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Two of the most compelling shows I have seen over the last year were curated by artists. The first was Robert Gober‘s inspirational show of the work of Charles Burchfield (which was first exhibited at the Hammer Museum before coming to the Whitney). It was a revelation, completely transforming my view of this easily overlooked American artist from every day regionalist to transcendent master of mystical landscape. (I wrote about Burchfield in more depth here.)

The second demonstration of artist as curator success happened this weekend in Philadelphia: Physical Graffiti, at the James Oliver Gallery, curated by Pam Farrell. I hope my enthusiasm is not dismissed as a gesture of self promotion—my work is included in this show after all—but this is the first time I have seen a group show where I responded to and respected every piece included. And an extra bonus: The artists who was able to attend were as engaging and genuine as their work. Every single one. What are the chances of that? With her astute eye working hard, Pam chose well on so many levels. (For more information about Pam’s process, Leslie Avon Miller—one of the artists included in the show—has posted an interview with her here.)

It was a great evening and a terrific turn out. Thanks to Pam, James Oliver and his staff, and to all who were able to join us for a memorable night. The show runs through October 15.


3 works on paper by Deborah Barlow


Pre-opening discussion between Pam Farrell and sculptor David Meyer


Works by Astrid Fitzgerald, Laura Moriarty, Dennis Parlante, Jose Camacho


Works by Leslie Avon Miller, Ward Shumaker


Works by MP Landis (in the distance) and Astrid Fitzgerald


Matrix of pieces by Janet Filomeno


Sculpture by Susan Maguire


Small but powerful: Works by spencer + imler


Installation view


Installation view

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Many of you have undoubtedly heard about the Chain Letter Show. The idea was a robust one—using the existing network of artists, create an international, artist-curated, pop up event at several locations around the world all at the same time. Ten artists were asked, and then they asked ten more, who then asked ten more. It is easy to see how you get to exponentiality very quickly, making this an idea that was clearly both crazy and very fun. How could I not go along for the ride?

On the day designated for dropping off work, my friend George Wingate and I arrived with our own work plus pieces by several of our friends at the Boston location, Samson Projects. By noon there were art objects stacked three and four deep, and a line of artists was starting to form in front. (By some accounts Samson ended up with over 1200 at the end of the day.) It was clear to George and me by mid day that this wasn’t a venue that would work for us or for our friends.

So there we were in the South End, our arms full of gorgeous pieces by artists we love. Then George and I had a “Salon des Refusés” (although in this case the “refusing” was self-inflicted) moment: Let’s decouple from the Chain Letter event and just have our own show: UNCHAINED. The first version of Unchained is here on Slow Muse, followed by a second “in the flesh” installation in George’s beautiful barn gallery in Wenham, just north of Boston, later this summer.

Here are the artists included in this first exhibit: Deborah Barlow, Kelvy Bird, Dennis Cowley, Pam Farrell, Patty Hanlon, Robert Hanlon, Don Howard, Elizabeth Mead, Holly Meade, Paula Overbay, Anne Pelikan, Mary Smith, George Wingate.

Enjoy.

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Deborah Barlow
Pyrre
18 x 18″
mixed media on wood panel

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Mary Smith
ancient string/fairy
12 1/2″ x 13 1/2″
Collage on paper

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Paula Overbay
Penelope’s Handkerchief
12 x 12″
mixed media on wood panel

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Elizabeth Mead
Internal Organs
Misc. sizes
Porcelain on wood shelf

* * * *

Pam Farrell
Chinese Whispers
18 x 18″
Beeswax over oil on mulberry paper on wood panel

* * * *

Kelvy Bird
untitled
20 x 20″
Mixed media on paper

* * * *

George Wingate
Adam Grows a Beard
8 x 10″
Acrylic on panel

* * * *

Patty Hanlon
Blue Scenery
5 x 6″
Plexiglass CD box, latex gloves, pigments

* * * *

Robert Hanlon
The Decision
5 x 10″
Pigment and shellac on panel

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Holly Meade
Young Man Trapped in War
12 x 12″
Woodblock print

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Don Howard
2010 Christmas Card
5 x 7″
Collage, paper, feather, paint, pen

* * * *

Anne Pelikan
The Lookers
4 x 6″
Paper postcard with sections cut out

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Dennis Cowley
View from Browns Island 2010
4 x 5″
silver gelatin print (pinhole)

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