Story, photos by Sharon Kozden
When Jessica Libor, artist, graduate of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and director of Era Contemporary, “a pop-up art gallery that showcases artwork by living artists who display a unique vision and a focus on magical realism,” recently called for submissions, artists delivered. The exhibit, entitled StarGarden was held Friday, September 1st at Philadelphia’s Da Vinci Art Alliance. Curated by Libor, it fused the sublime mystery of the celestial night sky’s cosmos with the tangible beauty of floral and fauna on magical terra firma.
So when Cassie Hepler called for a writer and photographer to cover the event, my shooting star-swift affirmative response confirmed my presence at what I suspected would be a uniquely unique event.
Since words are my medium and a blank page my canvass, I provided no actual submission. Because, however, we were invited to wear our “starry best,” my clothing would ensure I had the proverbial total experience. When looking upward at night, I see all things ethereal, wispy, unreachable yet full of possibility (is that why we wish upon stars?) and therefore even more tenuous and breathtaking because of it. As such, my sartorial choice was a sheer and delicate gray top paired with a tulle-like, shimmery slip-skirt.
After introducing myself to Jessica, I began working the room, snapping photos of attendees, artists and artwork alike. A lovely tray of eats, wine and the musical duo of Christine Irizarry and Seth Aaron created a fete-like mood in the comfortable space housing the exhibit. Starry-themed décor was yet another perfect accompaniment.
The notion of tossing out a phrase–StarGarden–then witnessing the singular and spectacular end results is fascinating. Art knows no limit in terms of the artists’ collective imaginations, experiences and whatever other elements factor into reaching such creative sweet spots. What would they do with, say, SeasonalAffect, a co-mingling between seasonal changes as expressed by human emotions? Anything is possible, which is exactly what transpired with the StarGarden challenge.
Artists’ replies to my query about inspiration for particular works ran the gamut from surprisingly easy-peasy to more elaborate telling of the process. Jingyi Wang is simply fascinated by the cactus plant. She brilliantly depicted the exhibit’s theme phrase with a plant that captures her fancy.
Mingling and engaging with artists and art-lovers can be a heady, provocative and even emotional experience. The atmosphere crackles with creative energy and spirit. One individual reminded me that we all are artists in one way or another. If that’s the case and when another call for submissions is issued from Era Contemporary, I just may have to step up and enter Elementary Stick Figures by Sharon Kozden, charcoal briquette on paper towel, zero dollars.
While not possible to post every fabulous entry here, they all merit viewing, so visit Era Contemporary online. If interested in purchasing a piece, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Sharon Kozden with local artist Barbara Zanelli, who popped in to check out the display.
Family and admirers view artist Greg Fisher’s works, as Jessica snaps mini Polaroid shots of guests.
Andromeda Waiting by Bryant Girsch, acrylic on canvass, $500.
Looking for Remnants by Julianna Wells, oil on panel, $500.
Night Time by TingTing Hsu, oil on canvas, $1,500.
How Slow the Shadow by Charissa Schulze, mixed media sculpture, $1,200.
M90 by Antonietta Kies, oil on board, $375.