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In Philly galleries now: Bergstrom bags, a subtle modern master, Fleisher/Ollman’s ‘Party’

Must-see shows in Philadelphia art galleries this July.

Anders Bergstrom's "June 15, 2015, State I," "June 15, 2015, State II," and ";June15, 2015, State III. at C.R. Ettinger Studio.
Anders Bergstrom's "June 15, 2015, State I," "June 15, 2015, State II," and ";June15, 2015, State III. at C.R. Ettinger Studio.Read moreEdith Newhall

Together, the C.R. Ettinger Studio and Dolan/Maxwell have brought the paper bag facsimiles of Anders Bergstrom to Philadelphia for the first time.

Bergstrom, a New York-based artist, has been making copies of the classic Duro brown paper lunch bag, but with a twist: Each one could almost be considered a three-dimensional print.

His bags are akatosashi paper (made from the bark of the paper mulberry tree), which he folds, Duro-fashion, into a bag shape. He colors them using traditional printmaking techniques and replicates the Duro wording from the tops and bottoms of its bags.

Some of Bergstrom's bags have what appear to be grease stains on them, bringing to mind Ed Ruscha's "Stain" series of 1969, but unlike Ruscha's stains, made with real substances such as bacon grease and mustard, Bergstrom's are created using the printmaking process of aquatint.

Besides folding the paper, Bergstrom hand-cuts the saw-toothed edges of his bags, and occasionally crumples them for an added touch of realism. So they're not entirely the result of printmaking. But they come tantalizingly close.

Through Aug. 10 at C.R. Ettinger Studio, 2215 South St., 12 to 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays (gallery is closed July 21-29, open by appointment in August), 610-585-4084 or 215-732-7787.

Subtle power at the PMA

Do museum visitors walking down the hallway in the Philadelphia Museum of Art's modern and contemporary art wing realize they're passing through an exhibition?

I had my doubts about that when I went to see "Agnes Martin: The Untroubled Mind/Works from the Daniel W. Dietrich II Collection." It's mounted in a section of the hallway that's designated the Tuttleman Gallery 174, but is still more recognizably the hallway.

I had seriously misjudged Martin's power, though. Every passerby I saw stopped cold when they saw Martin's paintings. Loud voices dropped to a whisper.

Clearly, Martin's subtle works continue to captivate the uninitiated as well as those who know them well.

Martin, who died in 2004 at 92, began to develop her signature grid and stripe compositions in the early 1960s. She intended to express states of happiness, beauty, and perfection.

Daniel W. Dietrich II, a local philanthropist and collector of American art, was among those drawn to her paintings early on, and he supported her first mid-career survey, in 1973, at the Institute of Contemporary Art.

>> READ MORE: Philanthropist Daniel Dietrich II dies at 73, gave large endowment to ICA

This current exhibition offers an intimate look at the friendship and respect Martin and Dietrich had for each other. It also looks back to Martin's seminal ICA show.

This new show brings together a selection of Martin's paintings and drawings (and one sculpture) that Dietrich owned and bequeathed to the PMA, as well as archival documentation relating to her ICA survey.

Three of the show's four large, square-format paintings, Leaf, Hill, and The Rose, dating from the 1960s, display Martin's carefully penciled grids over a thin surfaces of acrylic paint.

Untitled #2, from 1985, is a classic Martin stripe painting, alternating two colors of blue, with each stripe's edges defined in pencil.

The lone sculpture, an assemblage titled The Wave, was made by Martin for a 1964 show at the Betty Parsons Gallery; "Toys by Artists" was used as a toy by Dietrich's toddler sons.

Martin fans — and those interested in Philadelphia's art world of the 1970s — will enjoy an arrangement of Martin's handwritten notes about her work, her poetic reflections, her diary notes, and some correspondence.

The show's title, "The Untroubled Mind" was the title of a text that Martin wrote in 1973. It is printed on the reverse of a free poster that you're invited to read in the gallery and take home.

I'd suggest reading it later. Trying to absorb Martin's long, free-associative list of her beliefs while also looking at her paintings would surely defeat the mental clarity that Martin sought to achieve in making her art.

Through Oct. 14 at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, 26th St. and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays to 8:45 p.m., 215-763-8100 or

“Party” at Fleisher/Ollman

Fleisher/Ollman has pulled out all the stops for its summer group show, "Party in the Front." It's like being let loose in the gallery's back room to prowl through the inventory, without having to lift a finger.

Here are works that have been consigned to the gallery for resale, works by contemporary Philadelphia and New York-based artists, works by the self-taught, works by the anonymous, and more.

There are so many standouts in this show that it's hard to know where to start. Some that particularly appealed to me: Karl Wirsum's bright, optimistic Second Sacker (circa 1975) painted on a paper bag; Ellis Ruley's Dude Ranch (circa 1950), a dour painting of an unhappy-looking man and woman on horses; Paul Swenbeck's Winter I (2015), a mask-like work of glazed earthenware paper clay; and Kate Abercrombie's collage no such number, no such zone (2015).

Through Aug. 25 at Fleisher/Ollman, 1216 Arch St., 10:30 to 5:30 Tuesdays through Fridays, by appointment in August, 215-545-6140 or,