A chain letter invite is one where an invitee is instructed to pass on the same invitation to another guest and so on. It’s a good way to bring new blood to a party and hopefully into a circle of friends. It’s also an interesting means for artists to connect with each other’s work.
Mt. Airy Contemporary Artists Space (MACAS) employed that method for its newest exhibition, “Linear Perspectives”, which held its opening reception last Saturday night.
MACAS founders Colin and Andrea Keefe asked Mt. Airy painter Laura Watt to exhibit her work and extend the invitation to another artist. Watt selected Brooklyn-based fiber artist Ellie Murphy, who subsequently invited fellow Brooklynite Björn Meyer-Ebrecht, who works in mixed media.
The combined show explores the relationships between each of the artist’s works and the dialogues that develop around them.
“I’m thrilled with how it’s come together,” enthused Watt. “I thought it was a great opportunity for us to show together and see where things went.”
Though the trio all came to the MACAS gallery for a preview meeting, only Murphy created a site-specific piece.
None of the artists knew exactly what the others were going to bring to the show. “It’s not the way shows typically come together,” said Murphy.
Watt said that repetition and the “language of abstraction” plays out in different overlapping ways in the three-artist exhibition.
Watt’s colorful mosaic-like paintings evoke landscapes through non-Euclidean geometric patterns. She said her paintings have always been influenced by textiles and weaving, but have grown more sculptural over the past decade.
Meyer-Ebrecht said the mixed media pieces he created for the show are a painterly departure from his sculptural works. Found photographic images of East German propaganda depicting West German labor protests protrude from the wall into the gallery space. Whatever the banners once proclaimed, Meyer-Ebrecht has obscured by vibrant acrylic color, transforming their fabric into geometric forms and a universal language of abstraction.
Murphy’s fiber installation is “the angle point, the bridge between the two,” said Meyer-Ebrecht. Murphy described her piece, a vascular network of multi-hued acrylic yarn, as a reference to both history and science through 70s afghans, hair, Colonial-era braided rugs and fractal-based systems.
MACAS’s inaugural show in 2009 was based on a similar invitation, said Keefe. Back then, MACAS asked one Philadelphia artist and one New York artist to each invite two others. Keefe said the show went well, but wasn’t as cohesive as “Linear Perspectives.”
Approximately 60 art lovers came to the show’s opening reception. Attendees hailed from all over the region, including Germantown, Kensington, West Philadelphia and Wilmington, Del.
Wyndmoor resident Tim Hampton came the opening reception with his family after learning about the art exhibit while dining at nearby Earth Bread + Brewery. He said he felt particularly drawn to Watt’s paintings, which he called “beautiful and challenging, like a journey.”
His son, T.J. Hampton, was impressed by Murphy’s “giant braid thing” and said it was his favorite piece in the show.
Murphy’s tactile installation was a hit with another youngster as well. “It looks like a heart,” exclaimed the Keefe’s young son, Sam.
MACAS’ Linear Perspectives exhibition runs until May 19.