Polly Apfelbaum: For the Love of Una Hale

February 3–April 17, 2022
Spruance and Rosedale Galleries

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The two site-specific wallpapers originally included in this exhibition (see below) will continue to be presented in the University Commons through May 27, 2022.

Arcadia Exhibitions is pleased to present "Polly Apfelbaum: For the Love of Una Hale", on view from February 3 through April 17, 2022. Handcrafted during an extended residency at Arcadia University, Polly Apfelbaum’s new ceramic works will be contextualized by site-specific wallpapers in the Rosedale Gallery, and an exhibition of works by noted Pennsylvania folk artist and antiques dealer David Ellinger (1913-2003). "Out of the Heart: The Life and Art of David Ellinger" will be concurrently on view in the Harrison Gallery, University Commons.

Polly Apfelbaum "For the Love of Una Hale" Spruance GalleryPolly Apfelbaum, “Polly Apfelbaum: For the Love of Una Hale,” 2022, Installation view, Spruance Gallery. All works depicted courtesy of the artist, Frith Street Gallery, London, and Galerie näscht St. Stephan, Vienna. Photo: Aaron Igler/Greenhouse Media.

Polly Apfelbaum is a multidisciplinary artist who engages art history, the applied arts, and popular culture through large-scale installations that assemble fabrics or rugs, ceramics, drawings, paintings, sculptures, found objects, and immersive color. Exploring contemporary ideas surrounding craft and gender, "For the Love of Una Hale" examines the early influence of Pennsylvania German craft traditions on the artist’s hybrid sensibility.
“The goal is to interpret the personal as political,” said Apfelbaum, citing her long history of working with materials associated with craft, the everyday, installation, and space of the gallery. “I'm starting to look back at my history, where the inspiration came from, and how my personal experiences relate to the complex life and work of the painter David Ellinger.”

Polly Apfelbaum, Barn Face (Brown Nose), 2021, terracotta and glaze, courtesy of the artist, Frith Street Gallery, London, and Galerie näscht St. Stephan, Vienna.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a series of public programs and a publication featuring essays by Tessa Bachi Haas, Wayne Koestenbaum, Lisa Minardi, David Pagel, Jenelle Porter, Jenni Sorkin, and Richard Torchia, and a transcription of a studio conversation with Apfelbaum, Gregg Moore, Rachel Geisinger and Elizabeth Ferrell, moderated and introduced by Ezra Shales. Together with "Out of the Heart: The Life and Art of David Ellinger", an exhibition curated by Lisa Minardi, executive director of Historic Trappe, “For the Love of Una Hale” explores Pennsylvania German art and celebrates Ellinger’s multifaceted creative output as an antiques dealer, a gardener, a prolific artist, and drag show performer (Una Hale)."
Major support for "Polly Apfelbaum: For the Love of Una Hale" and "Out of the Heart: The Life and Art of David Ellinger" has been provided by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage with additional support from Creative Capital.


There Are Many Hearts, 2020

Along with tulips and birds, the heart is an emblem iconic to Pennsylvania German folk art and fraktur, handwritten birth and baptismal certificates, marriage and house blessings. This wallpaper was one of the first projects that Polly Apfelbaum conceived for her exhibition at Arcadia. The point-to-point pattern was subsequently used to create a series of woodblock monoprints editioned by Durham Press in Durham, Pennsylvania, about an hour north of Glenside.

Polly Apfelbaum, There Are Many Hearts 2020, site-specific wallpaper (ink on adhesive vinyl), dimensions variable, courtesy of the artist, Frith Street Gallery, London, and Galerie näscht St. Stephan, Vienna. Photo: Aaron Igler/ Greenhouse Media

Pattern and Apparition, 2015

For this work, Apfelbaum appropriated hand-drawn weaving designs from of a 1771 Pennsylvania German pattern book (or Musterbuch) in the collection of the Free Library of Philadelphia. Intrigued by the way the timeworn ink and watercolor images had bled through the manuscript pages, Apfelbaum gridded scans of their fronts of backs and digitally superimposed a line of "non-photo blue" to indicate their original sequence in the book. This particular shade of blue, used primarily before the onset of digital imaging, cannot be detected by graphic arts camera film and allows layout editors to write notes on material to be sent to print that will not appear in the final form. Applied here, it evokes spray-painted graffiti that obscures portions of the weaving patterns but also encourages viewers to look closer.

Polly Apfelbaum Pattern and Apparition 2015Polly Apfelbaum, Pattern and Apparition, 2015 site-specific wallpaper (ink on adhesive vinyl), dimensions variable, courtesy of the artist, Frith Street Gallery, London, and Galerie näscht St. Stephan, Vienna. Photo: Aaron Igler/ Greenhouse Media

The meandering blue line is also the ostensible “apparition” of the work’s title, a play on “Pattern & Decoration”, a movement that emerged in the mid-1970s that celebrated aspects of artmaking often associated with the domestic practices, design, and non-Western sources generally absent from the minimal and conceptual works being produced at the time. The specific paths of these lines are digitally "re-sprayed" over the pages in response to the display conditions provided by the available walls, thus generating a new pattern each time the work is presented for a different site.

Polly Apfelbaum received her BFA from Tyler School of Art, Elkins Park, Pennsylvania. She has lived and worked in New York City since 1978 and since her first one-person-show in the city in 1986 has shown consistently in the United States and internationally. In addition to her current exhibition at Arcadia, Apfelbaum’s recent work is featured in solo presentations at the Kunstmuseum Luzern and Magasin III (Jaffa, Israel). In 2019, her exhibition, “Haystack Hands”, was presented in conjunction with a residency at the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts (Deer Isle, Maine) in 2019. 

Other recent shows include “Waiting for the UFOs” at Ikon (Birmingham, UK) and Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art (Kansas City, Missouri), “Happiness Runs” at Belvedere 21 (Vienna), “Dubuffet’s Feet, My Hands” at Frith Street Gallery (London), as well as “The Potential of Women” at Alexander Gray Associates (New York). A major mid-career survey of her work debuted at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia in the summer of 2003 and traveled to Cincinnati, Ohio and Kansas City. “Polly Apfelbaum + Dan Cole: For the Love of Gene Davis” was presented in 2014 by Temple Contemporary as part of Tyler School of Art’s Distinguished Alumni Mentoring Program.
A sampling of recent group exhibitions includes “ABstranded: Fiber and Abstraction in Contemporary Art” at the Everson Museum of Art (New York), “Taking Space: Contemporary Women Artists and the Politics of Scale” at Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (Philadelphia), "Out of Place: A Feminist Look at the Collection" at Brooklyn Museum (New York), “Maneuver”, at The Artist’s Institute at Hunter College (New York), “What Beauty is, I know not” at König Gallery, Berlin, “Via Appia” at Galerie nächst St. Stephan, Vienna, and “Less Is a Bore: Maximalist Art & Design” at ICA Boston.
Apfelbaum received a Creative Capital Award in 2018 and in 2012/13 was a Rome Prize recipient at the American Academy in Rome. She also received a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Joan Mitchell Grant, and an Anonymous Was A Woman Grant, among other awards. Her work is part of many significant public collections, including those of The Museum of Modern Art, The Whitney Museum of American Art, the Carnegie Museum of Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, The Dallas Museum of Art, The Brooklyn Museum of Art, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage is a multidisciplinary grantmaker and hub for knowledge-sharing, funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts, dedicated to fostering a vibrant cultural community in Greater Philadelphia. The Center invests in ambitious, imaginative, and catalytic work that showcases the region’s cultural vitality and enhances public life, and engages in an exchange of ideas concerning artistic and interpretive practice with a broad network of cultural practitioners and leaders.