artNOW: Philadelphia features seven bold artists
Location: Kohl Gallery
CHESTERTOWN, MD—The works of art that will be on display in ArtNOW: Philadelphia, the seven-person exhibition opening February 7 at the Kohl Gallery at Washington College, defy easy description. And that’s the point, says exhibition curator Benjamin Bellas. “It’s intentionally varied in an attempt to show a range of exciting work happening now in Philadelphia, and it includes painting, printmaking, photography, sculpture, performance, video, and new media,” he explains.
If there is any unifying theme beyond the city where each of the artists lives and works, it might be creative fearlessness. “As curator, I selected artists who are willing to take risks in their processes, and whose work can be challenging for the viewer,” says Bellas, an assistant professor of art at the College.
The artNOW: Philadelphia exhibition is the final show in a three-city series that began in 2012 with artNOW: Baltimore and continued in 2013 with artNOW: DC. In each of the three, the curator has focused on younger talents whose work collectively reflects the creative identity of their city. The artNOW: Philadelphia exhibition will open with a special reception on Friday, February 7, from 5 to 7 p.m. and will continue through March 7, 2014. The reception, like the exhibition, is free and open to the public. The Kohl Gallery is located on the first floor of the Gibson Center for the Arts on the Washington College campus. Hours are Wednesday through Sunday, 1 to 6 p.m.
The artists of artNOW: Philadelphia:
Trained as a studio painter and with experience as a community-based muralist, Tim Portlock now uses 3D gaming technology and special effects software to create large inkjet prints with a photographic feel. His post-industrial landscapes evoke both imagined and real-world spaces, and many are inspired by the abandoned buildings and foreclosed properties near his home in Philadelphia. A member of Vox Populi artist collective in Philadelphia, Portlock teaches at Hunter College of The City University of New York. A 2011 Pew Fellow, he has exhibited his work at venues that include the Tate Modern in London; Los Angeles Center for Digital Art, and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago.
Printmaker Leslie Friedman uses screen-printed repeat patterns on materials such as
wallpaper and linoleum tile to transform spaces into what she describes as “bright, glossy, sparkly surfaces with subversive content below.” As a student of art and political science, she is intrigued by the power of a visual vocabulary to set the stage for political dialogue. “Screen-printing allows imagery to be peeled away from its original sources and built into something else altogether,” she says in her artist statement. The result “is a fantasy world that combines identifiable elements from the everyday with my own over- imagination” and that leaves the viewer “in a state of overstimulation.” Friedman holds a BA in Political Science from Brown University and a master of fine arts from the Tyler School of Art at Temple University. She cofounded the artist-run project space Napoleon and is a fellow at the Center for Emerging Visual Artists.
Painter and sculptor Rubens Ghenov draws inspiration from across the globe and back
through time to create imaginative works that reference real cultural touchstones—often works of film, music and literature. To provide a fictional context for his art, he has been known to create characters whose backstories make them vaguely reminiscent of real people. Ghenov was born in São Paulo in 1975, and came to the U.S. with his family as a teenager but continues to draw from Brazilian culture and history in his work. He earned his BFA from Temple’s Tyler School of Art and an MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design, both in painting. He has exhibited at the Woodmere Art Museum in Philadelphia; the Gelman Gallery in Providence; the Alogon Gallery in Chicago; and TSA in Brooklyn.
Marc Blumthal appropriates items as diverse as the words of a George W. Bush speech, family photos and the cremated remains of his cat and then manipulates them into reflections on American culture and identity. He has been featured in solo shows at The Print Center and Napoleon in Philadelphia and SpaceCamp Gallery in Indianapolis. He earned an MFA from the School of Design at University of Pennsylvania, a BFA and MA from Eastern Illinois University, and an AA in Studio Art at Arapahoe Community College.
Fine-art photographer Julianna Foster’s work embraces the fundamentals of narrative to examine and comment on the human experience. It also reflects her interest in cinema and the way an image—or series of images—can portray a psychological relationship between characters. “By exploring how the individual image can transcend its own limits and, by association, provide the opportunity for a pictorial narrative to unfold,” she says. “I hope that each story forms something of a larger narrative that continues to reveal itself in a variety of forms, be it a photograph, book or video.” In addition to creating her own photography projects, Foster regularly collaborates with other artists on book projects, gallery shows and videos. A senior lecturer at the University of the Arts, Foster has mounted two solo shows at Philadelphia’s Vox Populi Gallery and has participated in group shows in London and New York. She received a BFA in design from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and an MFA in book arts and printmaking from the University of the Arts.
A ceramicist who also creates videos and installations, Ryan Kelly has found himself
drawn into puppet theater and prop construction for low budget films, including the Green Porno series by Isabella Rossellini. He is a founding member and co-curator at Practice Gallery in Philadelphia and spent five years as an artist in residence at the Clay Studio. With a BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute, and an MFA from Ohio State, both in ceramics, he now teaches at Temple’s Tyler School of Art and at the Maryland Institute College of Art.
Amze Emmons is a multi-disciplinary artist with a background in drawing and printmaking. His cheerfully colorful, cartoon-like images of abandoned and blighted spaces create intrigue and dissonance for the viewer. Emmons says his work is inspired by architectural illustration, comic books, cartoon language, information graphics, news footage, consumer packaging, and instruction manuals. The artist received a BFA from Ohio Wesleyan University and a MA and MFA from the University of Iowa. He has held solo exhibitions in San Francisco, New York, Philadelphia and Boston and has won numerous awards, including fellowships at the Independence Foundation, the Pennsylvania Arts Council and the MacDowell Colony. Emmons teaches at the Tyler School of Art and is a contributing editor of Printerintesting.org, an art blog he cofounded.
Below, Amze Emmons’s “Modern Popular Movement” graphite, gouache, acrylic on panel, 20 x 24”, 2011.