Stop by Old City’s Rodger LaPelle Galleries to cool off with their “Summertime” 2013 group show. Consisting of work by two dozen artists, the heavily painting-based exhibit highlights Philadelphia talents from mid-career artists to well-established painters and even a couple tiny interior dioramas.
One of the most obviously impressive artists in the show would have to be Paul Kane who, due to recent gallery closures, is the newest addition to LaPelle after the gallery spent years trying to represent him. His works are subtle and delicate, but rendered with a keen eye for texture. In the “Summertime” show, Kane presents numerous paintings of wrinkled and folded paper or fabric which look highly realistic and beg to be touched. Kane dips into bright, warm hues of orange and pastel red to color these pieces. One, entitled only “Wine,” is crisscrossed with perpendicular, creased canyons which spread deep shadows across the surface of the material.
Harvey Weinreich takes the idiom of to think “Outside of the Box” literally in his piece of the same name. Pieced together slices of cardboard are intriguing partly due to the way he assembles them, but also because of what they used to be. On the surface one can see stencils, flaps, folds and even handles originally intended for carrying these former containers. Now these holes present merely a formal study of positive and negative space. Spread out as these found slices of paper are, the artwork clearly dictates that we are on the outside of this box, leaving us only to wonder what it might contain…
In a departure from painting, Ken Hamilton constructs tiny, intricate settings that seem not unlike our own. These worlds are enticing for their attention to detail but also paradoxically represent nostalgia for places we have never been and settings which are beautiful in their decay. “The Hallway” is lined with tiles that could come from any mid-century Philadelphia apartment building, and the wear and tear upholds the age of these places. In this hall, an empty beer bottle sits on the floor, plaster crumbles exposing the wood underneath, the door rests eternally cracked open, and graffiti dots the chipping blue paint on the walls.
Jeanine Leclaire renders figures in dark, foreboding settings from lonely women deep in thought on the rims of bathtubs to men tied up in basements. While all of these portraits verge on the sinister, one takes a surreal sidestep. In “What We Don’t Eat,” Leclaire utilizes a more illustrative hand, and the figure appears more like a comic than a photograph. In the corner sits a pinkish pile of fish heads and other scraps. It is unclear whether this is literally representative of human wastefulness or just a grisly scene of surreal symbolism, but the man stands, arms behind his back, deeply contemplative over this pile of refuse.
There are many more works in the show but these selections certainly demonstrate the breadth of skill and themes in the “Summertime” show at the Rodger LaPelle Galleries.
Rodger LaPelle Galleries are located at 122 North 3rd St., Philadelphia; email@example.com; rodgerlapellegalleries.com.