Artists remember. They see the 1939 founding of the American Color Print Society as a Philadelphia "first." That pioneering group became a champion and conduit for vital aesthetic changes in our nation's art galleries and museums, at a time when color prints were banned from juried print shows.
Artists have remained loyal to ACPS now that color work is everywhere. They even felt relaxed enough in their current, 49-artist National Members Exhibit at Villanova University to submit a few black and white prints among the etchings, aquatints, collagraphs, silkscreens, lithographs, woodcuts and, of course, digital prints.
This calm and collected show is hung most substantially around prints by artists working independently and at a high level of artistic maturity, and others whose prints haven't yet been widely exhibited or accorded substantial recognition.
There are recognizable names such as the Society president Idaherma Williams of Princeton, Alan Klawans, Jack Gerber, Merle Spandorfer, Libby Newman, Burt Wasserman, and Herb Appelson. Others - including Anthony Lazorko, Lisa Hamilton, Natalia Moroz, Leonard Leibowitz, Nina Rake and Mary Blackey - might be as unfamiliar to you as they are to me.
Anthony Liggins of Atlanta and Gabe Tiberino of Philadelphia's Mural Arts Program share a painting exhibit at Sande Webster Gallery.
In Liggins' show, "Interconnected Souls & Kindred Spirits," brilliant color stands its ground. There's often a lingering feeling of landscape in these abstractions, felt in the scale and breadth of handling. By incorporating elements such as yarn and ebony rods in his paintings, he shows a surrealist's flair for unlikely juxtapositions. Liggins' veiled meanings are his strong point as an artist.
Gabe Tiberino retains the freshness of direct observation. Reflecting his interest in rendering art in a more public way, all his paintings are concerned with people, locales and dealing with art as part of the real world. Clarity is his virtue.
Direct realist styles of painting are plentiful in the "New Faces" show at Artists' House Gallery, a realist stronghold. Seeing these 14 mini-solos helps us get newcomers clearly in our sights.
Jeffrey Filbert and Edwin B. Allen hold the fort for tradition here - Filbert for his flawlessly executed, old-masterish painted loaves of bread, and Allen as a searcher for friendly encounters in the heart of America in his very detailed, downtown pen-and-ink scenes.
Chad Smalt, Richard Colson and Robert Sampson, meanwhile, move past a certain emotional blandness suggested by Luca Chirianai's mild, agreeable paintings of seashells, toward a delicate, mood-tinged, romantic decoration.
Smalt's oils find that mood in his seemingly spontaneous nature close-ups, and Sampson's effectively designed paintings discover the romance of the road on city streets as viewed from the driver's seat, each artist choosing soft colors. By contrast, Colson's more sharply defined images introduce the languid female nude, resting.
Tatyana Fazlalizadeh takes hyped-up color and pitches it even higher in figure painting reflecting street-smart nostalgia for extreme clothing styles of teenagers, portrayed here in a defiantly direct way. Balancing this extravagance is Patrick Crofton's fascinating series of small, keenly observed portrait heads in oil on zinc, and the optimistic sunniness of Amy Mann's still-life paintings.