Dec 10, 2004 — Jan 22, 2005
Featuring work by: Marc Zajack, Isaac Resnikoff, Thomas Vance, Walter Benjamin Smith II, Michael Barker, Jessica Doyle, Arden Bendler Browning, Jesse Gillespie, Hein Koh, Kara Crombie, Kate Norton, Maya Winters
Known for its vanguard representation of 20th-century self-taught artists, the Fleisher/Ollman Gallery now examines local artists working in the margins of popular art practice. JUNTO, the sequel to last winter’s sensational The New Acropolis, is a review of works by the next generation of Philadelphia artists curated by Brendan Greaves, William Pym, and Jina Valentine, three of their number.
The show highlights young and under-represented talent. Spanning media and style, JUNTO introduces new paintings, drawings, sculpture, and video. The historical Junto was a gentleman’s intellectual and social club established in Philadelphia by Benjamin Franklin. Our JUNTO adopts Franklin’s revolutionary credo for a collective, updating his club’s ambitious belief in the synthesis of “history, morality, poetry, physic, travels, mechanic arts, [and] other parts of knowledge” for contemporary Philadelphia.
Michael Barker reveals his past glory as pre-teen studmuffin in enlarged facsimiles of giddy love letters from junior-high crushes, written in an arcane pidgin and embellished with ephemera and photographs, a stark contrast to Jessica Doyle’s tiny figurative drawings, daily ruminations on a young life that has been inexorably tinted by childbirth. Marc Zajack , one of two video artists, discomfits and diverts the viewer with his found fetish footage of two scantily-clad women sparring in a sauna, translated for an art context, while Kara Crombie crafts slick, living self-portraits, mod party pieces, over diluted psychedelic rock backing tracks.
Hein Koh's crisply rendered, super-sized paintings of food in America dig deep into the detritus of holiday and gastronomic ritual, offering sexy playscapes for domestic pets. Arden Bendler Browning paints busy impressionistic takes on nature that are recognize the speed and aggressiveness of information in modern life. Maya Winters is a terrific painter for whom dread manifests itself in canvases marinated with lusciously bloodied, photorealistic livers. Jesse Gillespie and Thomas Vance are sculptors concerned with different facets of architecture; while Gillespie casts what seem Kustom Kar engine parts and Baywatch floatation devices in plaster, emphasizing their formal qualities and functional heft, Vance builds skyscraping Pop-Constructivist city sprawls from flimsy cardboard sheets.
W. Benjamin Smith II’s paintings employ a constantly shifting palette and stylistic approach to approach a variety of topics; his wild, freak-out genre paintings recall Jess in their lush surfaces and grapplings with religion, politics, and ethnography. Kate Norton hails from Alaska, and her sculptures incorporate taxidermal elements like furs with swatches of thrift fabric to create ultra-contemporary, decorative garden grove habitats. Isaac Resnikoff produces informed, Mark Twain-like handcrafted satire in drawing and wood sculpture, witty and offhand enough, but clearly worried about the present and the future.