Spring shows at local galleries: Under-recognized artists come to the fore

"South Lowell" by Damian Stamer, at Bridgette Mayer Gallery.

This spring's gallery shows are neatly divided between local artists and out-of-towners.

No particular mediums seem to be overwhelmingly favored by artists or galleries, as have photography, video, and installation over the last few years. Painting is as ubiquitous and diverse as ever; sculpture is less visible in galleries this season.

Only one discernible trend stands out: The long-standing, persistent - some might say dogged - inclination among Philadelphia galleries, especially college galleries and nonprofit spaces, to bring offbeat, underrecognized artists to the fore. And they do it with a verve and conviction that gets nods from Philadelphia and beyond.

- Edith Newhall reviews galleries for
The Inquirer
Jesse Krimes: Deus ex Machina (Leonard Pearlstein Gallery, Drexel University, through March 13). Krimes' first major work was a 39-panel mural on bedsheets, incorporating his own color pencil drawing and transfers from pages of the New York Times, made while he was serving a six-year prison sentence for selling drugs.

Since then, the Lancaster native and Millersville University cum laude graduate has made Philadelphia his home and has shown at Eastern State Penitentiary - he has an ongoing installation in a cell - and at Paris' Palais de Tokyo last year.

Krimes' latest work, organized for the Pearlstein by independent curator Julie Courtney, is site-specific and draws on his experience of incarceration, employing systems of containment both natural (beehives) and human-made (birdcages). (215-895-2548 or bit.ly/1ndkGo1)

Simon Lee/Eve Sussman: "No Food, No Money, No Jewels" (Locks Gallery, through Feb. 20). An ambitious, 18-chapter film set in a fictitious factory, No Food, No Money, No Jewels tells of power struggles among 12 factory workers who are animals disguised as humans. (215-629-1000 or www.locks.com)

Pati Hill: Photocopier (Arcadia University Art Gallery, Feb. 25-April 24). A survey of black-and-white photocopies of ordinary objects taken between 1974 and 1983.

Hill (1921-2014) was born in Kentucky, worked as a fashion model in New York, and wrote short stories for the Paris Review, three novels, and a memoir before beginning her experiments with a photocopier in 1972. (215-572-2131 or www.gallery.arcadia.edu)

Walter Robinson: Paintings and Other Indulgences (The Galleries at Moore, Moore College of Art & Design, through March 12). The Art in America critic, co-founder of Printed Matter Inc., and former editor of Artnet Magazine arrived in New York in 1968 to study art history at Columbia University, but he could paint, too.

By the early 1980s, he was showing his colorful renditions of pulp magazine illustrations at Metro Pictures. More recently, his paintings have depicted solitary cigarette packs and liquor bottles as iconic objects.

Robinson's Moore retrospective was organized by Barry Blinderman, director of the University Galleries at Illinois State University. (215-965-4027 or www.thegalleries@moore.org)

Matt Mullican (Rosenwald-Wolf Gallery, University of the Arts, through Feb. 26). The New York "Pictures Generation" artist, who had a show here in 2009 and is known for his works employing signs and symbols, is back with recent efforts. (215-717-6480 or bit.ly/1UJhF9y)

Quentin Morris (Larry Becker Contemporary Art, April 2-May 21). This Philadelphia artist is known for his all-black silkscreen ink and acrylic works on unstretched canvas, dating from 2007, when he had his most recent solo show with this gallery, to the present. (215-925-5389 or artnt.cm/1Q005Ps)

Sarah Gamble/Jennifer Levonian: Shake Out Your Cloth (Fleisher/Ollman Gallery, Feb. 5-March 26). Recent works by two Philadelphia artists who explore the human psyche in opposite ways, Gamble in paintings that investigate dreams, Levonian in stop-motion animations that transform everyday events into unexpectedly odd narratives. (215-545-7562 or www.fleisher-ollmangallery.com)

Lower East Side Printshop: Experiments in Print (Print Center, Feb. 5-April 23). This show features prints using newly invented techniques by Mike Bidlo, Paul Chan, Peggy Diggs, and Hank Willis Thomas made at the LESP, an open-access printmaking studio and exhibition space in New York City, organized by director Dusica Kirjakovic. (215-735-6090 or www.printcenter.org)

Rare Bird: John James Audubon and Contemporary Art (Philip and Muriel Berman Museum of Art at Ursinus College, through April 3). Prints by Audubon, the 19th-century American naturalist and self-taught artist, together with works by 10 artists of our own era whose subject is nature - among them are Brandon Ballangeé, Walton Ford, Nina Katchadourian, James Prozek, and Duke Riley. (610-409-3500 or www.ursinus.edu/berman)

Carl Van Vechten: O Write my Name - Portraits of the Harlem Renaissance and Beyond (Sharpless Gallery, Magill Library, Haverford College, Jan. 29-Aug. 19). Vintage silver gelatin prints by Van Vechten, including portraits of Bessie Smith, James Weldon Johnson, Horace Pippin, Zora Neale Hurston, and Alain Locke, as well as books, letters, and related artwork from Haverford's Special Collections. (610-896-1000 or www.library.haverford.edu)

Donald Martiny (Pentimenti Gallery, March 26-April 30). Martiny, an artist formerly based in Philadelphia, is having his first solo show with Pentimenti. His work consists of enormous abstract gestures in pigmented polymer mounted on aluminum, suggesting passages of abstract impasto painting vastly enlarged and transformed into bas-reliefs. (215-625-9990 or www.pentimenti.com)

Indwelling: Meditations on Built Environments as Cultural Narrative (Rowan University Art Gallery, 301 High St., Glassboro, Feb. 23-April 15). Works by Louise Bourgeois, Lewis Colburn, Ben Grasso, Kay Healy, Erin Murray, Miriam Singer, Ann Toebbe, and Brian Tolle that offer diverse impressions of the cityscape. (856-256-4521 or www.rowan.edu/artgallery)

Damian Stamer (Bridgette Mayer Gallery, Feb. 5-27). The artist's first solo show in Philadelphia consists of colorful expressionistic paintings that draw on his memories of the rural North Carolina landscape he explored as a child. (215-413-8893)

Hiro Sakaguchi (Seraphin Gallery, Jan. 29-March 6). Recent paintings on the theme of DNA and the atomic bomb from his series "Adenine, Guanine, Cytosine, Thymine" (215-923-7000 or www.seraphingallery.com).

Of the Essence: Paintings by Kassem Amoudi and Patricia Ingersoll (Cerulean Gallery, Feb. 3-27). Amoudi's abstract paintings on canvas use color and line to suggest a mirror of reality. Ingersoll's paintings on paper distill landscapes to their basic elements, inspired by a recent residency in Ireland. (267-514-8647 or www.ceruleanarts.com).

Personal Space (Snyderman-Works Galleries, Feb. 5-26). Paintings, drawings, and other works that evoke privacy and solitude by 11 artists, among them Amanda Bush, Matt Colaizzo, Erin Murray, and Stuart Shils. (215-238-9576 or www.snyderman-works.com)

Gerard Brown and Amanda D'Amico (Free Library of Philadelphia, 1900 Vine St., Print and Picture Collection, through Feb. 26). Recent gouache on paper paintings by Brown, who is also a writer and independent curator, and offset lithographs with collages by D'Amico, a book artist. (215-686-5405 or ErePIX@freelibrary.org)

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