L ooking at the paintings in her one-person show at Locks Gallery, When You Wish, it seems Sarah McEneaney has been sticking closer to home over the last couple of years. Or that, at the moment, she's not interested in painting scenes from her travels. Whatever the case, all of her new works are firmly focused on her life in Philadelphia and her dreams for its future.
McEneaney's Callowhill neighborhood has become a more frequent subject. That's no surprise; she has long been devoted to improving its once-forlorn industrial blocks as founder and president of the Callowhill Neighborhood Association and, more recently, as a founder and president of the Friends of the Rail Park, a group advocating for a park atop the Reading Viaduct.
Her neighborhood is depicted almost exclusively in panoramic aerial views that lend it an unexpected grandeur. In her monumental diptych, Trestletown from the Wolf (2016), McEneaney is shown from the back, standing on the roof of the Wolf Building on North 12th Street and facing a spectacular view of North Philadelphia stretching from Callowhill Street to Girard Avenue and beyond.
McEneaney has always painted interior spaces in her house, but she is not inhabiting her rooms and garden in the dreamy, sometimes fraught, way she used to. These recent works focus on her studio and office space and conjure up the work that takes place within them. Where the artist once portrayed herself relaxing in a bath, walking in a snowy Wissahickon, or dozing on the sofa with a cat, these images reflect on a busy, scheduled life. McEneaney is also much less physically present in her scenes than before. When she does make appearances, she's a small figure as seen from across a room, often from the back or side. As such, the paintings seem more diaristic than autobiographical.
Interestingly, as McEneaney has become less visible in her art, her canine and feline companions are getting their close-ups more than ever before. Her affectionate, deeply observant portraits of her late dog, Trixie, asleep; her cats, Irving and Langston; and her new dog, Mango, seem to offer windows into their inner lives - and possibly into McEneaney's, too.
Through Oct. 8 at Locks Gallery, 600 Washington Square South. Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. Information: 215-629-1000 or locksgallery.com.
Mount Airy Contemporary's pairing of Beth Campbell and Christina P. Day marks yet another example of this gallery's unerring eye for uncanny relationships between artists' works. Together, the pieces they are showing will make you think you've entered the Twilight Zone. Or a subtler, more sophisticated version of Peewee's Playhouse.
Campbell, a New York artist whose drawings, sculpture, and architectural interventions suggest all possible states exist in parallel worlds, per the Many Worlds Interpretation of quantum mechanics, is showing two suspended, steel-wire mobile sculptures that look vaguely like root systems halted in midair; a pair of lamps with ceramic bases she made during a Kohler Arts Center residency, one of which suggests a melted, collapsed version of the other; and a drawing from her "Future Past" series.
Day, of Philadelphia, takes inspiration from the poetry of time contained in found objects and materials, distilling them to their essences and then transforming them into distortions, refractions, and doublings of their former selves. Here, she is showing a modified Samsonite luggage case, four Letterpress Poems, a modified found double doorknob, and a wall-mounted, doubled, and mirrored window frame.
Through Oct. 9 at Mount Airy Contemporary, 25 W. Mount Airy Ave. Hours: 1 to 4 p.m. Saturdays and by appointment. Information: 267-270-2787 or www.mountairycontemporary.com.
It's hard to say who got luckier here: James Inscho, a fairly recent Tyler M.F.A. graduate who suddenly found himself with a two-week show of his paintings at Seraphin Gallery; or the gallery itself, which filled a vacant slot with an unusually handsome show.
Inscho's large abstract compositions are made up of occasionally familiar shapes - his painting Barnacle features a shape reminiscent of the crustacean, for instance - but the large scale of those shapes and Inscho's strong, contrasting colors are deceptive, suggesting that his shapes are completely invented and the resemblances to real things are purely happenstance. Inscho, however, writes that his images "allude to familiar objects, scenarios, and spaces." I think it's an impressive balancing act.