An exhibition on global warming may not persuade you and your fellow gallery-goers to chuck the old gas-guzzler for a hybrid or the Poland Spring for the faucet, but "Global Warming at the Icebox," presented by Philadelphia Sculptors at the Crane Arts Building's Icebox space, does have an impact. You wander through this sprawling show attracted to the pieces that stand out visually rather than the more obviously messagey ones, and feel confirmed in your opinion that an agent for change should look the role (politicians figured this out a long time ago). This is art, after all.
Five of the show's 15 artists, from different states and countries, were already known for their work in environmental art - Michael Alstad, Stacy Levy, Miguel Luciano, Chicory Miles and Shai Zakai - and were invited to participate by the show's organizers, Cheryl Harper and Leslie Kaufman. An additional 10 artists were selected by Harper and Adelina Vlas from the 84 artists who responded to an open call.
All of the work here argues for increased environmental awareness, if not activism, and its artists take surprisingly diverse approaches to that end. They range from Zakai's somber "library" of boxes filled with leaves that she gathers in forests and then categorizes, to Levy's indoor and outdoor installations of glass flasks holding paraffin, olive oil, coconut oil, and other household materials that can be solid or liquid according to fluctuations in temperature (a virtual global-warming warning), to Luciano's homemade piragua (shaved ice with syrup) vending pushcart fitted with a hip-hop soundtrack and tiny monitors showing videos of melting ice caps.
It's well worth sitting down to watch Andrew Chartier's film of himself operating a strange contraption that he assembled from a golf cart, a bicycle wheel, and metal parts (also included in the show) called the Dioxigrapher. In it, Chartier, dressed to suggest a biohazard cleanup worker, wheels his unlikely apparatus into traffic and up to the exhaust pipe of a car stopped at a light, where it appears to be sniffing the car's tailpipe. He then returns to a sidewalk and the Dioxigrapher snaps to life like the Energizer Bunny, manically drawing circles on the sidewalk with colored chalk. You laugh - especially at the thought of what could be going through the minds of other drivers watching this bizarre performance - and you simultaneously vow never to leave your car running unnecessarily again.
Looking at Rob Wynne's shining, reflective, glittering art, you can imagine how the late art dealer Holly Solomon, who showed Wynne's work at her New York gallery, was drawn to his smoke-and-mirror confections. The surrealist designer and artist Elsa Schiaparelli would have approved, too.
Wynne's subjects seem to be desire, ephemerality, and narcissism, revealed not only in the titles of his works but also in the actual words his poured and mirrored glass letters spell: Silence that Wants to Speak; The Feeling of Departure Clings Like a Wet Leaf to My Heart; and Like the Flickering of a Candle, among others.
This first show for Wynne at the Locks Gallery plays catch-up with his career - though active in Europe, Wynne's New York appearances have been infrequent since Solomon's death in 2002 - and the inclusion of such pieces as "Feet" (1998), a lifelike sculpture of a pair of human feet replicated in blown and mirrored glass, and his beautiful limited-edition book,
(2004), published by Carpe Diem Press in Oaxaca, Mexico, help to illuminate the trajectory of his career so far.
Moe Brooker's new paintings at the Sande Webster Gallery are full of so many colors and patterns, they look ready to burst, and that's probably the effect Brooker is after, given the title of his show, "I Come to Dance My Joy."
I didn't realize how complex Brooker's abstract compositions were, or how agitated his lines were, until I tried to make a sketch of one work, and felt as though I was trying to draw the United States superimposed with layers of statistical information. At their more relaxed, his mixed-media pieces can bring to mind the Gee's Bend quilts, and I'd be interested to see new work of his blown up to that monumental quilt scale.