FOCUS ON GALLERIES A muted tint to displays of artwork

Posted: September 13, 2009

As any casual art-world observer could have predicted, this fall season looks to be a muted, sensible one - of reflecting, selecting from under-the-radar holdings and archives, shoring up, and sticking close to home. It's a correction, yes, but in many instances the scrutiny was long overdue.

Case in point: an exhibition at the University of Pennsylvania's Arthur Ross Gallery displaying the talents of David J. Kennedy (1816/17-1898), an immigrant to Philadelphia and a self-taught artist who was recognized in his day, but whose paintings became virtually unknown to Philadelphians over the last century. He and others illuminate the fall season. I'll be back to look at spring in January.

FOR THE RECORD - CLEARING THE RECORD, PUBLISHED SEPTEMBER 15, 2009, FOLLOWS: Sunday's Fall Arts Preview contained an incomplete web address for the Galleries at Moore College of Art & Design. The address is


David J. Kennedy at Arthur Ross Gallery. The Historical Society of Pennsylvania, at 13th and Locust Streets, has the largest holdings of watercolors by David J. Kennedy but rarely has had the opportunity to exhibit them. Now, some of his fetching views of the city, loaned by the society to the University of Pennsylvania's Arthur Ross Gallery, are the stars of "West Philadelphia: Building a Community." Kennedy, a Scot, was a railroad clerk who taught himself to paint and went on to capture most of Philadelphia on paper. The English artist William Birch already had depicted views of Philadelphia in his popular prints, but did not take nearly as exhaustive an approach as Kennedy, who seemed possessed by his adopted city. It's fair to say he did for Philadelphia what the photographers Eugene Atget and Berenice Abbott did for Paris and New York, but earlier. (Through Oct. 11; 215-898-2083 or

Locks Gallery. Locks opens its fall season with a memorial exhibition for Philadelphia artist Thomas Chimes, who died on April 20, 2008, his 88th birthday. Chimes, whose mysterious paintings celebrated his heroes Marcel Duchamp, Thomas Eakins, and Alfred Jarry, among others, and whose career was the subject of a 2007 retrospective at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, will be represented by landscape and crucifixion paintings made between 1958 and 1965. The show's catalogue will include the artist's poems from that period, never previously published. (Through Oct. 16; 215-629-1000 or

Vox Populi. Its September show contains intriguing offerings, including the video Walking After Acconci (Redirected Approaches), by Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard, who began collaborating as students at Goldsmiths, University of London, and are known for their reenactments of art-historical events. Their appreciation of performance artist Vito Acconci's 1973 filmed performance of himself walking a hall in imaginary conversation with an ex-lover takes on the style of a contemporary music video. (Through Sept. 27; 215-238-1236 or

The Print Center. The current "Streets of Philadelphia: Photography 19701985," demonstrates how compelling the cityscape was in the funky days of downturn and disco, as seen by Ray K. Metzker, David Graham, Nancy Hellebrand, Stephen Shore, Paul Cava, Harvey Finkle, George Krause, and others. (Through Nov. 10, 215-735-6090 or

Design Philadelphia. The weeklong annual citywide event that begins Oct. 7, means stirring conversations with design pros, thought-provoking exhibitions, a runway show of responsible design, open studios, and Philly Works, a marketplace of locally produced and designed products. (Through Oct. 13; 215-951-5338 or www.Design

The Design Center at Philadelphia University offers the exciting "Lace in Translation," works by European designers Tord Boontje and Demakersvan and Canadian artist Cal Lane made in response to the center's Quaker Lace Co. holdings. Look for an extraordinary raffia curtain, a welded filigree oil drum, and a "lace" chain-link fence. (Sept. 24-April 3, 215-951-2860 or www.philau. edu/DesignCenter.)

Moore College of Art & Design devotes its entire fall season to design-centric exhibitions, one of which, "Inside the Architect's Studio: The Process of Making Museums," honors the its 2009 Visionary Woman Award recipients: Nancy Kolb, retiring executive director of the Please Touch Museum, and architect Billie Tsien, of Tod Williams Billie Tsien & Associates. (Oct. 7-Dec. 9; 215-965-4027 or

And Moderne Gallery's exhibition of George Nakashima's early furniture sounds like icing on the cake (Oct. 9-Dec. 24; 215-923-8536 or

Schmidt Dean Gallery. The gallery's first show of the season has the latest from painter Tina Newberry and sculptor Susan Hagen. Newberry's self-portraits continue her intense, often humorous scrutiny of herself, this time in the guise of a Civil War reenactor. Hagen has shifted her attention from American soldiers and domesticity to teenagers. Her small painted-wood sculptures capture kids as the fashion victims they generally are. (Through Oct. 17; 215-569-9433 or

Hiro Sakaguchi. His paintings and drawings may have taken on a darker mood of late - one shows houses swirling in the center of a typhoon - but they haven't lost their wonderful sense of whimsy and innocence, as if the artist is reliving his childhood fantasies. (Seraphin Gallery through Oct. 27; 215-923-7000 or

All About Ulmer. Two gallery owners under the spell of a 92-year-old artist are seeing to it she'll finally get the close-up she deserves - at her alma mater, no less. Candace Karch of Bambi Gallery and Janel Rivera Frey of Proximity Gallery have organized an exhibition for Marie Ulmer, a 1941 graduate of the Philadelphia Museum School of Industrial Design - now the University of the Arts - in the eighth-floor gallery of UArt's Anderson Hall. They've been cataloguing Ulmer's work, and expect the paintings and illustrations of this lifetime Kensington/Fishtown resident to be a revelation. (Sept. 24 to Oct. 14; or

Arcadia. The decider behind Arcadia University Art Gallery's Works on Paper 2009, the latest iteration of the gallery's vaunted annual juried show of drawings - open to any artist within a 40-mile radius of the university - will be Joo Ribas, art critic and curator of New York's esteemed Drawing Center, who has organized exhibitions of the drawings of Rirkrit Tiravanija, Frederick Keisler, and Ree Morton, and numerous group shows. Expect the competition to be stiffer than ever. (Nov. 18-Dec. 20; 215-572-2131 or

Other exhibitions

Swarthmore's List Gallery season opener is "William Daley: Vesica Explorations," 19 of the acclaimed ceramic artist's recent slab-built vessels. (To Oct. 31; 610-328-8488 or

Gallery 339 Are female photographer-portraitists superior to their male counterparts? You have to wonder when you learn that "Personal Views: Contemporary Photographic Portraiture in Philadelphia" is made up of works by Justyna Badach, Rita Bernstein, Jessica Todd Harper, Andrea Modica, Nadine Rovner, Sarah Stolfa, and Zoe Strauss. (Wednesday-Nov. 14; 215-731-1530 or

Gallery Joe's later-than-usual fall opening should be worth the wait, and certainly of the moment. "Formulations" features number-based works by Xylor Jane, Will Yackulic, Lynne Woods Turner, and Serge Onnen, all on paper except for Onnen's video. (Oct. 2-Nov. 21; 215-592-7752 or

Fleisher/Ollman Gallery's John Ollman is honoring his favorite show, "Magiciens de la Terre," the seminal 1989 exhibition organized by Jean-Hubert Martin for the Centre Georges Pompidou. Its memorable case for the inclusion of non-Western art in the canon will be evoked in Fleisher/Ollman's rendition. (Oct. 15-Dec. 5; 215-545-7562 or

Larry Becker Contemporary Art. Waiting to see what Barry Goldberg has been up to? Becker shows off the artist's recent oil and encaustic paintings - some in diptych and triptych form - and watercolors on paper. (Dec. 5-Jan. 23; 215-925-5389 or

And, peeking into 2010, the much-anticipated first international festival of contemporary art, "Philagrafika 2010: The Graphic Unconscious," will take place at venues all over the city starting Jan. 29 and running all the way to April.

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