Through Feb 1, 401 S Broad St at Pine, 215 446-3021, M-F/9-5 or while building is open, gershmany.org,
Two galleries, two exhibitions and two sets of artists combine to create one poignant experience at The Gershman Y Galleries, on Broad and Pine streets.
The exhibitions — “Beautiful Dreamers: Leo Lionni and Emanuele Luzzati,” in the Borowsky Gallery, and “RomaAmor,” in the Open Lens Gallery. These family-friendly exhibitions feature award-winning artists who inspire creativity in viewers of all ages and backgrounds.
The title “RomaAmor” is a palindrome, or a word that can be read forwards and backwards, and it mirrors the interplay of opposites presented throughout the photographic collages and digital assemblages of Joel Katz. After winning the Rome prize from American Academy in Rome in 2002, Mr. Katz has returned to Italy on an annual basis. The draw? Mr. Katz is inspired by the alluring dichotomies witnessed in Rome: the sacred and profane, the ancient and modern and the real and fake.
“Rome is chaos; visual chaos, architectural chaos … even the traffic is chaos,” Mr. Katz said. “Contradictions live very comfortably in Rome.”
Contradictions depicted in “RomaAmor” are exhibited as visual elements, and literary ones as well. Collaborating with Mr. Katz is Randall Couch, a distinguished poet and respected voice on contemporary poetry.
“This exhibition is unique because you have to read the work, not just look at it,” says Maurizio Longo, a cultural officer at the Italian consulate in Philadelphia.
Mr. Couch’s poetry translates the artistic themes of Mr. Katz’ work both in the poetic forms and visual layout of each stanza. By pairing different forms of poetry — word palindromes, parody in iambic dimeter, belle espionne — Mr. Couch points out a lighter, more humorous side of the contrasting facets Rome found in Mr. Katz’s photography.
Also on view is “Beautiful Dreamers,” a fascinating collection of artwork by lifelong friends and artistic rivals Leo Lionni (1910-1999) and Emanuele Luzzati (1921-2007).
“This is probably the first time Leo Lionni and Emanuele Luzzati have been shown together in the States, even though they were lifelong friends and art colleagues,” says Miriam Seidel, curator of the Gershman Y Galleries.
Mr. Lionni, a Caldecott Honor-winning children’s author and illustrator, and Mr. Luzzati, best known for his theatrical set designs and Academy Award-nominated animated films, are both Jewish artists who fled Europe to survive the Holocaust. “Beautiful Dreamers” showcases Mr. Lionni’s original illustrations along with prints and posters of Mr. Luzzati’s work. For the exhibit, both artists take inspiration from the colors and imaginative themes of children’s literature. The playful, monochromatic forms that result contain a beauty and pleasure that sharply contrast the hardship’s of the artists’ own lives.
What to do next? The Gershman Y building is right in the center of everything, so finding something else to do should not be difficult. For starters, you’re in the University of the Arts’ campus so walk fifty steps north to the Rosenwald-Wolf Gallery (333 S Broad) open Wednesday’s til 8pm. The Kimmel Center is also close by at Broad and Spruce.