Coupling at Off the Wall Gallery

Alice Gonglewski, Coupling at Off the Wall Gallery

Alice Gonglewski, Union #2-4, popsicle sticks and acrylic paint, $40.00, Coupling at Off the Wall Gallery at Dirty Franks

Coupling is the theme of the 9th Annual Juried Art Show at Off the Wall Gallery and artists took the concept into elusive yet eloquent mind spaces. Alice Gonglewski‘s Union series uses popsicle sticks to create a visual expression of family and home to it’s simplest symbols. The round and straight lines of the sticks, the black and white paint and the open and closed shapes evokes memories of home. I can almost hear the Mister Softee song, an ear worm that stirs memories of prosperity and poverty. The bare sticks represent food, comfort, safety and caring with minimal information and maximal content of narrative.

Laura Storck, Coupling at Off the Wall Gallery

Laura Storck, Elvis Pelvis, cyanotype from digital negative, $200.00, Coupling at Off the Wall Gallery at Dirty Franks

The combination of different photography techniques makes Elvis Pelvis pop on a wall with fifty other cool artworks. Laura used an x-ray as the negative for the cyanotype print. Mildly photosensitive solution is applied to a as paper and allowed to dry in a dark place. When the paper is exposed to light the negative, in this case the x-ray, controls the amount of chemical reaction. By mixing technologies the piece couples a view of the interior of a body while exposing the lines of the exterior. The deep blue is rich with tone and texture, the lines are descriptive and articulated, almost holographic. The painterly strokes of the photo-sensitive solution add a sense of immediacy and urgency.

Laura Storck’s photography can currently be viewed as part of Philly Photo Day, in their gallery at North 3rd Street and on a billboard in West Philly. Her exploration into silver emulsion photography is included in a group show called Silver Emulsion Red Hook Coffee and Tea, 765 South 4th Street, Philadelphia, PA, 19147. Opening Reception: Friday December 20th, 2013, 6:00 – 9:00pm

Erica Harney, Coupling at Off the Wall Gallery

Erica Harney, Rabbit/Credit Card, oil and mixed media on panel, $80.00, Coupling at Off the Wall Gallery at Dirty Franks

Erica Harney has been working on an art project which dove tailed perfectly with the theme of Coupling. By asking people to name two nouns, a Dadaist idea of Exquisite Corpse is created which is then painted as literally as possible. The paintings are refreshingly entertaining, the randomness of the combinations are like real life with problems, delights, challenges and comforts. There are four paintings in the show each coupling dual identities into one composition but Erica Harney has painted dozens of paintings using these restraints yet each painting stands on it’s own merits.

Karen Frank, Coupling at Off the Wall Gallery

Karen Frank, Mutual Admiration, acrylic on board, $100.00, Coupling at Off the Wall Gallery at Dirty Franks

Coupling includes various media but the paintings are strong. It really feels like the paintings are active and intense paired with photography and mixed media. Karen Frank‘s seahorses, Mutual Admiration, combines the exotic and familiar with evocative marks and color ways. The piece is dreamy and child-like but the other-worldly context of life under water and the unintelligible form of communication between the beings feels empathic.

Jenn Warpoles paintings mix color, texture and surface to create evocations of emotion, experience and liveness. Abstracted yet anthropomorphic shapes create a visual dialog that speaks of love, despair, attraction and rejection. The small panels are powerful paintings with the atmospheric tones represented in washes of emotional color, a sensitive hand and restrained color palette design an emotional experience.

Jenn Warpole, Coupling at Off the Wall

Jenn Warpole, Untitled #2, oil on panel, $265.00, Coupling at Off the Wall Gallery at Dirty Franks

Hashtags and Archetypes by John Baccile is absolutely contemporary, elevating the computer screen shot from a moment of too much information into a rich and eloquent story. The visual language with overlays and multiple conversations feels so modern – post, post, post modern. Would the couple in the picture ever imagine a future with automatic photograph face recognition, predictive social media penetration and internet fame? John Baccile used a lowly material, the facebook page, and manipulated the elements with a sophisticated info-graphic capturing the past, present and future of portraiture.

John Baccile, Coupling at Off the Wall Gallery

John Baccile, Hashtags and Archetypes, digitally altered screen grab, $100.00, Coupling at Off the Wall Gallery at Dirty Franks

The photograph John Baccile used is one hundred years old, the algorithms in facebook look for identity matches in the faces creating an overlay of information and possible matches, it really gives off a Minority Report vibe and how we willingly allow investigation of our history.

Bill Myers photograph documents a modern sensibility towards photography and image making. The composition, color and forms takes the concept of Coupling to an intense contemporary level. The balance of the two figures, each with an emotional openness, evokes an emotional response, an autonomous reflex, from the energetic image layering character studies with line, tone and light. I can think of several artist to compare Bill Myers to but he truly is his own authentic self with a defined vision.

Bill Myers, Coupling at Off the Wall Gallery

Bill Myers, Standing Strong, digital photography, $50.00, Coupling at Off the Wall Gallery at Dirty Franks

Robert Yong Lee, Coupling at Off the Wall Gallery

Robert Yong Lee, Untitled (Ann Arbor, 2009), silver gelatin print, $150.00, Coupling at Off the Wall Gallery at Dirty Franks

Bob Lee‘s black and white photograph examines the idea of Coupling in a composition filled with memes, matches and metaphors. The seated figure before the painting has a jacket draped over his arm like the figure in the painting, while the seated man is looking down, the painted man is looking into the distance. The standing man on the left is reading while the statue of the standing woman is straining to listen. The two tableaus are divided by architectural elements that themselves represent similar yet opposite forces. This is the kind of art you can really spend time with finding deep and elusive narratives.

Coupling will be on the wall at Off the Wall Gallery through December 27th, there is a holiday party at Dirty Franks, 13th and Pine Streets, tonight, December 20th. I have two photographs in the show, too, I wrote about them in My Photo Day on DoNArTNeWs. The whole experience of the Coupling show was wonderfully creative; I was inspired to make new work and I was part of the creative team behind the show. The art I’ve described in this post is just a sampling of the excellence in the show and the diversity of talent in the Philadelphia contemporary art scene.

The experience of watching people actually look at the art show and really spend time looking at the work is the most satisfying feeling of all. I know I keep talking about Social Practice but Off the Wall Gallery at Dirty Franks has truly integrated itself into the fabric of the community by being inclusive and relevant through art and communications that is fun, high art in a dive bar, yet the result is intellectually satisfying in a really authentic feeling of community.

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Written by DoN Brewer. Thank you to Togo Travalia for the photographs in this post and for the excellent advertising and promotion of the show and individual artists through print and social media. I know of no other gallery who promotes each artist with such care. I really appreciate the effort and the love.

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