If squirreling around in the attic and finding something new - well, all right, old - gives you a shiver of pleasure, you're in the right city. This fall's gallery season promises excavations, reenactments, and retrospectives galore: of the works of artists, of human relationships, of a familiar Philadelphia gallery, even of the sitting room.
Only a handful of young artists have solo shows in the better-known commercial galleries (wobbly economy = wait and see?), but those in search of work by the young and the restless will find it in the numerous artist collectives - Vox Populi, Space 1026, Little Berlin, Tiger Strikes Asteroid, Marginal Utility, and Flux Space, for starters - and in the smaller commercial galleries, among them Cerulean, Pageant, Project Space, Bambi, and James Oliver.
As for events, USArtists: American Fine Art Show and Sale 2010 takes over the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts' Samuel M.V. Hamilton Building Oct. 1 to 3, and DesignPhiladelphia, now in partnership with the University of the Arts, returns Oct. 6 to 17.
Wharton Esherick. A founder of the American Studio Furniture Movement, Esherick (1887-1970), who was born in Philadelphia and later moved to a farmhouse in Paoli, did not start out as a furnituremaker. He studied illustration and painting, became a sculptor, was a devotee of modern theater and dance, and counted writers Sherwood Anderson and Theodore Dreiser among his friends. No wonder, when he began carving wood, that his sculpture and furniture featured the strikingly original sinuous lines it does. The University of Pennsylvania's Kamin and Kroiz Galleries, in collaboration with Penn's School of Design, the Wharton Esherick Museum in Paoli, and Rose Valley's Hedgerow Theatre, will present the first major survey of Esherick's supremely idiosyncratic work in over 50 years, including furniture, sculpture, woodblock prints, drawings, paintings, correspondence, and photographs. Sept. 7 to Feb. 13. (215-746-5828 or on the web here.)
Philip and Edward Toledano. When photographer Philip Toledano's mother died in 2006, he became chief caretaker of his father, Edward Toledano, a former actor, businessman, and artist who at 96 was experiencing short-term memory loss. Gallery 339 will show "Days With My Father," the younger Toledano's series of straightforward photographs documenting their final years together (Edward died in 2009), which were published in a Chronicle Books monograph in June. Sept. 15 to Nov. 6. (215-731-1530 or on the Web here.)
Morton Bartlett. Among artists with questionable fixations on children and dolls, Morton Bartlett, who attended Harvard but never graduated and later lived reclusively, ranks right up there with Hans Bellmer, the surrealist photographer of erotically contorted dolls, and Henry Darger, known for his watercolors of warrior girls. Bartlett (1903–92), who was making, dressing, and photographing his plaster dolls about the same time as Bellmer and Darger, outlived both, and his work, like Darger's, was discovered after his death. UArts' Rosenwald-Wolf Gallery will exhibit Bartlett's work for the first time in Philadelphia. Through Oct. 9. (215-717-6480 or on the Web here.)
Four Decades. Little did John Ollman know in 1970, when he began working for Janet Fleisher Gallery, he would eventually become its owner. Under Ollman since 1996, the Fleisher/Ollman Gallery has stayed fairly true to its roots - ethnographic, folk, and self-taught art, as well as contemporary work - but it also has grown to become one of the world's most highly regarded sources of self-taught art. "Four Decades" will include works by Christina Ramberg, William Edmondson, James Castle, Forrest Bess, Joseph Cornell, Jim Nutt, Bill Traylor, and others whose works have been exhibited by the gallery over the last 40 years, as well as Oceanic sculptures, pre-Columbian vessels, Chinese scholar stones, Northwest Coast masks, Pennsylvania painted furniture, weather vanes, spool tables, and examples of American frakturs. Sept. 23 to Nov. 27. (215-545-7562 or on the Web here.)
Eileen Neff. The Philadelphia-based artist's photographic installation, "Retrospection," at Locks Gallery, is an expanded reenactment of a 2008 installation at Bruce Silverstein/20 in New York, her meditation on the relationship between image and subject. One large, digitally constructed photographic print acts as a starting point for groupings of other works. Through Sept. 30. (215-629-1000 or on the Web here.)
The Sitting Room: Four Studies. The historical concept of the sitting room is reexamined by four contemporary artists at the Philadelphia Art Alliance, whose 1906 building, originally the private residence of Samuel P. Wetherill, just happens to have all the right rooms for such a show. Jennifer Angus will present an alternative view of the 19th-century mania for collection and display; Carole Loeffler will expose the gendered implications of the domestic interior; Ligia Bouton is creating an imagined history based on the social circles of Philadelphia's high society, and Saya Woolfalk has in store a mobile utopian space for the future. Melissa Caldwell is the exhibition's curator, with, she says "lots of input" from David R. McFadden, chief curator at New York's Museum of Arts & Design. Sept. 24 to Jan. 3. (215-545-4302 or on the Web here.)
One of Us: Isaac Tin Wei Lin. This talented young Philadelphia artist, whose work draws on literally everything around him, follows his solo show at Fleisher/Ollman last year with a site-specific installation for the Print Center, filling an entire gallery with two- and three-dimensional printed and painted elements inspired by street art, current events, cartoons, and Islamic calligraphy. Sept. 7 to Nov. 20. (215-735-5511 or on the Web here.)
thanks.frank. After 38 years of teaching painting at the Tyler School of Art - and apparently becoming one of the most popular professors the school has ever seen - still-youthful Frank Bramblett has decided to concentrate on his own painting. His former students aren't letting him off the hook quite that easily, though. Thirty-eight of them have made artworks with Bramblett in mind, all of which form the affectionate exhibition "thanks.frank." at the Elkins Estate in Elkins Park. Through Sept. 21. (570-906-0766 or on the Web here.)
Also not to be missed: