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Inquirer Art Critic - Edward J. Sozanski

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Published: Mon, 04 Jun 2012 13:00:28 GMT


Review: ‘Haunting Narratives’ a Woodmere great idea
First impressions of "Haunting Narratives" prompts one to ask, Why hasn’t someone done this exhibition before? Perhaps the subject was so familiar it needed a fresh eye, which Woodmere Art Museum, through director William R. Valerio and curator Matthew Palczynski, was able to give it.The show examines a kind of art that has been common in Philadelphia for a long time, and especially in recent years — an amalgam of observation, magic realism, imagination, storytelling and perhaps a smidgin of dreaming. Such art bumps up against surrealism occasionally, but rarely strays into the bizarre or the improbable. Symbolism is common, but usually it’s readily understood, or at least recognized.

What Albert C. Barnes definitely did not want
It has been said in various bits of commentary and reportage surrounding this month’s opening of the new Barnes Foundation building that Albert Barnes wanted his collection to be shared with the general public. Not so.

Review: Salvatore Pinto’s Barnes connection
Since being hired as director in September, 2010, William R. Valerio has dramatically revitalized Woodmere Art Museum’s mission to concentrate on art created by Philadelphians. In particular, recent exhibitions at the Chestnut Hill museum have restored public awareness of artists who, for one reason or another, are today either underappreciated or forgotten.

‘Maya 2012’ at Penn Museum shows pre-Columbian sophistication
When I was in high school, students were almost entirely ignorant of the fact that the Americas were already densely populated when Columbus bumped into the island of Hispaniola in 1492. Some of these civilizations, particularly the Aztecs, the Maya, and the Inca, were as sophisticated as any pre-Columbian European cultures, in some instances more so.

An eccentric collector and democratizer of art
Albert C. Barnes was trained as a scientist, so it's not surprising that he would apply rigorous empirical discipline to the less categorical activity of collecting art.

Review: Galleries shine at the new Barnes
Transformation of the Barnes Foundation from a school with an art collection to a museum with art classes is finally complete.

Uffizi Gallery treasures at Michener Museum in Doylestown
Since it opened in 1988, the James A. Michener Art Museum has assiduously promoted the art of Bucks County, particularly the New Hope colony, and American art in general. It’s a bit of a jolt, then, to walk into the museum’s special exhibitions space and encounter a display of European Old Master art, most of it Italian and all of it religious.

Barnes at the Pennsylvania Academy: A scandal in 1923
Eighty-nine years ago this month, Albert Coombs Barnes and his ideas about art were rejected by the city of Philadelphia more rudely and forcefully than he deserved, or could have reasonably expected. That rejection contributed significantly to the collector’s estrangement from the city’s cultural and educational community, and also to the public perception of Barnes as a crotchety, egotistical, and vindictive misanthrope.

Fabric Workshop presents monumental works by Pae White, Mark Bradford, Jennifer Steinkamp
When the Fabric Workshop and Museum moved to Arch Street to make way for the expansion of the Convention Center, it gained some cavernous, loftlike spaces on the upper floors of its building that lend themselves to monumental installation projects. In the current art climate, there seem to be many artists who like to work this way. But how many can effectively fill a shoebox-proportioned room that's 130 feet long? Pae White can and does, with a mesmerizing construction of red yarn called Summer XX.

Fall forecast: Art
With no blockbusters on the horizon, the fall art season promises to be one of modest pleasures. This isn’t to say the offerings won’t be stimulating, only that you won’t need to stand in line or order tickets on the Internet.