MLMME12, OTWGallery

Mary Liz Memorial Masters Exhibition 2016

at Off the Wall Gallery at Dirty Frank’s

As many of you know, we usually open a show the Thursday after it goes up. This time, our festivities fall a week later, but the staggered logistics have no correlation to the practically staggering talents on display.

We’re speaking, of course, of our 2016 MARY LIZ FELLOWS — painter BOB GORCHOV, photographer WENDY PLOGER and assemblage artist/sculptor WAYNE URFFER -who are a week off the usual trajectory but right on target with their art. High marks are in order because the MARY LIZ MEMORIAL MASTERS EXHIBITION, named for our founding director, is the greatest honor we can bestow on artists in our community.

So without further ado, we cordially invite you to the show’s 12th renewal — MLMME12, for short – which opens its seven-week run THIS THURSDAY, MARCH 10, with a 7-10 PM OPENING RECEPTION featuring our favorite drinks, light hors d’oeuvres, fabulous conversation and a chance to meet the artists. You may already be familiar with one of more of our esteemed trio, who rank among our most accomplished artists.

The paintings of BOB GORCHOV have won over our hearts even since “the red coat” lit up the Wall in December 2008. Ten shows later — yes, MLMME12 is fitting his 12th outing in this space! Bob has lost none of his bewitching use of color or emotional buoyancy. Each time we see a new canvas, it’s like experiencing Bob’s work for the first time. Some might try to make a connection between this immediacy and his background as a self-taught artist, but we resist the notion of pigeon-holing the invigorating creativity that has defined 35 years of painting and drawing.

Even the artist cannot put a finger on what might emerge from the next canvas. “I rarely know how a painting will turn out,” says Bob, “and this is part of what makes the process interesting for me.”

WENDY PLOGER‘s journey from Brooklyn to 13th Street is a story we like to tell. Our friend Gail Stolp, a bartender here at Dirty Frank’s and at Ray’s Happy Birthday Bar, discovered Wendy’s photography and introduced us. Two years passed before Wendy’s work appeared at the end of 2013, to great acclaim, with diptychs humorously pairing disparate street photographs. The next year her intriguing, gender-bending series became the hit of our Autumn Invitational. Now, amazingly, Wendy brings us TWO ENTIRELY DIFFERENT bodies of work (!): tintypes, created with traditional wet-plate photography, and digital collages “projecting” Wendy’s strong female portraiture against natural settings.

This different pacing for the artist holds a new-found sense of satisfaction. “A few years later, with well over a hundred professional shoots under my belt,” Wendy says, “I have felt the need to slow things down in this age of instant gratification and pinpoint accuracy.”

Fewer and fewer MARY LIZ FELLOWS began their OFF THE WALL careers under the curatorial watch of our founding director. WAYNE URFFER is an exception, having enjoyed a boffo debut here before Mary Liz’s passing in 2004. He’s also only the second artist ever to be named a Fellow for the second time, following in the footsteps of Bob Jackson, a fellow master of the assemblage. Wayne’s work is always richly layered and rewarding. He brings ponderous questions to the floor of our 3D space (and, in this case, the Wall) – ranging from pop culture to religious zealotry, existentialism to addiction but he does so is such an accessible, non-judgmental manner, leaving much to the viewer’s interpretation, that you never feel the weight of agenda.

In fact, you may feel he sometimes enters the creative space with an open mind, too, “My process is to gather materials that capture my interest and allow them broadly to dictate the size and composition of my work,” says Wayne.

You can readily see why we’re so excited about MLMME12. What we love most about this show is that it’s as much about mastering media as it is about the lifeblood of art: experimentation and evolution. Whether you are encountering Bob’s paintings, Wendy’s photos and Wayne’s boxes for the first time — or simply rediscovering them — you’re in for a rare treat.

We look forward to seeing you Thursday!

Togo Travalia, Manager, OFF THE WALL GALLERY at Dirty Frank’s, NE Corner, 13th & Pine Streets, Philadelphia, PA  19107

Thank you to Togo Travalia for the content of this post.

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