Gallery opening highlights Germantown as a muse

With several pieces from her “Structure and Detritus” work on display at Greene Street’s iMPeRFeCT Gallery last weekend, Germantown artist Susan Mangan admitted she was a little nervous.

“It can be hard to talk about your work when you’re usually in the studio by yourself,” said Mangan, a Buffalo native who has lived in Northwest Philadelphia for the past dozen years.

That changed on Saturday when Mangan’s work was among that on display at the upstart gallery owned by Rocio Cabello and Renny Molenaar.

Neighborhood as a muse

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There, she spoke about the gallery and neighborhood as an “urban environment” that has inspired some of her work.

“In Germantown, you have this incredible mixing of an urban and a country environment because we’re so green and we have so many trees. So, sometimes you see the overlap of that and it’s really exciting,” Mangan said.

“When Renny and Rocio put a show on together, they take a lot of care with how the work works together versus just hanging it on the wall,” she continued. “They make it so that the work talks to each other. It’s really great because they’re in the neighborhood. It’s just really special the way [they] put on a show.””Tide,” a piece of art she created in the 90s to symbolize the HIV/AIDS crisis, featured loose packing peanuts scattered across a contrasting grid. Mangan described her work as emotional.

“The idea I had in mind was that this crisis, this virus, was a tide just rising and sweeping us all away,” Mangan explained. “And it was an emotional time for everyone. There was a lot of uncertainty, and it just felt a storm sweeping the nation. I tend to start with an idea, then kind of playing with it, mediate on what I’m feeling and sometimes it might take me in a different direction.”

Also on exhibit

As a signature gallery space, “The Red Room,” aka the bathroom, showcased more than 30 years of personal photos from the owners’ lives as artists in New York City and Philadelphia.

Marilyn Kiss’ prints comprised a wall-to-wall photo essay called “Snap, Snap: The Story Continues.”

“He’s always had the bathroom a part of the exhibit because people go there,” Kiss said. “I’ve taken all the pictures from the events and galleries. These are just snap shots, but they’re documenting a 33-year friendship.”

Nicole Tomassi, a local artist specializing in high-end commercial mosaic design and active member of the Germantown Artist Roundtable, came to the exhibit to support local artists.

“I’m blown away by the success of this gallery,” Tomassi said. “[Renny] sells a lot of art work. I’m thinking to myself, ‘In Germantown?’ There’s a lot of communication about this gallery so the word gets out.”

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