For those who missed the news: The Esther M. Klein Gallery at the University City Science Center is now operating under a program called Breadboard, whose mission is to "convene communities around creative applications of technology."
Hence, the EKG's latest exhibition, "Machinato Causa," a collaboration among Breadboard, the Center for Emerging Visual Artists (CFEVA), and NextFab Studio, a technology workshop and prototyping center at the Science Center. The shared project began last summer when Breadboard solicited proposals from CFEVA's artist members for a six-week residency at NextFab, asking them how such an opportunity might help them to streamline their art-making processes. Artists chosen for the program would be expected to exhibit their NextFab works together at EKG after completing their residencies.
Do you really need to know all this to appreciate "Machinato Causa"?
Not really, though the gallery should have mounted wall texts saying which of NextFab's state-of-the-art tools helped to realize the works of the exhibition's three chosen artists. (NextFab, of which any artist or designer can become a member, offers the use of a laser cutter, a VersaCamm vinyl printer and cutter, a CNC plasma cutter, a digital embroiderer, and various other machines.)
Clearly, Laureen Griffin used quite a few of NextFab's tools in her installation, "Beauty Revisited: An Ongoing Series of Settings for the Artist's Gender Portraiture Project," which includes a room covered with wallpaper of her own design (what appears to be digitally enlarged photographic images of a city street and the parlor of a house) and some furniture, including a lamp with a shade printed with photographic images of butterflies - a contemporary twist on Tiffany.
Griffin's photographic portraits of people of various gender identities seemed not to have been the products of any advanced technologies.
The main gallery space was given to Marisha Simons and Peter Hanley, who worked collaboratively on cut-paper forms suspended from the ceiling. I'd like to have known the technology that allowed the lights inside these pieces to dim and brighten and change colors simultaneously, but I appreciated their fragile, alien presence nevertheless.
Rebekah Templeton Contemporary Art is about as small as galleries get - it's a storefront in a rowhouse on Girard Avenue - but it always makes the most of its diminutive scale. Its current show, "Crypsis," of two mural-scaled, painted cut-paper collages by Jackie Hoving that take up two entire facing walls, could have been claustrophobic. Instead, Hoving's two sprawling camouflage-inspired images - "Forest in Hunter" and "Hunter in Forest" - have a bracing effect. You can't help but be impressed by this bold installation.
Hoving's two cut-paper pieces represent a positive and negative version of the same image of a hunter in the woods with a bear, and they're the same size and of the same palette. Standing in the center of the gallery and looking at one of the pieces, a viewer will experience an uncanny sense of something happening behind his or her back. That's probably because Hoving combines patterns and layering to the point where her images seem to be moving, making the play of opposites between these two wall pieces all the more visceral.
Gallery Joe's "new talent 2010" is a quiet little show of mostly non-Philadelphians that doesn't even make use of the gallery's vault space. But the works it does present fall remarkably well within the gallery's aesthetic. Think lots of small marks and gestures borne of highly personal observations.
Mia Rosenthal, the lone Philadelphia-based artist, is showing two works from her series "Antoinette's Stamp Collection," each of which depicts compositions of British stamps drawn in ink and gouache in Rosenthal's typically whimsical style.
Richard Garrison's chart-like gouache and watercolor drawings are, in fact, charts, and record the colors used in advertising circulars in his Sunday newspaper.
Two of Martin Brief's drawings from his "Art Forum" series consist of tidy rows of minuscule handwritten names of artists he saw in the pages of Artforum magazine. You'll know if you need reading glasses.
Molly Heron's paintings of vividly colored, sinuous stripes in gouache on paper are influenced by her years of yoga practice and its breathing exercises. Visually, they're the anomalies of this show, but they, too, follow an idiosyncratic method.