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Touching from a Distance

Sep 17 — Nov 07, 2020

Featuring work by: Kate Abercrombie, Queen Nancy Bell, Anthony Campuzano, The Dufala Brothers, Joy Feasley, Knicoma Frederick, Sarah Gamble, Jesse Harrod, Jennifer Levonian, Isaac Tin Wei Lin, Tristin Lowe, Mark Mahosky, Julian Martin, Dan Murphy, Jayson Musson, Eamon Ore-Giron, Kambel Smith, Becky Suss, Paul Swenbeck

Reserve your visit here.


Upon arrival, we may ask you to wait in the lobby to avoid overlaps with previous visitors.


All guests to 915 Spring Garden are required to wear a mask that fully covers both the mouth and nose upon entry to the building, as well as inside the gallery.


Out of respect for our staff and the building’s tenants, we request that visitors who have experienced any COVID-19 symptoms, or had close contact with someone exhibiting symptoms, refrain from visiting until symptoms have not been present for 14 days.


If you’re having trouble with Eventbrite, you may email the gallery to make an appointment, which we will confirm if the time requested is available.





While it may be difficult to find something to celebrate in the midst of a pandemic, a slide towards totalitarianism, and increased racial division, Fleisher/Ollman managed to move its operation and open a new gallery during this unprecedented time. We wish to acknowledge our reopening at 915 Spring Garden Street with a gathering of art works made by artists that have long histories with the gallery (in some cases, decades) as well those that we have shown relatively recently. Touching from a Distance includes artists first presented at three of the gallery’s previous locations in Philadelphia: 17th Street, Walnut Street, and Arch Street. September 2020 also marks an additional celebratory occasion: the 50th anniversary of John Ollman’s tenure at the gallery.


“Touching from a Distance,” a lyric from Joy Division’s 1979 single Transmission, evokes the pathos of our current condition where we long for contact but ultimately must remain more or less alone in order to save ourselves and others. In the art world under our present circumstances, the group exhibition can be rationalized as a kind of pretend social gathering, perfect for our times. If we agree to the idea that artworks are surrogates for the people who make them, these 20 artists can gather, mingle, converse, and enjoy one another’s company unfettered by the mandates of PPE and social distance to which we and our visitors will be obliged for the unforeseeable future. 


In September 1970, John Ollman began as director of what was then Janet Fleisher Gallery, sharing an enthusiasm with Janet for art outside the mainstream. Ollman expanded the gallery’s program to include folk, African, Oceanic, pre-Columbian, Native American, and self-taught art, the latter for which the gallery became especially renowned. Since 1997, when Ollman became the gallery's sole owner, we have endeavored to re-contextualize the self-taught, showcasing this work alongside our contemporary program, which features both Philadelphia-based artists and those from further afield. In recent years, we have made efforts to broaden the view of what self-taught art might mean in a contemporary context by showcasing art from disability and mental health studio programs. Recognizing the power of the cross-fertilization of art made by trained and self-taught artists, and the leveling of distinctions and hierarchies when art is placed in dialogue, Ollman anticipated current conceptions of the self-taught by decades. Touching from a Distance continues this exercise inspired by John Ollman, and is a fitting exhibition to mark the twin milestones of a new iteration of the gallery and Ollman’s long-term contribution to the field of art.


A portion of the gallery's proceeds will be donated to the Youth Art and Self-Empowerment Project, an arts outreach program in Philadelphia for, and by, incarcerated youth who are being tried as adults.


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Eamon Ore-Giron, Joy Feasley, Paul Swenbeck
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Knicoma Frederick
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Knicoma Frederick, Dufala Brothers, Julian Martin
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