New curators coming
New curators coming
Looking to graduate from the First Friday crowd and blossom into something a bit more contemporary? Maybe even, occasionally, abstract? LOOK. NO. FURTHER. Below you’ll find our top ten local gallery picks. The work in these galleries may be hot but the crowds are cool—who knew aesthetes were so attractive. Branch out and get in with the hip kids at these local galleries:
1. Little Berlin
Open Saturday 12:00PM – 6:00PM & by Appointment
2430 CORAL STREET, PHILADELPHIA, PA 19125
Little Berlin has been a long time Curate This favorite. We have even collaborated with some of the cooperative gallery’s members. Little Berlin’s structure alone lends itself to some fantastic out of the box showings and installations. The name Little Berlin derived from a comparison once made to the founders, Kristen Neville and Martha Savery. Artists rehabbing buildings in Kensington felt like postwar Berlin.
2. Gravy Studio and Gallery
Open by Appointment
910 N. 2ND STREET, PHILADELPHIA, PA 19123
Gravy Studio and Gallery hosts some incredible local photographers like Katie Tackman and Julianna Foster, many of which double as members. The collaborative workplace and gallery focuses on promoting the work of local photographers. The studio and gallery makes our list for its fearlessness; Gravy Studio is not afraid to show challenging work. Just check out their facebook page and muse through some of their past exhibitions.
3. Vox Populi
Open Wednesday – Sunday, 12:00PM – 6:00PM
319 N. 11TH STREET, PHILADELPHIA 19107
Vox Populi, Latin for “voice of the people,” has been bringing the people contemporary and experimental art since 1988. Vox Populi is all about fostering a supportive environment for artists. The gallery’s rotating membership policy leaves room for a diverse array of work.
4. Paradigm Gallery and Studio
Open Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday from 12:00PM – 6:00PM
746 SOUTH 4th STREET, PHILADELPHIA 19147
Paradigm Gallery and Studio is always doing something, and let’s face it, we always want to be there when they are doing something! The Gallery is owned and curated by artists powerhouses, Jason Chen and Sara McCorriston. When founding the gallery in 2010, Chen and McCorriston did so with the intention of showing their friends’ work, and they’ve succeeded. Today you’ll find some of the coolest local artists in town on the walls of Paradigm.
5. James Oliver Gallery
Open Wednesday – Friday, 5:00PM – 8:00PM, Saturday, 1:00PM – 6:00PM, Sunday – Tuesday, Open by Appointment
732 CHESTNUT STREET, PHILADELPHIA 19106
James Oliver has to be one of the coolest gallery owners around and his gallery certainly reflects it. The space requires some exercise—a four story hike to be specific, but it’s worth it to reach an artistic paradise. The gallery transforms with nearly every new exhibit and welcomes local, national, and international artists.
6. Kitchen Table Gallery
1853 NORTH HOWARD STREET, PHILADELPHIA 19122
You might think Kitchen Table Gallery is a funny name for a gallery but the story behind it will make you feel all warm and fuzzy. “Louise ORourke was inspired to start KTG by an excerpt of David Reed’s in ‘The Studio Reader: On the Space of Artists.’ When David Reed asked Felix Gonzalez-Torres about his art studio he responded by saying, ‘I do not have a studio space. I am a kitchen-table artist.’ In that reading, KTG was born.”
7. Crux Space
Open by Appointment
700 MASTER STREET, PHILADELPHIA 19122
Crux Space is Philadelphia’s only gallery 100% dedicated to new media art. We have been a fan of the gallery since its genesis and it never fails to disappoint. The gallery’s director Andrew Cameron Zahn has dedicated the space to experimental projects and works influenced by technology.
8. The Galleries at Moore
Monday – Saturday, 11:00AM – 5:00PM
20TH STREET AND THE PARKWAY, PHILADELPHIA 19103
The Galleries at Moore are a MORE traditional space—see what we did there, but that doesn’t keep it from fostering incredible collaborations with local artists. Local artists are their main cup of tea. In fact the Levy Gallery was originally “created in response to a mayoral report revealing a “serious lack of support” for local talent.”
9. High Tide
1850 NORTH HOPE STREET, APT 14A, PHILADELPHIA 19122
High Tide gets experimental, and that’s exactly why we love them. The gallery doubles as an artist-run project space in the heart of Kensington. In addition to holding exhibitions, High Tide hosts performances, workshops, and experimental programming.
10. Fjord Gallery
Open Saturdays 12:00PM – 4:00PM, Open by Appointment
1400 NORTH AMERICAN STREET, STE 105, PHILADELPHIA 19122
Fjord, pronounced (fee-your-d), focuses on bringing Philadelphia exciting work from emerging artists and curators. Founded in 2012 the gallery has helped cement Kensington’s reputation as the one of the city’s strongest arts districts.
Maria Dumlao works with photography, artists’ books, installation, performance, sound, and video. Her fantastic exhibition at Vox Populi last September, Next to Nothing, consisted of three works: one single-channel video, a multi-channel video, and a portable record player with a 7-inch painted vinyl record, spinning. The video, Yours As Much As Mine, isolates everyday house-hold objects in a suspended animation which takes these objects out of context and takes the viewer out of this world.
For her contribution to Curate This, I asked Maria to give me a set of items that everybody should read, view, watch, etc.
-Julianna Foster, curator
Some homework for Curate This‘ readers, in no particular order:
Roberta Fallon’s reviews and features have appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Daily News, Philadelphia Weekly, artnet, Art on Paper, Art Review and elsewhere. From 1999-2011, she was the art critic for Philadelphia Weekly writing a weekly column of criticism and features, and from 2000-2005 she wrote the Philadelphia Story column for artnet.com. In 2003, she co-founded The Artblog, which has been recognized for excellence twice by Art in America, and was a finalist for the prestigious Warhol/Creative Capital Arts Writers Award. It is also one of Philadelphia’s most well-known and prized arts publications.
-Julius Ferraro, Curate This co-founder
Beth Heinly is a leader in the alternative arts community in Philadelphia. She’s talented, opinionated and original. No matter what she’s working on—comics, a performance art piece, an exhibition or her experimental performance art festival, Beth works from her life and her passions. As a member of two important alternative galleries—Little Berlin and Vox Populi—she has curated and shown work by herself and others. Her interest in science led to a wonderful art and science exhibit at Little Berlin; as a collector of art, she curated a memorable collections show at Vox Populi; as a zine maker and collector, she organized a zine library at Little Berlin that now is archived at Temple University Libraries.
On Artblog, I am on the receiving end of Beth’s funny and wise The 3:00 Book comic. Every Monday I anticipate Beth’s comic with the same eagerness I feel when cracking open a fortune cookie—I’m looking for a pun, a bon mot, some wise words. While a fortune cookie rarely lives up to my hopes, Beth’s comics deliver. Sometimes salty, sometimes sweet and always beautifully composed, Beth’s comics reverberate.
The 3:00 Book has a Charlie Brown innocence but without the sugar coating. Both Peanuts and The 3:00 Book praise the simple things in life. For Beth, there’s a good sandwich, her cat Zion, and vacuuming (yes, actually). For Charlie Brown, there’s baseball and his dog Snoopy.
The 3:00 Book characters (a thinly-veiled Beth, her boyfriend, and a naïve, snobby girl with curly hair) can be biting and mean or sweet as pie. No matter which extreme, the encounters ring true and come from someone who’s a student of human behavior and has been on the giving and receiving end of some fraught exchanges.
Drawn in a beautiful and reductivist style that’s satisfying for its clean lines and generous white space, Beth’s comics are complete art—from concept to execution. I highly recommend you take a look. Watch for her Open Call Guerilla Outdoor Performance Festival (OCGOPF) this summer in Rittenhouse Square and Collins Park. And here’s some of her other work.
Here are a dozen of my favorite The 3:00 Book comics. The titles are mine, not the artist’s.
Trying to please people and how that sometimes works out
Being a killjoy
Being a killjoy 2
Failure of imagination
Facing facts in a relationship
The lure of pretending
First Friday in Old City is reappearing on the radar. There has been a staple group of visitors for First Fridays, yet the event has a reputation for discouraging local artists from participating. “In art school, we used to go to Old City for examples of what not to do,” a friend told me as we shoved through the crowd this past Friday.
When you have a chance to actually look at the work you see that the majority is skill focused, not informed by contemporary interests, says very little about the art community in Philadelphia, and (perhaps the biggest complaint) it is overly commercial. Why go to First Friday in Old City when you can go to Frankford Ave Arts’ First Friday, or to a show at Vox Populi, and be a part of something that reflects the art community and displays relevant work?
The First Friday tradition in Philadelphia has branched out, in part because Old City was only representing a small portion of the contemporary art scene in Philadelphia. Granted, a good portion of the art showing in the 40+ galleries at Old City’s First Friday is created by local artists, and the same can be said about the street vendors—who scale from pandering flea-market-esque venders to actual artists trying to support themselves through their work.
There is a distinct difference in the crowd at Old City and Frankford Ave Arts. In Old City you are confronted by people who are traveling from outside of the city, where Frankford Ave Arts caters to and supports their North Philly community. Community (and competition) seems scarce in Old City, but there are exceptions.
Surprisingly, some non-gallery spaces in Old City are drawing on their clientele to support local talent. This past Friday Indy Hall opened its doors to the public and invited people to KIN: “a collaborative exhibition featuring the creative endeavors of an evolving artistic community.” Indy Hall is not a gallery but a member based cooperative working space. All showing artists were Indy Hall members. A wider Indy Hall community was in attendance, supporting them, and as a result, purchasing local work and advocating for our creative economy.
Art in the Age, a store that sells an array of artisanal products, featured the work of Eric Kenney. His T-shirts, flags, paintings, and prints straddle the line between commercial and art, which sits well with a shop that does the same. Art in the Age is not stepping outside of their wheelhouse when they show and sell work like Kenney’s, but what they are doing is encouraging their customers to buy from a local artist.
Support for Philadelphia’s larger art community is why people like me are returning to Old City for First Friday. There are only so many Facebook invites from friends that you can ignore, but there is still a lot of room for First Friday to become more relevant. It will never be a noncommercial experience, but it has the ear of communities outside of the arts, so it is vital for those of us involved in the art scene to look at it critically.