Metropolitan Gallery serves up exhibit showcasing Philly artists in food industry

Art galleries never launch new exhibitions on Monday nights. But then, Metropolitan Gallery 250 is not ordinary.

The Philadelphia gallery is dedicated to showing art by people who work in the food-service industry. Because many restaurants are closed on Mondays, it’s the only time many of those artists have the night off.

Wendy Smith, the owner of the Metropolitan Bakery chain, opened Metropolitan Gallery 250 in Rittenhouse Square six months ago. The narrow white-cube gallery, somewhat hampered by a wall of rectangular south-facing windows, had been a vacant space adjacent to Smith’s office.

Although this is the fourth installation in the gallery, the “Sidework” show opening Monday is the first to realize its own mission of showcasing artists in the food-service industry.

“The first show was getting our feet wet,” said Bailey Chick, a curator, printmaker, ans a shift manager at the Metropolitan Bakery around the corner. “We all learned by jumping in. Now we’re ready to push the idea the gallery was founded on.”

The art itself has nothing to do with food. There is a brightly painted color grid, a photograph manipulated by beeswax, a knitted wall hanging, and an abstract print made by pressing rusted iron onto fabric.

Chick received 42 submissions for the show. The 14 she chose are process-heavy.

“I got short mission statements from a lot of the artists. They talked about meditation, materials, and manipulation,” Chick said. “That repetitive act — there are printmakers in this show, and fiber work has repetitive action.”

She is hanging onto the other submissions for a similar show scheduled for July.

“There’s nothing that I really didn’t like,” she said. “There’s a lot of talent in this city.”

Metropolitan Gallery 250 is not selling the work. Buyers are invited to contact the artists directly. A gallery representative said the space will make no money from transactions.

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