Katy the ArT DoG photo-bombs this pic of the site specific installation created by Simone Spicer for the Art in the Open weekend at Schuylkill Banks Park. The artist gathered plastic or plasticized trash, decorated each piece with paint or collage, then strung them like beads along the bike path. The effect was like a waterline where all this wacky trash had washed up on the banks of the nearby river commenting on the ecological effects of plastic trash. But Simone Spicer also lavished time and effort on each element accentuating the careful design of these daily-use objects and the efforts of designers and corporations to make them attractive enough to buy. And throw away.
Art in the Open 2012 was a big commitment by the participating artists – three days set up as a working artist along the bike trail from Lombard Street towards the Philadelphia Art Museum. The point wasn’t to sell work but to demonstrate how art is made, engage with the public, raise questions and answer questions. The artists are rewarded with a show at The Philadelphia Seaport Museum for the rest of the Summer opening June 15th. The experience of strolling along the trail with the dog is one of DoN‘s favorite activities, the addition of art was like an alternate reality for an afternoon, it would be cool to see more artists along the scenic path all the time.
Photographer, Jeff Stroud, DoN and Katy the ArT DoG walked along the bike path in the hot Spring sun and stopped at a shady tree where artist Barbara Gesshel had set up her studio out of the sun. Using the tree as a work surface Barbara Gesshel rubbed charcoal into large sheets of paper, using the ridges of the bark to create a naturalistic atmosphere to her drawing. Working with nature instead of against it, Gesshel’s use of charcoal, the charred remnants of dead trees, onto the living surface of a tree to make her drawings is poetic and inspiring.
Cyanotype is one of the oldest types of photography there is, artist Erika Bergere set up on the lawn with her baby and made the beautiful Prussian blue photographs using only the light of the sun and a solution of potassium ferricyonide and ferric ammonium. The wet paper hung out on a line to dry while the family lolled in the shade on the grass.
Stained glass artist Justin Tyner was one of the only artists who needed to connect to the grid, he made this beautiful rose window outside with his soldering iron. Shortly after this photo was taken the window was mounted in a round wooden frame on the lawn on a hill near the art museum.
Artist Jeannie Moberly used a variety of media from her art box to create the drawings on long expanses of paper that she planted in the ground with wood dowels. The maze-like effect was bold and beautiful at the bend in the river. Sitting in the bright sun with a big hat and long sleeves to guard her arms, the artist contentedly worked out the ambitious drawing while bikers, walkers and gawkers stopped by to check out the colorful display of art.
Flowers made from battle caps – gorgeous! Abdelkrim Djennas flattens out bottle caps with cuts along the edge transforming refuse into delightful dumpster diver art. Like tramp artists of old, he takes what society discards and makes something desirable and pretty. The metal flowers sprouting in the woods near the art museum were whimsical yet prescient with a question of whether Nature will be overtaken by man made objects.
Using found materials, Nicole Donnelly wove a structure of twigs and branches around one of the boulders along the river. Obviously temporary but the piece touched a childhood nerve of playing in the woods. The rocks along the river make convenient resting spots, Donnelly’s hut-like structure evokes Clan of the Cave Bear-like racial memories and the satisfaction of creating shelter.
George Apotsos used simple chicken wire to create his ethereal Occupy People. The wire torsos planted in the Earth at oblique angles, each faceless head looking in a different direction evoking the mixed message mantra of the Occupy movement. We can see right through them. Using a mannequin as a form, George Apotsos molds and trims the common material, using heavy gloves and strong shears, into a metaphor for modern life.
Written and photographed by DoN Brewer except where noted.
Contributing photographer, Jeff Stroud
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