ART Feed

Sculptor carves massive sunflowers into tree trunk

Tree trunk sunflower carving
Shawnee Street resident Beth Eames was very sad to see the grand, 100-some year old sugar maple tree in her front yard succumb to disease and have to be cut down last year. So, to honor the tree, she commissioned noted local ice and wood carver Roger Wing to convert the 12 foot high remaining trunk into a work of art, only giving him the high vision prompt of "flowers." After working two straight weeks in the heat, Wing just completed carving what appear to oversize sunflowers, using a special wood-burning tool to set the flowers and stalks off against a dark background. He will return twice a year to apply a natural oil to preserve the work. Eames also had Wing carve an alcove with a seat in the trunk so that people can come by, sit and take selfies. (Why not take a selfie and post it here: https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/chtreetrunkcarving/ ) The current times were added motivation for Eames to do something nice for the neighborhood and give an artist good, paying work. Watch video of tree trunk sculpture and interview here.

 

 


Granchildren inspire illustrated picture books

At the Germantown Jewish Center, outside the "Little Shop" selling Judaica and gifts,  Yona Diamond Dansky and Susan Weiss sat a table with their newly published picture books, inspired by their grandchildren.

Mooshu worries

While her daughter was going through treatment for cancer, illustrator Yona Dansky got the idea to write a children's book for her grandson, then 3 years old, who was affected by the household distress brought about by his Mom's serious illness. Dansky's daughter has recovered and Dansky, since retired, now tells the story of Mooshu the family beagle who was sad because he was getting less attention and had to speak up to be taken out for a walk. Finally, Mooshu cuddles in bed with her daughter, realizing it seems, that he has done nothing wrong and enters the "circle of compassion, comfort and closeness." Dansky hopes this picture book, "Mooshu Worries" will be helpful to families of young children dealing with a serious illness. Watch video interview of grandmother describing picture book about grandson and the family dog during her daughter's serious illness.

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Beckys braids

Susan Weiss' twin grandchildren have very messy hair and don't like it touched. With their grand-mom the girls like to bake challah, a Jewish bread characterized by large braids. So Weiss convinces them to let her make challahs on their heads. Becky's Braids, illustrated by Deborah Gross-Zuchman, tells the story. Watch  video interview of  grandmother's challah story about braiding granddaughter's messy hair.


Book artist is versatile

Robison marie kondo sale
Book artist Judith Robison held a "Marie Kondo” sale of books she has created at the December holiday "Book, Paper, Scissors" book arts fair at the Free Library of Philadelphia on the Parkway, co-sponsored by the Philadelphia Center for the Book. In keeping with the advice of the famous de-cluttering author Kondo, Robison was parting with excess copies of her books. A sign read “Marie Kondo sale everything is five dollars unless you think it is worth more in which case you can pay up to $10” The bargain basement pricing drew your correspondent and a friend over to her table and we were soon taken in by the artistry, cleverness and quirkiness of Robison's work. We each scooped up several, among them an exquisite foldout book, "The Cellist of Sarajevo." In the accompanying interview, Robison describes another, as she turns its pages. "This is one of my favorites -Book Marks, which is just a play on all the ways we make marks in the books. For example, when we are little children we write in books, scribble in books and get scolded for that. Then when we're in college we take notes in books. This is the history of marginalia (and goes way back) - writing commentaries in books. This is authored books, just taking a book and playing with it from the point of view of art. And finally, this is actually my father’s bird book. He checked off whenever he saw a bird, in the index, and that’s a photograph of him with his binoculars." Watch video interview of book artist here.


Comrade Pineapple, Soviet Great-Granddaughter

Comrade pineapple two
Julia Alekseyeva emigrated to the United States from Russia when she was four years old. Her relationship with most members of her family was fraught. But her great-grandmother, Lola, reflected her own personality and they developed an especially close bond despite nearly 80 years difference in age. Lola, like many other Jews who had been marginalized and persecuted in the pre-Soviet era, had become a member of the Communist party. She later became secretary, devoted but exploited, to the NKVD, predecessor of the KGB. The years leading up to and through the war years were a time of struggle and deprivation. Lola's husband, sent off to fight, and many other family members fell victim to the Nazis. In "Soviet Daughter," a graphic biography, Alekseyeva recounts Lulu's sweeping 100 year story based on memoirs her great grandmother had secretly kept. Alekseyeva places "Interludes" between some chapters of the book which weave in her own personal history- growing up an immigrant, overcoming thyroid cancer (precipitated by Chernobyl radiation exposure) navigating her college years and discovering her sexual, Jewish and political identities. Near the end, lost in grief after the death of her beloved Lola, Alekseyeva receives a phone call. She has been accepted into the Comparative Literature Department at Harvard. Alekseyeva has also authored illustrated works on Rosa Luxembourg and Walter Benjamin. At "Book Paper Scissors! an artists' book fair at the Free Library on the Parkway, cosponsored by the Philadelphia Center for the Book,  these were on display along with Soviet Daughter. Rounding out her display were Yuri Gagarin t-shirts and other t-shirts embellished with a pineapple and written across the pineapple Alekseyeva's DJ name - “Comrade Pineapple.” Watch here the author artist describe her graphic memoir about her one hundred year old Russian great-grandmother.


Gallery showcases artwork rejected by museum for their annual juried show

Renny and nocia imperfect galery
Renny Molenaar and Rocio Cabello, owners of the iMPeRFeCT Gallery in the Germantown section of Philadelphia were approached by Simone Spicer and Virginia Maksymowicz,two artists whose work was not accepted at this year’s Woodmere Museum’s annual juried art show. (Out of 638 submissions, Eileen Neff, Woodmere's juror this year, chose the work of ninety-four artists)Spicer and Maksymowicz had the idea to mount an exhibition of rejected works, fashioned after the famous “Salon Des Refusés” exhibit in Paris in 1862 of works rejected by the conservative French Academy of Fine Arts, some by now very notable artists of the time - Gustave Courbet,
Édouard Manet, and Camille Pissarro. iMPeRFeCT Gallery was game and just happened not to have a show scheduled for July. Unable to obtain the list of applicants to the Woodmere Annual, Cabello says the pair mounted an online campaign through Spicer's connections with the “Dumpster Divers” and other groups to find other artists whose submissions had been rejected by the Woodmere this year. Twenty five artists answered the call and your correspondent was able to briefly see the exhibit the Saturday afternoon it closed. In addition to the exhibit, the Gallery hosted a round table discussion at which artists, actors, writers and other creatives talked about the effect of rejection. Rejection of a career choice to be an artist begins with one's family, Molenaar lamented. "You want to be a what?" Cabello added that rejection is harder for younger artists because they take it personally, thinking they're not good enough. There are many reasons behind rejection, she elaborated. "There are space limitations, there are a theme to a show that maybe your art work didn't fit a certain theme or vision..." Your correspondent, impressed with both the works of art in the show and the dynamism of the gallery owners made his exit as Cabello began to prepare a vegetable salad for the gallery's traditional monthly"Last supper." Supporters cater a dinner on an exhibit's closing night as fundraiser or "rent party."

Watch video interview of gallery owners in Germantown, who hosted a showing of art works rejected by a prestigious nearby Chestnut Hill museum for their annual show

More photos here

 


Kushner envies Zuckerberg's Facebook Data - painted

Jared kushner envies data of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg painting
 
"These are some of the folks that have been haunting my dreams. These are the folks that I've been thinking about, watching on TV...and so much of the imagery... I feel a need to process it in some kind of way that helps me cathartically to just deal with everything that's going on. It's also a way of exercising my free speech. This painting is called "Data Envy." This is Jared Kushner [senior advisor to his father-in-law, President Trump] looking curiously or longingly at Mark Zuckerberg , Facebook founder. He's interested in data, how to use that data machine that is Facebook to potentially win over the whole country. There's moments that I can picture in my mind that results in what we are living through now." Germantown painter Colleen Quinn's other dark portraits depict former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Quinn was exhibiting at the Chestnut Hill Fall for the Arts Festival. Watch video of artist describing her painting of presidential advisor Jared Kushner longing for Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his data.

Exiled Romanian bronze sculptor mounts outdoor show at Woodmere

Farcas bronze
 
Viorel Farcas, a sculptor in bronze in the expressionistic, figurative tradition and whose works are in the collections of notable European institutions left Romania in 1985 as a political refugee. Under the Romanian dictatorship his works were destroyed for being "politically incorrect" as his wife Mihaela euphemistically put it when she showed me around her husband's outdoor sculptures at the Woodmere Art Museum. I had videoed Farcas and Museum Director of Exhibits Rick Ortwein installing the pieces the day before and coming back to take some still shots, she had approached me without introducing herself at first, asking what I thought of the work. Farcas has made his home in Philadelphia since arriving in the U.S. and has produced 100s of monumental pieces but has not had a showing at a major area art institution and neither has sought out the limelight. In his sculptures, long arms and limbs are often attenuated, frequently disjointed and reassembled with disturbing yet graceful, artful effect. Museum Director Bill Valerio is excited to mount this show of Farcas' work, officially opening on September 22. For more information see https://woodmereartmuseum.org/experience/exhibitions/expressionism-in-bronze-the-sculpture-of-viorel-farcas
 
Farcas arm

Painting like Pollock, campers have fun

Paint like pollock kid abstract expressionist

"I wanted to give this class because I wanted to paint like Pollock with a group of people who want to paint like Pollock." This is how artist Kay Gering introduced her workshop students at a multi-generational cooperative camp in Ottsville, PA (ECRS) to the drip and splash technique of abstract expressionistic Jackson Pollock. Pollock pioneered the form in the 1940s and early 1950s. He was much more interested in the physical act of making art than the results on canvas, Gering explained. With dozens of colorful, acrylic house-paints donated by her contacts, Gering set her group out with cups, straws and sticks to create Pollock-like art on oversize white and black canvases and to over paint some smaller art reproductions. Your correspondent interviewed one participant, T, as she moved about the canvases, paint cup in hand. For her, the class had special significance. T recently attended the critically acclaimed stage production of the French produced "Pollock" in which her daughter starred as Pollock's ambitious artist wife, Lee Krasner. Watch campers, young and old, splash paint on large canvases in imitation of abstract expressionist artist Jackson Pollock.Paint like Jackson Pollock abstract expressionist artist

PHOTO ALBUM SLIDE SHOW HERE


Philadelphia Book Art Fair offers surprising and funny art

"Presented by Philadelphia Photo Arts Center the Philadelphia Art Book Fair is a two-day event, which showcases a wide range of exhibitors, from large and small photography and art book publishers to individual artists and institutions, local, national and international."

 

Shortt signs for artists

Paul Shortt's book of 10 different license plate-size "Signs for Galleries" pokes fun at how art galleries go about their business, signs that gallery owners wouldn't dare post but capture what they say or the subtext of what they say or what they wouldn't dare say to aspiring artists. "Currently hiring only interns,""Showing Friends' Work Exclusively," "Mid-career Artists Only," "Can You Do It For FREE" and more. Watch Shortt poking fun at galleries  with his signs here.
He has also created a practical book of license plate sized signs for artists to use in a variety of situations expressing what they should be saying as advocates for themselves but might not have the gumption to say. “Pay me for my art” or “Is there an honorarium?” to hold up those who would ask a working artist to work for free. “Show up” to hold up to friends who say they’re going to attend your show but have no-showed in the past. “Rejection letter needed” to show curators who don’t send a rejection letter after the show opens and you realize you didn’t get your work in. Some of the signs are just good reminders “Trust Yourself” Watch Shortt showing his tongue-in-cheek signs for artists.
 
Chen comic book
Yusha Chen's sexually charged, scatological accordion-style comic book is about “the laziest person in the world” - herself There she is a tiny figure in bed engulfed by a massive cover not wanting to get up. Then she’s just sitting on a bare mattress, arms and legs defiantly crossed. She eventually does go out to squat and poop, depicting herself doing her business on a small square of grass surrounded by flowers. But later in the spring she wants to start to move again and shows herself jumping in a swimming pool - before heaving up a virtual stream of water through her mouth. It’s all what’s in her head, her dreams, she says. She worked on the book during here last semester of art college. Watch video interview of Chen describing her self-mocking sexually charged comic book."
Phila Book Art Fair June 2018

Conservator demonstrates preservation techniques

Conservator demonstratres conservation techniques
At a preservation workshop through the Mount Airy Learning Tree, Free Library of Philadelphia conservator and private consultant Meg Newburger explained, often in hushed tones, the threats to books, paintings, ephemera and other treasured objects posed by aging and exposure to the environment and pests. Then she conducted a hands-on demonstration of the archival materials and methods for keeping our precious items intact for posterity, an art and science she had clearly mastered