Posts Tagged ‘art


Celebrating AxD Gallery: January 2007 to September 2012

Following six years of diverse and exhilarating art exhibits and events, I’ve closed AXD Gallery to focus on our primary creative passion: ARCHITECTURE. Creativity will remain at the core of AxD: expressed in the special places we continue to create in which people work, dwell and relax.

As the “AxD Gallery years” come to a close, I’d like to take this post to celebrate the many artists and organizations we’ve hosted and learned from.

Montage of a few of the works of art exhibited at AxD Gallery

From January 2007 to September 2012, AxD Gallery hosted an extensive program of exhibitions and events. Exhibitions curated or hosted by AxD included works by painters, photographers, printmakers, sculptors, woodworkers, graphic designers, illustrators, textile artists and architects. Events included musical and theatrical performances, educational workshops and classes, book readings, fashion shows, auditions, readings, film screenings and plenty of social networking events and parties. While many of these activities are called out in earlier posts on this site, in retrospect it is apparent that many are missing. Hopefully the following list of AxD participants is somewhat closer to offering a complete record of the AxD Gallery years.

Visual Artists *
Madeline Adams, Marjorie Tether Arendt, Val Bertoia, Isaac Bidwell, Michael Biello, Joe Bowman, Gregory Brellochs, Michael Broderick, Karen Brown, Jude Buffum, Gabriel Turner Byrne, David Carrow, Anne Caramanico, John Cartwright, Matt Cavanaugh, Ray Chase, Dave Christman, John Clark, Butch Cordora, Annette Cords, Pia DiGirolamo, Susan DiPronio, Austin Dodson, Eamon Dougherty, JD Dragan, Sheldon Drake, Steven Dressler, Amber Dubois, Alex Eckman-Lawn, RA Friedman, Mark Fields, JP Flexner, Joseph Game, Laureen Griffin, Yis Goodwin, James Groody, Tim Gough, Emma Dodge Hanson, Peter Hayes, Maryann Held, Shawn Hileman, Randolph Husava, Paul Davis Jones, Edward Kelley, Susanne Scherette King, Barbara Klein, Doron Langberg, John Langdon, Doug LaRocca, Robb Leef, Allen Linder, David Lunt, Mike Manley, Vivienne Maricevic, Vincent McLoughlin, Greg Minah, Carey Netherton, Maria Nevelson, Bobby O’Herlihy, Bart O’Reilly, Matthew Ostroff, Carrie Patterson, Ashley Payne, Anthony Pedro, Dolores Poacelli, Georg Purvis III, Peter G. Ray, Chris Resko, Deborah Sawyer, Nancy Schall, Jaclyn Sinquett, Michael Smith, Nancy Sophy, Mike Stack, James Stella, Christine Stoughton, Daniel Stuelpnagel, Kimberlee Traub, Marcia Treiger, Tom Whalen, Douglas Witmer, Larry Wood, and last, but actually our first artist, Chuck van Zyl.
* [Artists whose work was shown as part of a solo or two-person exhibition at AxD are shown in boldface.]

Musicial Performers
The Absinthe Drinkers (Chris McDonough, Robert McNaull, John Monge and Thomas Maxim Guerin), Dan Blacksberg, Ian Boddy, Charles Cohen, Matt Davis, Tony Enos, ensemble39 (Alexandra von der Embse, Stanislav Chernyshev, Rebecca Anderson, Zoe Martin-Doike, Jessica T. Chang, Ayane Kozasa, Gabriel Cabezas and Rex Surany), Aiden James, Rick Larracone, Elliot Levin, Evan Lipson, Keith Macksoud, Toshi Makihara, Carla Mariani, Jim Meneses, Matthew Moon, The Oubliette Ensemble (Melissa Santangelo, Jim Kydonieus, Cynthia James, Jessica Marcus and Syd Torchio), Steve & Jeanette Perlsweig, Mike Pride, Quiet Quartet (Michael Davidson, Shaw Pong Liu, Matt Plummer and Felicity Wililams), Robert Rich, Sue Russell, Nina Storey, Chris Troiani, Jack Wright, and Chuck van Zyl.

Actors & Theatre Companies
And Theatre, Bobbi Block and Tongue & Groove, Dark Star Theatre, Idiopathic Ridiculopathy Consortium, Luna Theatre, Kevin Murphy and Room6 Theatre Co., Overlap Theatre, Philly Improv Theatre (PHIT), Plug-n-Play, The “Poe-sers”, Pub Theater, Quinn D. Eli, Sharon Geller and The Waitstaff Sketch Comedy Troupe.

Launch Events
Fashion Launch: by Ishmael Abrokwa
Fashion Launch: by AmareSinh
Film DVD Signing: “Straight and Butch” by Butch Cordoba
Fashion Launch: by Shavonne DeAnn
Film DVD Release: “The Owls” by Cheryl Dunye
Music Album Release: “Did It Rite” by Tony Enos”
Film Premiere: “Greenhouse” written and directed by AG McCants
Novel Release: Spore by Thom Nickels
Fashion Launch: “See It Be It’ by Lashon Pringle
Music Album Release: “So Many Ways from Me to You” by Nina Storey and Matthew Moon

Philadelphia Festivals (with AxD participation)
Center City “Gallery Night”
Cinémathèque International of Philadelphia film screenings
Design Philadelphia
GreenFest Philly
Philadelphia QFest Film Festival
Philly Fringe Festival
Paint it Right – an art auction and fundraising eventbenefittingThe RIGHT Foundation

Competitions and Student Exhibitions
The AIGA (American Institute of Graphic Arts) Philadelphia Design Awards
Philadelphia University – 3rd year architecture students window display competition
Temple University, Tyler School of Art – Fiber artist thesis projects
Drexel University, School of Architecture – Student furniture projects

Gallery Awards
2010 PGN ‘Pink Penny Award’ for “Gay-Friendly Art Gallery”
2008 PGN ‘Pink Penny Award’ for “Best Place to Appreciate Fringe Art”
2007 Readers’ Choice Award from Philadelphia Citypaper for ‘Best Art Gallery’

 Other Events
There were also many “one-of-a-kind” events: show castings, movie shoots, community meetings, networking socials, New Year’s eve parties, office parties, alumni association reunions and professional association meetings. Two particularly memorable occasions were hosting receptions for the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) and Alumni Association of the Courtauld Institute of Art.

 Thank You
First let me thank Ryan McMenamin, who served as the gallery/events coordinator for all of the gallery years! In addition to the tireless efforts in mounting/de-mounting shows and events, cataloging work, meeting press deadlines and attending to countless details, he significantly broadened the range of exhibitions and events held at AxD. I couldn’t have done it without him. Secondly, thanks go to Larry Willoughby – host and drink-master extraordinaire –  who made so many openings and events all that much more fun! Thanks also to AxD staff members Justin Tocci and Christopher Stromberg who were more than willing to roll up their sleeves to hang and organize exhibitions and events. Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t express heartfelt thanks to all of the wonderful and devoted visual and performing artists I’ve met in the process who have contributed to the vibrant artistic melting pot at AxD Gallery.

Ed Barnhart, founder/principal of AxD


“Nothing to Fear” Facade

Recently we were commissioned to do a design-build facade installation for Peter G.-Ray’s 2009 ‘Nothing to Fear’ painting exhibition at the Bridge Gallery on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Two years earlier we debuted his work in the U.S. at AxD Gallery with a solo show entitled ‘CUT’. For that exhibition we built rolled aluminum panels on the exterior of our gallery, creating the appearance of their being cut and peeled away.


Views of finished window at Bridge Gallery, and the painting "Cut" by Peter G.-Ray, displaying similarly hand-rolled aluminum panels.

The designs for both gallery fronts flowed as fairly direct extensions of the artist’s interests in concealing, cutting, peeling and revealing. In his work, openings, whether rendered physically in cut materials or graphically with painted surfaces, are invitations for engagement. Simply put, Peter’s work invites curiosity. As art critic Ken Moffett has noted: “G.-Ray has combined the hallucinatory surrealism of Dali with the vigor and freedom of Jackson Pollock, metamorphosing these into something startlingly new. He hungers to unite extremes: Precision and free improvisation, the intensely graphic and beautifully painted, exquisite refinement of detail and pictorial force.” All in all, there is plenty in Peter G.-Ray’s work to sustain interest and wonder.

Our design-build exercises to date have all been conducted as “charrettes” of a week or less. In the case of the Bridge Gallery façade installation we had the added constraint of performing all of the work in a single day, including round trip transportation from Philadelphia, with materials and equipment fitting inside a mid-sized sedan.

Fortunately working conditions were absolutely perfect. The weather was very mild for late February. The trickiest part of the project was securing our work to the Bridge Gallery without permanently altering the existing marble façade. We accomplished this by working the head and a jamb of our frame into existing security gate hardware and bolting the base into the concrete sidewalk. Interest in our installation piece increased dramatically as the first aluminum panels were screwed onto the frame. (See “before” and installation photos below.)


Neighboring shop owners, tourists and random passersby stopped to ask us what was going on. We handed out quite a few postcards for Nothing to Fear during that Spring-like afternoon. As we finished up at dusk, Peter G.-Ray was quite pleased with results … the debut for both of us in NYC. Two days later, it snowed at the March 1st opening reception!


Our Second Art Staging at the Economy League

The Economy League's office at Broad & Locust streets

The Economy League's office at Broad & Locust streets

Earlier this month we made our second installation of artwork at the offices of the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia as part of an on-going art staging program for them. The Economy League is a non-profit think tank offering expert analysis of the regions resources and economic policies. Our initial art staging at the Economy League was in August. We would like to thank Christopher Scoville at the Economy League for coordinating both stagings.

Ryan McMenamin


Diversity in Practice

One of the touchstones at Always by Design (AxD) has been seeking diversity as a means of nurturing inquiry and growth, both personally and professionally. This flies in the face of “standard practice” which encourages market focus and specialization. Indeed, as we’re discovering, diversity certainly isn’t an easy concept to “brand”. Maybe it’s just luck, but on the architectural practice side, our practice has achieved a diversity of clients and project types beyond anything we had anticipated. In this past year alone we have worked on restaurants, a library, an auditorium, government offices, a church, a boutique salon, industrial infrastructure, and several residences.

While, on the art gallery side of AxD, the ability to select artists and artwork is wholly within our control, it’s still gratifying to look back and see the range of artists represented and artwork we’ve shown thus far. Media has included various forms of drawing, printmaking, painting, photography, collage, and sculpture. Subject matter has encompassed non-representational imagery, abstractions, landscapes, portraiture, details of nature, sci-fi and fantasy imagery, and gay erotica.

A selection of art exhibited at AxD

A selection of art exhibited at AxD

We’re confident that the lineup of artists we’ve scheduled for 2009 will continue our commitment to artistic diversity. Similarly, with our architectural practice on the verge of signing an agreement with a major hotelier, we’re looking to welcoming in the new year further diversifying our clientele as well.

Ed Barnhart, AIA


Mentoring in the Arts: Anne d’Harnoncourt’s example

The autumn season this year has proven bountiful for AxD, culminating last week in our receiving our first state-level design award and sixth award overall. The 2008 awards program for the Pennsylvania American Institute of Architects gave recognition, not only to exemplary projects, but exceptional individuals as well. Anne d’Harnoncourt, the late director of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, was posthumously given the award for Contribution to the Profession by a Non-Architect. She was clearly a beloved and dedicated leader in the field of art. Among the many exemplary qualities for which she was cited, three stood out to me: Passion, Intellect, and Mentoring of others to seek their personal best. Certainly anyone engaged in a form of art, be it painting or architecture, expects and indeed needs to bring passion and intelligence to their craft if it is to be vital, to themselves and their audience. In a culture that so readily embraces the exaltation of the individual as hero, or genius, leadership through mentoring and collaboration is frequently overlooked.


While it may have been completely serendipitous that in the same awards program where Anne d’Harnoncourt’s leadership in the arts was recognized, our art gallery & studio received a citation of design merit, I believe there was a shared thread. In conferring the design award for the art gallery & studio, the jury noted the role that mentoring played in the project. They wrote that they were “…impressed with the hands-on nature of the project, using it as part of the educational process; it made the end product better”. While our entire staff served as their own client, user and contractor for this particular project, I believe that the process of architecture is intrinsically a social art. As architects we must strive to exert leadership, not so much through individual authorship but rather in fostering an environment of shared mentoring, growth and ownership.

[18 Nov ’08 PA AIA awards program – Ed Barnhart, AIA]


Art + Architecture

When we relocated in order to expand our architectural studio, we started AxD Gallery as an exhibition venue for contemporary visual arts. The most frequent question since its opening in January 2007 has been: What’s the connection between the architectural studio and the art gallery? The answer involves a constellation of reasons. Obviously we find a significant overlap between the visual arts and the aesthetic issues that architects and designers face daily. As such, the gallery represents and functions for us as an incubation laboratory for ideas and inspirations. Secondly, we see the gallery as a form of social activism, supporting the arts and bringing community together. And finally, it’s awfully fun to host a reception party once a month and catch up with friends!

The art of any era can provide inspiration for us as designers. Constructivism, Futurism, Abstract Expressionism, Op Art, Minimalism and patterns of various tribal “folk arts” have all been frequently been mined by architects for ideas. Japanese woodblock prints served as a great inspiration to Frank Lloyd Wright. The Pictures at an Exhibition concerto by Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky is an obvious example of an artist seeking to transpose a visual experience to a musical one. When we began the Gallery we were thinking exclusively of visual artists, but obviously all art forms influence each other. Consequently, since our opening we have expanded to intermittently include various performing arts – both musical and theatrical as well.

In our own work we have looked to artists such as Sean Scully, Ellsworth Kelly and Agnes Martin for inspiration. For the interior of our gallery we chose to differentiate “service elements” (i.e. restroom and a stair) as abstract objects ‘carved’ out of the whiteness of the gallery. These elements were clad with Douglas Fir wood panels. The panel pattern was inspired by the painting Cite’ by Ellsworth Kelly, which ironically was itself inspired by oblique shadows cast from an architectural feature – a fire escape.

As I am writing this, AxD Gallery is featuring the work of Deborah Sawyer. Her work encompasses a variety of media, including oil paints, charcoal, gouache, found objects, glass, vinyl, rubber and various types of metal – cast, forged and welded. For this body of work, her inspirations come largely from the rusting decay of discarded automobiles. Sculptural pieces include functional furniture, various bowels and containers. Paintings and drawn works evoke a range of emotions, from quiet serenity to foreboding tension or remorse. Her work reminds us that even the detritus of our very existence can be an inspiration.

We’re looking forward to learning and sharing the back-and-forth of how architecture, visual, and performing arts shape and transform one another.

Ed Barnhart, AIA

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