The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
Once more, the lobby of Le Meridien Hotel in Center City Philadelphia is graced by the work of local artists. The group show organized by artist and curator Gaby Heit brings together four creators for a small but potent exhibit. Alex Halpin, Lori Evensen, Nicole Koenitzer and Jon Montenegro display their work in the already luxurious entryway to the hotel, adding a bit of expressive flair to the otherwise crisp interior design of the location.
Alex Halpin provides one photograph that is wildly engaging and easy to study at length. “Pause: Debris” is a captured moment of gravel and other chunks of detritus literally paused in mid-fall. This gravity defying feat suspends an action that would otherwise be barely perceptible into a static artwork that one could spend an eternity studying. The action's subtlety is evidenced by the background passersby paying no heed whatsoever to Halpin's process as they go about their daily lives. As an un-manipulated photograph, this image stands as a testament to the tangible at a time when much art relies on the assistance of the digital. Halpin's other work, “For Ray,” examines rocks in a darker, watery setting as a natural contrast to the hovering stones elsewhere.
In “Jungle Scene,” Lori Evensen constructs a scene that seems to lie somewhere between a psychedelic Art Deco façade and a spread of pink palm fronds. Uprooting expectations of both natural rainforest and urban jungle, Evensen builds a sharp series of crystalline points and twisting ribbons, all set against contrasting triangular patterns and more vibrant colors than one could shake a scintillating stick at. In this wilderness, nature obeys only the artist's whims.
Nicole Koenitzer provides a spectacular contrast to the smooth surfaces and straight lines of the hotel by layering a chaotic montage of colors and organic forms across her canvases. Her “Abstract Series” pieces are expressive and disorganized compared to much of the décor, but the thick swaths of red and spattered yellow specks are actually quite deliberate, and they bestow the space with a certain energy that it might not otherwise possess.
Jon Montenegro's “happyrain” is a digital monitor that culls all of the Twitter messages dealing with happiness or excitement into a vertically dripping, multicolored display of text-based art. Up close, and by tilting one's head slightly to the right, the messages are discernible. Straight on, they just produce a constantly refreshing march of colored bars. Subconsciously providing a sense of well-being to visitors, Montenegro's piece is inviting, if not immediately understood.
All of the artists will have their artwork on view in the lobby of Le Meridien through August 30. Even if you're not booking a room, be sure to stop by if you're in the area and take a look at what a few of Philly's local creative minds have been up to.
Le Meridien Hotel is located at 1421 Arch St., Philadelphia; 215-422-8200; starwoodhotels.com/lemeridien/index.html.