Monday, October 12, 2009

Inside the Artist's Studio

No matter what you hear, there's a lot more going on in Philadelphia than baseball (ok, ok - Go Phillies!) The past two weekends were Open Studios in Philadelphia, Oct 3-4 before for those East of Broad Street (AKA Avenue of the Arts) and Oct 10-11 for those West of Broad Street. I'm closer to the eastern side of things, so have to admit that I gotten to know more places in my area, but little by little I'm venturing further afield. As I've been saying, Philadelphia is a place where things are happening - I'm so impressed with the amount and quality of contemporary art going on here. One of the real advantages for artists here is the relative availability and affordability of studio space; there seems to be a good supply of old industrial buildings that are perfect for community artist buildings. One of them, at 915 Spring Garden in the Art Museum district, is a 5 story stack of large and small spaces providing work space for creative, active artists of all types, some of whom, like Chuck Soldano, an interior designer, have have been in the building for 10 years or more. Plenty of the artists took part in the Open Studios; a couple of my favorites were a young painter named Greg Prestegord and the photography team of Shelly Lependorf and Stan Shire. I'd run into Greg at his gallery in Old City a few weeks before I discovered him at 915 Spring Garden so it was a nice chance for me to see more of his robust, colorful, beautifully drawn local scenes. He has a wonderful eye and an ability to make the simplest, most ordinary moment resonate with a kind of joyous depth. Shelly and Stan's photographs are rich and evocative; the landscapes I saw were sensitive compositions full of deep color, or as in one image of a wintry field of leftover hay, delicate strokes of grey against dense white. To see more of these artists's work see their websites: