last week, i was fortunate to have the time off to spend a Thursday afternoon in Philadelphia. my original plan was to check out the small Charley Harper exhibition at the Academy of Natural Sciences, but i ended up going all over the place and seeing some great artwork, etc.
i started out the afternoon in west philly, heading straight to my favorite cupcake truck in all the land, Buttercream PHL. i am so excited for them to open their storefront location sometime this year! afterwards, i wandered through the Urban Outfitters’ clearance section- always find some great items. i picked up this adorable russian doll measuring cup set by Fred– how cute! seriously, check out their catalogue- i’ve seen a lot of their items in stores, but seeing it all in one place is just ridiculous. i want to buy everything!
after a quick jaunt through the ICA, i headed across the river to the Academy. i’m pretty sure i haven’t been there since i was in elementary school, so it was a strange experience seeing the antiquated animal exhibits. i remember being so impressed by them as a small child, but in my twenties, they’re far more interesting in a kitschy kind of way. however, the architecture of the building is beautiful and the information is relevant making the museum an important part of Philadelphia’s culture. i did enjoy taking some Instagram photos around the museum as the lighting was too dim to use my polaroid.
i was so excited to see the Charley Harper exhibit. i only found out about his work a couple of years ago, but his designs, illustrations, and silkscreen prints are so inspiring. i frequently look to the book by Todd Oldham for inspiration. i love that he had this incredible, lifelong career of illustrating, yet his work looks so contemporary. this quote really stuck out to me, explaining the simplicity of his designs:
“I don’t count the feathers, I count the wings.”
i took a couple of photos of the prints on display, although the lighting wasn’t ideal making it difficult to get great images. therefore, some of these images are lifted from elsewhere on the internet. here’s a couple of my favorite images that were on display:
while i was searching for this beaver image, i happened upon this photograph of a charley harper beaver mural in Beaver Creek, OH! i’m hoping to go see it in real life sometime this year:
one fact that the exhibit recognized about Harper’s work was his frequent use of puns and plays on words- that’s exemplified in the title of this piece. he also loved to use ladybugs in many of his pieces- they are not only great insects that are important to the ecosystem, but a great way to fill space in a design.
accompanying the displayed prints was a great description of exactly what silkscreen printing (“serigraphy”) is and involves. i wish i had this concise explanation back when i was teaching!
they also had two videos on loop- one was a short interview with Mr. Harper and another was a video about Artizan editions, a screenprint workshop in the UK that directly collaborates with artists ala Fabric Workshop and Museum. they have really nice promotional video describing the process, what they do, and showing off their great facilities. check it out HERE.
anyhow, even though it was very small, i thoroughly enjoyed the exhibit. it just so happens that Moore is next door and it’s Philagrafika time again, so i wandered over there and checked out their exhibitions. in two of their galleries, they were featuring work by current and former Center for Emerging Visual Arts fellows. the former fellows were part of a show called “A Circumstantial Assembly” that explored fiber art-based traditions and techniques.
i was so impressed with this embroidered piece- check out the details!
the current fellows had another gallery showing up- i was particularly interested in this fiber piece by Kay Healy called “stuffed living room”:
many of Healy’s silkscreen pieces deal with memory and nostalgia related to ordinary household objects.
rounding out my experience, i checked out the Patricia Gomez & Maria Jesus Gonzalez exhibit entitled Doing Time / Depth of Surface. to sum it up, two artists spent weeks in residency at Philadelphia’s Holmesburg Prison, documenting every aspect, from old files to literally printing the walls. I lifted this photo from printeresting.org where you can read more about the exhibition and the artists, including an imformative interview.