In Philly galleries now: Craft, collage, and an out-of-the-way show worth the trouble
"Collage as Painting" at Fleisher/Ollman, "Narrative Horizons" at Moore, and a group show at Mount Airy Contemporary are three Philly gallery exhibitions worth seeing now.
A two-person show where there's synchronicity between the artists' efforts is always a thrill, like listening to a perfectly matched duet. In that way, the Fleisher/Ollman Gallery's current "Collage as Painting," pairing Kate Abercrombie and Trevor Winkfield, is brilliant.
There's an unmistakable sense of like-mindedness in the two artists' intensely solitary preoccupation.
Winkfield's stained-glass-windowlike compositions, populated with shapes that seem to have stepped off playing cards and out of 1940s children's books, have been shown extensively in New York but never before at Fleisher/Ollman. They've always struck me as compartmentalized portraits of his interests — he refers to them as "self-contained worlds."
Born in Leeds, England, in 1944, and a New Yorker since 1969, Winkfield stopped painting temporarily after getting a master's degree from the Royal Academy of Art and developed his current style after a stint as an independent publisher of avant-garde books. His mysterious coded paintings reflect his introduction to the work of French writer Raymond Roussel, known for his phonetic and semantic wordplay, and his familiarity with the wit of Marcel Duchamp and Jasper Johns. His graphic, outlined images and vivid, flat color speak to his early interests in both stained-glass windows and heraldry.
If any of the works in this show could be said to epitomize Winkfield's paintings and their slightly sinister edge, it's his Botanical Observers, from 2012, with four-leaf clovers, a Chinese-style lantern, an upside-down beehive, and medieval axes, all rendered in cheery pinks, blues, greens, reds, and yellows.
Winkfield's surreal, formal arrangements echo the process of collage: They begin as cut-out paper studies that he traces onto canvas then paints. Abercrombie's mix of images appropriated from popular culture is more akin to physical collage, with its unexpected juxtapositions.
Abercrombie was born in 1978 and is based in Philadelphia. She scavenges images from the internet, newspapers, magazines, and her own possessions — such as a relative's recipe cards — that she photocopies, draws, and traces into templates. She then transposes her templates onto Arches paper and paints inside her drawn outlines with gouache. The finished paintings are near-facsimiles of their original sources, recalling the works of such trompe l'oeil painters as John Peto and William Harnett (who could not avail themselves of the Xerox machine).
Her subject matter in this new body of work addresses a state of uncertainty, with images of a roulette wheel, Ouija boards, dream boards, lottery tickets, all-seeing eyes, and more. Multiplier (2017), a delightfully imperfect grid of perfectly rendered lottery tickets, is a winner.
Through Jan. 27 at Fleisher/Ollman Gallery, 1216 Arch St., 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, noon to 5 p.m. Saturdays. Information: 215-545-7562 or www.fleisherollman.com.
A crafty group show
It's almost last call for "Narrative Horizons," an exhibition of works by Kay Healy, Sophia Narrett, and Erin M. Riley at the Galleries at Moore.
Presented in conjunction with CraftNow, a citywide exhibition devoted to expanding the boundaries of craft, art, and design, "Narrative Horizons" is a group show by three female artists who use craft techniques — or, depending on your perspective, craft artists who employ contemporary-art strategies. It's terrific and shouldn't be missed. (CraftNow itself seems unfocused lately, and has largely fallen off the radar.)
Kay Healy's stuffed, screen-printed fabric recreations of domestic scenes dwell on displacement, vulnerability, and home, which feel especially relevant after Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria.
Hanging from the walls and drifting downward, Sophia Narrett's delicate embroidered thread-and-fabric pieces are clear expressions of sorrow and disappointment.
Erin M. Riley makes the strongest impression here, with large, hand-woven tapestries inspired by her personal life and ethos.
Through Dec. 9 at the Galleries at Moore, 20th St. and the Parkway, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays. Information: 215-965-4027 or www.thegalleriesatmoore.org.
Mount Airy Contemporary is open only on Saturdays and by appointment, so despite its consistently well-curated shows, I don't often cover it in this column. But I'd feel remiss not to bring the current exhibition to readers' attention.
"Still Time" offers Tom Judd's painted reflections on a life-changing home-improvement accident — from which he has recovered. Also here are James Rosenthal's small, heavily-textured abstract paintings summoning WWI battles and Cindy Stockton Moore's site-specific wall paintings from the Wissahickon's now-controversial Devil's Pool swimming hole. (Some neighbors, concerned about dangers and overcrowding, have proposed filling it with rocks.) They are worth arranging your schedule for a visit.
Through Dec. 16 at Mount Airy Contemporary, 25 W. Mount Airy Ave., 1 to 4 p.m. Saturdays and by appointment. Information: 267-270-2787 or www.mountairycontemporary.com.