A Community of Color

Not many groups of people in the city are more prepared to hear words of doom than this group of artists. It fits their art as much has it fits their psyche’s.

James Heimer

James Heimer

Of all of the art spaces in the city there may not be one as in touch with their own mortality and the possibility of change in the worst way. For this group of artists at Phantom Hand, change came last week essentially in the form of an eviction notice. Sam Heimer explains…

So the run is at an end. A few weeks after getting an extension that merited much celebration, a stroke of bad luck and fate comes through and wipes it all away. Although it seems any news to this group is a reason to celebrate, so the smiles were out and it was a sight to see. Almost all of the artists showing had piled in, in part I’m sure after hearing the

Sam Heimer

Sam Heimer

news. But there was much to celebrate as the past few months for them have been a wild ride. “Phantom Hand was the best thing ever in Philadelphia and no one will ever get to experience a better place. Complete with mental water slides and emotional ball pits, every show they ever had was the best thing I ever saw,” said Jeff Daniels, who was showing some new Jason Voorhees art. “Imagine a brightly lit white walled room with a bunch of the friendliest weirdos in the city all having a drink and chatting about the funny stuff on the walls. The themes of the shows were always great, like the mythology and gods show. I didn’t see any boring still life’s of bowls of fruit at phantom hand. Nope.”

Jeff Daniels

Jeff Daniels.”

Well it would seem the great run is at an end. Although Arts on South is trying to find them a new space so they can finish their extension, head honcho Sam Heimer is skeptical about the amount of work it would take to move the art. But others who are willing to put the work in are not so down. Doom and gloom, aside there was new art on the walls and plenty of people to talk to, ( I recommend Robb Leef if you want to exercise your noodle).

The new show was a spring cleaning show. So everybody brought out a few things and filled the room with their more colorful version of cheer. There was probably a little too much beer to go around but in the end it worked in my favor as I was the lucky guy who got to do the group picture of all these characters, missing a few heavy weights but quite a group nonetheless. And also like just Phantom Hand, its filled with originals. Hopefully everything works out for this cast of characters. Most

Robb Leef

Rob Leef

seem to be finding a way to stay alive through odd commissions and long hours. But one thing is for certain that they certainly would rather be showing their art on South Street. The book is not closed yet but the string of luck may have come up short. Either way its been a crazy few months for the ones who worked there and the contributing artists. It was a true community that hopefully will spawn another chapter. This may be the end but there’s a chance that is just the beginning of something much larger.

 

The Gang

The Gang

Greg pizzoli

Greg Pizzoli

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Alex Ekman-Lawn; Spires and Flying Buttresses

HE DOESN'T DRINK. HE JUST SMELLS BEERS

HE DOESN'T DRINK. HE JUST SMELLS BEER

Alex Ekman-Lawn is a young illustrator from Philadelphia, where he graduated from The University of the Arts. He has done work for a number of local bands and his work is published in Awakening, a gruesome graphic novel. And he is currently showing at Phantom Hand Gallery on South Street. His biting illustrations and dense apocalyptic city scapes are a sharp and tangled look on some of our organic and artificial surroundings. The human body in degrees of disintegration. At the feet of our concrete humanity or the throes of time and our mortal coil. Here I talk with Alex about his take on the awesome stuff he does. Click on his fantastic images.

Where did your journey with art start?

I liked drawing since i was a little kid, I was real into comic books, and then I kinda got out of that for a long time. Like 8 years, and it wasn’t until, well it was an accident basically, but this dude kinda had to beg me. Which makes me sound like an egotistical asshole. But he had to convince me to do sequential pages, and now I’m back in it, comics are my career.

What is it like to go to school for art?

First its like turning a hobby into something you have to do, you know. So there is like a small part of that, that really sucks, and you don’t know what to

do any more. That thing you used to love doing in your personal time is what you have to do all the time. There was definitely a year or so where I was struggling with how to make myself still like it and not get all burnt out on art.

How does Philadelphia affect your art?

Well it literally affects my art, because I use a lot of photos in my stuff, so there are pictures of Philadelphia in most of what I do. And that’s actually a big part of my art in general. I want the place that I live and the space that I occupy to be a part of what I do. Not metaphorically, but literally.

Would you call your art dark? 

Yeah, I think i have to. Its weird, I remember the first time I got that question. “Why is your art so dark”. It’s not really intentional. Its sort of a cop out answer, but its sort of just how I see shit. . .Even when I’m trying to be kinda cheerful it doesn’t really work out that way. As for why. . . it’s probably going to take years of therapy to figure out.

Do you ever listen to music while you create?

Totally. Well, a lot of my jobs are for bands. So in that case I have to listen, I want to listen to the music that the band makes, so I can get a feel for it. I listen to a lot of metal, and I think you can totally tell. Actually in school, when I was learning how I wanted to work, the project that got me really excited about, or where I found the voice I wanted to use, If that’s not too art speak. Was this project where you draw a song. I just listened to 30 songs I liked, and made a piece about what I thought it would look like.

When you do the human form, you seem drawn to a certain type of poses or expressions. Where does that come from?

I don’t know a hundred percent, but some of it is just influences you know, the dudes that I’m just into. Like I was really into Derek Hess freshman year of college. He did all those show posters, I know you’ve seen them. And he did that Converge album with the angel head getting gripped by a hand. I like Ashley Wood, and Phil Hale and Jacob Bannon. Like conflicted poses. Phil Hale painted a lot of dudes punching robots, which sounds stupid but, just figures in motion. Some of it’s coming from that. But beyond that I think I just wanted. . . and we’re bordering on the embarrassing here, but its like, I want figures to look like they’re fighting through something. The figure at rest is totally boring to me. So I want somebody who is in the middle of some shit.

What does digital art do for you?

There are no mistakes.You can always undo something. In that way its exciting and you have all the control you want, but its also like, you can do anything. So its like hard to make decisions. But the nice part of it is I can just throw as much stuff together as I want. Its an infinite database. . .Who doesn’t like 100 things to look at. I’m just trying to make art that my own eyes are interested in.

When you look for buildings what do you look for?

I don’t know shit about architecture. But I think I like Gothic architecture. Its like the most metal architecture. It’s all over the top, crazy spires, and flying buttresses and stuff. Its ornate, pointy, kind of evil looking. I wasn’t raised with religion at all, so churches to me just look like the craziest evil building. But beyond that I’m just looking for shapes I like. And Philly has tons of old architecture. Arches and pillars. Actual legit old architecture that looks nice. I do like modern architecture, but I think its just less exciting to me.

What is your masterpiece?

I don’t know man. It’s hard for me to even choose even a kind of thing. I have album artwork I do, and comic book stuff, and weird collages of old documents and stuff. For me that’s like asking someone what your favorite color when your older. There’s too much. I like them all! Hopefully my masterpiece is the thing I’m working on right now. I’ll wait til I’m dead and someone else can tell me.

Check out some more of Alex Ekman Lawn’s work at Alexekmanlawn.com

And below for more of his piece’s

after we're gone

after we're gone

MY FAVORITE- MUST HAVE!

dead of night

dead of night

Neon Guide

Phantom Hand; Evil Gods and False Idols

The latest Phantom Hand show, called Mythology and the Forgotten Gods, brought a full wall of new art to the gallery. The group show was curated by mythology and creature enthusiast Anthony Pedro. There were new pieces by Jeffro Kilpatrick, Jeff Daniels, Mike BukowskiJeanne D’Angelo, and the fantasy stylings of genre master John Moriarty.

Jeanne D'angelo

Jeanne D'angelo

The show coincided with the news from the  Arts on South program that the gallery was going to get an extension for another four months of art. So the mood was up all around.  “We got extended, yeah,” said Moo Noo, artist and Phantom associate. “It’s awesome, we’ll ride the summer, try to make this summer really great, Armageddon may or may not happen, its gonna heat up, people are gonna be walking around. We might as well have a great place to show art.”

Anthony Pedro

Anthony Pedro and friend

Even the cheer got to Shawn Hileman, founding member of Masthead Print Shop and Gallery who gave a few prints away, including giving me the “I Want to Have Adventures With You” piece I had in last weeks post on the Masthead Vice Show slideshow. I had my eye on it. What a guy.

The show went well, thanks to the great Friday night foot traffic. I would tell you how much but the thanks to the faulty clicker skills of Fred Grabosky the numbers were all off. “It definitely went as I expected” said Anthony Pedro. “It was a beautiful Friday night, and there was a lot of quality art up, so I knew a lot of people were going to come through.”

The room is set up so that the new show is by the door and in the back there are the remnants of the other shows, and thanks to the majority of them being prints, there is no

The new mythology themed wall.

The new mythology themed wall with cyclops

bottom to the barrel. But the room this time around was Anthony Pedro’s , and he caught some flack for having all the pictures lining up at the top, except for one lonely Cyclops by Christian “Patch” Patchell. ” It was something I just wanted to do different, I was going for the straight across and then the Cyclops honestly, see how its got kinda just a half a body, its all the way up there so I was thinking that it’s a tall Cyclops. It’s like the head, the body, then the feet.” Personal preferences aside everything went well, and the future is going to be filled with art. “Everybody has networked, we all know each other, so you get to know more of the city crew,” said Moo Noo It’s like this guy is at this gallery, this guy shows at that gallery. It really makes everything more cohesive, it becomes more of a community when everybody comes here and gets together.”

Check out the sights from the show:

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most prints are from the new show but a few were too good to not pass along.

Masthead Print Studio; Everything In Excess

Masthead Print Studio is a print shop and gallery on 340 Brown Street in Northern Liberties. Founded by owner and artist Shawn Hileman. From March 3rd to the 21st they are having a “vice” themed show. At the opening on the 3rd there were people and prints and the primary vice of most of the people there, cheap beer. “The show is about vices” says Shawn Hileman, creator of the “Whiskey is my water” prints. ” We wanted to get all kinds of artists together. I wanted fine arts painters and different types of artists saying I like this and I like that. Diversity was big for me”The show featured many near intervention level subject matter, but mostly the typical bad habits and pitfalls of a typical person. Maybe those are not so different.

The show featured a huge wheat paste from Mike Smith, the co founder of the street art

NOM NOW

Mike Smith- NOM NOW

movement NOM NOW. It was nice to see in a show as I’ve had them creep into my head from all the times I’ve seen them on the street. He also created a iPhone background. There are other shows on the horizon for Masthead. Including Heather Gargon and Jeffro Kilpatrick shows.

Check out some of the sights

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