April 2nd, 2009

Art Happens Today

Rick Banister
6207 Market

Photographs by Isaac Schell

Stockbridge Fine Art Print

319 N. 11th 4th floor

Friday April 3rd, 5-10pm

Let's talk about art. Isaac Schell is a Drexel photo graduate, and also my housemate. He shoots with a 4x5" portable rail camera. It's an enormous thing with an enormous tripod, the kind of camera with a ground glass and a dark cloth that goes over your head. It's not the most agile camera, but the negatives can be printed 60" wide before you start to see grain. If it were digital, it would be five hundred megapixels or something.

Isaac's most recent body of work has had some legs. He participated in a group show at Copy Gallery last August, showing twelve images. One of the photographs was shown in the Project Basho Onward show in January. Two of the photos were selected for the Perkins Center juried exhibition in February. Another photo got him into the 69th annual juried exhibition at the Woodmere Art Museum in March.

Tonight's show is a revisitation of a previous body of work: Bars, Churches, and Beauty Salons. The prints are really really big. The photographs present a topographic vernacular of West Philadelphia storefronts. These commercial/social institutions have at various times served as community glue, doing their best to stave off decay. Many of them have seen better times.

They are sad photographs, but they are beautiful. The buildings don't tell us their stories, but they invite us to wonder. You can see former glory, recent disintegration, but also a tenacity. West Philly seems to have some fight left.
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March 27th, 2009
Make That Scrilla