After seeing photos of his show at Pandemic Gallery last spring and then seeing his solo show at Stupid Easy Gallery in person last summer, I began to realize that stikman was just as interesting of an artist when showing indoors as on the street. But what to do with that knowledge? Just keep in mind that I wanted to see more stikman shows I suppose. And then the Mural Arts Program, a 30-year-old public art program in Philadelphia responsible for about 3000 murals in that time, asked me to curate a show for the gallery space at their offices. Given a short timeline for putting a show together, there was no way I was going to be able to conceptualize and assemble a group show, but then I realized that Mural Arts is the perfect venue for stikman’s work. As I’ve said before, I wouldn’t say I curated this show so much as facilitated it. stikman knows his art better than I do, and I was just excited to see what he would do if I didn’t add any constraints beyond those created by the space itself and the short time between the invitation to do a show and the opening night. The result is …in the house… stikman’s second solo show in Philadelphia and third solo show anywhere.
…in the house… is a great introduction to stikman’s world, but it also takes Mural Arts and the space into account. The Mural Arts offices are located in the former home of painter and art professor Thomas Eakins, and at least two of the works in …in the house… reflect that the show is in Eakins House. A series of photographs found on Instagram and flickr showing people interacting with stikman’s work as they document it (generally by including their feet in the photos like this) hang in the hallway, a reminder that both Mural Arts and stikman value community engagement with their art. For me, that was what I most hoped to show with …in the house…, that stikman and Mural Arts have many of the same goals despite their different methods. Mural Arts puts up huge murals throughout Philadelphia, and stikman installs his usually tiny figures anywhere they will fit.
I’m really pleased with how …in the house… turned out. It’s probably been my most satisfying indoor project since The Thousands in 2009. There’s some absolutely fantastic work in …in the house…, and it seems it’s been really well-received by everyone at Mural Arts. It’s a diverse show, with sculptures, photographs, prints and paintings of all sizes and mediums. stikman does a lot with his little character. That said, one of my favorite works is a sort of hanging cairn made of bricks that stikman installed on a gate outside of the building. Many people don’t realize that stikman is also a prolific cairn builder.
With something around 100 works in …in the house…, it’s difficult to show it all here, but I’ll share a sampling. For the rest, you’ll just have to stop by the Mural Arts Program offices at 1727-29 Mt. Vernon Street, Philadelphia, PA 19130. …in the house… will be up through November 13th. If you stop by, be sure to grab a free stikman sticker, and if you love the work as much as I do, this is a great time to pick up a piece. stikman has offered to donate all the proceeds from sales at …in the house… to Mural Arts.
…in the house… is open now through November 13th at the Mural Arts Program offices at 1727-29 Mt. Vernon Street, Philadelphia, PA 19130. Hours are 9-5 Monday through Friday or by appointment (email@example.com). If you’re interested in purchasing work but unable to visit the show in person, please email me (rj at vandalog.com) or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photos by Kendall Whitehouse and RJ Rushmore