 215.717.7774. archenemyarts.com
More Spring Art Exhibitions
Sam Cusumano, Noise: Electricity for Progress Philadelphia-based artist Sam Cusumano handcrafts sound machines using found materials, biology and audience participation. Thurs., March 20-Sun., April 27. Philadelphia Art Alliance, 251 S. 18th St. philartalliance.org
Annual Moore College Fellowship Exhibition and Student Show Third-year students from Moore’s BFA programs compete for highly coveted travel fellowships. Wed., March 26-Sat., April 12. Moore College of Art and Design, 1916 Race St. moore.edu
Tyler Students’ 2014 MFA Exhibitions Temple’s Tyler School of Art hosts MFA exhibits with a new, three-student show opening every Wednesday. Wed., March 26-Sat., April 26. Tyler School of Art, 2001 N. 13th St. tyler.temple.edu
Michael Rossman, Altitudes and Latitudes Rossman’s newest crop of graphite drawings utilize extensive line work to create astounding landscapes. Wed., April 2-Sat., April 26. Cerulean Arts, 1355 Ridge Ave., ceruleanarts.com
Constance Cone, Pastel Landscapes This UPenn grad began her career as a photographer and has transitioned into painting striking and warm pastel landscape pieces. Wed., April 2-Sun., April 27. 3rd Street Gallery, 58 N. 2nd St. 3rdstreetgallery.com
Laura Ledbetter and Dan Rushton Ink painter Rushton joins drawing, sculpting and painting artist Ledbetter for this joint exhibition. Fri., April 4-Sat., April 26. Grizzly Grizzly, 319 N. 11th St. grizzlygrizzly.com
Eric N. Fausnacht, Paintings & Photography Fausnacht, known for his complex portraits of farm animals, presents his new mixed media exhibition. Fri., April 11-Sun., May 4. Twenty-Two Gallery, 236 S. 22nd St. twenty-twogallery.com
Ron Philbeck His one of a kind, handmade terra-cotta pottery creations are fantastically detailed. Fri., April 25-Thurs., May 15. The Clay Studio, 137-139 North 2nd St. theclaystudio.org
Patrick Kelly: Runway of Love A retrospective on the late groundbreaking fashion icon, whose bright and bold original works of clothing will be on display. Sun., April 27-Sun., Nov. 30. Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2600 Ben Franklin Parkway. philamuseum.org
Birds of Paradise Codeveloped by the National Geographic Society and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, this exhibit examines the specimens found in the remote rainforests of New Guinea through stunning photography, video and drawings. Sat., May 3-Mon., Sept. 1. The Academy of Natural Sciences, 1900 Ben Franklin Parkway. ansp.org
Art in the Open 2014 This annual citywide event takes over the Schuylkill Banks, featuring a jury-selected group of artists creating original works in the outdoors. Fri., May 16-Sun., May 18. artintheopenphila.org
Brenna K. Murphy, Kay Healy and Emily Manalo Ruiz: Home This three-artist show features embroidery, screen-printing and soft sculpture pieces meant to evoke nostalgia in a classic West Philly rowhome setting. Fri., May 16-Fri., June 20. University City Arts League, 4226 Spruce St. ucartsleague.org // DANIEL GELB
Screw you, seasonal affective disorder! We're gonna go to some shows, and spin some records, and see some art and theater and ALL THE OTHER THINGS.
PW's Summer Guide 2014