The Artist Curator Advantage

Two of the most compelling shows I have seen over the last year were curated by artists. The first was Robert Gober‘s inspirational show of the work of Charles Burchfield (which was first exhibited at the Hammer Museum before coming to the Whitney). It was a revelation, completely transforming my view of this easily overlooked American artist from every day regionalist to transcendent master of mystical landscape. (I wrote about Burchfield in more depth here.)

The second demonstration of artist as curator success happened this weekend in Philadelphia: Physical Graffiti, at the James Oliver Gallery, curated by Pam Farrell. I hope my enthusiasm is not dismissed as a gesture of self promotion—my work is included in this show after all—but this is the first time I have seen a group show where I responded to and respected every piece included. And an extra bonus: The artists who was able to attend were as engaging and genuine as their work. Every single one. What are the chances of that? With her astute eye working hard, Pam chose well on so many levels. (For more information about Pam’s process, Leslie Avon Miller—one of the artists included in the show—has posted an interview with her here.)

It was a great evening and a terrific turn out. Thanks to Pam, James Oliver and his staff, and to all who were able to join us for a memorable night. The show runs through October 15.


3 works on paper by Deborah Barlow


Pre-opening discussion between Pam Farrell and sculptor David Meyer


Works by Astrid Fitzgerald, Laura Moriarty, Dennis Parlante, Jose Camacho


Works by Leslie Avon Miller, Ward Shumaker


Works by MP Landis (in the distance) and Astrid Fitzgerald


Matrix of pieces by Janet Filomeno


Sculpture by Susan Maguire


Small but powerful: Works by spencer + imler


Installation view


Installation view

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4 comments

  1. Nancy Natale’s avatar

    Thanks for posting these images, Deborah. Comparing Pam’s show to the Burchfield show curated by Robert Gober is high praise, but I don’t doubt that it’s well deserved. The work all looks great. Your pieces are beautiful and mysterious. Congratulations to you, to Pam and to all the artists on a wonderful exhibition.

  2. Deborah Barlow’s avatar

    Nancy, Pam did a great job. Every piece in the show had meaning for me.

    Thanks for your kind words re my work. I hope you know how much I respect and admire your work, and I always grateful to read your comments here. Power on!

  3. akismet-474e956cfbdd273bfb74aef882faadfb’s avatar

    Fabulous report on the opening Deborah. Thank you so much for the images and your thoughts on the show. Your works have a wonderful depth and mystery to them, and leave me as the viewer with much to ponder. Congratulations to you, Pam and the JOG folks.

    1. Deborah Barlow’s avatar

      Thanks Leslie. So glad to have seen your work and hope to continue to mingle our lives!

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