A citywide celebration of 50 years of impact

(Re)FOCUS: Then and Now honors a historic 1974 Philly feminist arts festival

2 minute read
B&W photo, Andrade and a younger student in classroom review large prints on a desk. Another student is at a desk behind them
Artist Edna Andrade (right) teaching in the 1970s. (Photo courtesy of Locks Gallery.)

Throughout the city, (Re)FOCUS 2024 celebrates the 50th anniversary of the landmark feminist arts festival, Women’s Work: American Art 1974, Philadelphia Focuses on Women in the Visual Arts, known as FOCUS. In the 1970s, artists Diane Burko and Judith K. Brodsky inspired a group of women to organize the wildly successful event. Fifty years later, (Re)FOCUS 2024 includes artists who identify as women, nonbinary, and gender-nonconforming with exhibitions, talks, film screenings, and performances through Friday, May 31.

Where to FOCUS

A good starting point is the anchor exhibition (Re)FOCUS: Then and Now, running through Saturday, March 16, at Moore College of Art, curated by Brodsky and Burko, along with Marsha Moss and Gabrielle Lavin Suzenski. The show is divided into two parts: “Then” gathers works by the artists who took part in the 1974 project, and “Now” shows contemporary work by Philadelphia’s community of emerging artists, designers, and makers, including Atisha Fordyce, Wit López, Li Sumpter, Eva Wu, and a selection of work curated by Isa Isioma Matisse of the Future is Us Collective. A catalogue is available for $50.

Visit (Re)FOCUS online for events and venues, including Mural Arts, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Print Center. Here are a few highlights with emphasis on venues run by women.

The Women’s Caucus for Art Juried Exhibition features works by 46 local women and gender-nonconforming artists in City Hall’s second, third, and fourth floors, through Friday, April 12. (Use the northeast corner visitor’s entrance.) The exhibition was juried by Patti Jordan and Sarah Bloom, members of the National Women’s Caucus for Art.

Edna Andrade: Space Dreams, through Saturday, March 9, at Locks Gallery, exhibits drawings, prints, and paintings from the 1960s and 1970s, including intimate, modernist color and pattern studies. A leader in the Op Art movement, Andrade (1917-2008) lived and worked in Philadelphia for most of her career. Marian Locks opened her gallery in 1968; today, it is directed by Sueyun Locks.

Sit a Spell: An Invitation, an Invocation, open through May at the Colored Girls Museum, showcases emerging artists Daphne Arthur, Aliyah Bonnette, and Ellen Blalock, as well as “What Black Feminists Taught Me,” photographs celebrating Philadelphia women and gender-expansive people.

Fortitude at 50—A Resilient Five Decades, curated by Morgan Hobbs and Elizabeth Johnson, runs through Saturday, March 9, at Gross McCleaf Galleries. In addition to artwork by women artists in all stages of their careers, ephemera and memorabilia from Gross McCleaf’s archives are displayed. Gross McCleaf was founded by Estelle Gross in 1969, and the gallery has been women-owned and run since then.

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