Derrick Velasquez's third one-person show at Pentimenti Gallery, "Business Casual," emphasizes his facility with various media and materials. It also showcases his ability to transform everyday structures and materials into mysterious objects of art that transcend their common origins but don't make a big deal of it.
All the pieces here date from 2016 and show the Denver artist involved in several bodies of work: his wall-mounted sculptures comprising layers of colored, marine vinyl he cuts into long, narrow strips; decorative medallions cast from silicone rubber; oil-stick drawings on laser-cut photocopies and paper; digital C-prints; collages; and floor sculptures made with the expandable foam trim used in crown molding and other decorative wall trimmings.
At once beautiful and disturbing, Velasquez's marine vinyl sculptures - earlier ones have been exhibited here before - are still the most captivating of his works. They're as minimal as a Gene Davis stripe painting, in a similarly friendly Fiestaware palette, but the curious droopy shapes they acquire after being hung on wood supports are reminiscent of human heads, tribal headdresses, and wigs. Some of these new marine vinyl pieces recall other painters besides Davis. Undulating Untitled 145 looks like a section of a landscape painted by Chicago imagist Roger Brown; black-and-white Untitled 144 suggests a nod to op art.
I suspect Velasquez is making an effort to escape his reputation for meticulous craftsmanship with his small oil-stick drawings of sections of patterns and ornamentation seen close up. These drawings seem copied from furniture carvings, wallpaper, textiles, and ceramics. Roughly rendered in one strong color on a painted white background, they make a charming, casual passage in this show.
Through Dec. 22 at Pentimenti Gallery, 145 N. 2nd St. Hours: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays; noon to 5 p.m. Saturdays. Information: 215-625-9990 or www.pentimentigallery.com.
Color exploring depth
Philadelphian Bill Scott is best known as an abstract painter in the tradition of such Philadelphia colorists as Jane Piper and Quita Brodhead. Both were mentors of his. But he has also been making intaglio prints with Philadelphia master printer (and artist) Cindi R. Ettinger since 1999. Cerulean Arts is showing a selection of those collaborations from the last 17 years.
When Scott began drawing on copper plates, he would sit outside, etching small sketches of things that caught his eye. Little Flower, Cindi's Wall, and Hollyhocks, all from 1999, are scratchy black-and-white studies that hint at the colorful, calligraphic paintings he would make a few years later.
After receiving a grant from the Independence Foundation in 2004, Scott began to experiment with color etching, an effort that also informed his paintings. The Green Bottle (2006), a five-color print, and Larry's Garden: Winter (2007), in four colors, show Scott using color both decoratively and to suggest the depth of architectural spaces.
Scott's recent prints, like his recent paintings, are more solidly colored. He was inspired in this direction by the color etchings Mary Cassatt made in the 1890s, but viewers of such recent Scott prints as Late October (2016), an etching with aquatint in four vivid colors that captures the soul of a Halloween eve, may think he has more in common with Peter Doig.
Through Dec. 24 at Cerulean Arts, 1355 Ridge Ave. Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays; noon to 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Info: 267-514-8647 or www.ceruleanarts.com.
Nick Cassway has covered the walls of a room in the former Barclay Hotel - a space now used as the Center for Emerging Visual Artists' Felicity R. "Bebe" Benoliel Gallery - with a striking wallpaper of his own design, but there's plenty more than meets the eye.
Cassway's immersive installation, "Above the Sound of Ideologies Clashing," an 80-foot-long wall covering involving 80 sequential drawings that progress and eventually repeat over the gallery's four walls, is Cassway's clever commentary on history repeating itself. But unlike some artists, he gives a lot of credit to others.
It turns out Cassway did not simply draw the man and woman whose various fraught interactions decorate his wallpaper from his imagination. He commissioned a performance by two Philadelphia performers, Aram Aghazarian and Johanna Kasimow. He directed them to act out his story of a confrontation between a stage manager and a sorceress, stipulating that the action had to end where it began. The six-minute performance was filmed by James Wasserman, and Cassway chose 80 frames from which to create his narrative. He then traced the images on a digital light table and had them printed through the online service Spoonflower.com as a series of 40 individual, connected designs. Greg Tefankjian did the hanging.
Through Jan. 6 at the Center for Emerging Visual Artists, 237 S. 18th St., Suite 3A. Hours: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m Mondays through Fridays. Information: 215-546-7775 or www.cfeva.org.