Becky Huff Hunter

  • “Painters Sculpting/Sculptors Painting”

    While critics frequently compare Dona Nelson to far more celebrated postwar painters, “Painters Sculpting/Sculptors Painting” instead placed her work in conversation with that of a diverse group of younger artists. Nadine Beauharnois, Matt Jacobs, and Marc Zajack, like Nelson, are based in the Philadelphia area and remain anchored to traditional forms of painting and sculpture as well as to evergreen dialogues between figuration and abstraction. Staking her claim as the exhibition’s linchpin and underscoring her importance to subsequent generations, two of Nelson’s freestanding large-scale

  • picks December 09, 2016

    “Active Voice”

    Ulises is a collectively run art bookstore and exhibition space—modeled after venues such as Printed Matter and Dexter Sinister in New York—whose quarterly, essayistic presentations constellate works of art, publications, and public programs around a curatorial theme. “Active Voice,” this season’s apt focus, places the politicized, pop-inflected narrations of Hannah Black’s recent videos and Steffani Jemison’s looped sound work Same Time, 2014, into dialogue. In Jemison’s recording, which is softly amplified throughout the room, an a cappella group weaves lush harmonies around the text of Black

  • Jane Irish

    The title of Jane Irish’s most recent solo exhibition, “A Rapid Whirling on the Heel,” adapted a phrase from Edgar Allan Poe’s epic 1848 prose poem Eureka. Poe’s text unfurls a cosmology that anticipated the “big crunch” theory of an infinitely collapsing and expanding universe. Mobile conceptions of time and location, the likes of which undergird modern cosmic physics, similarly permeate Irish’s decade-long painterly inquiry into the histories of Western imperialism and resistance knotted around the Vietnam War. The exhibition comprised fifteen framed egg-tempera paintings, ink drawings, and

  • picks April 18, 2016

    “Repeater”

    In the essay accompanying this exhibition, curator Kelsey Halliday Johnson quotes Ian MacKaye, founder of the DIY label Dischord Records: “Playing music is like handwriting; if you play a song over and over, it starts to evolve.” “Repeater,” named after a 1990 album by Fugazi, includes drawing, sculpture, and video by three artists who translate the formal properties of sound, color, texture, and line across mediums for eccentric abstractions that bring to mind the flamboyant post-Minimalism of Frank Stella, Yayoi Kusama, and Claes Oldenburg. More intimately scaled than these art-historical

  • interviews March 29, 2016

    Louise Fishman

    The artist Louise Fishman, primarily known for her large-scale abstract paintings, is the subject of two forthcoming exhibitions: “Louise Fishman: A Retrospective,” a fifty-year survey show at the Neuberger Museum of Art at SUNY Purchase, opening on April 3, 2016, and running through July 31, 2016; and “Paper Louise Tiny Fishman Rock,” an idiosyncratic presentation of her miniature works at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia which opens April 29 and will be on view through August 14, 2016. Here, she talks about her beginnings as an artist and the evolution of her work.

    WHILE IN

  • picks March 01, 2016

    Jennifer Levonian and Sarah Gamble

    Jennifer Levonian’s short, surreal cut-paper animation Xylophone, 2015, muses on the everyday clichés and complexities of gender, gentrification, and creative living in transitional urban spaces. Wryly referencing Philadelphia’s rapidly changing neighborhoods and rendered in swift, fluid watercolor marks, Levonian’s leafy farmers’ markets, tastefully rehabbed row homes, and yoga-studio lofts adorned with “Breathe in love, breathe out peace” posters glow—uncomfortably brightly, perhaps—alongside shuttered payday-loan places on derelict blocks. Seemingly trapped within this environment, a

  • picks January 31, 2016

    Patrick Maguire

    In his latest exhibition, Patrick Maguire stages nine new, formally complex oil paintings on the walls of a carefully altered version of this gallery. A circular gray platform in the center of the room offers four arched wooden structures, each roughly the dimensions of a standard door; Maguire has installed a similar archway in the entrance to the gallery. These—and the gallery walls—are stuccoed with drywall compound, which provides a gentle oatmeal tone. Pink spotlights above further round out this soothing environment while a ceiling-mounted speaker emits a low-fi lulling whistle. Portholes

  • picks December 24, 2015

    Catherine Pancake

    Midway through Catherine Pancake’s video on citizen surveillance of the natural-gas fracking industry, Bloodland (all works cited, 2015), a female voice-over quotes Hito Steyerl’s 2009 essay “In Defense of the Poor Image,” on the cultural implications of highly circulated, low-resolution digital artifacts online: “The imperfect cinema is one that strives to overcome the divisions of labor within class society. It merges art with life and science, blurring the distinction between consumer and producer, audience and author.” This idea informs Pancake’s own self-critical, essayistic methodology,

  • picks December 09, 2015

    Becky Suss

    In her 2011 memoir, Why Be Happy When You Can Be Normal?, Jeanette Winterson observed of the genre: “Part fact part fiction is what life is. And it is always a cover story.” The act of covering, then, in Winterson’s book and in Becky Suss’s first solo museum exhibition, refers not only to concealment but also to adaptation. In a body of recent paintings and ceramics mostly prompted by the demolition of her deceased grandparents’ home on Long Island, Suss integrates the material facts, fictions, and revisions that constitute her memories of the domestic spaces of her childhood. Seven large canvases

  • picks November 27, 2015

    Gabriel Martinez

    Gabriel Martinez’s elegiac exhibition “Bayside Revisited” invokes the historic potency of Fire Island, New York, as a gay fantasy space and safe haven. By integrating archival materials related to the community into new prints and an installation, Martinez augments the current historical canonization of queer culture and the AIDS crisis recently seen in Keith Haring retrospectives and the Tacoma Art Museum’s “Art AIDS America” survey. This exhibition’s anteroom displays a digital collage of vintage gay magazine ads while melodies drift through a suede curtain. When the curtain’s drawn aside, a

  • picks August 17, 2015

    Shelley Spector

    Shelley Spector’s exhibition “Keep the Home Fires Burning” exists in an archival mode—as seen in other recent shows by Krüger & Pardeller and Willem de Rooij—in which the artist turns toward a museum collection as the basis for her practice, incorporating historical works in her exhibition to tease out their relevance in the present moment. Drawing from this museum’s textile collection, Spector juxtaposes her new works with a large embroidery of Pennsylvania German motifs that was designed by folk-art historian Frances Lichten in 1943 and donated to the museum by Lichten’s partner, artist

  • picks May 04, 2015

    “Word & Image: Contemporary Artists Connect to Fraktur”

    “Word & Image”—one of two shows together presented as “Framing Fraktur”—sprawls throughout the Free Library’s lobby, corridors, and archives, exploring ties between historical fraktur—eighteenth- to nineteenth-century Pennsylvania German manuscript-based folk art—and the practices of seven contemporary artists who treat words as visual or material compositional elements as much as carriers of verbal information. Curated by Judith Tannenbaum, the exhibition interweaves conceptually—and sometimes spatially—with the concurrent archival presentation “Quill & Brush,” organized by Lisa Minardi.

  • picks November 11, 2014

    Joy Feasley and Paul Swenbeck

    “A Hatchet to Kill Old Ugly” is a three-part exhibition in the Fabric Workshop and Museum’s storefront project space that comprises a Shaker-inspired domestic interior, a dim crawl space, and a back-room atelier swarming with colored light. It is the fifth and most collaborative dual show for Joy Feasley and Paul Swenbeck (a married couple), both professional museum preparators. They each present new works—Feasley’s are acid-hued landscape and still-life paintings; Swenbeck’s are jagged-edged, plant-inspired ceramics—in environments they built, which contain constellations of objects with distinct

  • picks January 14, 2014

    Emily Erb

    For her solo debut, “Legal Tender,” painter Emily Erb directs attention toward some of the United States’ most difficult historical passages by presenting dollar bills as surrogate American flags. Erb began working with U.S. currency as a motif after noticing the Occupy movement’s activist use of blown-up bills on protest banners. Her first works were hung in public parks and markets around Philadelphia, where she is based. Unlike Dan Tague’s poster-like scans of folded U.S. currency that spell out political aphorisms or Chad Person’s intricate, cut-bill collages depicting contemporary military

  • picks June 08, 2013

    Lynda Benglis

    “Everything Flows (1980–2013)” is a small but dramatically staged exhibition that traces Lynda Benglis’s exploration of form via seventeen of her human-scale metal, ceramic, and polyurethane works made over the past four decades. Folded, ripped, and cast works are positioned on the ground and walls of this gallery as well as on plinths the height of cocktail tables. The exhibition’s limited palette of metallics, earth tones, and pale yellows encourages a focus on Benglis’s wide variety of surface textures and the works’ close parameters leave each with less space to breathe, effectively emphasizing

  • picks November 05, 2012

    “Excursus III: Ooga Booga”

    Twice a year, Philadelphia’s Institute of Contemporary Art invites an artist, designer, publisher, or other cultural practitioner to create an installation responding the institution’s history, architecture, and current exhibitions. The residency, which has previously featured Philadelphia-based designer Andy Beach as well as East of Borneo, the online magazine based in LA, infuses the museum’s small mezzanine space with the selected artist’s personal aesthetic and social vision.

    For its third iteration, the “Excursus” series, organized by Alex Klein, invited Wendy Yao—owner and curator of

  • picks September 30, 2012

    Martha Wilson

    “THE ARTIST OPERATES OUT OF THE VACUUM LEFT WHEN ALL OTHER VALUES ARE REJECTED,” notes Martha Wilson in her early photo-text composition A Portfolio of Models, 1974. Referring to her negotiation and subsequent refusal of cookie-cutter female identities—from “housewife” to “lesbian”—the statement also works as a concise thesis for her interdisciplinary, activist practice. Part of a curatorial project from Independent Curators International, which also generated the Martha Wilson Sourcebook, 2011, Wilson’s traveling retrospective kicked off in Montreal and tracks four decades of her development