If you're one of those who gravitate to masterful drawing, pop-culture figures, and the weird synchronicities of American history, Mark Stockton's solo show "Mark Stockton: Independent(s)" will leave you giddy with pleasure. Go soon, though, to Moore College of Art and Design's Goldie Paley Gallery. Next Saturday is the final day for this tour de force.
Stockton's latest drawing project (there are earlier drawing projects here, too) was made specifically for this exhibition and centers on the radical female voice.
Using as his sources photographs taken by male photographers, Stockton has drawn a series of portraits: Alice Neel and Patti Smith as shot by Robert Mapplethorpe, Joan Didion captured by Julian Wasser in various poses that focus on her hands, Gertrude Stein by Cecil Beaton, Angela Davis by an anonymous photographer, and studies of Georgia O'Keeffe's hands by Alfred Stieglitz.
Stockton's drawing of Neel - who graduated in 1925 from Moore, then called the Philadelphia School of Design for Women - is exquisitely rendered and more revealing of her emotional life, I think, than the Mapplethorpe portrait on which it is based.
A Stockton portrait of Susan Sontag based on a photograph by Peter Hujar has been turned into a memorial of sorts, with small drawings on panels stacked atop its frame, among them Stockton's iterations of Hujar's portrait of Paul Thek and Diane Arbus' A Naked Man Being a Woman, N.Y.C.
On a table beneath the drawing are two of Sontag's books, On Photography and Regarding the Pain of Others, and headphones playing Sontag reading from those books.
These images of independent, freethinking women occupy barely a quarter of this encyclopedic show.
Stockton's other subjects based on photographs include literary figures (Ernest Hemingway, Truman Capote), the violence and radical ideologies of 1960s California (as seen in drawings derived from photos of Sharon Tate, Charles Manson, Mick Jagger, and others), and American celebrity. Among the ranks of the famous and infamous: Kurt Cobain, Lee Harvey Oswald, David "Son of Sam" Berkowitz, J. Edgar Hoover, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Edward Snowden, and Donald Trump.
Speaking of synchronicity, a monumental wall-size portrait of the inscrutable Vladimir Putin looms over it all.
Through Saturday at the Galleries at Moore, 20th Street and the Parkway, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays (Fridays to 8 p.m.). 215-965-4027or www.thegalleriesatmoore.org.
Five sharp tongues
Speaking of freethinking women, the art historian and independent curator Andrea Kirsh has brought together works by five female artists I never would have expected to see in the same gallery, let alone in the same group show.
But Kirsh's "Sharp-Tongued Figuration," which she organized as a guest curator for the Stedman Gallery, makes immediate sense of their disparate styles and concerns. They're outspoken individuals, and their artworks reflect their particular passions to a T.
Sue Coe, who takes on the horrors of factory farming by putting animals in the place of humans, and vice versa, in scenes of torture, has the sharpest tongue of the five. Her drawings and prints, on loan from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, simmer with rage.
Peruvian-born Kukuli Velarde's Isichapuito series of ceramic self-portraits was inspired by a 16th-century vessel in the shape of an obese male child. But these are explicitly female, suggesting the stages of Velarde's own life and the hardships of her indigenous Andean ancestors.
Nell Painter's "Art History by Nell Painter Volume XXVII" is the chronicle of African American art that she wishes had been around as a textbook when she was studying art history.
The odd humanoid creatures interacting in Sandy Winter's large paintings on paper hint at a dystopian future shaped by ill-considered science and by environmental disasters.
Mickalene Thomas explores the beauty and femininity of black women. She makes the big splash here with her enormous collaged and painted work on wood panels, Din Avec la Main dans le Miroir (also on loan from PAFA). More personally, there's a portrait of her mother, Sandra Bush, in a photograph and a poignant video interview.
Through April 21 at Stedman Gallery, Rutgers-Camden Center for the Arts, Third and Pearl Streets, Camden. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. 856-225-6245 or www.rcca.camden.rutgers.edu.
Pulp for thought
Snyderman-Works Gallery's sprawling, divertingly exuberant show "Paper Work" features art that's either of paper or made with it.
Works by young Philadelphia artists (Anne Canfield, Lucia Thomé, Terri Saulin Frock, others) are interspersed with those the gallery owns by artists it has shown over the years (Stuart M. Buehler, the De la Torre brothers, George McKim, and more).
Paper is used in every imaginable way, including video pieces - a nice departure for Snyderman-Works. Amy Lee Ketchum's Awakening, a paper animation of hand-drawn dancing female figures creating kaleidoscopic patterns, Busby Berkeley-style, is a standout, as is Kristina Centore's paper animation White Painted, with skeletal white figures building a house of cardboard. Lucia Thomé's clever, minuscule sculptures of everyday man-made stuff - a lawn chair, a tractor, a sneaker - constructed from found paper and other materials make the best argument yet for recycling.
Bringing Stuart M. Buehler's humorous drawings and objects into this mix was a stroke of brilliance.
The show arose from a collaboration between visiting chief curator Alex Conner and Snyderman assistant director Leigh Werrell and gallery curator Dennis Ambrogi. If "Paper Works" is any indicator of where Snyderman-Works Gallery is heading, it's definitely on the right track.
303 Cherry St., 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, 215-238-9576 or www.snyderman-works.com.
Through March 25, including
a panel discussion.