ArtsApril 5, 2012 at 5:36 am

Top 5 West Philly Wonders

Take a short walk to one of these on–campus art hubs and soak in April’s array of talent.

1. The ICA
Noticed the massive inflatable blow–up monkeys resting on a patio at 36th and Sansom? No, it’s not a used car sale, but part of Stefan Sagmeister’s “The Happy Show” that opened yesterday. Based on his half–decade exploration of happiness, during which Sagmeister has experimented with meditation, therapy and pharmaceuticals, the graphic designer’s show includes pie charts and penises. He has taken advantage of every inch of the ICA, even using a Sharpie to inscribe messages in the bathrooms and the elevator. Also showing in the first–floor galleries until April 12 is “First Among Equals,” a show featuring Phillly and Los Angeles artists who have used concepts of negotiation and cooperation within their multimedia work.

118 S. 36th St.
Thu.–Fri., 11–6 p.m.
Sat.–Sun., 11–5 p.m.

2. 40th Street Air
You haven’t realized the awesome potential of puppets and storytelling until you’ve seen the work of Beth Nixon, whose cardboard and paper–mache creations have delighted audiences in parades, continent–traversing tours and theater productions. RETROSPECTACULAR!, her show that opened this month, will revive your inner child with puppets that sometimes play the role of sculptures and pinatas. We’ve heard the artist supports pinata–bashing as a development activity to release fears or anger. If you’re stressing over final papers, you know where to go.

4007 Chestnut St.
Fri., 3–7 p.m.

3. Green Line Cafe on Locust
Venture a little further beyond Penn’s borders to check out Green Line Cafe, which not only champions fair–trade coffee but also promotes local artists and musicians each month. Seasonal change and the coming of spring are some of the influences for Alicia Neal’s painterly illustrations. Her depictions of young women paired with delicate blossoms or mythological creatures are romantically reminiscent of Art Nouveau’s love for floral imagery and organic, undulating lines. Also featured will be the work of Justin Grey, whose fantastical, creature–filled drawings will endear themselves most to fellow lovers of video games.

4426 Locust St.
Mon.–Sat., 7 a.m.–10 p.m.
Sun., 8 a.m.–8 p.m.

4. The Slought Foundation
Is he a prisoner, a spy or just an illusory figure of the imagination? Through the constructed biography of his character Tulse Luper, avant–garde filmmaker Peter Greenaway, who has participated in festivals such as Cannes and Venice, recreates the history of the 20th century as a subjective experience. If you’re in the mood to be charmed or scandalized, stop by to see the exhibition titled 92 Suitcases, which will feature items ranging from Ingres paintings to erotic engravings to Vatican pornography.

4017 Walnut St.
Thu.–Sat., 1–6 p.m.

5. Metropolitan Bakery

When treating yourself to a coffee and pastry combo at Metro, don’t forget to take in the visual feast Philadelphia–based artist Chris Clark has prepared for you on the walls. Combining the techniques of spray paint stenciling, screen–printing and collage, Clark uses mixed media to achieve his layered and densely–textured prints. Interested in the steel and iron accomplishments of human engineering as well as nature, he superimposes flowering trees over silhouettes of bridges and building cranes to create striking graphic landscapes.

4013 Walnut St.
Mon.–Fri., 7:30 a.m.–7 p.m.
Sat.–Sun., 8 a.m.–7 p.m.

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