Galleries: An overdue and snappy show of Andrade's prints

Posted: October 08, 2012

It might come as a surprise to those familiar with Edna Andrade's paintings and works on paper that Andrade, who was 91 when she died in 2008 and remains one of Philadelphia's most admired artists, was not given a retrospective of her prints during her lifetime. She was honored with a retrospective at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 1993, a survey of her op art paintings at the Institute of Contemporary Art in 2003, and a retrospective of her drawings at the Woodmere Art Museum in 2007, but her prints make up a substantial body of work.

Now that oversight is remedied. The Print Center has stepped up to the plate with a print retrospective that is one of the snappiest Andrade shows ever.

"Color Motion: Edna Andrade Prints" is small by usual retrospective standards - it takes up the two second-floor galleries and probably could have migrated up from the ground floor - but Print Center curator John Caperton has organized a show that continuously captivates and surprises the eye. One of Caperton's bold moves was to commission Anona Studio to design wallpapers in three greatly enlarged Andrade print motifs and to cover three exhibition walls with them. An Andrade atop a blown-up Andrade is as op as you can get.

At the top of the stairs, visitors are greeted by the show's namesake, Color Motion, Andrade's first editioned (and - curiously, given its title - black-and-white) print, which she made in 1965, and which could be said to mark her foray into op art, which was just gathering steam and already included Bridget Riley and Richard Anuszkiewicz among its ranks.

Andrade, then 48 and still known mainly as a painter, had moved on from landscapes to biomorphic abstraction to geometric compositions, but her seemingly abrupt switch to printmaking and the illusion of expansion and recession within the crisp black-and-white pattern of Color Motion seemed to epitomize her striking new style. Andrade also used screen printing to create her prints, which gave them an obvious affinity with the prints being made at that time by Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, and Richard Hamilton, who liked the flatness and DIY unfussiness of screen printing - its use in everyday commercial printing also appealed to their populist aesthetic.

Andrade's interests in science and architecture inspired much of her work, and if they're not readily recognizable in her imagery, her titles attempt to connect the dots. The curvy lines in Black Dragons (1969) and White Dragons (1968) were inspired by the Dragon Curve, an echoing fractal curve found in nature and mathematics, while Orange Cisoide likely borrowed its cube and curved forms from the cissoid of Diocles, the Greek mathematician and geometer. Caperton's exhibition makes the point that Andrade's references to science and architecture were often overlooked or ignored - that her work was frequently interpreted as a formal exercise when it was not just that. But I'm not convinced that knowing its underpinnings makes her work any more interesting or enjoyable than it already is.

The retrospective comes with a catalog (unfortunately not yet available when I saw her show, but reservations are being taken), and a complementary show of works on paper made by Andrade between 1959 and 1962 is at Locks Gallery through next Saturday.

Katie Baldwin, whose exhibition is in the ground-floor gallery, displays her considerable skills as a printmaker in "There Are Two Stories Here." Baldwin's prints comprise multiple woodblocks and she hand-sets lead type and prints her editions by hand. But, her tsk-tsking about the proliferation of images in the digital age in her own images of places and people in a utopian, preindustrial world is slightly irritating.


The Print Center, 1614 Latimer St., 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. 215-735-6090 or www.printcenter.org. Through Nov. 17.

Metallica

Ted Larsen's second one-man show at Schmidt/Dean Gallery continues his exploration of painted salvaged steel parts (think '60s and '70s American cars in particular) integrated into one work, and suggests that he has become more fluent with contemporary abstract painting. The paintings of Thomas Nozkowski and Anne Seidman (who shows with this gallery) would seem to be touchstones, but the painted metal parts still call to mind outsider art and eccentric hobbyists.

I especially liked Larsen's more sculptural works, wall-mounted networks of open cubes of painted metal strips, such as Winner Takes All, Kinky Playground, and the all-white Ice Boxes, all from 2010 and the earliest works here. Sculptures like these should have a show to themselves next time.


Schmidt/Dean Gallery, 1719 Chestnut St., 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays to Saturdays. www.schmidtdean.com or 215-569-9433. Through Oct. 13.

Solitaire

James Oliver Gallery, usually a haven for painting, drawings, and sculpture, turns to photography occasionally. Its current exhibition, "Rogue: Exposure," of photographs of people and figures in isolated situations by Thomas Jackson, Ilisa Katz Rissman, and Alyssa Maloof, is its strongest exclusively photography show to date. Jackson's images of mysterious nocturnal scenes (some involving a robot), Rissman's close-up candid color portraits of teens, and Maloof's deliberately sketchy shots of swimmers in a public pool in Philadelphia's Kingsessing neighborhood make for a disparate but of-the-moment gathering.


James Oliver Gallery, 723 Chestnut St., 5 to 8 p.m. Wednesdays to Fridays, noon to 8 p.m. Saturdays. 267-918-7432 or www.jamesolivergallery.com. Through Oct. 20.

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