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October 30, 2013

Philadelphia Open Studio Tourist: Act II

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Katie Whittaker

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The Philadelphia Open Studio Tours continued for its second weekend on the west side of Broad Street on October 19 and 20, following the east side tours that took place October 5 and 6.
My tour began on Saturday afternoon in the University City, Powelton Village, Spruce Hill and Cedar Park area, and I was very excited for my first stop at Zoe Cohen’s studio. She created a series entitled What Was Our Vision, based on visual research on the belief systems in the Middle East, and is developing a project called “Vayehi / Vehaya” to investigate “the physical remnants of Jewish religious life in West Philly.”
As the day went on, I discovered the work of Marabelle Hincher and learned about “xenobiology,” encountered a doll house entirely made of credit cards by Amy Orr, and enjoyed the calming effect of the paper lighting and artwork in Sibylla Benatova’s studio. I wrapped up the tour with some of my personal favorites, Sun Young Kang and Anne Canfield. Sun Young Kang approaches thought-provoking issues in unique ways – for instance, one of her works was a book with a shape cut out of the inside, with the cutout on the page next to the original. She describes this as creating presence by creating absence, and it was a beautiful concept and presentation.
This weekend was also characterized by the two interactions I had with Greek artists Genevieve Coutroubis and Margo Johnson. A previous resident of Greece myself, it was amazing to see the way both of these artists captured the daily feelings and interactions that I had often struggled to express to friends and family.
Perhaps my favorite studio visit was with Leroy Forney, Margo Johnson, and Christina Oddo. Besides the beautiful art on display, there was also a very casual, friendly atmosphere, and it was definitely a lengthy stop! I spoke with each artist about their methods and media, and it turned into an educational and fun conversation in which we all were involved.
After a brief brunch break in Rittenhouse Square, I wandered into Thomas Kohlmann’s workspace and admired his figurative works, accompanied by the notes of a trumpet practicing Christmas songs. A ten-minute walk later led me to Naudain Street and the studios of Lauren Sweeney, Karen Stabenow, and Bhavisha Patel and her students. Raven’s Wing Studio was an artistic marvel inside and out. Once inside, it became difficult to distinguish between the art pieces and the everyday décor.
It was truly a pleasure to meet so many talented and inspirational artists, and I look forward to POST next year!
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