By Dre Grigoropol
The artist collective The Phantom Hand is having their art opening for their show The Last Meal this Saturday on 4/20. The show is at Jinxed, an art gallery at the Piazza in Northern Liberties in Philadelphia. This gallery focuses on illustration. The Phantom Hand a group that is organized by illustrators and comics creators. They have been having art shows for over a year. They started having shows on South Street when they had an art a gallery there. Now in 2013 all of their art shows will be at Jinxed.
There last opening they had for their show The Dead Cats of Civilization was very successful, despite the fact it was the same night as St. Patty’s. One of the artists who had work in The Dead Cats of Civilization, Mike Sgier, reflected, “This was my first show exhibiting with Phantom Hand. I’ve seen their previous shows and have always admired the quality of their illustrations and their consistency in exhibiting around Philly. Needless to say I was honored to be invited to be part of the ‘Dead Cats of Civilization’ show, especially since it gave me a chance to work outside of my usual subjects, and to try out some new techniques in an illustration context.”
Alex Eckman-Lawn at The Dead Cats of Civilization.
Dre: How was Phantom Hand founded?
Eamon: The organizers have been showing art together with various local art groups, and occasionally curating shows since we all met in the Illustration department a few years back. Over the years we’ve had bad experiences with local galleries, show organizers, and showing in places like coffee shops and bars that really don’t do the work justice. We always knew to get proper treatment from creation to hanging to payment of artists we’d have to be the ones at the helm, and the opportunity presented itself to us in December of 2011. Phantom Hand started as a gallery space on South Street, as part of the Arts On South program. Sam Heimer had the idea to apply for the space, and after meeting with myself, Alex Eckman-Lawn, James Heimer, Anthony Pedro and a few other artists in Philly we drafted a grant proposal and potential schedule, and pretty much had Arts on South at ‘Hello’. They provided us with an unused storefront, and for the first time we had control over every aspect of the gallery process, from the themes to hanging style, artist invites, payment, and all the other aspects we were never quite happy with the handling of when we were in the opposite position. The gallery was hung salon style, and for our entire run had a few hundred pieces on the walls, ranging from prints and show-posters to full-on oil paintings and mixed media. By the close of the gallery we had worked with 86 local artists (and a few ex-pats), and held 5 themed exhibitions, 2 solo shows, and had an amorphous and extensive local collection of work. The space was a success from the start, and we were granted an extension essentially before even asking, but as fate would have it, we were there on condition that nobody was interested in the real estate, and we were ejected so our windows could sport a shit Euro-beer advertisement for three months (the space itself was not used).
Eamon Dougherty at The Dead Cats of Civilization.
Dre: Why is this project Phantom Hand important to Philadelphia and beyond?
Alex: The simplest answer is that Phantom Hand brings talented Philadelphia designers and illustrators together to produce new work and present old work at affordable prices. I honestly believe this is the best way to see Philadelphia’s most talented emerging artists and maybe even bring some art home with you. I personally really value working together with likeminded, and extremely talented artists. It helps keep me focused, motivated, and continually pushing myself. For patrons, we provide a very approachable atmosphere, unpretentious work, and hopefully introduce people to the notion that art can be appreciated by anyone and everyone.
Sam: The importance of what we’re doing was reflected in a phrase we heard from patrons of our original space on almost a daily basis: “I didn’t know something like this existed”. The bulk of the artists we work with are illustrators, designers, and cartoonists, and while that type of art is a hot ticket out west and in New York, it has really yet to take root in Philadelphia. The galleries that do show this work typically have a short shelf life, or are in less-traveled parts of the city, and cannot thoroughly promote like a well-funded, well-established gallery. If you’re not Facebook friends with a participating artist or happen by the gallery on opening night, chances are you’ll never find out about these exhibitions, and for being thought of as an ‘Art City’, it’s a crime because the people we’re working with are some of the best, brightest, and hardest working artists in Philadelphia. We’ve lucked out because every space we’ve shown in to date has been easily accessible with high volume of foot traffic.
A happy visitor at The Dead Cats of Civilization taking home a print by Alex Eckman-Lawn
Dre: What are your feelings about your past experience at the Phantom Hand exhibit at Jinxed?
Alex: I must admit, I was a little nervous about the show at first since the room was so packed full of people, antiques and art- not to mention the horrible weather and St. Patty’s celebration happening right outside. But I’m happy to say the show went really well! Lots of people came out, me moved some art, and I think the show itself came together really well. Mike and the rest of the crew at Jinxed were awesome to us and I’m looking forward to continuing to work with them in the coming months!
Dre: Is Jinxed Gallery the new home of Phantom Hand?
Alex: Yes! Phantom Hand is psyched to be partnered with Jinx for the foreseeable future! We have a bunch of shows planned for Jinxed already as well as a few events at other local galleries that will be announced in coming months. I’m not sure what the distant future holds for the Phantom crew but rest assured we’ve got big plans. When is the next Phantom Hand art show, and how do people find the information?
Eamon: Phantom Hand’s next show, Last Meal, will be at Jinxed on April 20, 2013. Phantom Hand has a Facebook page…
[Dre Grigoropol is an indie cartoonist and blogger. Her work can be viewed at www.dretime.org. Follow her on Twitter at @dretimecomics. Photos via Dre Grigoropol unless otherwise noted. ]