Checkout my new mural for rag & bone
1601 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA
Located at 1241 Carpenter Studios + Artspace
To be dedicated in the Spring of 2017
I finished the last mural in my series in Montréal on the Elements.
It has been an amazing 7 years of going to Montréal and working with the organization MU!
I had an incredible time living, working, and getting to know the people at Habitations Jeanne-Mance. Merci pour tout!
I had an incredible time working on a couple pieces in Memphis, TN.
Look for more information to be released in the Spring of 2017!
|Edited and Prefaced By: Alyssa Laverda, Associate Director, Seraphin Gallery
By: Phillip Adams, Seraphin Gallery Artist
Phillip Adams’ solo exhibition opened on Friday April 22 with a celebration of his return to painting. When I Close My Eyes will be on view until May 29, 2016. The works in the exhibition relay the intense connection between the soul and the space we inhabit. Adams explores the place that lies between the physical and mental, and in the moments between frames that compound our experience and inform our memory and instigate nostalgia. Each of these paintings are deeply personal and vastly different; we have asked Phillip Adams to offer his insight and interpretation of each of the major works in the exhibition.
Phillip Adams, Brevard, 2016, Oil on canvas, 36″ x 54″ Placed in a private collection.
This painting is about a fleeting intimate moment, where the movement of the night gives the interior room life. The vignette of a run-down hallway shining through with daylight provides both doorways to the potential of possibility or despair. Both rooms at the end of the corridor are boarded up, residing in either radiance or obscurity. This painting is about intimacy and beauty, but also about solitude and reflection.
Phillip Adams, Montreal, 2016, Oil on canvas, 36″ x 54″
Montréal is ablaze with electric color and motion. A costumed crowd is featured center with two aggressive figures dominating the periphery of the composition. With light poured into the crowd and color streaked across figures, this piece explores the visceral tension and mystery of the night. A gathering of charades at the center of this painting explores the illusions and perceptions we hide or embrace in different settings and places. There are no better disguises than playing dress-up in a new place or setting; but at the core of one’s experience emotions always show through.
Phillip Adams, New York, 2016, Oil on canvas, 36″ x 54
Amid the cool undulation of the seemingly flowing water is a faceless diver. The energetic movement of the composition shows a chaotic moment of color and possible figures in the background, yet there is a calmness of embryonic stillness that is composed by the swimming figure. With the immensity of life, there is always the Self that navigates the floods and rivers of one’s experiences. Powerful water can instill fear, but also awe and excitement.
Phillip Adams, Santa Marta, 2016, Oil on canvas, 36″ x 54″
This painting captures a fleeting moment of primitive beauty. With a palm tree ablaze, a symbol of freedom, victory, or resurrection glows and lights the heart of this painting. A sole figure ghosts past caught in the glow from the burning explosive embers and the night’s air. It is this relationship that connects the ethereal to the undeniable.
Phillip Adams, Santorini, 2016, Oil on canvas, 36″ x 54″
This painting is inspired from one of the most beautiful islands in the world as seen at night. A place in a country steeped in history and a nexus of knowledge. Laocoön was a priest and seer, who was sentenced to death by giant serpents by the Gods after attempting to expose the deception of the Trojan Horse. In this painting, the famous Greek sculpture illuminates a moment in time, a moment of agony, struggle, and vied resilience. The insertion of Laocoön as the subject of this painting remarks on the disparity that even within one of the most beautiful places on earth there resides a global financial relationship that should be looked at and questioned.
Phillip Adams, Philadelphia, 2016, Oil on canvas, 36″ x 54″
Working with the youth of Philadelphia over the past decade inspired this painting. This image is a moment from working on a public art project in collaboration with a community garden at Sayre High School. As the group of hooded figures walk into the nondescript haze in the background, one is reminded of the current affairs of the black lives matter movement. Viewing these figures from behind, we realize that they are the same no matter of race, class, or gender. The heightened attention to race relations is only a part, as power in numbers and anonymity infiltrate the heart of this painting.
Hours: Wednesday – Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm
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Exhibition at Seraphin Gallery
April 22 – May 29, 2016
Opening Reception: April 22, 2016 from 6pm – 8pm
Seraphin Gallery is proud to present a solo exhibition by Phillip Adams, titled When I Close My Eyes, from April 22- May 29, 2016. There will be an opening reception held on April 22, from 6pm-8pm at Seraphin Gallery with a private reception Wednesday April 20th. Phillip Adams returns to painting in this body of work that illustrates the heart of feeling, place and recollection.
Adams’ painting Santa Marta, titled after its inspirational location in the Caribbean region of Colombia, portrays the ethereal realm in between physical and mental space. Translating the passionate seclusion of South America, Adams sets a palm ablaze in a marriage of day and night, conceiving an aura of mystery that seduces the viewer into this fantastical memory. Throughout the exhibition, high contrast, sharpness, and technical skill harmoniously combine to create dreamlike scenes that evoke nostalgia- a true sensation of remembrance through ghostly depictions of landscape and figure. The artist curates compositions through digital processes and intuition, which relay an entire atmosphere- a natural transportation.
“When I close my eyes is a series that speaks to the intangible. Derived from places, memories, and emotions, I explored compositions and content that is fueled by the elusiveness of the subconscious and the shifting of memories. The titles reference the origin of each composition, questioning how “place” influences ones life. The cumulative experience from each place blur borders and memories but leaves lasting impressions and emotions.”
Phillip Adams is a Philadelphia based artist, who has exhibited regionally at Arcadia University, University of Pennsylvania, Institute of Contemporary Art as well as the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and Seraphin Gallery. Adams also exhibits nationally across the country, and creates large-scale murals both nationally and internationally.
After a great week in Sherbrooke, QC, the Mural Symposium closed with a final announcement of the People’s Choice award. To my surprise, my piece won!
Thank you to everybody in Sherbrooke and Lennoxville who came out, to M.U.R.I.R.S for putting together such a great event, and to the other artists for an incredible week.
I was invited with nine other artists to participate in Sherbrooke’s 2nd Annual Mural Symposium. Thanks M.U.R.I.R.S!
Click HERE to learn about the symposium and to check out the other participating artists.
In the fall of 2014, the Philadelphia Eagles, in collaboration with the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program, set out to imagine a new mural for the building on Darien Street that rests directly across from Lincoln Financial Field.
The Eagles wanted a way to capture the incredible relationship that exists between the city of Philadelphia and its professional football team. The Darien Street mural – “Our City, Our Team” – is designed not to honor particular players or even historic moments, but what the Eagles mean to the city of Philadelphia and what the city and its people mean to the Eagles.
That connection is captured with images of Eagles players, the team’s passionate fans, the Philadelphia skyline and the building that ties everything together on fall Sundays – Lincoln Financial Field.
While the design was conceived by Eagles graphic designer Christine Dorn, working in partnership with muralists Phillip Adams and Jon Laidacker, a good portion of the actual painting was done by Eagles season ticket members. Eagles players, as well as staff members, also picked up a paintbrush for this special project which took place over the course of four community paint days in November of 2014.
Artists Adams and Laidacker and their team at Mural Arts made the project a reality over the winter and into the spring of 2015.
Application to the wall began in May when six mural-installation specialists began the task of affixing 688 five-by-five pieces of parachute cloth using a non-pigmented bonding agent, known as Nova Gel, to the wall. The parachute cloth serves as the perfect mural medium, as the five-by-five sections allow many people to paint on a project. Its sturdy material actually holds color better than brick or other building façade materials.
After the initial wall application, artists from the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program put the finishing touches on the mural.
The 17,000 square-foot mural, which took more than 2,900 man hours and 386 gallons of paint to create, is the second-largest mural in the city of Philadelphia and the fifth-largest in the nation.
A dedication ceremony for the new Darien Street mural was held on July 23, 2015, giving fans plenty of time to enjoy it when the Eagles open Training Camp to kick off the 2015 NFL season.
Click HERE to visit site.
17,000 square foot mural depicts Eagles, fans and the Philadelphia skyline
Eagles mural located on Darien Street, directly across from Lincoln Financial Field.
The countdown to the start of Eagles training camp is at one week. All of those burning questions, which we hope will not result in a dumpster fire, will start to get answered as the team’s overhauled roster takes shape behind Chip Kelly in his critical third year as head coach.
There’s a ton of history behind this team and every generation has its indelible faces, voices and moments. In a grand display of the city’s commitment to Eagles football, the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program teamed up with the team to paint the fifth largest mural in the United States, which was unveiled last Thursday on Darien Street directly across from Lincoln Financial Field
The design, conceived by Eagles graphic designer Christine Dorn, was developed in partnership with mural artists Phillip Adams and John Laidacker. More than 1,000 people, many of them season ticket holders, collaborated to paint the 17,000 square foot mural during four community paint days in November 2014, sometimes joined by players.
A total of 2,900 man hours and 386 gallons of paint went into the mural, which involved affixing 688 pieces of five-by-five parachute cloth the to the wall.
It will be a perfect complement to the gameday experience and is another demonstration of why Eagles fans are second to none in the NFL, even when it comes to being hated. As WIP’s Glen Macnow put it on the air with Reuben Frank this weekend, it’s better to be the fans people in opposing cities hate than to be fans of a team nobody cares about.
Click HERE to see the article.
Our City, Our Team: Meet The Mural
By Alex Smith
As Eagles fans fill up Lincoln Financial Field for the 2015 NFL season, which is almost upon us as we enter late July, they’ll be greeted by a brand new 17,000-square-foot mural, located adjacent to the stadium on Darien Street. Altogether, more than 2,900 man hours and 386 gallons of paint were devoted to the project that currently stands as the second-largest mural in the city of Philadelphia and the fifth-largest in the nation.
The Eagles and the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program collaborated with Eagles season ticket members to create the “Our City, Our Team” mural. Over the course of four community paint days last November, the mural was brought to life with the help of Eagles players, staff, season ticket members and lead artists Phillip Adams and Jonathan Laidacker.
So before your next trip to the Eagles Nest when you can see the mural for yourself, here’s a brief tour of what makes up the “Our City, Our Team” mural …
Click HERE to see the rest of the article.
Le retour du muraliste Phillip Adams
by Claude Deschênes, 21-07-15
L’immense complexe de HLM situé au coeur de Montréal, accueille sa sa septième murale à l’angle des rues Ontario et Saint-Dominique.
L’artiste américain, établi à Philadelphie, s’est révélé aux Montréalais en 2009 avec une première de quatre murales sur le thème des saisons, réalisées en collaboration avec David Guinn. Ces quatre fresques sur l’hiver, le printemps, l’été et l’automne sont visibles du boulevard Maisonneuve, entre Sanguinet et Saint-Dominique.
En solo, il a exécuté L’Air du temps sur la rue Sanguinet en 2012 et Au fil de l’eau en 2013 sur Ontario.
Cette fois-ci, il développe le thème de la terre. Son tableau, en trompe l’œil, mettra les arbres en vedette. Il a trouvé son panorama sur le Mont Royal près du Lac des Castors. Dans son tableau, il a esquissé une percée dans la forêt qui révèlera le centre-ville de Montréal ainsi qu’on l’aperçoit de l’Avenue du Parc. Vous aurez compris que le paysage qu’il propose relève de l’invention.
Phillip admet que la toile de fond a été très rapide à peindre mais il s’empresse d’ajouter que ce sont les détails qui sont longs à exécuter.
Depuis le commencement de l’oeuvre le 14 juillet et jusqu’à la mi-août, date prévue de la fin de sa réalisation, l’artiste-muraliste peut compter sur l’aide de stagiaires rémunérés par l’organisme MU, initiateur de ces projets de murales aux Habitations Jeanne-Mance. MU recrute ses assistants parmi les étudiants et les finissants issus des programmes en art du cégep et de l’université.
Phillip Adams qui, à 36 ans, a déjà une prolifique carrière de muraliste et d’artiste peintre, aime son statut de mentor. Pendant son séjour à Montréal, l’artiste est logé dans un appartement des Habitations Jeanne-Mance.
”A chaque fois, je retrouve plein de gens dont j’ai fait la connaissance durant mes séjours ici. C’est une communauté vibrante. Les gens viennent de partout. Cette année j’ai une nouvelle vue sur la ville car j’habite dans une tour différente.”
Les œuvres de Phillip Adams ont littéralement transformé le quartier que les accueille. Elles ont amené de la beauté, du calme et même de la conscience. Chaque fois que je croise Au fil de l’eau, angle De Bullion et Ontario, je ne peux m’empêcher de penser à l’importance de cette ressource et d’aimer encore un peu plus ma ville qui trône en haut de ce paysage apaisant.
L’effet que font ces fresques explique probablement la raison pour laquelle elles ne sont jamais, à ma connaissance, vandalisées. Leur auteur en est très reconnaissant d’ailleurs. ‘’Je vois ça comme une marque de respect’’ répond-il lorsque je lui demande comment il explique le fait qu’il ait été jusqu’ici à l’abri des tags.
L’an prochain, Phillip Adams devrait clore son cycle sur les éléments avec une murale sur le thème du feu. Le mur qui l’accueillera n’a pas encore été déterminé.
L’artiste n’était pas venu à Montréal l’an dernier, occupé qu’il était par un projet majeur à Philadelphie dont l’inauguration a lieu cette semaine et à laquelle il assistera en fin de semaine. Il s’agit d’une gigantesque murale sur la clôture entourant le stade des Eagles de la LNF (Ligue nationale de football).
Starting the 3rd mural in my series on the Elements (Earth), commissioned by MU!
This is the second work in the Industrious Light series, and continues the dialogue of Philadelphia’s brewing history. The mural is located at the former Weisbrod & Hess Oriental Brewing Company (late 1800s), and the current home of the Philadelphia Brewing Company (PBC). The mural wraps the entirety of Rowhouse Spirits, a newly opened distillery located directly in front of PBC. The mural depicts the relationship between brewing and distilling through the depiction of the industrial materials common to both. The front of the building speaks more to distilling and the back to brewing.
This was commissioned by the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program.
Local Liquor Spotlight: Rowhouse Spirits
Pennsylvania has a long history of distilling. At one point, Pennsylvania had as many as 5,000 stills making spirits back in 1791. Lately, there’s been a revival of small batch distillers in our region with distillery licenses growing from 12 in 2012 to 27 in 2014. One such distillery is Rowhouse Spirits, located in Fishtown.
Click HERE to see the article and read more about Dean Browne, the owner and operator of Rowhouse Spirits Distillery.
Great capture while working on Industrious Light: Rowhouse Spirits by David Maialetti, photographer with the Philadelphia Daily News, Philadelphia Inquirer, and Philly.com
Visit David’s site HERE.
Thanks to filmmaker/writer J Makary for putting this together.
Interview with Phillip Adams
By J. Louise Makary
Painter and muralist Phillip Adams took me to lunch at Ray’s Café on a cold February afternoon. Afterwards, we walked to his top-story studio in a Chinatown building that also houses active factory floors, where we had the following discussion—a continuation of an earlier conversation in which I discovered that Adams’s work is influenced by his pursuit of sublime and physically challenging experiences in nature as a rock-climber, surfer, and general adventurer. I was looking for a little advice on surfing, in a roundabout way, by talking with him about what contending with nature can offer the artist, personally and creatively.
Click HERE to read the interview.
Industrious Light: A Tribute to Philadelphia’s Industrial History
There’s history everywhere in Philadelphia, if you know where to look. With his new mural series Industrious Light, artist Phillip Adams brings some of that underappreciated history to life on a grand scale.
In partnership with Hidden City Philadelphia, Mural Arts and Adams are creating a visual narrative of the city’s expansive history in brewing, textiles, tool making, railroads, and other key industries. The murals stand out thanks to Adams’ distinctive style of painting directly onto walls with charcoal.
The first mural in the series, Industrious Light: Ortlieb’s Brewery, went up in fall 2014 on the side of Ortlieb’s Lounge in Northern Liberties, next to the site where Ortlieb’s Brewery once stood. The piece celebrates Philadelphia’s long brewing tradition, incorporating machines and supplies from the original brewery into the design.
In April, Adams got started on the second Industrious Light mural at Rowhouse Spirits in East Kensington, located next door to Philadelphia Brewing Company.
But not all the Industrious Light murals will be about brewing and distilling. Below is a concept drawing for a proposed mural, Industrious Light: Textile Industry. Mural Arts hopes to continue the project through next spring and perhaps beyond, highlighting additional sites and historic Philadelphia industries.
Head on over to Rowhouse Spirits to see the latest piece in the Industrious Light series, and look for more Industrious Light murals and events with the Philadelphia Public History Truck, coming soon.
Click HERE to see the article.
Grateful to be included in this list in Montréal! Merci!
LES MURALES DE MONTRÉAL (DEUXIÈME PARTIE)
Elles sont tellement grandes qu’il faut souvent reculer pour les voir en entier, les murales apparaissent généralement lorsqu’un échafaudage hydraulique est stationné près d’un mur vide pendant une semaine.
Click HERE for the article.
Pretty cool that Huffington Post featured one of my murals when talking about over 10,000 street art pieces being catalogued around the world.
Click HERE to see the article and find it!
My murals in Philadelphia and Montréal are on Google’s new Street Art Project!
Click the link HERE to check it out!
Great chronicling of the mural and a bit of history.
Industrious Light Mural Series Shines A Light On Philadelphia’s Past
Click HERE to view page.
by Lauren Kay, the director of communications for Community Partners, a nonprofit fiscal sponsor and philanthropic intermediary in Los Angeles.
The Communications Network in 2014 Conference
Phillip Adams – Communication Matters Mural Timelapse from Cerrone Photography on Vimeo.
Outside the large hall where the keynote speakers held court, muralist Phillip Adams was easy to spot, with his paint-spattered chinos and rumpled shirt. His clothes weren’t the only thing that set him apart from the assembled crowd; he was at Communications Network #ComNet14 to paint.
“This felt like a good fit,” said Adams of his commission. He liked the connection to others engaged in social change.
For the past decade, Adams has been creating public art through the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program. He has a studio practice, too, but relishes how the public art projects he works on take him more deeply into issues he cares about. He has worked with nursing home residents and with post-9/11 vets which, as a self-described army brat, was particularly meaningful for him. There have been many others.
Adams finds inspiration from working in the public sphere, taking cues from the physical space where his works have been commissioned, and often engaging with community residents, or a specific population, on the creative process.
He wanted that for this project, too, and invited conference-goers, in-between their sessions on metrics and measurement and media, to put down their pens (and cell phones and tablets) and put paint to canvas.
“A couple of the first people who did it were so focused,” he said. “You could see they were really into a place of peace for those moments.”
He started the first morning of the conference with three canvases, on which he had penciled in his basic design. A pastel wash gave the background a watercolor effect. At the center of the middle panel is a rock cairn, “which any regular hiker knows… can always help you find your way.”
I think all of us know about looking for markers, signposts, and other guidance as we navigate through the complexities of our work. It’s what brought us to the conference in the first place, seeking the knowledge that we hope can enhance our efforts.
Adams also hoped his mural would help conference goers “think about the beauty behind what they do—not just the cerebral part. I’m hoping to capture that.”
The mural, commissioned with the generous support of Knight Arts, is now residing at the Russell Byers Charter School, where it will inspire students to create their own art.
Click HERE to see the article.
Street Artist Phillip Adams Paints a New Mural Celebrating Philadelphia’s Historic Breweries
Always working to better the Philadelphia art scene, this week the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program will be dedicating artist Phillip Adams‘ latest piece. The work, entitled Industrious Light: Ortlieb’s Brewery, is the first in a series of murals by the artist celebrating the industrial brewing industry of Philadelphia. Already home to some great art, dope graffiti, and the hilarity that is Frank Reynolds, the streets of Philly just got more awesome with this new project.
Adams’ mural series explores the historic sites where breweries once stood or still do and the long-term effects of the brewing industry on Philadelphia’s culture and architecture. The first piece overlooks the site of Ortlieb Brewery, which was demolished last year. It’s a large-scale depiction of the tools of the brewing trade. Adams plans to create his brewery-inspired murals in charcoal as an allusion to the “black and white perceptions of the past” and the “primary materials” of the booming industrial era.
Industrious Light: Ortlieb’s Brewery is part of a larger initiative by the Mural Arts Program in partnership with Hidden City Philadelphia and the Philadelphia History Truck. The on-going project, as described in the press release, will adorn the streets of Philadelphia with a “visual narrative of the city’s expansive history in brewing, textiles, tool-making, railroads and other key industries.”
Click here for the article.
This is a time-lapse of the inaugural mural in my new series called Industrious Light. It features Ortlieb’s Brewery in Northern Liberties, Philadelphia. Enjoy!
Music by Air is Human
Thank you for everyone who came out! Such a great time!
This is the inaugural mural in my Industrious Light, which features Ortlieb’s Brewery in Northern Liberties, Philadelphia. This mural provided an incredible opportunity to work on one of the lasting walls of the old brewery, overlooking the rubble and bones of the recently demolished building. This brewery was a cornerstone in a neighborhood that has gone through an enormous amount of change over the past decade.
The wall itself was a party wall to the past, which brought a language of nostalgia and memory to a place that had helped employ a neighborhood. The wall’s aesthetic and its surroundings helped dictate the language of the mural, as the imagery used in the mural intentionally spoke to the wall’s raw and exposed history. The scale of the machinery and the barrel that I chose for the imagery related to the scale of the production that used to happen on that site, creating a sense of the building itself being a machine of production. Charcoal was used as the medium to describe the imagery in the mural. Its simplicity and elemental representativeness furthered this conversation of nostalgia and the past being in black and white, while also harkening back to a time where coal produced steam was the agent for these machines to function furthering the expansion of industry. The small moment of color on the tap of the barrel relates to our culture’s collection of the past, with the tap being one of the few relics from Ortlieb’s that may live on.
At the heart of this piece lies the memory of what was there. The subtly of the medium and the scale of the drawings evoke a past that still resides in a neighborhood that has almost completely changed. With new construction, new homeowners, new businesses, a pulse of the past will always be felt even if memory fades or changes. My intention is to bring awareness to this pulse where the swells of history reside.
First of Phillip Adams’ “Industrious Light” Murals Debuts at Ortlieb’s
BY JOSH MIDDLETON |
Philadelphia artist Phillip Adams just completed the first in his “Industrious Light” series of murals that is dedicated to Philly’s history in the brewing, textile, tool-making and railroad industries. And of course he started with the most important (or at least most fun)—brewing—with a gorgeous, antique-looking mural splashed on the side of Ortlieb’s Brewery in Northern Liberties.
The work at Ortlieb’s—like forthcoming works in the series—was created with charcoal to evoke a sense of yesterday. It depicts original equipment from the Brewery and overlooks the former site of the business, which is located about a block from the spot where America’s first lager beer was brewed in 1840.
Adams is undertaking “Industrious Light” in partnership with Hidden City Philadelphia, the Philadelphia History Truck and, of course, Mural Arts. Next up in the series? Mural Arts’ RJ Rushmore tells me it will be located in East Kensington at Frankford and Hagert streets, on a building across the street from Philadelphia Brewing Company that’s being used by Rowhouse Spirits. Work will be starting on that next month.
Click here to see the article.
Painting mural engages communicators in Philadelphia
Posted by Andrew Sherry
Artist Phillip Adams of Philadelphia’s Mural Arts Program took his talents off the streets last month to paint a mural titled “Communications Matters” at the Communications Network conference of the same name. Like good communications, the mural was engaging, with as many as four or five people helping Adams with it at a time. Knight Foundation was a sponsor of the conference, which seeks to strengthen communications in the nonprofit sector, and the mural itself. The Mural Arts Program was a 2011 Knight Arts Challenge winner and received Knight support this year for the installation “psychylustro.”
Click HERE to see post.
November 21st from 4:30-5 pm at 3rd and Poplar Street, with a happy hour immediately following at Ortlieb’s.
At 6 pm, Air is Human will be playing.
Stop motion of creating Kite Line at Dickinson College’s Goodyear Gallery.
Goodyear Gallery, Dickinson College
September 9 – October 4, 2014
Opening: Tuesday, September 9 from 5-7 pm
MU is very excited to announce three new murals at Habitations Jeanne-Mance are now enhanced by lighting. You can now admire five out of seven murals produced by MU, that I created in this housing complex after sunset. Rare are the murals in Montreal which benefit from such a special treatment. This is why MU feels really lucky to be able to offer you the opportunity to admire those wonderful pieces of art day and night. After enjoying the numerous outdoor terraces, come by Habitations Jeanne-Mance and discover or rediscover the murals in their new light, it’ll be worth your time!
Art review: ‘Spring Solos’ at the Arlington Arts Center
By Michael O’Sullivan, Thursday, May 15
The best fiction, it has been said, tells the truth by lying. Writers, filmmakers, even visual artists make stuff up to get at verities that transcend their invented circumstances.
This paradox lies at the heart of “Spring Solos 2014,” the new show — or, rather, shows — on view at the Arlington Arts Center. Though unrelated thematically, conceptually or in terms of medium, the seven mini-
exhibitions cluster, inadvertently, around a single question: Do we want to be deceived?
If the answer is yes, as it seems to be, a better question might be: Why?
The answers depend on how the question is framed.
Deception is front and center the minute you walk in the art center’s door. Along one wall of the atrium is a large trompe-l’oeil mural by Phillip Adams. Rendered in charcoal and graphite, the drawing depicts, in hyper-realist detail, the vertiginous view of a mountain range as seen from the edge of a snow-covered slope. Making it even more dizzyingly disorienting is the red plastic swing hanging from the ceiling, just in front of the mural.
Facing Adams’s immersive installation, it feels as if you might slip and fall into it. Reminding you that it’s a picture, not a portal to another world, is the room’s bright red fire alarm, which happens to be mounted smack in the middle of the drawing.
Adams, who often works as an outdoor muralist specializing in lifelike landscapes, practices a form of postmodern illusionism. His pictures fool the eye even as they call attention to their trickery. His visual punch line — that awkward, unavoidable fire alarm — both makes and unmakes the picture.
For Adams, then, the purpose of deception is visceral. His drawing is a thrill ride, cut short by a belly laugh.
Salvatore Pirrone’s aim is somewhat different. For his solo, the sculptor has cast multiples of everyday objects — dozens of cellphones, light bulbs, pencils and tennis balls — in pastel-colored concrete and plaster. Unlike Adams’s work, these are not realistic; they resemble oversize Pez candies as much as the objects they represent. Like Adams, though, Pirrone highlights his own artifice. His sculptures, although familiar in form, appear strange, even unnerving.
Several of the artists in the show betray a fascination with the uncanny.
That word — which can suggest both “weird” and “weirdly alike” — encapsulates the exhibition’s central paradox. If the art in “Spring Solos” is a mirror held up to the real world, it’s a mirror from the funhouse.
Take Benjamin Andrew. His installation in the basement presents an alternate history of Matthew Fontaine Maury, the man whose name once graced the former schoolhouse in which the AAC is located. Andrew’s art — which includes doctored photos, fake documents, machines and specimen jars — imagines Maury (1806-1873) as a time traveler who collaborated with scientists from the 23rd century. One artifact purports to be a time machine. “Powered by nostalgia,” as the label declares, it’s actually a plug-in appliance timer you can buy at Home Depot, modified with additional wires and hardware.
It seems, at first glance, that Andrew isn’t trying terribly hard to fool anyone. But maybe he’s trying too hard. Unlike Adams and Pirrone, his art comes across as less subversive than silly.
Favorites in “Spring Solos” include the work of Kyle J. Bauer and Alex Arzt. Bauer, a sculptor working mainly in ceramic and wood, creates brightly colored constructions that resemble pool toys. Inspired by nautical equipment, his enigmatic forms evoke such devices as buoys, floats and other navigational aides. But rather than guiding, they’re meant to confound and disorient. As a metaphor for being at sea — in both senses of the term — they’re quite effective.
As a photographer, Arzt would seem to be the artist most interested in recorded “truth.” Yet his contribution here is a display of surreal photograms — prints made by placing an object directly on photographic paper and exposing it to light. In this case, the objects are mushrooms that, over the course of hours or days, disintegrate and release spores or insect larvae. The resulting patterns — beautiful and unpredictable — don’t look like mushrooms, nor are they supposed to.
According to Arzt’s statement — which could well speak for most of the artists in this show — he’s less interested in making a slavish facsimile of an experience than in leaving a trace of something invisible, but no less true.
The story behind the work
Elizabeth Kauffman’s contribution to “Spring Solos” includes such interactive objects as a View-Master slide viewer containing a depiction of a UFO. But the core of her work here consists of a series of six watercolor paintings, each of which contains a text fragment suggesting that the images are renderings of paranormal phenomena through history. (You can research the back stories of several of her paintings, including “November 15, 1667 in Mittelfischach, Germany” at www.thinkaboutitdocs.com, a Web site devoted to “alternative views and truths on aliens, UFOs and the hidden agendas associated with them.”)
Kauffman’s titles may be presented as a matter of fact, but her paintings aren’t exactly deadpan. Full of drama, they come across as midway between credulous and skeptical. As documentary, they may be hard to believe, but as art, they’re hard to dismiss
The Story Behind the Work — Michael O’Sullivan
A short video time-lapse taken while creating my installation “Silent Swing” at Arlington Arts Center
Arlington Arts Center | Washington DC
April 26 – June 29, 2014
Peaks and Valleys
Seraphin Gallery | Philadelphia
April 25 – June 8, 2014
“Mural Arts @ 30” features two murals created in 2012.
“Communion between a Rock and a Hard Place” was created after leading a series of workshops with post 9/11 veterans, in which their experience was expressed through writing and visual art.
Rachel Heidenry, contributor to artblog.org, reviews the new Mural Arts book which features my mural “Communion Between a Rock and a Hard Place”
click image to read review
“We go wandering at night and are consumed by fire”
May 22nd, 5-8 pm
In collaboration with Damon Reaves, we are staging an artistic intervention throughout the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s Anneberg Galleries on Wednesday May 22nd. It’s part installation, part gallery tour, and part storytelling.
Currently on View: “Dialogues & Correspondence” at the Seraphin Gallery
Editor, Fine Art Today
Dialogues & Correspondence
May 10 – June 16, 2013
“The Hunt”, charcoal, acrylic, and oil on wood panel, 36″ x 24″
1108 Pine St., Philadelphia, PA 19107
www.seraphingallery.com | 215-923-7000
A Minute with Phillip Adams
An interview in conjunction with the project “Communion Between a Rock and a Hard Place”. I talk more personally about my studio practice in relation to murals, and the materials and process that I use.
Mural Arts and Warrior Writers Partner, Dedicate New Mural for Veterans Day
By Erin Kane |
From the making of a “Communion Between a Rock and a Hard Place.” (Photo via Warrior Writers)
On Monday, the Mural Arts Program will conclude an innovative partnership with Warrior Writers at the dedication of a new mural, “Communion Between a Rock and a Hard Place.”
A few hundred paces from the Veterans Affairs Medical Center, on Woodland Avenue in West Philadelphia, the mural stretches across mirroring walls and reflects parallel worlds: wartime Baghdad and a picturesque Philadelphia homecoming. Elements of both environments are woven within the murals, juxtaposed with personal photographs, memories, and excerpts of poems penned by veterans. “There are veterans all around us coming home. They are in our communities, whether we know it or not,” said Lovella Calica, the Founder and Executive Director of Warrior Writers, a nonprofit that uses creative outlets to support veterans. Through partnerships and word-of-mouth, it reaches a couple hundred veterans a year, most of whom served in Iraq or Afghanistan. Warrior Writers works out of public and donated spaces in a number of cities, but mostly from Calica’s West Philadelphia living room. “This is the reality of my generation,” said Calica, a 31-year-old Michigan native who is passionate about empowering veterans. “It’s so important for veterans to not have to keep their stories silent,” she said.
Between two worlds
Nearly two years ago, Warrior Writers was approached by the Mural Arts Program, which received funding from the City of Philadelphia’s Department of Behavioral Health for a project focused on post-9/11 veterans. “There’s a little bit of disconnect between the veterans serving in these conflicts and the rest of us,” said Will Pace, who managed the project for Mural Arts. Together, the nonprofits organized a dozen low-key workshops, where veterans swapped stories, networked, and made art. The art making and community building led to the conceptualization and design of the mural. “I got to meet a lot of people in the veteran community. It was nice to be able to network and see friendly faces,” said Tom Ferrant, a third-generation serviceman who participated in the project. Ferrant spent his yearlong deployment in Iraq and is now pursuing a law degree at Drexel. “One of the photographs I took in Iraq was chosen to be in the mural,” he said. “The world doesn’t change when you get back. It’s not the ticker tape parade that people think it is. You just go back to your normal, everyday life.”
To make the transition home an easier one, organizations like Warrior Writers are reaching out to veterans, many of whom are millennials, where they hang out — on the Internet. “We find people at universities and on social media,” explained Calica. The organization uses Facebook, Twitter, and regular blog posts to engage veterans. It also publishes and sells anthologies filled with their poetry, prose, and artwork. Warrior Writers will host workshops next year at Walter Reed Medical Center, but more long-term plans are uncertain. “We need some serious funding,” acknowledged Calica. Still, the organization has big hopes that the new mural will give the public a window into veterans’ experiences. “We hope that people will understand a little more about being a veteran,” said Calica. “We need to support them as civilians now.”
A mural tribute to returning vets at 42nd and Woodland
by Mike Lyons
Posted on 13 November 2012
West Philly’s newest mural is a tribute to returning vets and a depiction of their journey from the war zone to a life back home. Flanking a parking lot near 42nd and Woodland, the mural also contains verse from members of the Warrior Writers group, a non-profit that helps veterans convey their experiences through artistic expression. Phillip Adams and Willis Humphrey designed and installed the mural, which is entitled “Communion Between a Rock and a Hard Place.” One side of the two-mural installation depicts soldiers on duty. The other includes a scene of Clark Park. Together they represent the two worlds that many returning vets are trying to reconcile. The mural was financed in part through state and local grants and the city’s Mural Arts Program. Organizers hope the mural will help people better understand the transition to civilian life that many vets are experiencing. Read more about the mural here.
A video made by the University of the Sciences who supported and partnered with The City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program and Warrior Writers to dedicate a new mural “Communion between a rock and a hard place” on Nov. 12, 2012. The mural was the result of the “Our City, Our Vets” program created to bring veterans, many of whom struggle in silence, into a conversation with fellow community members to share their stories and build a better network for troops returning home. Designed by Phillip Adams and Willis Humphrey, the mural is actually two facing murals depicting a scene from Clark Park in Philadelphia and Iraq and Afghanistan. The site, situated on Woodland Ave. among USciences and community buildings, was selected because of its proximity to the VA hospital and multiple universities, and the unique physical layout of the site. The design incorporates photographs and writing accumulated during the workshops, and mimics the technique of photographic transfers for the overall aesthetic. It is meant to give the viewer the sense of being between two worlds, worlds that are separate, but apart. Veterans can never fully leave either of these two worlds. Funding was provided by the Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services and the Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development.
Featured on Radio Canada Television
Radio Canada did a special on the murals and public art that is transforming Habitations Jeanne-Mance.
Visit the website of MU to see other projects that are taking place in Montréal
By Edith Newhall, Philadelphia Inquirer, 10/9/11
In his first one-person show at Seraphin Gallery, “Love at the Matterhorn,” Phillip Adams has filled the gallery with new paintings from his “Solipsist” and “Matterhorn” series, most of which are black-and-white portraits of young men and women isolated at the bottom of the panel they’re painted on, against a white background.
As in Adams’ earlier “Solipsist” pictures, his solitary subjects wear glasses that reflect the scenes in front of them. The subjects of the Matterhorn paintings wear the same blue, hooded camouflage-patterned jacket.
Adams’ images can stir memories of photorealism – he draws his meticulous portraits with charcoal, occasionally adding painted areas – and he titles his works after his subjects’ first names, as Chuck Close did in his early portraits (and still does in his paintings). But Adams’ subjects seem younger and less defined as people than Close’s contemporaries did in the 1960s. The attitudinal young Richard Serra of Close’s black-and-white painting Richard, 1969 looked like someone who knew where he was going; the solemn facial expressions of Adams’ Keir, Corrine, and David seem blank by comparison. The reflections in the glasses worn by the “Solipsist” subjects suggest that they are passive voyeurs; the hoods on the heads of the “Matterhorn” figures exaggerate their youthfulness.
Adams is also showing paintings of mountainous landscapes with references to the Disneyland Matterhorn attraction. A table with an umbrella is improbably poised in an Alpine landscape in The Wait, while a tiny aerial tram car runs between two cliffs in Forever Young.
There’s an unknowable mystery in Adams’ images that he enhances by the contrasts of scale he uses, and the contrast of the drawn portrait to its white background. Now, in these landscapes, he seems to be introducing humor, too.
Check out the animation put together by Stéphane Cocke of the mural David Guinn and I did this past summer in association with MU and Habitations de Jeanne Mance
Paintings and Master Drawings
September 24 – October 23, 2011
Seraphin Gallery, Philadelphia, PA
Topical art rises above mere politics and goes for broke–Obama and City Hall swamp the competition in my First Friday sweepstakes!
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.
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, 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!
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!
Click HERE to read full article.
Phillip Adams, whose charcoal drawings are technical wows of draftsmanship and control, also is after the gap between the presentation and the experience. His triad of large, deadpan portraits, against white backgrounds is about the disorientation between no-space (the fashion- photography-inspired white backgrounds) and faux-space (the reflections of scenes in the mirrored sunglasses of the subjects). The window into someone’s eyes have been replaced by distorted substitute that sends me reeling. I may be reading too much into it, but I take these pieces as criticisms of a certain Elizabeth Peyton-ish coolness and self-absorption. I experience a sort of vertigo of the soul as I peer at the displaced persons and the reflections of displaced places. Like Yun, Adams is making me conscious of my take-for-granted understanding of reality, and in this case the reality is space and place, rather than color and sound.
Click HERE to read the full review.
Light and creativity: An interview with Phillip Adams December 24,2016
rag & bone in Philadelphia December 5,2016
Finished the 3rd mural in Industrious Light series September 8,2016