Saturday, March 10

What do hopscotch and abstract art have in common?

On Thursday afternoon before teaching class I happened upon an unusual sight. At first I saw what appeared to be a regular hopscotch board drawn in chalk on the sidewalk. But instead of a regular 1-10 hopscotch board, it stretched halfway down the block, and upon closer inspection I saw it was numbered from 1 up to 60!! I loved this glimpse of game creativity in the middle of the city block. Why not change a game to make it more interesting or last longer?! Why should hopscotch stop at 10? After a quick glance around to make sure nobody was watching, my inner 10 year old squealed in glee and I hopped down the block.
 So what does this have to do with abstract art? Well, the whole idea behind abstraction is that something is "Abstracted"- made less concrete or literal and removed from its original meaning or source. Perhaps, like the epic hopscotch board, and idea is pushed past its boundaries or altered from its original purpose.
On Friday night I went out to the "West Philly Abstraction" exhibit at the University City Arts League for the opening reception. It was, of course, great to meet and speak with some familiar artists, but equally great to see some intriguing work.
 Marina Barker's stained glass pieces were an interesting contrast of order and sprawl. She shifts the attention of traditional stained glass from focusing on the color of the glass to exploring the line potential of the leading inbetween the panes. I like how the top piece seems like an exploded or mushroomed version of the lower one. (kind of like that huge hopscotch board!)
 Tremain Smith had 2 pieces in the exhibit.  I liked this one for its extreme complementary contrast. Tremain seems to be really pushing her color relationships lately- for a long time I remember her work having either analogous or pastel colors- much softer. This one vibrates in its intensity. I've been hearing the phrase "sacred geometry" a lot lately- Tremain certainly considers sacred geometry in her compositions, but these singing colors also touch that intuitively mathematical part of our brains that immediately recognizes pattern and balance.
 Caroline Letham Santa  had a large wall piece that pushed our perception of material and surface. It's almost a trompe l'oeil, tricking the casual observer into seeing a crumpled and flattened metal sheet. It's just a grey square mounted on a diagonal, right? Up close you can see how richly worked the surface is. The paper is creased, crumpled, torn, stained (purposeful? happy accidents?), and graphite is rubbed, drawn, erased to create a moonscape of texture on the surface. It's so subtle from afar, but it's one of those kinds of pieces that I could never tire of looking at and exploring.
If you have a chance to get out to University City, it's worth it. check out all the artists here. If you can't, then think about what you could abstract, push, transform, expand, or vibrate.

1 comment:

  1. I LOVE the metal diamond. It is one of the most original pieces I've seen!