Art in Philadelphia: May

Art happenings this month are full of student exhibitions, museum showings, and great emerging performers.

Here’s my list of musts:

Great and Mighty Things: Outsider Art from the Hill and Sheldon Bonovitz Collection

Philadelphia Museum of Art, All Month

The power of self-taught artistic talent, the drive of the human spirit to create, and the wonders of highly original inner worlds revealed. More than two hundred works by self-taught artists.

Discover the visual strength and original beauty of these works by twenty-seven untrained American artists, each with a moving personal story, many from disadvantaged, rural backgrounds far removed from the mainstream art world. This exhibition surprises and challenges museum goers, forces examination of the conventional definition of the word “artist,” and shows that good art is good art regardless of the maker’s résumé. Visitors will see unforgettable works, dating from the 1930s to 2010, by passionate artists who made objects of seductive richness that can stand alongside the best of modern and contemporary art.


May 3 – June 1st

Derrick Velasquez, Eighty Layer Cake

Pentimenti Gallery, Old City

Derrick Velasquez investigates tension and gravity. His works challenge materials and it’s form. He attempts to ‘construct a language of structure that questions our physical and psychological interactions with industrially manufactured materials that exits in the spaces we inhabit’.


May 3 – June 1st

Jason Varone, “It Isn’t Always Going to Be This Great”

Grizzly Grizzly, Chinatown

Varone refers to his work as ‘videopainting’ – an intersection of static drawing with moving images as a new way of painting for the Information Age. His work is rooted in both landscape and technology, treating the landscape not as a vista to be rendered by the artist, but rather as a physical representation of the unseen data that flows through it. Appropriated video from news footage and electronic communications are projected through space and merge with physical symbols of the landscape rendered in paint, making associations between the complexity of technological advancement and the destruction of the natural landscape. The invisible data of the ethereal landscape, brought to light through Varone’s video projections, reveal an underlying narrative of malevolence quickly escalating towards disaster.


May 2 – 12th, Various Times

JapanAmerica Wonderwave, a Comedic Dance-Theatre Elegy

Team Sunshine Performance Corporation

Christ Church Neighborhood House

JapanAmerica Wonderwave is what the company considers a staged “disaster response mixtape”. Employing a playlist of American and Asian pop music and a blend of dance and image theater techniques, the piece is a funny and touching response to the events of March 11, 2011, and other tragedies far and near.


May 13 & 14, 7 pm

Jumpstart, Fringe Arts

Painted Bride, Old City


May 16, 8 pm

Black Circle Cinema 002: Barbara Rubin’s Christmas on Earth & Carolee Schneemann’s Fuses

AUX Performance Space / Vox Populi, Chinatown

Two epic and erotic depictions of raw sexuality, Christmas on Earth and Fuses are likely to still shock audiences 50 years on from their making. Both subjects of harsh criticism and censorship, these two films are prime examples of filmmaking in the era of sexual liberation. However, these works are not only radical in content but also form: Christmas on Earth is shown with two reels simultaneously projected (along with a soundtrack of AM pop radio hits); Fuses was self-shot and “collaged” by the filmmaker through many different means of stressing the film material, adding layers of physical subtext to the ecstatic struggles depicted.


May 18 & 19, 11 am – 6 pm

Italian Market Festival


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