BY ELIZABETH FLYNN Dear anti-snob art nerds: Get your streetwise (but intellectual) ass to the coolest First Friday party in town, Cut Copy – a Stencil Show, tonight at South Philly’s favorite gallery T&P Fine Art! Jon Halperin has curated another amazing group show, consisting entirely of stencil graffiti art. He’s included pieces from some of the biggest names in the genre, two of which, Papermonster and Pure Evil, I talked to about their work and the history of the medium.
Halperin says that “Stencil art is my art drug of choice. I’ve been following this scene since 2005. I suppose it was my accidental introduction to Banksy, then just getting into other UK stencil artists like Nick Walker, D*Face, and Eelus. Then I found international artists, and lastly, the US artists, most notably Rene Gagnon. This is what makes up a great deal of my personal collection and I really wanted to do a show like this in Philly, which hasn’t really seen a stencil art show in the past.”
Some of the artists that he’s really excited to include are,”Eelus and Jef Aerosol were biggies. Mr. Brainwash as well….I went to the preview night of his show in LA…it was amazing. He rented out an old TV studio and put together a show that rivaled Banksy’s first LA show.”
Though Pure Evil is in Sao Paolo, Brazil, opening a show there, Halperin said that there are quite a few artists that are coming to the opening tonight, so you can meet them and say you knew them when. With the prominence of Shepard Fairey these days, it’s very likely that one or two of these contributors could reach that level of international acclaim. “2Cent is flying in from LA, he also has a show with locals Nose and El Toro in June at T&P. Buildmore will be there, as will Papermonster. Incidentally, if you start seeing a bunch of 2cent stencils around Philly after this weekend…total coincidence, ha ha.”
Papermonster is very excited about the show. Though he’s a relatively young artist, he’s got the chops and the credentials to roll with some of the bigger names included. He’s been influenced by a number of them. “One of my mentors within the stencil graffiti and urban art world has been Blek le Rat. He truly pioneered the art form in Paris and has been a great leader in opening the doors for stencil art to be accepted into galleries and other venues along with many other extremely talented and hard working urban/stencil artists such as Banksy, Nick Walker, Shepard Fairey, David Choe, Flying Fortress, Swoon, Chris Stain, and the list goes on. With each urban artist breaking new ground and gaining success it really helps continue to evolution of urban art and it pushes artists who are new and want to create to work harder and be hungrier for success.”
You’ll find Papermonster at the show tonight repping his work and T&P Fine Art. ”I believe that T&P Fine Art is an incredible venue with no limits. They are bringing the best of the best to the public and you can really see that they want to showcase new things that will inspire and bring something unique for the public at large. This stencil show is their way of demonstrating the variety of styles and subjects within stencil art as well as between stencil artists throughout the world and it is an opportunity that you do not want to pass up. I will definitely be there for the opening with a massive amount of free stickers to hand out to everyone I meet or walks through those gallery doors.”
Pure Evil just can’t make it, being on another continent and all, but he took the time to talk to me about his work. One of the reasons that stencil graffiti has gained prominence recently is its inherently political nature. Pure Evil expounds,”the act of painting on a wall in the street is a political act in itself, but I want to talk about society and politics in my work.”
His influences are across the board and worth quoting in their entirety, since he is hilarious. “I am influenced by a psychedelic mix of gonzo American pop culture, rock n roll, 19th century London life and French literature, pearly kings and queens, fantasy art, customized motorcycles, Latino culture, Victorian children’s adventure books, Maoist propaganda, Situationism, occultism, latex sex, dead despots and dictators and a whole twisted ark load of asylum bound pandas, budgies, butterflies, bunnies, and psychotic penguins and you start to understand my quadrophrenic [sic] gallows humor.”
Maybe it might be better to pretend that T&P Fine Art is what Pure Evil thinks about it, rather than a rad art show. “I have this image in my mind that it’s like a place I visited in a Kasbah in Cairo where I bought hashish one time, but that could be just completely wrong.”
So come out tonight. There’s free beer, first dibs on the keg at 7pm, and there’s bound to be all kinds of art happening up and down the block. I’m bringing my markers for sure. Enthusiastically, Beth.
FIRST FRIDAY ON FRANKFORD AVENUE
BY TIFFANY YOON Philadelphia is supposed to warm up this weekend and what better way to spend the evening than First Friday on Frankford Avenue. The New Kensington Community Development Center has organized a group of Kensington and Fishtown businesses to cater to those seeking new art, delicious snacks and wine to spare. The events begin at 5pm and run until 9pm. Here’s a comprehensive list of functions to check out courtesy of the NKCDC’s Frankford Avenue Corridor Coordinator Ryan Briggs:
The Highwire – 2040 Frankford Avenue
The Highwire has again held an open submission process for area artists, juried by Isaiah Zagar. Friday’s opening will showcase a modicum of local talent, under the collective theme “Lookin’ for Love,” in honor of St. Valentine. Come for the art, stay for a free poetry reading featuring published authors Adam Fieled, David Prater, Sarah Birl and Paul Siegell.
The Goldfish Gallery – 2214 Frankford Ave.
Goldfish Gallery will be showcasing “Four Figurative Artists,” a joint showing of photography by Roman Blazic and Benjamin Hunter, as well as sculptures by Jeremy Leichman and Joan Benefiel.
Proximity Gallery – 2434 E. Dauphin St.
Proximity Gallery will present “Circling Cartography,” a collection of works by Marie DeMarais, a mixed media artist from Kensington.
Angler Arts – 1550 E. Montgomery Ave.
Angler Arts will be kicking out the family friendly jams with a family friendly dance party with their dance instructors.
The Rocket Cat café – 2001 Frankford Ave.
Rocket Cat hosts Jeff Thomas, a local icon in the Philadelphia art scene, who will be displaying his plaster sculptures and photo collections.
Bambi – 1817 Frankford Ave.
Bambi is running a double feature this month with seamstress Katie Henry and watercolor painter Katherine Kaminski.
The Memphis Taproom, all off on its own at Cumberland and Memphis St. The tap will be featuring the artwork of Sarah Ferone on its walls, above the din of Friday night regulars.
Germ Bookstore – 2005 Frankford Ave.
GERM, in keeping with their Teutonic psycho-supernatural bent of late, is hosting “Deitsch Heathen Hexology,” a gallery of modernist renditions of 18th century Pennsylvania Dutch “barn-charms”. These seemingly quaint symbols that adorn many Dutch country barns in the Delaware Valley region and beyond were thought to ward of negative spirits and promote fertility. Belief in the hexes has deep roots in traditional German culture. The most exciting barn-themed exhibit you will ever see! The Hexology exhibition also blends the Pennsylvania Dutch pagan symbols with Indian mythology with a work by artist Hunter Yoder, a Kensington local. Yoder, a former student of Johnny Ott, the famed “father of Hexology,” painted a hex utilizing the image of the Indian god Vishnu that combines parts from 9 different animals. As David Williams, the owner of Germ books explains in the words of Yoder, “This isn’t just something we came up with in the ’70s.” The art of Hexology, along with the pagan practices of the first German immigrants that make up the Pennsylvania Dutch goes back 3,000 years. It’s not meant to be an evangelical show, as these pieces aren’t replications of actual hexes, but “the aesthetics are really top notch,” said Williams. Stop by Germ to view these beautiful pieces by Hunter Yoder, Valulfr Vaerulsson, Swan Hilde and other Philly native Patricia Hall. Also, don’t forget to say hello to Gunther, the polish mannequin that sits in the back of the gallery.
Other businesses taking part in the First Friday events include The Barbary, Villa and Hut, Johnny Brenda’s, Sketch Burger, hot Potato, Perpetua Antiques, Circle Thrift, Paddy’s Well, The Garden Center, the Memphis Taproom and Atlantis Lost Bar. There will also be artwork by local artists Christopher Bye and Kimberly DiJohn at Mr. Bill’s Deli located at Tulip and Berks streets.
[First Friday Photos by TIFFANY YOON]