After graduate studies in Canada, Tan has taught there, in Singapore, and in the United States, for more than a decade in the fields of computer animation and graphics at Rutgers/Camden. This New Jersey resident's largest solo exhibition to date took place at Beijing World Museum of Art.
The Dalet show fastens onto our humanity and totes it around for a while before setting it down again, enlivened by a heady blend of the digital and the physical. Tan's work is closer to our physical world than most digital art today, thanks to his use of such natural materials as stretched rawhides and wooden supports, authentically evocative of an ancient, simpler era.
The unusual installation piece Digital Dancing features Tan's computer creation of a virtual woman who's projected in 3-D onto an animal skin stretched on an aluminum frame resembling a tree limb (inspired by an American Indian source). Lava is a more soothing animation installation, and BurlHead, which faces the gallery's entrance, projects an experience of vulnerability, with layers of meaning that require extended looking.
Such work cherishes ordinariness, while allowing a speck of glory and beauty in its naturalness and its most dedicated examples of hand craftsmanship. This art provides strong encouragement to those wanting to make positive statements using the medium of 3-D animation. Just being able to explore work of an artist as accomplished as LiQin Tan vitally stimulates new kinds of inventiveness. This is an important show.
Dalet Gallery, 141 N. 2d St.. Through June 23. Wed-Sat 11-6. 215-923-2424.
Spandorfer, front and center
Merle Spandorfer's show of mixed-media ink-jet works on paper at Rosenfeld Gallery provides a welcome chance to see a broad selection of her works together in one place. (Quite often her pieces appear singly in group displays.) And this solo clearly establishes as Spandorfer's central theme the flower as a metaphor for life - as bud, full-blown blossom, and dried flower.
The artist sees this both as a symbol of the passage of time and of the way each stage of life holds a special beauty. I would go further to say her works portray women in society - including herself - as strong, independent agents of their own wills.
This Cheltenham resident has long defined her interests as those of a combination painter, printmaker, and photographer. In 1970, she had her first New York solo show using computers, a sign of things to come for her. About 15 years ago she coauthored an influential book, Making Art Safely, voicing concerns about certain traditional methods. She has since become more involved in new technologies and the greening of America.
Spandorfer's colorful one-of-a-kind works featured here are arrived at through a very personal process. She puts a flower right down on the computer and goes from there. She can make the subject any size, can fine-tune its color, while adding a layer to produce a rich imagery. She works with photographer Joe Painter to Photoshop these images.
Intimate identification with the beauty in various life stages is readable here - in blossoms just opening, in the gorgeous flower at its peak, in petals enlarged and scattered among fallen leaves. These recent works capture above all the feeling of a life richly lived in keen experience of nature's daily wonder.
Also on view are recent small pastels by Deborah Fine of the Main Line - mild, misty works that lay claim to the space around them with their deft, roguish, supple handling.
Rosenfeld Gallery, 113 Arch St. Both shows to June 24. Wed-Sat 10-5, Sun noon-5. 215-922-1376.
Ben, Ben, and more Ben
Better than ever and just as authentic. That's the setting - the Studio of Ben Solowey at his Bedminster farm, with 51 artworks largely in the same surroundings in which Solowey (1900-78) created them.
The charcoal portraits of leading actors and actresses of the New York stage were done before he settled in Bucks County in 1942. Then there are the stunning likenesses he painted at this bucolic farm, particularly those of his beautiful wife, Rae. And everywhere the landscapes and elaborate seasonal still lifes, drawings, and sculptures - all displayed in this defining exhibition, "Twenty Years So Far," at the Solowey Studio.
This is one of almost 40 shows curator David Leopold has put together since 1992. Three cheers for this 20th-anniversary celebration of the longevity of a cherished rural artist's studio destination in Bucks County.
The Studio of Ben Solowey, 3551 Olde Bedminster Rd, Bedminster. This Saturday and Sunday 1 to 5 p.m., then by appointment through Aug. 31. 215-795-0228.