The Fabric Workshop and Museum (FWM) is pleased to present new installations by contemporary artists in the storefront windows at 1222 Arch Street. These artist windows give FWM its first-ever street presence in Philadelphia. Currently on view, Virgil Marti's Bullies, Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates' "Best" Phlower Power Window, and Tristin Lowe's Dumbo, as well as an installation of red objects from the FWM Shop, in conjunction with Simply Red, and a video about FWM.
Marti's Bullies wallpaper (1992/2007), mounted under black light, repeats yearbook photos of leering adolescent boys across a garish toile pattern. Bullies evokes both the proverbial high school "boy's room" and the ubiquitous black-lit night-club toilet facility, anonymous zones of male aggression and anxiety. Against the background of fluorescent garlands, the threat is gradually defused, and the stares seem to become melancholic, even precious: bullies turned wallflowers.
The stylized flowers in Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates' (VSBA's) "Best" Phlower Power Window were developed by Michael Wommack from Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown's facade design for the Best Products building in Oxford Valley, Pennsylvania. The window won the Philadelphia Flower Show's "Most Innovative" award, and is part of VSBA's and FWM's long history of collaboration, which also includes several fabric designs, such as the flowered Grandmother (1983) fabric, as well as the 1998 Best Products flower installation in the stairway connecting FWM's 5th and 6th floors at 1315 Cherry Street.
Lowe's giant pink elephant, Dumbo (2001), visible through the glass door past the "jungle" of Venturi flowers, subtly breathes, inflating and deflating, calling to mind the concept of an "elephant in the room" and, the euphemism "seeing pink elephants." A driving impulse in Lowe's work is a desire to experiment with "non-art" materials (balloons, motors, kickballs filled with concrete) in part to unburden himself from the weight of art history, but also to intrigue, surprise, and challenge the viewer with the spectacle of these often awkward materials and ideas.