'Voyeur," Tristin Lowe's third show at Fleisher/Ollman Gallery, catches the Philadelphia artist on a roll, still making his remarkable fuzzy facsimiles of familiar objects in off-white felt, but also expressing his dark humor and affection for the impossible in neon and photography.
Some of Lowe's sewn felt pieces are mounted over hardened foam shapes. Near Miss is a meteor of sewn felt perched on a white sculpture pedestal. A pair of white felt jeans, Genes: Standard Model, standing eerily upright on another pedestal, is Lowe's self-portrait.
Heaven's Gate, a copy of a door in felt over a wood armature, propped against a gallery wall, is uncanny in its detail, as is the only "soft" felt sculpture in this show, Grandpa Ed's Binoculars.
Seeing these mostly unrelated, off-white objects in relatively close proximity, I thought of a latter-day reimagined Pompeii - of things preserved in ash, not people.
By contrast, the exhibition's sole neon sculpture, Comet: God Particle, appears fiery and alive, gliding through the darkened gallery. It's not kinetic, but it gives that impression.
The red-orange light emanating from Lowe's neon sculpture is echoed in his red-orange photographs, which depict close-ups of the palms of his hands folded and otherwise manipulated to suggest buttocks, genitalia, and various kinds of sexual interactions. Lowe's "Handjob" series is entertaining and clever - the subset that constitutes the most seemingly sexually explicit images of the series is especially well done - but Lowe's sculpture is still the thing.
We see grids everywhere, every day - I'm looking through window panes at our neighbors' asphalt shingles right now - but when they're transposed to paintings and drawings, the effect can be hypnotic, even romantic.
At Gallery Joe, Sabine Friesicke's gouache paintings, made up of multiple left-to-right and top-to-bottom strokes, are so densely layered that the squares and rectangles of space left between the strokes can suggest windows, modernist houses, city blocks. They're abstract but familiar, like memories and dreams.
They are also illusionistic and more random than they appear to be at first. In Red and grey lines, for example, horizontal lines are pale gray at the top of the painting, and become progressively darker as they continue to the bottom, giving the effect of the top being closer and the bottom receding. Each of the red rectangles between the gray stripes is made up of a lighter and a darker red, suggesting brick industrial buildings seen at an angle, one wall in shadow.
Many of Friesicke's new paintings are explorations of gray and pink, using metallic gouache as gray. They're more atmospheric than her works in strong colors shown here in 2009 and more seemingly responsive to the gallery's light. They are completely abstract but nonetheless reminiscent of Georgia O'Keeffe's nocturnal views of New York's midtown skyscrapers painted from her room in the Shelton Hotel between 1926 and 1929.
Allyson Strafella, who is having her first solo show with Gallery Joe, has been making drawings that involve the use of a typewriter for the last 17 years, and not in the way that Carl Andre or Jack Nicholson did, although her obsessiveness does recall that scary revelatory scene from The Shining. In her recent work, Strafella has been typing and retyping rows of colons onto small pieces of carbon paper, occasionally distressing the paper until it wears away and takes on the appearance of worn fabric. These are ghostly, beautiful works on paper that capture the process of obsolescence in every way.
One week left to catch Jolie Laide Gallery's group show of 11 artists, "Becoming Something Found," which gathers works that suggest a look of being in process, or progress, or altogether open-ended.
Some of the highlights include Sheila Hicks' untitled weaving of metallicized fiber and silk (a timely inclusion, given Hicks' current ICA retrospective); Alison Knowles' humorously gross White Soy Bean, Bean Turner; Molly Smith's distorted hula hoop, and two drawings by Ree Morton, an influential Philadelphia artist who was only 40 when she died in an auto accident in Chicago in 1977.