+ Muse Gallery
Nancy Kress swears she’s not judging you.
But her paintings in the exhibit “Connected Disconnect” might make you feel bad anyway. While traveling across Italy by train, she sketched commuters who were wholly absorbed in their iPhones and iPads. Their absolute detachment from the outside world borders on being unhealthy, even unsafe.
Kress later converted the pieces into busy, earth-toned paintings, which pair nicely with her chunky, semi-abstract landscapes also on display at Muse.
“I’m a little bit older, but I love technology,” says Kress, 63. “The first thing I do when I’m in a doctor’s office is check my phone to avoid looking at people and talking to people.”
Though Kress insists she’s a tech junkie like the rest of us, her pieces suggest otherwise. The artist behind the canvas, actively observing her surroundings, is clearly the most present person in those settings. Her paintings may not be hypercritical, but they do make a statement.
“I’m not feeling that I’m above anyone, or judging the behavior. I’m just recording,” says Kress. “But there is evidence that because of modern technology, the lack of human connection will eventually change us by diminishing our capacity to really connect physically.”
Prove Kress wrong and give her phone a hug at the exhibit. That’s what she meant, right?
Through Dec. 1, opening Fri., Nov. 1, 5 p.m., 52 N. Second St., 215-627-5310, musegalleryphiladelphia.com.
+ Cerulean Arts
Kathranne Knight’s pretty, minimalist drawings reveal just how little an artist has to do to successfully portray an image. Her abstract pieces in the “Reverberance” exhibit are almost entirely made up of mere lines, yet they strongly suggest mountains, seas and grasses. Knight says the tendency to see complex images in her drawings, like imagining faces in clouds, reflects something deeply rooted in humans.
“We almost can’t help it,” says Knight. “We’ll quickly find patterns, compare them mentally with other patterns we’ve seen, and make judgments.”
Knight says she was inspired to examine lines recently while sketching trees.
“I was really aware of the mark-making required to describe some trees I was drawing,” she says, “and wanted to call attention to the power of the line itself, which kept getting lost, I thought, because the mind just pulled the lines together into the word ‘tree.’ Language can dominate and how the drawing is made can get buried.”
Karen Freedman’s pleasantly hued, geometrical paintings will be hung alongside Knight’s drawings. They are reminiscent of snowflakes.
“By varying the colors and the order in which the elements are layered, I create an unlimited series of paintings, that although united by a singular matrix, appear unrelated,” she says in a statement. “My process, like a kaleidoscope, repeats itself over and over, but each result is distinct.”
Through Nov. 23, opening Fri., Nov. 1, 5 p.m., 1355 Ridge Ave., 267-514-8647, ceruleanarts.com.
+ Indy Hall
Thomas Buildmore’s spray paintings of flowers are drippy, pop-inspired delights that draw from Andy Warhol and Jackson Pollock.
Buildmore develops them from memory, not by observing petunias or dandelions. That process can be unpredictable.
“The works are about control, and also the lack thereof,” he says. “I think that’s what keeps me coming back. They are exciting to make, and maybe that transcends a little bit to how they are viewed.”
He hopes the works create a dialogue with the viewer, even if it’s not nice.
“I’m interested in the way these paintings affect or maybe interact with their audience,” he says. “It’s almost as if the viewer has to have a conversation with themselves to decide whether or not they are good.”
Through Nov. 30, opening Fri., Nov. 1, 5 p.m., 22 N. Third St., 267-702-4865, indyhall.org.
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