Theartblog.org's motto is "Made in Philadelphia, read in Beijing, Brooklyn, and Berlin." Their presence in Philadelphia goes a long way towards creating the 'community' part of the Philly arts community! Yesterday, along with my friend Susan Turkel, we went on one of their Art Safaris, first to the Arthur Ross Gallery to see contemporary African American artist Willie Cole's exhibit, "ON SITE," and then to the Institute of Contemporary Art. Both venues are part of the University of Pennsylvania.
The Arthur Ross Gallery is housed in the Fine Arts Library building, interesting architecturally in itself.
We were a small group, and got the red carpet treatment from the Director of the Ross Gallery, Lynn Marsden-Atlass. She gave us back story tidbits from her conversations with Willie Cole, and insights about the work that would have been missing if I had seen the exhibit on my own.
These two pieces, called "Chaos" and "Order" make use of high heels.
Cole has truckloads of shoes, especially high heels, among his supplies. We were told that after a full day in the studio, he spends the evening with his family, and then returns to the studio around 11:00 pm and as a sketch, will rubberband groups of shoes together. If he still likes it the next day, he will attach them together permanently. These two were done that way:
I especially like the one below, called Louise in Heels. He did confirm to Lynn that it is hommage to Louise Nevelson.
Here is Louise Nevelson's Sky Cathedral, one of her all-black wood constructions:
I love what he captured of her in Louise in Heels!
Just as shoes "keep the shape, sweat, and smell of the person who wore them," so do water bottles "contain the individuals' DNA (breath, spit, and soul)."
This large water-bottle structure hovered over the center of the Gallery - more like a giant floating jelly fish than a 'chandelier'. Students helped assemble it, inserting an image printed on mylar of a man with his hands up, a target on his chest, in each water bottle.
As a Dumpster Diver I feel a kinship Willie Cole's upcycling of discarded objects, and am in awe of his ability to transform ordinary things into magical and numinous art.
I was not much impressed or moved by the Myths of the Marble international group exhibit at ICA (The Institute of Contemporary Art). It was interesting, in terms of artists' exploration of virtuality. No surprise most of them are young. It was however my first experience of wearing a virtual reality headset. (My grandson would have said "cool!" For me it was a lot of hype over not much.) The discussion by the staff person was helpful, but sometimes felt like trying to spin dross into gold.
The exhibit upstairs, with paintings by Ginny Casey and sculptures by Jessi Reaves was more satisfying. Casey's paintings have a surreal edge to them:
It was a great afternoon, thanks to theartblog's Art Safari!