The Philly School Profiles
Get to know some of Philly's most up-and-coming artists and their work
There are currently 25 members of this internationally renowned collective of artists, but “we’re like the Wu-Tang Clan,” says member Becky Suss (seated atop sofa). “Our lineup is always changing.” Founded in 1997 by a motley group of skateboarders, graffiti artists and Rhode Island School of Design grads, “The Space” a Chinatown studio/gallery at 1026 Arch Street, has paved the way for other collectives in town, like the recently formed Black Floor. “We could never have done this in New York,” says Suss. “We would have gotten played out so fast.” Pictured with the members is Shelley Spector (on sofa, second from left), an artist and the owner of the Spector Gallery, who has held shows for several members and helps the group organize. “Shelley is like our den mother,” says founding member Ben Woodward (right front). “Art World,” a show of work by Andrew Jeffrey Wright (standing, far left) and photos by Adam Wallacavage (standing, far right), opens at Spector on April 21st. Also pictured are Max Lawrence (left front), Jim Houser (on sofa, far left) and Thom Lessner (on sofa, right). Pictured at rear: Liz Rywelski.
Sellers, 37, grew up in Chester County—“Wyeth country,” he says, an influence he turns inside out in his miniature, otherworldly cityscapes. “It’s a pleasure to see an artist working with that skill level, patience and precision,” the Seattle Times said in a recent review.
Rebecca Rutstein and Tim McFarlane
Rutstein, 34, and McFarlane, 40, both Philly natives, are represented by 32-year-old Bridgette Mayer’s eponymous gallery, which was recently featured on Anderson Cooper 360 as a jumping-off point for emerging artists. McFarlane says his large-scale acrylic paintings are inspired by the grids and grates of the city he grew up in: “I like to look at buildings being erected and contemplate the structures underneath, what’s holding them together.” Rutstein, a 2004 PEW fellow from Bala Cynwyd, is one of 55 artists of varying stripes who work out of the Oliver Knitting Company building in Port Richmond. Her work has a similar theme to her gallery-mate’s. “I’m interested in geologic forces,” she says, “topographic imagery like mappings and mountains.”
Anthony “TC” Campuzano
Anthony “TC” Campuzano showed at the prestigious White Columns show in New York just after moving back here to work out of his parents’ basement in Lansdowne. His recent show at Fleisher/Ollman Gallery, “The Police Are Here!,” was hailed by the Inquirer, which praised his Portrait of Mae Brussell, a 12-panel drawing in graphite and colored pencil of the last words of Lee Harvey Oswald, as “nothing short of stunning.” At the opening, the piece was purchased by filmmaker Nathaniel Kahn.
“A lot of the work I do has a Christian bent to it,” says Rob Matthews, a devout Protestant whose graphite drawings often depict family and friends holding Biblically symbolic objects or being assumed into Heaven. But Matthews is as much influenced by history and pop culture as by his faith—his After Peale: Family Portrait 03 #1, recently acquired by the Philadelphia Museum of Art, is a simultaneous homage to A Staircase Group, a family portrait by Philadelphia painter Charles Peale that the museum also owns, and the Liz Phair album Exile in Guyville. Peale is on display through May 21st as part of “Recent Acquisitions: Prints and Drawings from Dürer to Doig.”
Pieces of Philadelphia go out all over the world because of Sarah McEneaney’s egg tempera paintings, which Roberta Smith of the New York Times called “wonderfully autobiographical.” “It’s fun to think of someone in Japan having a picture of rooftops at 12th and Callowhill in their home,” says McEneaney, who often paints her neighborhood. Acupuncture, above, is on display in “Recent History,” a show at Tibor de Nagy gallery in New York, until June 2nd.