Becky Huff Hunter

  • View of “Painters Sculpting/Sculptors Painting,” 2017. Photo: Claire Iltis.

    “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

  • View of “Active Voice,” 2016. From left: Hannah Black, Fall of Communism, 2014; Mark Beasley, Twelve Books & Seven Records: Re-Voice, 2016.
    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, House of Tan Ky, 2015, egg tempera on linen, 50 1/2 × 55".

    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

  • Mark Brosseau, “Twenty Panels,” 2014–16, acrylic, enamel, Flashe, graphite, ink, and spray paint on twenty wood panels on wooden shelves, each 8 x 10".
    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

  • Louise Fishman, Haggadah, 1988, oil on linen, 37 x 50". From the series “Remembrance and Renewal,” 1988.
    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

  • Jennifer Levonian, Jewelry Box, 2016, digitally printed cotton, batting, and thread, 72 x 53".
    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

  • View of “Patrick Maguire: We’re on a Road to Nowhere,” 2016.
    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

  • Catherine Pancake, Bloodland, 2015, HD video, sound, 18 minutes.
    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,

  • Becky Suss, Bedroom (Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám), 2015, oil on canvas, 84 x 60".
    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

  • Gabriel Martinez, Live Hard, 2015, laser-etched fabric on wood, 108 x 72".
    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

  • Shelley Spector, Frances Loves Katherine, 2014, wood and paint, 17 x 9 x 17".
    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

  • Elaine Reichek, Sampler (Their Manners Are Decorous), 1992, hand embroidery on linen, 13.25 x 14.75".
    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.