Friday, January 25, 2008

See Some Art, January 25th.

If you have any interest, there's a full schedule of art to be appreciated this evening in the city. The seasonal downtown gallery crawl is tonight, and many of places will be featuring opening receptions for new work. If you are a regular visitor to these events, then you know that it's important to get down there as close to 6:00PM as possible. Obviously street parking is pretty limited, but things open up quite a bit when the rush hour restrictions expire. Even then it can be frustrating- there are always the garages as a fall-back, and many of them have reduced rates during non-business hours. Sometimes it's worth it to avoid the hassle of driving through the masses of pedestrians, and just spending the extra bucks for convenience. Generally the closer you are to Liberty and Wood Streets, the better off you are.

Anyway, as far as this installment is concerned, the crawl has a few intriguing possibilities. Given the current fashion of encouraging urban living in the "Golden Triangle", it's fitting that Wood Street Galleries would be presenting a show based upon the promise of new alternatives in downtown habitation. Unfortunately, given the lack of information on their website, I have no way of telling you what this entails. They haven't even posted biographical information for the included artists, so I don't know whether the perspectives they present are locally-based or just indicative of broader national trends. On the other hand, there are several decidedly local artists showing their work at the nearby SPACE gallery. Rick Bach, Ed Parrish, Pete Lambert and Tim Kaulen are among the creators who are showing off their facility with "hot metal".

Continuing up the Avenue (at 820 Liberty), you can see Art-iculate's version of fostering an online arts scene. They are giving live demonstrations on how to post and purchase art over the net. I don't have any personal experience with the hosting organization, but they are starting to get some name recognition and traction. 937 Liberty (3rd Floor) has an exhibition of work by the staff of the Mattress Factory. The internationally-recognized museum continuously presents some of the most challenging and timely installation art in the world. It should be interesting to see how those who make it their business process those influences. Over on Penn Avenue, Future Tenant is getting comfortable in their relatively new digs (819 Penn). Robert Raczka has curated a show of found art, entitled "Taste Matters".

I had the opportunity to stop by Future Tenant last week for the opening of this collection of pieces from regional thrift stores. Altogether there are 50 works (mostly paintings) by anonymous and unheralded creators who toiled in obscurity only to have their output housed alongside beta video recorders, used novelty mugs, and bad 80's home furnishings. The selection and quality is much what one might expect it to be- there are dog portraits, amateurish landscapes, and at least one homage to Walt Disney. What makes the show particularly worth attending are the curator-statement cards accompanying each piece. Because of the source of the material, Raczka had free reign to impose his own analysis and conjecture at will. I'm not sure whether he meant for the result to be highly satirical, but that's how I interpreted it. It's definitely worth a look-see.

After you've made the rounds downtown (including more environmental artwork at 937 Liberty 2nd Floor, and Ladyboy at the 707 Penn Gallery), you can conclude your cultural explorations at La Vie Gallery (3609 Butler Street in Lawrenceville). I know I repeat the virtues of this gallery ad nauseum on this blog- but it is truly one of the most exciting art-related sites in the city. Come and get to know the artists that represent the vanguard of visual delight. Have some tasty whiskey punch, and BUY some art. It's affordable and damn good. This months brings us Painting the Roses Red, and includes the visionary ceramic work of Laura Jean McGlaughlin (along with four others). Don't worry if you are running late- the opening lasts until 11PM.

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