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March 03, 2017

Gallery Gameplan: where to see what and when

Your gallery gameplan for tonight in Old City

First Friday Art
“Coming home” by Leora Brecher Submitted photo/for PhillyVoice

“Coming home” by Leora Brecher is on display now through April 2 at Muse Gallery, 52 N. 2nd St.

“Coming home” by Leora Brecher

One of Brecher’s sculptures in this exhibition is reminiscent of a sphere of titanium piercing through a wisp of smoke, or a silken sheet enveloping a ball bearing -- the heavy and aggressive counteracting the light and elegant is a subtly striking image, rendered gracefully in clay.

There’s something striking, too, about Brecher’s artist’s statement for this show: “In recent years I lost touch with what originally drew me to clay. This show represents my return to my love of creating and working with clay.”

I asked Brecher about that loss of touch.

“I felt that I was moving both further into my head and farther from my emotional connection to both the work and my enduring sources of inspiration. In this show I’ve returned to my love of water in all its forms: oceans, beaches, river beds, and all the wonderful objects found and treasured: stones, shards, shells,” she says.

Last Spring, Brecher explains, she took a stone carving class at Grounds for Sculpture, in New Jersey. “I was always drawn to the immediacy of creating in clay, the direct response reflected in the clay and the primal and authentic relationship it encourages. And I simply loved the touch and feel of clay.” At the class, she says, “I found myself returning to clay with greater appreciation, freedom, and understanding. I really do feel like I have come home.”

Friday, March 3, 5-8 p.m., through April 2, Muse Gallery, 52 N. 2nd St.

“Cover Girls” by AIGA Philadelphia

I’ll cop to the last two times I judged a book by its cover. Nell Zink’s Nicotine, with its highlighter-yellow jacket, spider leggy typeface, and street art-esque illustration, turned out to be just as gritty, absurd, and captivating as I’d predicted. I also finally got around to reading Anne Lamott’s 1994 bestseller Bird by Bird. Its cover is kind of dull, and I legitimately thought it was a birdwatching manual; turns out its “instructions on writing and life” are the sort that make you weep fat, sloppy tears and decide you do want to be a writer, after all. So, I was wrong, and the old yarn was right.

Point being -- covers matter, and we’re quick to judge the bad ones. This First Friday, let’s celebrate some of the women who design the very best ones.

To honor March as Women’s History Month, the creative minds over at AIGA (the American Institute of Graphic Arts) are bringing six women book cover designers to the forefront. Isabel Urbina Peña, Kimberly Glyder, Emily Mahon, Jenny Carrow, Barbara de Wilde, and Kelly Blair have designed gorgeous, unique, alluring covers for copies of books by the likes of: Salman Rushdie, Judy Blume, Toni Morrison, Joan Didion, Miguel de Cervantes, Mark Twain, and new translations of the Iliad and the Odyssey.

Don’t miss Peña’s talk, “Everyone Else is already Taken,” on March 23, from 6-8 p.m. at the Tyler School of Art.

Fri., March 3, 6-9 p.m., Bluecadet, 1526 Frankford Ave.,

RELATED LINKS: Rare – and valuable – comic books with first appearances of Superman, Batman to be auctioned | Fashion exhibit highlights African-inspired designs | Alec Baldwin working on satirical book about Trump's 'Fantastic First Year as President '

Vox Populi March/April exhibitions opening

There’s a ton of art hitting the walls at Vox this week, created by four artists. Here’s a rundown --

Timothy Belknap’s “Chum” is designed to make you feel a little disoriented: “The Panopticon-like opening in the ceiling, encircled by the feet of unseen bodies, leaves us wondering who is watching whom and who is in control … the installation forces the viewer to challenging ideas of power when the viewer’s body becomes an obstacle to the drifting sphere in the room.”

Sharon Koelblinger’s “So Perfect” reflects upon the idea of a “utopian counterculture.” Explained in her artist’s statement: “Through referencing her own experience growing up in an organized spiritual community, Koelblinger reflects upon the desire to aspire to a collective nirvana while simultaneously exhibiting skepticism in the ability to achieve it.”

Stephanie Bursese’s installation “to skip, to gloss” comprises architectural elements, photography, and sculpture, and the gallery space will be modified with lighting, temporary walls, and a two-way mirror. “Vantage points within the exhibition suggest to the viewer such larger issues as surveillance, access, and borders.”

Yvette Brackman’s “Underneath Father America’s Closed Eyelids Lies Russia” speaks for itself. It consists of “a printed libretto in the form of a newspaper that is also a print multiple that together composes an image of an enlightened solar eclipse, a 34-minute video and 11 framed photographs of the costumed characters.” The characters are from her piece “AGIT MEM,” a video “loosely based on the Russian futurist opera 'Victory Over the Sun' from 1913.”

Fri., March 3, 6-10 p.m., through April 23, Vox Populi, 319 N. 11th St., 3rd Floor. 

Two bonus First Friday Activities:

Drawing marathon at Fleisher: The New York Academy of Art will have live figure models posing for eight hours, along with faculty at the ready to offers tips and feedback. A couple prereqs: BYO paints or pencils, RSVP, and be over 18. They’ll have snacks, easels, and muses.

Fri., March 3, 1 p.m.-9p.m., RSVP to Katie Hemmer at

Artist conversation, “Race, Motherhood, and Creativity”: Jaishri Abichandani, who curated the "Loving Blackness” exhibition, will moderate a panel discussion with South Asian artists and activists, who are all mothers of Black children who “[use] their creativity to address racism and bridge cultures.” Panelists include Chitra Aiyar, Swati Khurana, and Sham-E-Ali Nayeem.

Fri., March 3, 6-8 p.m., panel begins at 7 p.m., Asian Arts Initiative, 1219 Vine Street.