'Paper Works!," a City Hall art show, wears its technique on its sleeve.
Twenty Philadelphia-area artists are represented, each showing one or several works in a juried display selected by Winifred A. Lutz, a sculptor distinguished for her sensitive renderings in this fragile medium.
For the casual Philadelphia gallery goer, paperwork art is still an unknown. It was the art of the technically advanced media world that hatched it. So the effort to make this art less elitist and more reachable hopes to find just the right boost in this competitive show, set up by the Art in City Hall program.
The work ranges from notable seriousness, eloquence, and considerable technical fluency to entries we recognize more for their sincerity. The criterion for importance here is that such a mix is well-suited to the regular traffic of City Hall visitors.
Outstanding is Chanthaphone Rajavong's idiosyncratic and powerful work, which demonstrates an Asian dexterity and a subtly creative use of found materials, including newsprint and paper money. This sculptor combines a down-to-earth approach with elegance in a four-piece installation that includes such creations as a woman's fancy hat and tall boots made of playing cards.
Other high points are pieces by Maria Anasazi and Virginia Maksymowicz. Profoundly influenced by growing up in rural Greece without books of her own, Anasazi finds that folding, cutting, and sewing pages of discarded books provides a sense of home for her. Indeed, her two pieces here have precisely that edge of feeling that can lift a work above the merely charming or decorative.
Maksymowicz is modestly socially aware in her piece, modeled on her own head, bent way forward so her facial features are completely hidden in her hands. The piece suggests personal experiences of an artist with a feminist viewpoint, and it has a beautifully poised strength and delicacy.
This featherweight sculpture cannot be mistaken for conventional artwork. It is about deep personal feelings hauntingly explored via a type of realism that more conventional artwork simply does not have.
Elizabeth Wilson's painting retrospective show of 37 works at Rosemont College is a welcome event. It further signals a growing commitment by area colleges and universities to seek out and display accomplishments by advanced artists of the day, particularly in full-scale shows.
The work by this Havertown artist has an appealing simplicity and honesty. Never flashy, her three decades of representational paintings shown here - still lifes, large Manayunk and Conshohocken streetscapes, and more recent small landscapes of the British Isles - often have the casual atmosphere of the oversize sketch despite their civility and restraint.
Light in her paintings illuminates more often than it reveals. And Wilson's goal in portraiture is pure and simple - to generate an exciting tension between a portrait's informality and its painterliness.
At their frequent best in this timely and important exhibit, Wilson's are direct, unembellished, but resonant paintings to savor.
Photos at Pagus
In his photo show, "Public Privacy," at Pagus Gallery, Bernardo Morillo teases the well-established traditions of photography by his careful and deliberate manipulation of black-and-white images, mainly of mass-transit commuters.
Everything here is static, caught by the camera, yet detached as in a dream. Morillo's images, for all their semblance to reality, have no motion.