Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Philadelphia Primarily/Society for Photographic Education Conference Secondarily

[Marcel Duchamp's Étant Donné]

I stopped in Philly for the first time on my way to Houston. I love this city! On the agenda (aside from the conference): Philadelphia Museum of Art (Marcel Duchamp’s The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors Even/The Large Glass and Étant Donné), the Mutter Museum, and the Fabric Workshop. Surprises that occurred along the way: Rocky Balboa’s statue and the run up the main staircase of the museum for Alexis (thanks to Nancy I was able to do this in public and call it performance art – video coming after Alexis emails it to me), Cézanne’s The Large Bathers, Bruce Nauman’s Days and Giorni sound pieces, an Oscar Munoz exhibition, Philagrafika 2010: The Graphic Unconscious (one of my favorites thanks to discovering his work at FotoFest ten years ago). The Fabric Workshop and the Cai Guo-Qiang exhibition were a bit of a let down because I was expecting bigger and better things but I did manage to pick up a fuzzy blue piece of wool that resembled cotton candy for Nancy from the floor.

[Detail of The Large Glass]

[Alexis sitting in Nauman's Days]

[Nauman's Giorni]

[Oscar Munoz drew these obituary portraits of drug dealers in charcoal and videotaped them washing down the drain]

The Mutter
was incredible in that only have to see once because everything is seared into my brain forever kind of way. Highlights: the giant skeleton next to the dwarf skeleton, Chang and Eng - the original Siamese twins' body cast and their preserved conjoined livers, and that 8’4” colon that held two and a half buckets of feces and weighed 41 pounds once removed from a 21 year old dead man, tanned human skin, and most important the flat files! I heard about the latter from Gayle Wimmer in graduate school and admit to wanting to go to the Mutter just to see 2000 + objects that were removed from various throats without surgery and catalogued in drawers. This was the only photograph I was able to sneak and the Perfect Attendance button was my favorite (left row, second from bottom).

Other highlights in Philly include the Reading Terminal Market which was right across the street from the conference hotel. It was an ideal location as we were able to eat all meals of the day here. Lots of cheese in this city: cream cheese, cheese steaks, cheesecake, etc. Funny how I am traveling from the second fattest city in the nation to the first one after one another.

Sunday, Alexis and I took the train to NYC – her first visit. The Whitney Biennial was PACKED because the Armory Show and Pulse were also taking place. Highlights from the exhibition include: Storm Tharp’s drawings though they were shown in the worst room possible (next to a very intrusive video that did not make you want to stay and contemplate his work at all), the Bruce High Quality Foundation video installation, I Like America and America Likes Me on the windshield of an old ambulance, David Adamo’s stripped down canes that resembled spindly insect legs, Kate Gilmore’s video of destroying the walls in her attempt to climb out of a room built inside of the gallery, and James Casebere’s large photographs of a miniature suburb. Overall, it was good to see but I wasn’t blown away with anything compared to the day before at the PMA and Mutter Museum.

What little I saw of the conference was also a success. Ball State had a lot of student representation at the portfolio reviews (here is Karla showing her photographs to Alexis with Jon in the background and Monica and Shannon - sorry I didn't catch you Molly, Ashley, and Laura).

I got to meet some great people (who wear cool tee-shirts as in this photograph of Ian van Coller at happy hour at our Modernist hotel… Loew’s).

[View from Room 2510 with the Delaware River and New Jersey in the background]

And on a miscellaneous note... One of my favorite buildings... the Philadelphia Institute of Art on Chestnut.

… and then I flew to Houston where I was greeted with a platter of delectable rug samples.

Monday was “settle in” day because I arrived late in the afternoon starving and tired. After lemongrass tofu at Mo Mong, Nancy and I made a list of what we had to accomplish Tuesday beginning with the DVD, a velvet and embroidered case for the Michael Jackson’s banner, and finding wood for pedestals for some of the larger objects that will reside on a table at Texas Gallery.

The announcements were Fed-Exed to me in Philadelphia and they LOOK GREAT!!! Very exciting!

(Better photograph coming soon) and more and more and more to come….

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