Even though this year’s Da Vinci Fest Live doesn’t launch until Oct. 11, South Philly residents can get a sneak peek of the Da Vinci Art Alliance’s annual festival this week. As of Sunday, Exquisite Copse, an outdoor exhibition held in Bella Vista’s Palumbo Park, is open and available to the public. The name of the exhibition, which was organized by Philadelphia Sculptors, is a play on the Surrealists’ game “Exquisite Corpse,” where artists combine unrelated drawings into one larger one. The exhibition was put together in a similar way. Each work of art was created independently, with the artists then collaborating in groups of three to connect their works and create new hybrid art forms.
“I thought if we could have artists create independent artwork and when they were finished they would connect them, it would have an interactive component to it,” said Philadelphia Sculptors president Leslie Kaufman. “It’s no longer three individual pieces, but three pieces that become connected to each other.”
The exhibition will run until Nov. 6. A meet and greet with the artists will be held on Oct. 11 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. in the Da Vinci Art Alliance parking lot.
Kaufman concedes that the exhibition doesn’t totally have a direct connection to the work of Leonardo Da Vinci, but there are some similarities, she said.
“Surrealists and artists who are very creative and think outside the box are just another group of artists drawing from the subconscious,” Kaufman explained. Artists who are considered surrealists often come up with ideas that require a vivid imagination and outside-the-box thinking – a trait Da Vinci himself was known for.
“I think [Da Vinci’s] brain worked that way, too,” said Kaufman. “Where else would you come up with the idea for, say, a helicopter? They both draw from the creative side of our brain.”
So what exactly will the works of art look like?
Artist Ken Beidler offers Upside Down, a gigantic cone of wood and polypropylene twine – but after it has met with an unfortunate accident and fallen to the ground. Perhaps its owner was frightened by Gregory Laut’s Lizard Person, a bodiless creature roaming the gardens, or by Bina Shah’s disturbing Caged, half-woman, half-lobster. Or by Carole Loeffler’s Domesti-pede, an even stranger organism with long tendrils swinging from the branches of a small tree. Or maybe Naomi Teppich’s Covid Alive was just too strong a reminder of how inverted our lives have become. Other exciting works include Kaufman’s Return to Nature, Patrick Cabry’s Please Recycle, Rebecca Schultz’s What Lies Beneath and Karen Izzi’s Women in Good Company.
Kaufman said the exhibition is perfect for people who feel it’s a bit too risky to go back inside of museums.
The exhibition provides an opportunity for “people to experience art in a safe, outdoor environment,” said Kaufman. For more information about Da Vinci Fest Live, visit davincifest.org.