Just as expected (given the amount of art events and other things happening around town last weekend) we are about to enter a rather slow weekend. Perhaps everybody really does need to wind down from the rash of frenzied activity of the Spring season. But before you decide to stay in with a glass or two of chilled white wine and the complete run of Freaks and Geeks on DVD, let me tell you about a thing or two that IS going on.
The Mattress Factory is having its annual "Urban Garden Party". Since this year's event falls on a very special day, the organizers have decided to run with a likewise special theme. As their website explains- "To honor Friday the 13’s superstitious origin in 18th century France, this year’s fête will feature guillotines, powdered wigs, bustiers and extravagant, over-the-top decor. Let them eat cake!" That last part is ironically appropriate as none of the peasants that I know can afford the $85 'ticket-for-the-masses-fee', let alone the $200 VIP ticket for the hour-long pre-party with a special performance by local chanteuse Phat Man Dee. Keep in mind that this is a fund-raiser, and so the high admission fees are understandable and vital to the operation of this first class institution. Oh, to be a true supporter of the arts!
On the exact opposite end of the spectrum is the Tattoo Artist's Freak Show over at Zombo Gallery on 49th and Hatfield Streets in Lawrenceville. Michael Devine (co-owner, namesake, and curator) has adopted the mission of bringing art to ordinary folks who are often intimidated by the prospect of high-falutin' art receptions. Over the last year he has shared his version of what he refers to as "lowbrow art". The stuff he shows is consistently accessible and fun. And the best thing is that most of it is priced under $200, as Zombo himself would love to see you actually buy a piece of it to hang on your wall. The 'Burgh is chock full of quality skin artists, and this Friday night will be a great opportunity to get a look at some of their work.
If you are looking for something in between the aforementioned events, I'd heartily recommend your presence Friday evening at the official opening reception of Sylvania at the 709 Penn Gallery (6-8PM). The title indicates the theme, and reflects the woodsy nature of the art. This show features the work of a bunch of artists involved in the loose arts collective called Unicorn Mountain. The group has published a number of art/comics-based books over the last several years. Their next publication is (tentatively) called Black Forest and is said to be forthcoming this Fall. It will feature a great lineup of local artists, some of which have gone on to national acclaim, and will be accompanied by a CD containing music by local bands.
At the risk of seeming personally biased (I am involved with the collective, have a piece in this show, and will be included in Black Forest), I have to say that there are a number of excellent artists contributing to this themed-project. You should really come to the "soft opening" tomorrow night, but if you can't make it- it will be available for viewing through July 12th. That includes Friday, July 11th, which is the date of the Summer Downtown Gallery Crawl. Artists exhibiting work include Matthew Thurber, Austin English, Ally Reeves, Katherine Young, Ian Finch, Thad Kellstadt, Beano, Tom Hall, Elina Malkin, David Grim, Thee Coyote, Michael Budai, Ben Hernstrom, Amy Conroy, Chris Cornwell, Kathleen Lolley, and Tugboat Printshop.