Bruce Kravetz's panoramic photos of the interior of Manayunk's towering St. John the Baptist Church at Artesano Gallery seem to want to convince us that we're entering a sacred place.
To do this, Kravetz offers an extraordinary "staging" of his subject, an elaborate Gothic Revival-style Catholic church built in 1894, while Manayunk was a thriving cotton mill district, from architect Patrick Charles Keely's designs.
Many of these unusually large high-resolution images, mostly in color, on unframed canvas consist of 12 to 18 photographs fitted together digitally. And since he used only natural light throughout, Kravetz took particular care to make the light sources in each very detailed picture believable as he pieced things together.
Near the entrance, there's one wide-angle image of virtually 360 degrees in a single picture. Other works portray stained glass, marble statuary, decorative paneling, 250-foot ceilings, and ornament of all kinds.
This Manayunk photographer discovered St. John's church interior by chance, when asking to take a panoramic photo of Manayunk from the church steeple. Since then, he has felt privileged to spend 15 hours a week for six months in the church, often taking on-site pictures from sunup to sundown. A former local art gallery owner, Kravetz compares it to being alone inside a Faberge egg, with so much beauty around him.
Kravetz's St. John pictures, together with his four studio portraits of homeless people displayed to the side here, may represent a kind of passage into allegory that, like a gospel message, tends toward universal spirituality.
Fervor suffices in the 13-artist show "American Green: Art and Stewardship" at Somerville Manning Gallery in Delaware. For these aren't the revolutionary works almost expected from early reports about this show's intended focus on art and the environment. Instead, the show features gallery regulars doing landscape, plus guest artists also doing what they apparently regularly do, Margery Torrey with her bronze eagle, for instance.
It might have been a better idea to ask a group of artists to create original works with an environmental theme, rather than to simply display works from their past, no matter how green.
But to give praise where praise is due, we have Greg Mort, who closely studies the solar system and planets, showing a very representative oil, the show's keynote piece,
, reflecting his keen interest in nature. Also outstanding is John McCoy's
canvas from about 1975; other memorable works are Jamie Wyeth's
Black and White Goat
, Peter Sculthorpe's
, Randall Exon's pair of shore scenes, and Jon Redmond's
Light on the Forest
Artists can do more than protect nature. They can also learn to collaborate with it. This exhibit, pleasant enough, is more about memory and continuity than about present-day concerns.
Eighteen artists display 53 paintings in the second annual Pagus "Small Works" show by artists with studios in the gallery's Norristown home. Tim Hawkesworth, the only artist who teaches here, is a show-stopper with his small horse painting that seems rooted in the earth and in childhood memory, and his two abstractions with seeming flesh-and-blood substantiality, so densely painted are they.
Marianne Mitchell in her richly colored partly abstract paintings remains unswayed by the need for novelty or rhetoric. She seems to know what art is for her and she just goes about doing it. Works by Edwina Brennan, Mary Beth Kazanicka and Anna Belle Loeb also stand out.