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July 15th, 2004
Challenge #1 Opens the 27th Season of Juried Exhibitions in the Fleisher Art Memorial

The Samuel S. Fleisher Art Memorial will present the first exhibition in the twenty-seventh season of the four-part Challenge Series—the Delaware Valley’s premier juried artist exhibition program. This season’s twelve Challenge artists were selected from a field of 255 applicants to exhibit in one of four three-person exhibitions. The first of this year’s Challenge Exhibitions features the work of artists Steve Cope, Veleta Vancza, and Sarah Zwerling. The exhibition begins on Saturday, September 4th, with an opening reception from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., and continues through October 6th.

Both the exhibition and the opening reception are free and open to the public. Gallery hours are 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, with additional hours of 6:30 to 9:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday, and 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., Saturday.

The drama of urban environments and formal geometric clarity combine to inform Steve Cope’s large-scale oil paintings. Cope juxtaposes the uniquely personal yet universal experience of physical scale in large cities with the infinite interpretability of circles and spheres, familiar geometric forms that nonetheless allow for individual association. Inspired by the sight of a blimp flying over Boston Harbor, Cope found the stealth and vantage point of these objects parallel his role as painter and became his figurative vehicle into non-objective imagery. Viewers can therefore find both the common and extraordinary in his dynamic work. Mr. Cope received his B.F.A. from Massachusetts College of Art and his M.F.A. from Boston University.

A desire to exploit the outstanding industrial qualities of vitreous enamel soon led Veleta Vancza to experiment with ideas of ‘purity in materials’ and the relativity of color through this ubiquitous material. Defying the traditionally reverent relationship modern enamellists had with contemporary painting, Vancza challenges the ideals of modernist painting by transforming her enamelwork into three-dimensional wall pieces or paintings. The captivating result is bubbly, amorphous parts composing a formal, complex whole. Ms. Vancza received her B.F.A. from the State University of New York and her M.F.A. from Cranbrook Academy of Art.

Sarah Zwerling’s installation art stems from a passion for materials that evoke an ambience and surroundings that warrant an emotional response. Employing blown sugar, silk, animated human forms, and live-action video projection, her work translates acute human sensations into form, sound, and space—which in turn elicits its own sensation. In tempering familiar imagery with aspects of the surreal, Zwerling also removes viewers from the confines of the actual world. Ms. Zwerling received her B.A. from San Francisco State University and her M.F.A. from the University of Pennsylvania.

On Tuesday, September 21st, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., artist/teacher Mary Murphy will lead the Challenge "TalkAbout" gallery discussion. Bring your own ‘brown bag’ dinner and join us to discuss the work on exhibition. Admission is free.

The Philadelphia Museum of Art is among the largest museums in the United States, with a collection of more than 227,000 works of art and more than 200 galleries presenting painting, sculpture, works on paper, photography, decorative arts, textiles, and architectural settings from Asia, Europe, Latin America, and the United States. Its facilities include its landmark Main Building on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, the Perelman Building, located nearby on Pennsylvania Avenue, the Rodin Museum on the 2200 block of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, and two 18th-century houses in Fairmount Park, Mount Pleasant and Cedar Grove. The Museum offers a wide variety of activities for public audiences, including special exhibitions, programs for children and families, lectures, concerts and films.

For additional information, contact the Communications Department of the Philadelphia Museum of Art phone at 215-684-7860, by fax at 215-235-0050, or by e-mail at pressroom@philamuseum.org. The Philadelphia Museum of Art is located on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway at 26th Street. For general information, call (215) 763-8100.

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