Gallery shows: 6 photographer-explorers at Philadelphia Photo Arts Center

Hank-Willis-Thomas-Envoy
Hank Willis Thomas, Envoy, 2013 mixed media (hologram) 61 x 17 1/2 x 4 5/8 inches.

South Kensington is about to become visually better known, thanks to a team of six photographers chosen to prowl the Philadelphia neighborhood for the Philadelphia Photo Arts Center's yearlong Philly Block Project. The results of the team's efforts will culminate in two exhibitions at PPAC later in the year. But first comes "Preface," a PPAC exhibition introducing viewers to the personal work of Lisa Fairstein, Wyatt Gallery, Hiroyuki Ito, Will Steacy, Hank Willis Thomas, and Lori Waselchuk.

It's an accomplished, diverse group.

Fairstein, a New York photographer, stands out with her color photograph I Got a Tiger in the Basement (2015), which shows a full-grown tiger caged in a cellar. Gallery, a well-known photojournalist who has worked in Trinidad and Haiti, is represented here by close-up images of distressed wall surfaces that could pass for abstract paintings.

Ito, a Brooklyn documentary photographer whose work has been featured in the New Yorker and the New York Times, is showing his gelatin silver prints of everyday scenes. At 175 by 122 inches, Steacy's Deadline (2009-13) is a remarkable accumulation of photographs from his recent book of the same name documenting four years at the Inquirer. Thomas, a photo conceptual artist attracted to themes of identity, history, and popular culture, is represented by Winter in America (2006), his sinister video re-creation of events leading up to a murder in Philadelphia; a 36-foot-long digital C-print of blocks in Strawberry Mansion; and Envoy, a framed hologram self-portrait that conjures a spirit or trickster from the 19th century. Judging from Waselchuk's intimate color shots of inner-city Philadelphians enjoying a block party, this Philadelphia photojournalist is ready to roll.

Through April 30 at the Philadelphia Photo Arts Center, 1400 N. American St., Suite 103, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. Information: 215-232-5678 or philaphotoarts.org.

Lyricism, dissonance

As its title, "Repeater," suggests, this small but outspokenly exuberant show of HD digital animations and drawings by Lee Arnold, paintings and drawings by Mark Brosseau, and paintings and stuffed fabric pieces by Meg Lipke at Tiger Strikes Asteroid evokes the lyricism and dissonance of the rock band Fugazi's cult album. It also comes with an equally smart and sparkly essay by its curator, Kelsey Halliday Johnson.

There's an obvious synergy between Arnold, a Brooklyn artist, and Brosseau, a Philadelphia painter and codirector of TSA Philadelphia. Arnold's Who's Afraid of Red, Yellow, Blue, and Green, a wall-mounted grid of small colored-pencil line drawings intended as a study of the primary colors of projected and reflected light, and Brosseau's grid of small acrylic paintings on panels pulse at the same pace while producing different effects. Arnold's touch is electric; Brosseau's is organic.

But it's the presence of Lipke, who lives and works in Brooklyn, that makes this show the quirky delight it is, interrupting the dialogue between Arnold and Brosseau with her Fragment of a Map, a "painting" of fabric dye and beeswax resist on a large piece of unstretched muslin and stuffed muslin sculptures that also use a batik technique. Her Untitled, a wall piece dyed orange, turquoise, and pink (among other colors) that looks like a floating soft-sculpture sofa, makes a perfect odd partner to Brosseau's orange, pink, and turquoise painting Tacky.

Through May 1 at Tiger Strikes Asteroid, 319 N. 11th St., 2B, 2 to 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Information: 484-469-0319 or TigerStrikesAsteroid.com

Sanguineti's many arts

Born in Savona, Italy, to a family of Italian intellectuals, Nenne Sanguineti Poggi (1909-2012) spent 30 years of her career living and working in Eritrea, making large mosaic murals and concrete reliefs for the Ethiopian government and private clients and becoming a favorite artist of Emperor Haile Selassie I. She also made oil paintings of African subjects, some from life and others in an expressionistic style that could be compared to those of the Cuban painter Wifredo Lam.

She eventually returned to Italy, settling in Finale Ligure, where she concentrated on painting, drawing, printmaking, and works that resembled ancient Ethiopian scrolls.

With the help of Sanguineti Poggi's son, Dr. Vincenzo Sanguineti, who lives in Philadelphia, the America-Italy Society of Philadelphia has mounted a fascinating survey of Sanguineti Poggi's works on paper and canvas from all periods of her career. I wished that photographs of her large-scale projects in Eritrea and Ethiopia might have been included. A future show, or book, or both?

Through May 31 at the America-Italy Society of Philadelphia, 1420 Walnut St., Suite 310, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, weekends by appointment. Information: 215-735-3250 or info@aisphila.org

Polished color sense

The latest paintings by Kevin Broad, a Philadelphia artist whose abstract paintings are inspired by the Pennsylvania landscape, make up one of the most polished shows I've seen at the Jed Williams Gallery (and I haven't seen as many as I might have because the gallery's hours have previously been by appointment only).

Broad's steeply vertical oil paintings on wood and long rectangles of dye on silk show off his color sense to a T in this small white box of a gallery.

Through April 24 at the Jed Williams Gallery, 615 Bainbridge St. 12 noon to 2 p.m. Saturdays, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays. Information: 267-970-5509 or jedwilliamsgallery.com.