June 30 through September 25, 1988

Notating Time
Founded in 1978, the Morris Gallery of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts shows a vital cross section of contemporary art with a Philadelphia connection. To mark its tenth anniversary, the Academy commissioned a collaborative installation for its main galleries. This unusual venture celebrates the wide range of talent in the Philadelphia art community while also calling attention to the creative process itself.

One of our most cherished cultural myths is the act of artistic creation, wherein a heroic male figure sequesters himself in a studio, eventually emerging with a masterwork. In truth, very little art is produced in isolation. Just as the filmmaker, playwright, choreographer, architect, and actor are dependent on working with others, so too most sculptors, printmakers, and video artists rely on the assistance of others to realize their vision.

There have been many times in the history of art when artists have pooled their talents. To cite one early example, the fifteenth-century Flemish painter Jan van Eyck worked in concert with his brother Hubert. The romantic notion of art as a solitary pursuit, prevalent in the last century, has been periodically rejected in our own. The Mexican mural movement of the 1930s often involved imagery determined by group decisions and enacted by a multitude of hands. The contemporaneous surrealist movement also countered the myth of individual creation with such games as The Exquisite Corpse, in which a string of people each contributed to a drawing without seeing the work of their predecessors.

Within the past decade, an increasing number of artists have teamed their talents to work together. Such names as Gilbert and George, Group Material, Todt, Tim Rollins and K.O.S., McDermott and McGlough, Joan Wallace and Geralyn Donohue, and the Starn Twins have been a visible presence in the New York art world. The common denominator among these diverse sets is their mutually agreed upon goal to work together. To explore the possibility of a joint project in which the component teams had never previously worked together, the Pennsylvania Academy commissioned a major collaborative installation, which to the best of our knowledge has never before been initiated by an institution.

In January 1988 twelve Philadelphia artists were invited to meet together over a period of months to choose a theme and to discuss the potential for creating new works in collaboration with each other. The group represented a wide cross section of the Philadelphia art community: while some had achieved national recognition, others had never exhibited in a museum before; although several were born and raised here, others had settled in the city as adults. In the previous decade, none had shown in the Morris Gallery. Seven had already worked regularly with partners: video artist Connie Coleman with her husband, Alan Powell; sculptor Donald Waisnis with his brother Edward Waisnis, a painter; and video artist Cheryl Gelover with her former Tyler schoolmates Thomas Murray and Mitchell Smith. Filmmaker and performance artist Peter Rose had hoped to work with dancer and choreographer Steven Krieckhaus, but had not yet had the opportunity. Chosen by the Morris Gallery Committee, the disparate group also included sculptor Steven Beyer, photographer Eileen Neff, and folk artist Ralfka Gonzalez.

Within two months, the group chose a working theme — “Matter of Time.” The prospect of one collective project was discussed and rejected in favor of smaller aggregates related to the theme of time. Four months later, the collaborative process was evident in both expected and surprising manifestations. For example, the Waisnis brothers shot footage that is part of Gelover, Murray, and Smith’s video presentation, and in turn the trio, who are also musicians, contributed to the sound track for the brothers’ video component. Although all of the commissioned artworks are site specific — created especially for the Academy galleries — an unexpected dimension to the project came from the artists’ desire to “collaborate” with the Academy itself: Rose and Krieckhaus and Eileen Neff have devised installations that utilize specific paintings in the permanent collection.

Ralfka Gonzalez, a folk artist who moved to Philadelphia from southern Texas five years ago, developed his contribution, Armageddon Times, from readings on religious concepts of the end of time. Already familiar with the visual traditions of Mexican popular art, he researched medieval scenes of the Apocalypse and pre-Columbian codices and wall paintings. Gonzalez’s cardboard and plywood installation depicts such eschatological images as the seven trumpet-playing angels described in the Book of Revelation, the Aztec dog traditionally depicted at Hell’s doorway, and a multitude of energetic skeletons. He also includes newspaper references to catastrophic current events such as famines, earthquakes, and Star Wars. Other elements of his imagery include the biblical seven virtues and vices, the archangel battling a seven-headed dragon, and two snakes configured into the numeral eight, alluding to the current year and to double infinity.

Gonzalez, who has been painting for eight years, has never before worked on such an ambitious scale. For him, the collaborative process “influenced my life and the way I interpreted the subject. This was also true for Alan Powell and Connie Coleman, who have been working as a team for ten years. Their project, Gone Swimming, took shape in direct response to the ideas and energy of their collaborators, particularly Gonzalez and the Waisnis brothers. Electing to create a “playful, summer video,” they designed Gone Swimming as a floor piece that would easily co-exist with the neighboring wall components of Matter of Time.

In this work Coleman and Powell align themselves within the venerable genre of landscape painting, regarding their contribution as “a high-tech equivalent of the Hudson River School.” Upended monitors embedded in an S-shaped simulation of a stratified riverbed constitute a continuously flowing stream, refreshing viewers with an audible babble and an everchanging video collage of aqueous images. To the duo, water represents renewal and the irrepressible life force. Shots of the artists swimming as well as glimpses of a stream littered with trash remind us of the intervening presence of humans in nature.

Because water has been an abiding image in their work for ten years, it has a specific temporal reference for the artists. In segments of their tapes they enjoy slowing down time, isolating moments of the straightforward camera shots through post-production processing. Selected images shot through a wide-angle lens contribute to the buoyant humor in Gone Swimming. A delightful sense of fun also pervades Gelover, Murray, and Smith’s Buying Time, a video installation documenting our society’s obsession with coin-operated consumption.

Three monitors continuously screening three separate tapes are enclosed within black boxes that themselves resemble coin-fueled devices. Their video images, both straight and manipulated, survey the astonishing array of products and services obtainable via vending machines, including air and water (from gas stations), kiddy rides, juke boxes, video games, porno shows, and an electric eternal flame, available in local churches. To the artists, Buying Time concerns “putting things off by turning things on; the two-sided coin of satisfaction /frustration that attempts to buy fulfillment and ultimately only succeeds in buying time.”

The video component at the core of Peter Rose and Steven Krieckhaus’s project, nonsensically titled Foit Yet Cleem Triavith, is set within a selection of traditional and modern paintings from the Academy’s collection. To Rose, the physical space of the Academy building had a “formative role” on his content, which consists in part of a “dialectic between the centuries.” The three monitors show the same tape, running continuously, but not at synchronized times. Rose electronically manipulates the movement of a text that begins “Once Upon a Time,” permitting us to look behind it, catching glimpses of Krieckhaus performing kinetic variations of the poses in the paintings.

Playing with artful appositions of written and visual language, Rose includes, for example, an image of a brick maze as well as a text segment referring to “the labyrinthian contours of an enigma.” By using the first person plural “we” in the text, as in “we saw very quickly,” Rose implicates himself and the audience in the process of looking. In the artists’ view, their collaborative enterprise is about “the desire to embody time in an art-historical context through cross-gene rational juxtapositions of style, structure, and medium.”

In addition to his work with Rose, Steve Krieckhaus has developed Under Morris Field, a performance presented twice during the run of Matter of Time. He began work on this project by reading about time, allowing a variety of concepts, such as “duration” and “the moment,” to suggest concrete ideas. The collaborative process has impacted on the nature of his performance: “While the work proceeds in the foreground of my mind, the presence of the others is assuredly there, in the background.” Regarding the theme of his commissioned dance, he seeks “to echo and even engender what is timeless in human existence: the elemental movement of our consciousness within its own and the world’s presence.”

While performer Steve Krieckhaus uses his own body as a reference to time, sculptor Steven Beyer uses effigies of the human baby to embody temporal metaphors. Beyer’s pair of monumentally scaled infants are locked in time at the beginning of human development. Each sits on a pillow, covertly holding such objects as a rattle and a miniature skyscraper. Beyer purposely chose his materials — polymer and cement, with bronze details — to align them with the “funny virginal quality” of the marble sculptures on view in nearby galleries. The outsized male babies evoke images of both Jesus and Buddha, while making specific references to the writings of the French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan.

In Beyer’s words, “the hide-and-seek gesture of the hands locates four objects at the openings of the gastrointestinal tract. From mouth to anus the continuous tube traverses the traditional Western boundary between Heaven and Earth.” To Lacan, these organs are sites of emotion, places where the inside opens up to the outside. The disturbing elegance and probity of Beyer’s babies set them far apart from the lighthearted, saccharine images of infants that proliferate in mass media.

Eileen Neff’s The Arrangement: Part I conveys a poetic narrative through component images of “Water, World and Window.” A free-standing stage light illuminates a silkscreened plexiglas image of a swimmer floating on his back. His cast shadow falls on the waters of a moving globe, topped by a woman wearing a surrealistic clock dress. An adjacent gold frame angles out from the wall to catch the “symbolic light of the world.” A nearby photograph of a window, shot from inside a room, holds the promise of real light, streaming in through the disheveled blinds. The piece is completed by a framed photo of a large expanse of ocean, a more realistic rendering of the vast seas represented by flat blue areas on the globe. To Neff, “the core of the piece is the World, moving back and forth in time. . . .”

Neff collaborated with a work in the Academy’s permanent collection in her piece The Delaware Valley by using the actual painting and a facsimile of it. Taking her cues from a nineteenth-century painting by Charles Knapp with the same title, she updated the earlier sylvan scene by superimposing an industrial landscape on top of the photographic copy.

In For Philadelphia: A Decade in a Day, Donald and Edward Waisnis is have created “a full-blown production,” melding sculpture, architecture, installation, painting, video, and music. For them, the last ten years represent a “pertinently graspable past . . . ripe for appropriation.” Their contribution consists of three principal parts: a thirty-foot “centerpiece tower, festooned with objects of artistic origin, as well as debris fresh from the streets of Philadelphia”; a video monitor attached to the tower will show a “visual journal,” including both found footage from the past decade and “an ominous vision about Philadelphia in 1988”; four large paintings which are at once “emblems of our times,” and “very, very, very personal.”

These paintings on canvas over plywood vary in shape from tondo, hexagon, rectangle to square. Concerning their choice of the acrylic medium the artists note: “The paintings are about plastic — acrylic is unforgiving; acrylic is appropriately suited to the ’80s post-Modern syntax — its deadness, alienation, and distinctly Modern chemical tactility.” The brash imagery, ranging from a sixty-ish clenched fist in Charging Particles to the actress Billy Whitelaw in My, My, My, is energetically executed in a raw expressionist style. The Waisnises took what they regard as a “perverse” step in collaborating with a friend who is not an artist for the design and colors of the painting Dirty Dog.

During the past ten years, the Morris Gallery has established itself as the premier exhibition venue for Philadelphia artists within our city. The media shown have ranged from painting, sculpture, prints, and drawings, to ceramics, fiber, photography, neon, and site-specific installations. With excitingly varied methods, the group brought together to create Matter of Time has succeeded in both honoring and extending the decade-long tradition of excellence and experimentation associated with the Morris Gallery.

Their individual and group projects help illuminate the process of artmaking in the late twentieth century. One artist joked that such collaboration can easily break down into “clobber-ation” if individual egos become too assertive. Happily, such a tug of wills was not operative in this group. They functioned in concert, responding to our challenge to define a common theme and to work together on a group installation. If the results could not have been foreseen at the onset, it is because the creative process cannot be predetermined, and for this the Academy salutes the Matter of Time artists.

Judith E. Stein
Associate Curator and Coordinator, Morris Gallery

*All quotations in the text are from the artists’ written and oral statements collected by Judith Stein during May 1988.

Steven Beyer

Born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, 1951
Macalaster College, St. Paul, Minnesota, B.A. 1973
Selected Fellowships: John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, 1978; McKnight Foundation, 1981; National Endowment for the Arts, 1981; Bush Foundation, 1982
Currently associate professor and sculpture chairman, Tyler School of Art, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Selected Exhibitions
1987
Carnegie-Mellon Art Gallery, Pittsburgh, PA

1986
Diane Brown Gallery, New York, NY
Vanguard Gallery, Philadelphia, PA

1985
Small Monuments, The Temple Gallery, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA
Mile 4, Chicago Sculpture International, Chicago, IL

1984
Comparaisons, Grand Palais, Paris, France

1983
Cite Internationale des Arts, Paris, France

1982
Eight McKnight Artists, Minneapolis College of Art and Design, Minneapolis, MN
Art 82, Navy Pier, Chicago, IL

1980
Artist and Printer: Six Amenican Print Studios, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN

1979
Recent Acquisitions, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN
Beyer/DumkelLarson, Minneapolis Institute of Art, Minneapolis, MN

Selected Collections
Chicago Art Institute, Chicago, IL
Minneapolis Institute of Art, Minneapolis, MN
Newport Harbor Art Museum, Newport Beach, CA
Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY

Constance Elizabeth Coleman
Born in Cranston, Rhode Island, 1947
Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, Rhode Island, B.F.A. 1970, M.F.A. 1974
Selected Fellowships: Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, 1982, 1984, 1986; National Endowment for the Arts, 1984, 1986
Currently self-employed video graphics artist/effects designer

Alan Wayne Powell
Born in LaPorte, Indiana, 1952
Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, Rhode Island, B.F.A. 1974
Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey, M.F.A. 1987
Selected Fellowships: Pennsylvania State Council on the Arts, 1983, 1985; National Endowment for the Arts, 1984, 1986
Currently assistant professor, Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Selected Individual Exhibitions
1988
Negotiations for a Heaven on Earth: THREATS, PROMISES, DESIRES, The Temple Gallery, Temple University, Tyler School of Art, Philadelphia, PA

1987
Coleman and Powell, The Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, PA
Song and Dance, Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ

1986
Media Hostages, American Museum of the Moving Image, Astoria, NY
Coleman and Powell, Neighborhood Film/Video Project of the International House, Philadelphia, PA

1984
Living in Glass Houses, Portico Gallery, Philadelphia, PA

1983
Mediaworks, Nexus Gallery, Philadelphia, PA

1982
Week-long collaboration with Group Motion and Bricolage, Yellow Springs FeIlowship for the Arts grant, Yellow Springs Institute for Contemporary Studies and the Arts, Chester Springs, PA

1981
In Black and White and Living Color, Painted Bride Art Center, Philadelphia, PA

Selected Group Exhibitions
1987
Made in Philadelphia 7, Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA Mediamix First Annual Conference and Second Media Arts Exhibition, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ
The Other New York, American Museum of the Moving Image, Astoria, NY
Personal/Public Visions, Painted Bride Art Center, Philadelphia, PA

1986
Video Marathon, Copenhagen, Denmark
Monitor’86, Vastra Frolunda, Sweden
National Video Festival, American Film Institute and SONY Corporation of America, New York, NY
Politics: Art and Ideology, Yellow Springs Institute for Contemporary Studies and the Arts, Chester Springs, PA
Invisible Contexts, Lawrence Gallery, Rosemont College, Rosemont, PA

1985
Video on Paper, Film/Video Arts, New York, NY
Emerging Expressi-s-The Artist and the Computer, The Bronx Museum of the Arts, New York, NY
The Artist and The Computer; Personal Vision in a New Age City College of New York, New York, NY
9th Atlanta Film and Video Festival, High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA
Algebra and Other Menstrual Confus, Contemporary Video, Houston Center for Photography, Houston, TX

1984
Video 84, Interna ional Video Festival and Conferences, Montreal, Canada
Five Philadelphia Artists at School 33, Baltimore, MD
COORS Southern Images Film and Video Festival, Shreveport, LA
Contemporary Philadelphia ArtistslPortraiture, The Philadelphia Art Alliance, Philadelphia, PA

1983
Electra, Musee d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Paris, France
Siggraph ’83 Art Show, touring U.S., Europe, Japan

Cheryl Gelover
Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1964
Tyler School of Art, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, B.F.A. 1985

Thomas Murray
Born in Bristol, Pennsylvania, 1960
Tyler School of Art, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, B.F.A. 1984

Mitchell Smith
Born in Albany, New York, 1955
Tyler School of Art, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, B.F.A. 1983

Ralfka Valentin Gonzalez
Born in San Antonio, Texas, 1958

Selected Exhibitions
1987
4 de Philadelphia, Taller Puertorriqueno, Philadelphia, PA
Taller Puertorriqueno, Arthur Ross Gallery, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
Prints in Progress Gallery, Philadelphia, PA
Voices of Dissent, Painted Bride Art Center, Philadelphia, PA

1986
Arts Rendering the Human Condition, Bacchanal Club, Philadelphia, PA
Crisis Apparitions and Comet Fallout, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA

1983
San Antonio Artists’ Alliance, San Antonio, TX

Steve Krieckhaus
Born in St. Louis, Missouri, 1956
Webster University, St. Louis, Missouri, 1975-77, 1979-80
Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, B.F.A. 1983
Selected Fellowships: Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, 1986; Art Matters Inc., grant, 1987
Currently an instructor at Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Selected Exhibitions
1988
Steve Krieckhaus, Painted Bride Art Center, Philadelphia, PA
Body Language, Painted Bride Art Center, Philadelphia, PA
Teacher and performer, International Mime and Clown Festival, Philadelphia, PA
Teacher and performer, Colorado Dance Festival, Boulder, CO

1987
National Performance Network, Boston, Massachusetts; Austin, Texas; Washington, DC
Nation of Explanations, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA

1986
Missouri Drivers License, Dance Theater Workshop, New York, NY
Improvisation, Painted Bride Art Center, Philadelphia, PA
BecklKrieckhaus, Conwell Dance Theater, Philadelphia, PA

1985
3 Choreographers Working, Susan Hess Dance Studio, Philadelphia, PA
Pedes, Conwell Dance Theater, Philadelphia, PA

1984
Field-rk, Conwell Dance Theater, Philadelphia, PA

1983
Nuclear Freeze Benefit, Seminole Dance Company, Mandell Theater, Philadelphia, PA
Dance Therapy Benefit, Hahnemann Medical College, Philadelphia, PA

1982
Captured Ladders, Seminole Hall, Philadelphia, PA
Bandits, Terry Beck, Annenberg School of Communications, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA

1980
Independent Choreographers, Washington University, St. Louis, MO

Eileen Neff
Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1945
Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, B.A. 1967
Philadelphia College of Art, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, B.F.A. 1972
Tyler School of Art, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, M.F.A. 1974
State University of New York, Potsdam, New York, Artist in Residence, 1986-87
Selected Fellowships: Mid-Atlantic States Arts Consortium /Artist in Residence Grant in Photography, SUNY, Potsdam, New York, 1986-87; University Fellowship, Tyler School of Art, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1974

Selected Exhibitions
1987
Re-marks on the Landscape, Roland Gibson Gallery, Potsdam, NY

1984
Made in Philadelphia 7, Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia, PA

1983
P.S. 1, Long Island City, NY
Participant, Lynn Denton: Sophia’s House, Morris Gallery, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA

1981
Lace Gallery, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

1979
Colby College, Waterville, Maine

1975
Tyler School of Art, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Peter Rose
Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1947
City College of New York, B.S. 1967
Selected Fellowships: Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, 1981, 1982, 1984; National Endowment for the Arts, 1978, 1986; Mid-Atlantic Regional Media Grant, 1983,1986,1988; Guggenheim Fellowship, 1984

Selected Individual Exhibitions
1988
Chicago Art Institute, Chicago, IL
American Museum of the Moving Image, Astoria, NY

1987
Centre Pompidou, Paris, France
Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, Los Angeles, California

1986
Corcoran Gallery, Washington, DC
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, VA
Portland Art Museum, Portland, ME
Brattle Theatre, Cambridge, MA

1985
San Francisco Cinernatique, San Francisco, CA
Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, RI
Matrix 84, Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, CT

1982
Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN

1981
Museum of Art, Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh, PA

Selected Group Exhibitions
1987
Body Language, Painted Bride Art Center, Philadelphia, PA

1986
Worldwide Video Festival, Holland
National Video Festival, Los Angeles, CA
1Oth Festival Polyphonix, Centre Pompidou, Paris, France
San Francisco International Film and Video Festival, San Francisco, CA

1985
Whitney Biennial, New York, NY
Kunst Museum, Berne, Switzerland

1984
When Words Become Works, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN
Made in Philadelphia 6, Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia, PA
4th Experimental Film Festival, Tokyo, Japan
Belgrade Film Festival, Belgrade, Yugoslavia

1983
Oberhausen Film Festival, Oberhausen, West Germany
Sydney Film Festival, Sydney, Australia
Edinburgh Film Festival, Edinburgh, Scotland

Donald Waisnis
Born in Nashua, New Hampshire, 1951
The Art Institute of Boston, Boston, Massachusetts, 1979-73
Rivier College, Nashua, New Hampshire, 1974
School of Visual Arts, New York, New York, 1976
Co-publisher, Art Extreme

Selected Exhibitions
1986
36186, Wistariahurst Museum, Holyoke, MA

1985
Fifth Anniversary Invitational, ZONE, Springfield, MA

1984
Springfield Central Gallery, Springfield, MA

1983
New England Center for the Arts, Durham, NH

1982
Artworks Gallery, Brattleboro, VT

1981
Condeso/LaWer, New York, NY
Andover Gallery, Andover, MA

1980
Ball State University, Muncie, IN

1978
Double U Gallery, New York, NY

1977
Rhoda Sande Gallery, New York, NY

1976
Alnico Gallery, New York, NY

Edward Waisnis
Born in Nashua, New Hampshire, 1957
Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts, 1975
School of Visual Arts, New York, New York, 1976
Co-publisher, Art Extreme

Selected Exhibitions
1986
36/86, Wistariahurst Museum, Holyoke, MA

1985
Fifth Anniversary Invitational, ZONE, Springfield, MA
Hal Bromm/East Village Gallery, New York, NY

1984
Springfield Central Gallery, Springfield, MA

1983
Hal Brom., New York, NY
AVA Gallery, Hanover, NH

1982
Artworks Gallery, Brattleboro, VT

1978
Double U Gallery, New York, NY

The Morris Gallery displays the work of outstanding contemporary artists with a connection to Philadelphia, determined by birth, schooling, or residence. The exhibitions are chosen by a committee composed of area artists, museum personnel, and collectors, and the curatorial staff of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Currently serving on the Morris Gallery Exhibition Committee are: Moe Brooker, Paolo Colombo, Bill Freeland, Faith Ginsburg, Carrie Rickey, Eileen Rosenau, Judith Tannenbaum; Academy staff Judith Stein, Morris Gallery Coordinator, Frank H. Goodyear, Jr., Linda Bantel, and Susan Danly.

Barbara Mink

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