Following with their theme of process-based exhibits, the gallery at Knight Arts grantee Philadelphia Sculpture Gym is displaying artwork by a number of member artists in the medium of wood. The first installment in this series dealt with castings (with a solo show sandwiched in between) and now the sculptors take on the versatile material of wood to create a variety of objects from clocks and kneelers to mechanical bulls and fans.
Lewis Colburn presents a tall, maple grandfather clock with its recognizably lithe center peaked with a rounded face with his piece “The Long Journey.” What stands out here is that the timepiece at the top is notably absent. Instead of a numbered dial, the top of this device portrays the pockmarked face of the moon. The unmistakable satellite stands out in relief from otherwise flat surface and its top right corner is open, revealing a framework of wooden supports. A journey to the moon is indeed a long trip (the longest that humans have so far embarked upon) but this facsimile appears to be more of a movie prop than an orbiting rock.
In favor of more earthly pursuits, Andrew Wilkinson sets his sights on branding and corporate interests with “The Kneeler.” Using the form of a church kneeler where believers generally bow down to pray, Wilkinson twists the symbolism of this object by emblazoning it with company logos. The front of the kneeler is built into the omnipresent McDonald’s arches, beneath the twist of the Coca-Cola logo. On the very top is the Nike swoosh and the pillow at the bottom is by none other than Chanel. Clearly this is a criticism of how people approach designer products and corporate identity. Instead of kneeling at an altar for spiritual reasons, many people now hold their material possessions in higher regard than almost anything else in a strange sort of religious replacement therapy.
A couple of works also have movable parts and complex components. Geoffrey Thompson has two large chunks of wood fitted with a saddle and balancing atop two huge springs. Somewhere between playground fixture and mechanical bull, it looks like it would be fun (and somewhat precarious) to ride. Kevin van Zanten has a small bedroom setup with a bunk and strewn clothing with an oscillating fan as the focal point. It is constructed quite intricately with an expanding top part, usable buttons and a power cord made of twine plugged into a fake electrical socket. The detail in the top part is pretty astounding, glorifying the humble fan as a crowning technological achievement.
Later this month, on October 20-21, the Philadelphia Sculpture Gym will participate in the Philadelphia Open Studio Tours (POST) with small-scale aluminum pours and casting demonstration as well as tours of the space. The Sculpture Gym will be open both days from 12-6 p.m.
Philadelphia Sculpture Gym is located at 1834 Frankford Ave., Philadelphia; email@example.com; philadelphiasculpturegym.com.