Among the artists and curators contributing to the Knight Arts grantee creative exchange Citywide, two groups take the idea of process and run with it. The trade-off between Rebekah Templeton Contemporary Art and Grizzly Grizzly attempts to connect artists whose main connecting factor is not necessarily their making, but their curating. The Grizzly crew engaged in studio visitations with other members before entering their own respective spaces to create, while the married couple of Ben Will and Sarah Eberle compared and contrasted their processes into one cohesive whole, marking the first time the curating couple collaborated artistically.
In the Rebekah Templeton gallery on Girard Avenue, the first thing that becomes obvious of the Grizzly artwork in “B-Sides” is a certain playfulness and a facade that would make those who began the concept of truth to materials roll over in their graves. Michael Konrad’s “Support Foundation” is perhaps the most obvious of such tropes. Here, the artist stacks a wall of crumbly, graying bricks against the wall and holds them in place with a Tyvek sheet spread by braided metal cables. The banner is emblazoned with a print of much brighter red bricks neatly mortared together. This pairing of a disheveled reality with an ideal photographic representation certainly has a lot in common with our over-Photoshopped, digital lives and the economically troubled, sometimes barely functional bureaucratic world that exists beyond the confines of the Internet.
Tiniest but maybe mightiest amongst the work on display is Ruth Scott Blackson’s “Color Static.” Also drawing on elements of the pixelated images that bombard us daily, Blackson concocts a noisy fuzz of static that, instead of light, utilizes a collage of ridiculously small colored paper rectangles in staggering patterns to convey the anxiety that accompanies constant connectivity. Visually wild and socially inquisitive, the psychedelic dance of physically placed pieces defies the logic of the electronic monitors where we usually see these types of images.
Mary Smull’s boundary-breaking yarn sequences, Jacque Liu’s mylar structures, and paintings by Cindy Stockton-Moore and Josh Weiss round out the show with pieces that range from abstract to figurative and incorporate structural objects, fabric and even acrylic on canvas for a show whose range is inherent in a group of artists who typically collaborate only through the exhibits they organize.
For the work of Eberle and Will in the Grizzly Grizzly space titled “Making Eyes,” the two present modest but thoughtful works reminiscent of Styrofoam, and adorned with cut paper and tape in a variety of forms which seem structural but strangely biological. All of the work is anchored around chunks of synthetic packaging type material that Will assembles together in ways that emphasize its timelessness (after all, this stuff does not decompose and will last much longer than any of us). The nooks and crannies of this shipping and handling-like detritus become an enigma that goes unsolved as soon as its perceived contents were removed.
Eberle builds on and grows from these places of newfound affection with representational images, plantlike protrusions and colorful accents. Geometric lines of green and purple tape delineate pictures of silhouetted couples and splashes of paint. On the ceiling, flowery orbs seem to float around the room like dispersed seed pods headed toward newer and greener pastures. The show manifests itself in a way that is hopeful and delicate, in many ways at odds with the work the couple’s gallery often displays. “Making Eyes” is lightweight in the way that a pleasant dream is, but just as tenuous.
Both shows will be on display in their respective locations through Nov. 30 while Citywide Philly is also still in town.
Rebekah Templeton Contemporary Art is located at 173 W. Girard Ave., Philadelphia; firstname.lastname@example.org; rebekahtempleton.com
Grizzly Grizzly is located at 319 N. 11th St., on the second floor, Philadelphia; email@example.com; grizzlygrizzly.com