Starting the summer off with new Executive Director Gaby Heit was already exciting news for Da Vinci Art Alliance (DVAA), the South Philadelphia exhibition and studio space, and now that she has been at the helm, DVAA has been experiencing a renaissance of sorts. Aside from reorganizing and updating the location for new types of exhibitions, Heit has also used her many Philadelphia art connections to expand the DVAA audience. In September they will host FringeArts peformer Krie Alden and a number of associated events. Currently on display is the 2014 Juried Show “Some Like It Hot,” curated by Main Line Art Center Executive Director Amie Potsic.
The theme of the show is obviously somewhat open to interpretation, but tellingly, many of the artists included pieces full of warm hues, referencing steamy summer streets and tropical locations, or images of romance and flirtation. Linda Lou Horn takes her interpretation even further with her “Gestalt Hotseat” and its rigid red and black structure. Like the chair in some sadistic psychiatrist's office, this two-foot-tall piece is not the comfy couch we often picture alongside Rorschach tests and psychoanalytic jargon. Instead, we find ourselves facing a constricting chair more at home in an interrogation room than a mental health facility. The back is mostly open, allowing for little relaxation, and the painted wood resembles wrought iron more than anything else. On the seat itself, we find bumpy red protrusions and bouquets of sharp spikes. Hot seat indeed. The only thing less enticing would be an actual electric chair.
Marissa Halderman creates an image in a similar crimson, but with considerably more life, movement and allure. Entitled “The Dance of the Double-Stamen Hermaphroditic Bee Balm,” what appears to be an intricately patterned abstract painting is in fact an assemblage of bee balm flowers encased in bees wax. Reminiscent of the sweltering distortions of air above a hot roadbed, the surface twists and turns in and around itself in a lively whirl of floral motifs. Emerging from living blossoms, the organic nature of the entire composition is evident, but its surface could just as easily resemble a view from the infernal face of the sun that bestows us all with energy.
In Virginia Conover's “The Flirt,” we find a heat of a different sort as a silhouetted man finds himself enthralled by the warmth of a very friendly lady as she playfully kicks up her high heel in his direction. The whole scene takes place in a humid, orange atmosphere, hinting at the spark of lust unseen but felt between the two.
Robert Darabos cuts the content completely to focus on such colors in “13 Concentric Circles in Red, Orange and Yellow.” Although the bullseye could be mistaken for the disc of the sun, it radiates its colors solidly and consistently, landing it in the realm of sizzling abstraction more than direct representation... not to mention its center remains white despite its sunny appearance.
For “Hot Head” by Tom Sonnenberg, we find a wooden mask bristling with what look like matchsticks for hair. Its wide eyes seem as if they are in disbelief at whatever desert mirage they happen to be seeing, and beads of red-orange sweat drip down and past the face's pursed lips. Perhaps he's lost and hallucinating on Linnie Greenberg's balmy city streets in “Walking Dad.” Here we find a strange collage city of metal file skyscrapers with a red car in the foreground. A black figure seems drawn into the pinkish vortex of the summer sky, held back only by a thin tether, like some sort of urban astronaut.
With so many interpretations of heat, sun, summer and desire, the artworks in “Some Like It Hot” present a glowing vision of exactly what the more sizzling months of the year have to offer. DVAA will have the exhibition up through August 31.