Big and bigger–Adams and Monnier on First Friday

Topical art rises above mere politics and goes for broke–Obama and City Hall  swamp the competition in my First Friday sweepstakes!


Phillip Adams, detail, Spring Break 2009, charcoal on sheetrock at Tiger Strikes Asteroid

Phillip Adams’ giant wave, Spring Break 2009, is a room installation–a four-wall immersion experience. It’s a drawing of a breaking wave that brings to mind the overwhelming charcoal waves of Robert Longo.Adams’ wave, also of charcoal,is drawn directly on the walls of Tiger Strikes Asteroid gallery, a space that is maybe 10 feet x 10 feet. The wave circles the room, its crest towering above peoples’ heads, its monumental tube suggesting how temporary is the space in which the viewer stands, anticipating and fearing what’s about to happen.

Phillip Adams, detail of Obama body surfing in Hawaii

Body surfing in the powerful tube of the wave is a small Barack Obama, on his Hawaii vacation. The visceral metaphor for the abstract financial and political tsunami swept everyone who saw it right off their moorings.

Adams, wearing a t-shirt he found that says Spring Break 2009, posing in front of one wall of his own Spring Break 2009

Adams, who has been making pristine, controlled trompe l’oeil portraits since he turned up in an Arcadia Works on Paper show in 2006 had to work quickly to complete this piece. It took him a week, and the scale, the vision and the speed all stretched him to the next level!

Phillip Adams, detail of crest of wave with erasures adding energy to the drawing, Spring Break 2009

The foaming crests contain freely erased streaks of energy. The tube suggests the arc of the artist’s arm as he drew. The direct use of the wall–and the necessity of the work being destroyed at the end of the month–emphasizes the transience of the wave and this moment in time and the trajectory of all our lives!

If you see one gallery exhibit this month, this is the one. If you can afford to take down the walls of the gallery and prop them up in your museum or home gallery, go for it! Save this art before it disappears!!! Save this economy and this nation and our president before they disappear!!!

Spring Break 2009 is only the second exhibit at TSA, a group-run space dominated by Penn MFAs, including Alex Paik, Adams, and Caroline Santa, who has a solo show scheduled there next month. This is an exciting beginning!

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