More Culture:

January 06, 2017

Gallery Gameplan: War, impending doom, nudity and naps – not in that order

Exhibits reflecting the angst some feel from the election of Donald Trump are just some of the results of the First Friday of the new year

First Friday Art
First Friday Submitted photo/for PhillyVoice

Works by Nikolay Milushev as part of the "Visions of the End" exhibition.

“Visions of the End” by Nikolay Milushev and Eric Toscano

Have you read that New Yorker piece by Eric Schlosser, “World War Three, By Mistake”? You might want to hold a loved one close and take it in little by little, maybe with some soothing tea (or something stronger). If really leaning into the whole threat of nuclear catastrophe is your speed, Nikolay Milushev and Eric Toscano have a story to tell as well. The two are, writes Mat Tomezsko of curating organization InLiquid, “responding to deep-seated cultural anxiety about nuclear war, environmental devastation, and the current political climate.” In other words, it’s an exhibition “about the end of the world.”

Milushev, a Bulgarian artist otherwise known as the character YOMI (you can see his street art around town) tells PhillyVoice, without mincing words: “We have arrived [at] a very dark and unstable [time], of global turmoil...I think the probability of nuclear war is more on the table than ever; I also think that [Donald] Trump is probably the biggest threat to national security in the history of this country.”

His paintings for this exhibition, of a “not-so-distant dystopian future,” are part of a body of work that Milushev says, “has always been about educating the masses, raising awareness on various issues from politics to global warming.” The work presented here, he continues, is “a painful reminder that we're more offended by swear words that the wellbeing of our planet.”

Toscano’s works in this exhibition use collage to interrupt serene scenes, like a family sitting in a field, with images of disaster -- explosions and the like. One features an orange mushroom cloud behind Mount Rushmore.

“My personal level of anxiety has risen considerably recently,” Toscano said.

He’s been working on this series of collages for almost a year, and while he says the work isn’t a direct response to the election. 

“It’s exhibition so soon after is very timely...What really appeals to me about the work is the juxtaposition of the ideal -- the life of leisure -- and impending doom.”

“I guess if there is a lesson in this work,” he said, “it’s that life and happiness are fleeting.”

Fri., Jan 6, 5-7 p.m., through March 25, Painted Bride Art Center, 230 Vine St.,

RELATED LINKS: Sample whiskeys from around the world at Philadelphia Museum of Art | Eric Bazilian stepping into the 'Light of Day' with benefit show | Fans rally for Philly ballet dancer who says height cost her a job

“The Artist Need Not Suffer” by Marissa Paternoster

Marissa Paternoster, if you don’t know her work as a guitarist and vocalist for the band Screaming Females, is a supremely talented musician. Back in 2012, Spin magazine ranked her 77th out of 100 on its list of the greatest guitarists of all time. Dave Navarro was number 80, if that provides any context.

Turns out, some people just get to be great at everything (ugh), and Paternoster’s got quite the artistic touch, as well. She does all the artwork for her band’s albums, and in 2013, she put out a booklet collection of illustrations called “My Body Is A Prison/My Mind Is A Disease.” In 2015, she released another called “Naked Under the Arch.” In the books, her dark, intricate -- seriously, hundreds and hundreds of lines and dashes fill in some of the eerie black-and-white figures and beasts she draws -- illustrations pair with words and phrases, like: “There is a lot of evil inside me,” and “Don’t forget how much this hurts.” It’s poignant, heavy stuff.

Evidenced by the collection at Space 1026, it sounds like Paternoster might be creating art from a bit of a lighter place -- her statement, by Dawn Riddle: “With these works she asks, ‘WHY MUST THE ARTIST SUFFER?’ Must the artist suffer? Maybe the artist can just chill out and have a good time.” Indeed!

More good news: “Marissa is, at this very moment, not suffering. She is napping.”

Less suffering. More chilling. More naps. Paternoster for president, I say.

Fri., Jan. 6, 7-10 p.m., through Jan. 27, Space 1026, 1026 Arch St.,