Several large-scale art exhibitions opening in town: Emma Amos and Richard Benson at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, “Hope & Possibility” at Bridgette Mayer Gallery, Suzanne Valadon at The Barnes.
Save for the magnificent display of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and its mega Jasper Johns retrospective, the exhibitionism of First Friday came and went quietly this month. There’s no reason to despair, however, as several equally inventive and large-scale exhibitions start their runs with openings today and into the top of next week.
Starting tonight, October 7, at Spring Garden Street’s Bridgette Mayer Gallery, the Philadelphia curator presents “Hope & Possibility” – the benefit exhibition for Tools for Schools and EducationWorks. These two local nonprofit organizations provide resources and programs for quality education through granting students access to school supplies, backpacks, academic support programs, career readiness programs and enrichment programs. The eighth annual benefit exhibition during this exhibition features explosive donated work from Rose Drew, Neil Anderson, Kaoru Mansour, Tara Barr, Chad Cortez Everett and more.
The Philadelphia Museum of Art is on a roll, post-Jasper opening, as it unveils two fresh contemporary exhibitions on October 11 from printmaker, painter, weaver and activist, Emma Amos, with “Color Odyssey,” and photographer and printer Richard Benson with “The World Is Smarter Than You Are.”
Boundary breakers both, the work of the late Emma Amos (1937–2020) is a first for Philly in its display of warm, colorful works designed to explore what the PMoA’s curators call “the intersections of race and gender in American life.” The late Richard Benson (1943–2017) is better known for his devotion to the technical aspects of printing and photographic reproduction, along with his work for other legendary photographers such as Walker Evans and Paul Strand. One of the first of Benson’s retrospective exhibitions looks deeply into the artist’s bold explorations in photography through a range of 100 prints from the 1960s until shortly before his death in 2017.
Then there is the 2021 Barnes Art Ball benefit event on October 15 at 7 pm, and its world premiere exhibition of “Suzanne Valadon: Model, Painter, Rebel” exhibition with a live showcase from Philly jazz vocalist Laurin Talese.
Yes, the Barnes Art Ball supports the Barnes Foundations’ educational missions as well as caring for Dr. Barnes’ legendary singular collection. For many, it will be the first opportunity to see Valadon’s works at a major arts institution in the United States.
“The first self-taught woman to exhibit at the Salon de la Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts, she challenged behavioral codes with her art and lifestyle, breaking new ground with her unapologetic portraits and nudes,” writes Nina Diefenbach, senior vice president, deputy director for advancement. “We are activating our expansive indoor and outdoor spaces, including the gardens and covered West Terrace, for a night of diverse and dynamic creative experiences inspired by Valadon’s incredible life and work.”
Along with early access to the Valadon exhibition and hearing Laurin Talese, a variety of special multimedia presentations and installations will be on display including “ambient aerial artistry” performances by talent from the Philadelphia School of Circus Arts, inspired by Valadon’s early years with the Cirque Molier.