Work! We Are No Strangers
Post by Alison McMenamin
Following the collective’s move from the Crane building, Nexus’ former gallery space is now a temporary venue for some of Philadelphia’s other artist-run spaces. With artists from Grizzly Grizzly, Marginal Utility, Rebekah Templeton, and Tiger Strikes Asteroid, Work! We Are No Strangersprovides an opportunity for the artists to showcase their recent creations through July 31.
The religious scene in Mike Ellyson’s “Christ Taking Leave of His Mother” is at first unrecognizable. Constructed of puzzle pieces that are attached to wires of various lengths, the image is broken into various planes, and the figures are reduced to abstract shapes. The search for each figure is like the search for spirituality and reflects the desire for the concrete and symbolic.
Other works from Grizzly Grizzly artists include: Mary Smull’s “Old Mill Farm #2,” a partially completed needlepoint kit with a sense of relief, Jacque Liu’s “Mesocyclone #3,” a mathematical drawing that reveals the complexity of natural phenomenon, Josh Weiss’s “Garden,” an oil painting that reflects an interest in organic structures, Dennis Matthews’ “Not now but right now,” a painting of layered materials, and Cindy Stockton Moore’s “Hover III,” a watercolor—painted directly on the gallery wall—that freezes a moment.
David Dempewolf is the only artist representing Marginal Utility with his video, “Kitchen.” The camera scans lines of a philosophical text, but the reading is interrupted by scenes from the artist’s memory that continuously fade in and out. The words and memories blend together to create a new experience that offers more insight than if Dempewolf had remained completely focused.
From Rebekah Templeton, Dan Schank and Tyler Kline create works that embody destruction and chaos. Dan Schank’s “Thick Skin” depicts a crumbling, lifeless city that speaks to urban blight and environmental crisis. Tyler Kline’s “Red Robin, Red Robin, fly away home…” is a mixed media installation that combines industrial materials with the organic and speaks to the threat that humans pose to the ecosystem.
In Work!, the artists of Tiger Strikes Asteroid are the most numerous. Jaime Alvarez’s Polaroid “Con” depicts two small busts that resemble playthings in conversation. Nora Salzman’s “Forgive me, but the body is the devil” looks at perceptions of the body and sexuality. Alex Paik and Caroline Santa each create colorful and playful abstract compositions. Alexis Granwell’s “Castaway” resembles a map and an attempt to create an order. Anne Schaefer’s “10×16 (honeycomb)” pulsates with color and an implied three dimensionality. Ryan McCartney’s “Drag strip” and Matthew Sepielli’s “Wrapped Razor” are concerned with the relationship between surface and medium. Rubens Ghenov’s “A Reconciliation of Sorts” transforms a pair of dress shoes into a pair of adidas and speaks to a dissatisfaction with formality and rigid, workplace expectations. Terri Saulin’s “Juno-Walton” depicts an entombed figure with multiple arms and reflects an interest in mythology and ideas of birth, death, and resurrection across cultures.
Although Nexus has left the Crane building, the nineteen artists prove that the space will continue to be a place for artists to showcase their work. While the future site of the city’s oldest artist collective is not yet known, the current show highlights the inventiveness of artist-run spaces.