Thursday, July 9, 2009

On Opening New Gallery Spaces

The folks at Slingluff Gallery are vying to be experts on this topic. One year after unveiling Studio 27.28 on West Girard, they're now opening Slingluff Gallery in the Fishtown area. I had the chance to ask a few questions, and to my surprise, they responded!

Jong Kim: So can we get some more information about your move to Fishtown?
Leigh Slingluff: We're keeping it real and staying on Girard. 11 W. Girard between Johny Brendas and the M Room, changing our name from Studio 27.28 to The Slingluff Gallery, and extending our hours.

JK: Wasn't it only last year that you opened the space on Girard?
John Slingluff: Why, yes it was. We opened our doors with our first opening on June 7th, [2008].

JK: What factors influenced you on moving the new space in Fishtown?
LS: A totally revamped place definitely helped, and more support through the community. I hope to find a new place to buy 40's.
JS: First off I get confused whether or not this section of Philadelphia is Fishtown or not. According to a map of Philadelphia from 1854, it says that it is a part of the Kensington District but to be more clear, the move is based off of not only the support of the community but also walk-in traffic. A need for art, a level of art, and the appreciation of art required to run a gallery. All of these must be and should be taken into factor. When we moved to 2728 Girard, our eyes were bigger than our stomach as the saying goes. We accomplished what we set out to do and we're both very happy about it and wouldn't change a thing. But with the artists that we're getting, we need more than just a great turn out for art openings, we need foot traffic.

JK: So far your gallery space seems to have been defined by the artists you exhibit. That is to say~ each artist seems very different from the last, and a connection is hard to find (although I must note in fairness, that I have yet to see any of the exhibitions in person). Do you think there is a connection, or in other words, that there is a specific niche of artist your gallery is looking for? What would you define your niche to be, or is it even necessary at all to have one?
LS: As for a niche, we didn't want to be defined as a gallery that shows only a specific type of art. We show art that we believe in, artists that we believe in and it all stems from that way of thinking. Sometimes we do have some trends which vary from month to month. We had a skateboard show in Oct of 08, a lot of those artists were older skateboarders from the west coast like Christian Hosio, and Douglas Miles owner of Apache Skateboards. The trend of west coast and skateboarders continue, but we also like to show Philly locals.
Neither of us think it's necessary for our gallery to have a niche. Some benefit from it, but we like to keep it fresh, new, and exciting.

The move is a good one. I've heard that Philly_art operates in cliques, but I think it may be more geological than social. As a city of neighborhoods, where you live or work seems to define where you go. Or, if you follow a gallery, you probably happen across ones that are near it. Moving away from the Zoo area, where nothing I know of exists, and into Fishtown is probably a smart move.
But without a niche, my immediate response is that they've set themselves up for a challenge. Knowing that, for example, Fleisher/Ollman focuses on self-taught art lets me know what to expect from their exhibitions, and helps them direct their programming and/or collecting. Without that niche, a gallery is relying solely on the reputation of the artist. But what's drawn my interest to this gallery is their productivity over their first year~ I've counted seven or eight shows in that span. With that kind of fervor, I'm sure they can accomplish what they would like.

Good luck to them in their new home! Anyone care to recommend a good spot in Fishtown for 40s?

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Taking Measures @ FLUXspace

Review by Chad Muthard
Taking Measures at FLUXspace, April 11– May 10, 2009.

I feel as though the only way to properly begin the review of this exhibition is to first bring to light the fact that I was not setting virgin eyes upon the photographs by Chad States and Anna Neighbor. Prior to the exhibition I had viewed the bodies of work Cruising by States and Secrets & Games by Neighbor, as well as spoken with each to some length about both. Although, this exhibition helps to re-contextualize each of the artist’s work an
d place them along side the sculptures of Leah Bailis, the deep running relationships and emotions that I had connected with the photographs could not be entirely changed.

As I came into the main room of Taking Measures at Flux Space my initial gravitation was towards Bailis’ piece Facades [pictured, right]which in somewhat blunt description is essentially two walls fabricated in cardboard to appear as housings siding. The two structures face each other and form a foot wide alley in between. Strangely, the walls feel more like a confrontation of two individuals meeting than a break in architecture. The siding contorts and flows in waves, if you stare long enough at the mid dle of it your toes might start to scratch the bottom of your shoe soles with angst. However, this is where the first paragraph of the review comes into play because standing with my head poking into the space between the two walls I couldn’t help but feel the sexual content of States and Neighbor’s work swing over into Bailis’ sculpture, suddenly the curves in the siding pushed and pulled more than they swayed or sat still. Had I seen this work in a different setting among different pieces who knows what might have ran through my mind? Without digressing too far from Bailis’ work and process there is certainly something to say about the creation of both her pieces using cardboard rather than a more stable material to produce her structures. Although, I have to question the necessity of such application in a piece like Facades where the details of the waves in the siding overstated the fact that the material was a fallacy, I don’t think it would have shifted my perception too much if it would have been aluminum siding. The antithesis of this train of thought comes across however in the piece which lies behind Facades entitled Tables and chairs, with this sculpture the matter of material is essential to the work in the sense that, well I’m not very likely to wander into two 7 foot high walls facing each other in my day to day where as coming upon a chair or a table is a definite possibility. My observation of Tables and chairs was quite different than that of Facades; it wasn’t the small details or subtleties that struck a chord but more the presence of scale. It’s funny what just a few inches can do, looking at the work somehow made me more aware of the distance between my hand and floor.

Moving on to Neighbor’s work, [pictured, left] which looms just to the right of the previously mentioned pieces, I’m confronted with three 32x40 inch photographs, one vertical, two horizontal. The images present areas in nature that are half hidden half visible from the surrounding community environment, spaces where anything might occur, yet the “anything” here is still an occurrence that might want to remain private. Going back again to the introduction of the review, initially when I had spoke with Anna about the work she had given the impression that these spaces were sites where one might go to conceal public acts of intimacy, but in the context of this show, especially with States work so close by, it almost feels as though the sense of sexuality that was once so apparent when viewing only her work now seems to push in the opposite direction and force me to question the perverse nature of making such assumptions about a simple plot of dirt. But, is it my own assumptions or Neighbor’s direct/indirect address of the subject? The way these photographs deal with sexual content might be equated to the way that one’s parents have a general understanding that their child is now a sexually active adult but it still remains taboo for one to come out and tell them exactly what it takes to get off in the act.

The last pieces and as well the first that you would see upon entering the downstairs gallery of Flux Space are Chad States’ white prints with white typeface set atop. All of the images are taken from the series Cruising which if you are not familiar offers as well more reflective photographic counter parts to go along with the text (i.e.: landscapes, cars, people, tangible items). The work attributes its derivatives from dialogue in homosexual chat rooms about proper procedure for getting better acquainted at rest stops. The tricky situation that these pieces fall into at this show is really preserving their unity as a whole in themselves and not just becoming a notion of how to go about looking at Bailis’ and Neighbor’s work, and I think they do a great job of asserting themselves in a way that resists such instances. There is an immediate force in the fact that they only reveal the text upon getting about two or three feet away, elsewhere they appear as blank frames holding blank prints on the wall. My only conundrum here, much like with Neighbor’s work, is that I can never tell if there are simply too many presumptions made on my part or not. Where in the series States hits such indifference blatantly on the head with images of gay porn magazines lying in the dirt, devoid of such imagery, I wonder, well if I didn’t know could I just be making the whole premise up? Are these phrases, just as much as the movement of Bailis’ walls, and the landscapes in Neighbor’s photographs simply charged with sexuality because my mind asserted it there or is it really buried beneath the surface…I come away unsure and left with unease.

Perhaps, Taking Measures offers some reflection in this sense of where our culture currently stands in dealing with private issues, not quite as unabashed as we might have been at the end of the last century yet not as pent up and hushed over as before the 1960s. We wish to act with primitive instincts but have become so aware of ill-fated outcomes that calculation so often gets in the way. Or maybe it’s the level of consciousness we now have of global issues that turns us around into feeling as though our own personal desires are immature and expendable. As though they have become luxuries in life not simply formed from intuitive disposition. The strength of this exhibition in my eyes is exactly this type of rumination. Not quite smacking you in the face, not quite impotent, the work leaves a deep brooding feeling in the room. It’s sometimes said that silence can have greater impact than words, if nothing else the lasting impression of this exhibition proves exactly that.

[Chad Muthard is a Photographer living and working in Philadelphia. Muthard has recently been featured in 20x200, and is currently preparing for a trip to Nevada for his upcoming series The Desires of Fathers]

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Art Criticism Junto

Every now and then, we miss an event or two on the weekly updates that we really wish we didn't. This past week, P'unk & Indy Hall hosted a panel discussion entitled "The Art Criticism Junto", with Sid Sachs, Katie Murken, Andrew Suggs, Roberta Fallon and Libby Rosof on the hot seats. And while we didn't get to post the actual event, thanks to Joe DiGiuseppe, we have all the audio you might have missed out on. Without further ado, the player:

Approximate run time: 60min.

Click Here to Download! (Right Click link, select "Save As")

Apologies for the abrupt ending, we will have some follow-up on that for you later.


Friday, March 6, 2009

The Armory and it's Artillery

The Armory Show, in NYC through March 8th.
Written by Joseph DiGiuseppe

I walked around the armory today with a gimp knee, high on painkillers and still the armory was short of exceptional. But the place is set up so everyone will be able to find something they like. And I did find something I liked. Astrid Svangren lives and works in Copenhagen and makes paintings on different materials ranging from rice paper to MDF. Her paintings are very much about her mark making. She has an incredible aptitude for how to make a mark and when; this also goes to say with how she uses materials. Her creations seem fearless. I image her to be the type of artist who will also exhibit her mistakes.

I ask myself a question: am I afraid to exhibit my growths as an artist as a thinker? Please excuse me; this is where I decided the wrong decision.

The Armory is important right? These are the galleries that sell. These are the artists that they choose as their artillery. Nothing I saw today, by any means, was revolutionary, experimental, provocative nor was it the epitome of quality.

If you are unable to dazzle me with the postmodern mystery discovery I'd like to see some truly breathtaking execution. But alas everyone is pushing trademarks, kitsch, and clich├ęs. The market is weak and people like what has already been decided as good.

At this armory show you’ll find at least one thing you like, but you wont be surprised that you like it.

[Joseph DiGiuseppe is a founding member of Art Making Machine Studios and Fluxspace, who recently tore his meniscus in his knee.]