Drexel’s First Faculty and Staff Exhibition Opening in Pearlstein Gallery

cabin steps
Set/Setting (Cabin Steps), Jacob Lunderby, 2022.

The Leonard Pearlstein Gallery of Drexel University’s Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design, will present Present Tense: Drexel Art Now, the university’s first exhibition of art created by faculty and staff, on Wednesday, Jan. 11 with an opening reception from 5-7 p.m. The open-call show was guest juried and curated by the Alex Baker, director of Fleisher/Ollman Gallery.

Present Tense: Drexel Art Now will focus on the personal studio work of 18 members of Westphal College’s faculty and staff. Forty artworks in total will be on display.

The exhibition will run from Wednesday, Jan. 11 through Saturday, March 18. Operating hours are Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. - 5 p.m. and Saturday 12 p.m. - 5 p.m. in the URBN Annex (3401 Filbert St.).

“Of the over 180 submissions by 40 Drexel faculty and staff that I considered for inclusion, I was familiar with only about five or so artists — what a gratifying experience to learn about such a large group of Philadelphia artists I had no previous knowledge of,” said Baker. “The exhibition not only reflects the concerns of Drexel-affiliated artists but serves as a snapshot of what it means to make art in the 21st century, where creativity is not dominated by any one media, expressive method, or worldview.”

Fleisher/Ollman Gallery exhibits work from artists working within and outside of the mainstream, with a particular interest in self-taught artists. Baker’s experience dealing with artists working in a wide array of media and styles makes him especially qualified to consider a diverse pool, like the more than 150 submissions entered by the Westphal College community.

“Not only is it awesome that the college is doing this show, but I also appreciate having the outside and non-partisan expertise of someone as accomplished as Alex Baker,” said Jody Graff, associate professor in the Westphal College. “It gives the artists who are lesser known in our college, or perhaps just starting out a new field of work a chance to be seen and given honest feedback.”

On display is work by Leah Appleton, Theo A. Artz, Greyory Blake, Jen Blazina, Nick Cassway, Lewis Colburn, Meghan Cox, Michael DeLuca, Jody Graff, Peter Allen Hoffman, Jacob Lunderby, Bruce Pollock, Sarah Steinwachs, Mark Stockton, Rosalind Sutkowski, Lisa Sylvester, Ekaterina Vanovskaya, Ricardo Zapata.

"We were fortunate to have Alex Baker share his expertise and knowledge to curate this show,” said Orlando Pelliccia, director of the Pearlstein Gallery and teaching professor in Westphal College. “It should be understood that a 'curated' show follows a theme set by the curator, and by definition, some work is chosen, and some is not. Whether a work is selected or not is not necessarily a judgment of the quality of the work, but the suitability to the theme set by the curator."

Baker was appointed director of Fleisher/Ollman Gallery in Philadelphia, in June 2012, where he has organized over 30 exhibitions including Outsiderism; Eugene Von Bruenchenhein: Time Produced Non Better; Department of Neighborhood Services: Isaac Tin Wei Lin, Barry McGee, and Dan Murphy, and Mending and Repair in Response: Jesse Harrod and Lisi Raskin.

Before Fleisher/Ollman Gallery, he was senior curator of Contemporary Art at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV), Melbourne, Australia from 2008-2012. Formerly curator of Contemporary Art at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and associate curator at the Institute of Contemporary Art, he has organized exhibitions at those venues with artists including Robert Ryman, Ellen Harvey, Eamon Ore-Giron, Barry McGee, Steve Powers, Todd James, Chris Johanson, Margaret Kilgallen, and Laylah Ali, among others. At the NGV, he curated Ranjani Shettar: Dewdrops and Sunshine (2011), Harrell Fletcher: The Sound We Make Together (Melbourne) (2010), and Ricky Swallow: The Bricoleur (2009). Baker has a PhD in Visual Anthropology from Temple University.