Seraphin Gallery on how Diversity and Difference Can Bridge Connections

Hiro Sakaguchi, Preparation for Spring, 2013, Acrylic on canvas, 47”x 59”, Courtesy of Seraphin Gallery

Hiro Sakaguchi, Preparation for Spring, 2013, Acrylic on canvas, 47”x 59”, Courtesy of Seraphin Gallery

In advance of If So, What? we had the opportunity to chat with Alyssa Laverda, Associate Director at Seraphin Gallery. The Philadelphia-based contemporary art gallery will be bringing a wide range of artists to If So, What?, inviting visitors to look beyond the surface and to explore the deeper connections between the artists’ works. Read our interview with Laverda to get a preview of what the gallery will be exhibiting, why they’ve approached curating this booth differently, and why If So, What? fits so well with the gallery’s program.

If So, What?: Could you begin by telling me about the gallery’s focus and its history?

Alyssa Laverda: Seraphin Gallery was founded in 1970 by Director Anthony Seraphin, who first saved a collection of Thomas Eakins’ photographs and, proving their worth, held the first Sotheby’s auction of solely photography.  Since then, Mr. Seraphin has worked with major secondary artists and held exhibitions for Larry Rivers, Leon Golub, Harry Bertoia, and Grace Hartigan, among others.

The gallery continues its tradition of working in the secondary market, but also represents a roster of current contemporary artists whose work is sophisticated and unique—from hyperrealism to minimalist. Seraphin Gallery’s artists are in numerous and major institutions worldwide, and range from emerging to well established, as well as from local to international.

ISW: We’re very excited to see your exhibition at IF So, What? Could you tell us a little bit about what visitors will see?

AL: Seraphin Gallery is proud to present works by Phillip Adams, Arman, Paul Fabozzi, James Fee, Craig Kraft, Youdhi Maharjan, Michael Morrill, Madeline Peckenpaugh, and Hiro Sakaguchi. The artists represent a number of different artistic languages and artistic media, from painterly expression to light installation and photo realistic sensibilities. All of these artists are connected in their phrasing of movement and rhythm, form, and careful composition.  We want to provide a three dimensional view of Seraphin Gallery’s aesthetic and create new dialogues between works that may not be on the surface, but are layers deep.

If So, What?’s programming is not only centered around fine art and design, but is a celebration of people coming together to exchange views and ideas.  We sincerely believe that ISW is the perfect venue for us to exhibit our deliberately selected artists and be a part of an exciting moment that goes beyond the traditional art fair.

ISW: How did you approach curating your booth for ISW differently than you might for another event or fair?

AL: ISW is sinking into a lot of interesting local culture and business, while also providing a window into some very exciting galleries and design firms from around the world. Here, we felt at ease curating a booth that showcases what we have to offer – a mix of different types of artistic styles, a range of artists from emerging to prominent, and an inlet into our secondary market pieces. Some fairs are looking for complete continuity in a booth, one that presents one idea for visitors to inhale in three seconds. At ISW, and as with our programming, we curate on the connections that are made in difference and diversity rather than in a singular notion. It’s what a booth should be at a fair, an exhibition that makes the viewer stop and think rather than brush by. ISW has a small number of exhibitors with a precise direction in its many tangents. I think we fit together well.

Madeline Peckenpaugh, Of Youth, 2017, Oil on canvas, 44” x 65”, Courtesy of Seraphin Gallery

Madeline Peckenpaugh, Of Youth, 2017, Oil on canvas, 44” x 65”, Courtesy of Seraphin Gallery

ISW: What aspects of your booth or artists that you are showing are you most excited about? Why do you think they will appeal to the ISW audience?

AL: To pick my favorites would be incredibly difficult! I think that everything we are showing really has its perfect place. We’re showing a large neon sculpture by Craig Kraft that is going to beautifully echo Fabozzi’s architectural and Morrill’s geometric abstract paintings – in form and in palette. The imaginative representational works by Hiro Sakaguchi, a Japanese American artist born in Nagano, and Phillip Adams, a German-born Philadelphia-based artist who creates murals internationally as well as works on canvas and panel, are going to play with each other. The act of cutting out text on a very small scale in Youdhi Maharjan’s work is going to react with Madeline Peckenpaugh’s sculptural approach to painting as she lays on thick impasto and cuts away in large action painter movements. I think that ISW’s audience is going to pick up on these subtle moments where one narrative is picked up by something else.

ISW: What is exciting to you about participating in If So, What?

AL: While Seraphin Gallery has some ties to different collectors on the West Coast, we rarely show in that region.  This will be an exciting opportunity to do so and really introduce some of our artists that haven’t been seen there yet.  Also, as mentioned previously, we’re thrilled at the programming that ISW has put together. We think that this confluence of different areas of art, design, music, and business is very much what the contemporary world is about. Artists of all kinds bring all of these things together, and we’re looking forward to being a part of it.

ISW: What else do you have going on at the gallery this month?

AL: We have a partnered event coming up in May where we’ll be bringing in lovers of art and music for a great evening supporting a local Philadelphia jazz non-profit called “Jazz Lives”.  We are proudly curators of the Philadelphia location of ‘The Yard’, a co-working space in Center City, and our opening for the next iteration of exhibits is around the corner. Always lots of different events, projects, collaborations, and partnerships, please feel free to visit our website and sign up for our mailing list for more!