Two big art shows this season take mid-century and ’70s Philadelphia as their subject, with provocative — almost opposite — viewpoints.
The recently opened “Invisible City," organized by University of the Arts and sprawling across four Center City venues, celebrates an extraordinary run of unfettered creativity here from the mid-1950s to the mid-1970s. “Bicentennial City,” now at Haverford College, looks back on the city’s feel-good 1976 bicentennial as a particularly divisive time in its history.
Forward-looking shows on the gallery scene this spring include a trio of solo exhibitions at Moore College of Art & Design by promising local artists Stacey Lee Webber, Matt A. Osborn, and Shona McAndrew. Moore is calling that show “Emerging Philadelphia."
Take note: Fleisher/Ollman gallery is moving from its Arch Street space to 915 Spring Garden St. and reopening with a show in June.
Room for One (through Feb. 28, Napoleon). A group show curated by Napoleon collective member Daniel Oliva features small, highly personal works by artists who are not members. They include Anne Canfield, Joan Wadleigh Curran, Anda Dubinskis, Matt Hepworth, Olivia Jia, Caitlin McCormack, Alex Nguyen-Vo, Lucia Thomé, and Justin R. Webb. (napoleonnapoleon.com)
Rock Chalk: Kate McCammon (through Feb. 29, Automat). Fabric paintings that depict images of childhood experiences, imbued with loss. (automatcollective.com)
Imin Yeh: The Drawer of Extra Sauce (through March 1, Grizzly Grizzly). A site-specific installation of sculptures fashioned from found paper, by a Pittsburgh-based artist. (grizzlygrizzly.com)
Bicentennial City (through March 6, Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery, Haverford College). Organized by the poet and Haverford College professor Thomas Devaney, with multichannel projections, sculptures, and bicentennial ephemera. Greenhouse Media and students from Haverford and Bryn Mawr colleges collaborated to help make it happen. (610-896-1038, haverford.edu/exhibits)
Misty Gamble: Accoutrement and Consumption (through March 7, Rowan University Art Gallery, Glassboro, N.J.). Life-size ceramic sculptures of female figures that confront traditional standards of womanhood. (856-256-4521 or rowan.edu/artgallery)
Emerging Philadelphia (through March 14, Moore College of Art & Design). Solo shows by three up-and-coming Philadelphia-based artists. (215-925-4027, moore.edu/the-galleries-at-moore)
We Want a We (through March 15, Leonard Pearlstein Gallery, Drexel University). Performances, sculptures, and photographic works by Brendan Fernandes, a Nairobi-born Canadian artist now based in Chicago, whose works address issues of race, queer culture, migration, and protest. (215-895-2548, drexel.edu/pearlsteingallery)
Ron Tarver: An Overdue Conversation With My Father (through March 21, Print Center). Tarver’s works reimagine the experience of African Americans in the United States under Jim Crow, incorporating images appropriated from the work of his father, Richard Tarver — a photographer who documented the black community in Fort Gibson, Okla., in the 1940s and 1950s. (215-735-6090, printcenter.org)
Frankenthaler on Paper (through March 29, Arthur Ross Gallery, University of Pennsylvania). Rarely-seen prints and paintings on paper by color-field painter Helen Frankenthaler (1928-2001), known for her stained canvases. The works here date from 1970 to 1993. (215-898-2083, arthurrossgallery.org)
Invisible City: Philadelphia and the Vernacular Avant-garde (through April 4, UArts Rosenwald-Wolf Gallery, Gershman Hall, and Art Alliance, and Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts). An encyclopedic investigation into Philadelphia’s avant-gardists of the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s. Look for groundbreaking works by more than 70 artists, architects, photographers, and designers, including Denise Scott Brown, Charles Fahlen, Rafael Ferrer, Ray Metzker, Ree Morton, Italo Scanga, and Robert Venturi. (215-545-4302, uarts.edu/invisiblecity)
Seamless: Craft-Based Objects and Performance Practice (through April 16, Stedman Gallery, Rutgers-Camden Center for the Arts). An exhibition of works by Angela Ellsworth, Caleb Weintraub, and Stephanie J. Williams, all of whom do performance art and video in addition to making objects. (856-225-6245, rcca.camden.rutgers.edu)
Les Chic (Feb. 15-March 27, James Oliver Gallery). Colorful abstract paintings that reference pop art, by Elyce Abrams, Amanda Church, and Jennifer Small. (267-918-7432, jamesolivergallery.com)
Preserving a Find (Feb. 21-March 28, Tiger Strikes Asteroid). Works that record relics of the artists’ daily lives, by SaraNoa Mark, Patrick Maguire, Monica Palma, Liza Samuel, and Thaddeus Wolfe. (tigerstrikesasteroid.com)
Rackstraw Downes: A Wider View (March 5-April 5, List Gallery, Swarthmore College). More than 20 paintings made between 1966 and 2017 by the well-known realist painter, depicting landscapes in Maine, cityscapes in Manhattan, shipping lanes and landfills in New Jersey, and radio towers and ditches in Texas. (610-328-8488, swarthmore.edu/list-gallery)
Stargazing: Joshua Hebbert (March 6-April 26, Clay Studio). Slip-cast vessels inspired by constellations and celestial bodies. (215-925-3452, theclaystudio.org)
Edgar Diehl (March 14-April 25, Pentimenti Gallery). Aluminum reliefs painted with geometric patterns. (215-625-9990, pentimenti.com)
Flourish (March 20-May 23, Brooke Lanier Fine Art). Works in various media inspired by botanical forms and colors. The artists in this group show are Cynthia Back, Steve Donegan, Marisa Keris, and Heather McMordie. (267-329-9653, brookelanier.com)
John Zinsser: Tribute/Copyist Drawings (March 21-May 2, Larry Becker Contemporary Art). Exquisitely drawn copies of photographs relating to this gallery. (215-925-5389, artnet.com/galleries/larry-becker-contemporary-art)