Now in its sixth year, the Fleisher/Ollman Gallery's open invitational exhibition has become this city's most anticipated roundup of the young and talented. It's the kind of rigorously organized, exciting survey of emerging area artists that all galleries and local museums should be aspiring to.
This December's iteration, "You Open So Late, You Close So Early," which features no videos - or any pieces involving sound, for that matter (except for a gently whirring plate and a fan in two sculptures) - strikes a more contemplative mood than its predecessors. The calmness is also the result of the show's installation, which allows more physical distance between works than previous invitationals have.
It's become unusual not to hear some noise in a show of contemporary art, you realize - but the quiet here is deceptive. There is a lot of bite and attitude in this show, and it accumulates strength as you walk through it, slowly savoring each artist's contributions.
Nick Paparone, an artist who has been showing sprawling, deliberately trashy sculpture installations of all-American debris at Vox Populi, looks better than ever in this show with his more distilled efforts,
The Long Now
(2008), a swirling, motor-operated plate of painted-plaster eggs, pancakes, sausage and bacon against a laminated poster backdrop of outer space, and
(2008), a fan-inflated sculpture of joined plastic bags arising from a cardboard carton like a jack-in-the-box and covered with vinyl decals of blue eyes. If this sounds over the top, then you missed Paparone's recent installation at Vox.
Hyper-realist drawing has been back in style for a while, after a 30-plus-year hiatus, and it looks entirely new in the hands of Mark Stockton, who plucks his subjects from the tabloid news of the past - Patty Hearst, Pete Rose, Arnold Schwarzenegger - and renders them with the utmost precision, transforming them into misunderstood, media-maligned action heroines and heroes.
The artist-brother team of Steven and Billy Dufala stand out as well with their creepy, distorted sculpture of a huge oak sledge-hammer handle inserted into a tiny steel head, and their digitally altered photograph of a Converse sneaker that stretches it into a long, coiling, snakelike form.
C. Pazia Mannella, an artist who was completely new to me, contributed works that put the dots on the i's, in case the intense, outsidery nature of this particular invitational hadn't already sunk in. Mannella's
(2008), a serpentine floor sculpture of zippers, fabric and thread, is a descendant of such icons of kink as Nancy Grossman's leather masks of the early 1970s, but sweeter and more toylike, with none of Grossman's obvious figurative references.
Having seen so many diverting video and film pieces in past invitationals, it struck me that this show would have benefited from the presence of an artist working with moving images. The monotonous sounds of Paparone's endlessly swirling plate and fan are unnerving in this unusually still show. But maybe that's the point.
"You Open So Late, You Close So Early" also includes works by David Clayton, Charles Hobbs, Nick Lenker, Josh Rickards, Shawn Thornton and Alex Lukas.
Lively time line
Thinking it's high time to reinvigorate its gallery program, Delaware County Community College invited painter Bill Scott to organize an exhibition that would announce that intention. Scott's "Abstract Invitational," his personal selection of the works of 33 local abstract painters, is probably the largest show this tidy, hidden gallery has ever seen. As might be expected, Scott's choices are mainly in the vein of his own painting, incorporating vivid color and compositions built up of many lines and strokes.
The show is organized chronologically, starting with the paintings of Jacqueline Cotter and Doris Staffel, born in 1921, and ending with works by Thomas Raggio and Benjamin Passione, born in 1987. It includes many familiar names, among them Jan Baltzell, Astrid Bowlby, Charles Burwell, Bill Freeland, Robert Goodman, Charles Kalick, Mary Nomecos, Michael Olszewski, Bruce Pollock, Rececca Saylor-Sack, Anne Seidman, and Deborah Warner. Scott, born in 1956 - more or less in the middle of this group - included an etching of his own.
Interestingly, the recent efforts of the older participants in Scott's show look at least as fresh as some of the youngest artists' paintings.