Capturing ‘The Poker Game’ at Woodmere Art Museum

Larry Day's "Poker Game" is part of the Woodmere exhibit.  Credit: Woodmere Art Museum
Larry Day’s “Poker Game” is part of the Woodmere exhibit.
Credit: Woodmere Art Museum

Fifty years ago, a group of six artists gathered in an Elkins Park studio space for the first of a planned series of critiques and discussions of each other’s work. After a few such meetings, sculptor Dennis Leon, who passed away in 1998, made an offhand suggestion that would create a ritual that has now lasted for half a century. “Dennis said, ‘Let’s play poker,’” recalls ceramic sculptor and art teacher Armand Mednick. “And that’s how we started.”

“The Poker Game and Its Circle,” a new exhibition opening this weekend at Woodmere Art Museum, celebrates that long-running monthly game with a show focused on “The Poker Game,” Larry Day’s 1970 portrait of the gathering. The show features work by the five players commemorated in that painting and their compatriots, including Mednick, Leon, Sidney Goodman, Jimmy Lueders and David Pease.

The game takes place at noon on the first Sunday of every month, without fail. “If you had a family, you’d better make arrangements,” Mednick says. He described the formalized structure of the gathering: “We play from 12 to 1; at 1 we have champagne and hors d’oeuvres, at 2 somebody prepares a wonderful meal with wine, then we have a little cognac and talk about our lives and our work, then we play for another two hours and at 5:15 the game is over and we wait for the next month.”

Gathering all of the poker players’ art in one place, Mednick says, was a good way to see how the game has impacted all of their work. “Over the years what it’s done is develop an intimacy between men that I’ve never felt anywhere else. We talk about real stuff: our lives, our fears, and that’s reflected in our art. Because all art is personal; we all represent different forms of trying to reach other people in a symbolic and human way that people can relate to.”

Though Day and two of the players in his portrait have passed on and other players have come and gone over the years, the game continues to this day with participants ranging in age from 88 to 37. The financial stakes have never been as high as the artistic ones, according to Mednick. “The most you could lose was 30, 40 bucks. But it’s a wonderful excuse for social exchange.”

“The Poker Game and Its Circle”
July 20-Oct. 26
Woodmere Art Museum
9201 Germantown Ave.
$7-$10, 215-247-0476
www.woodmereartmuseum.org



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Is #JusticeForAvaLynn a case of bullying?

On Saturday, the hashtag #JusticeForAvaLynn became one of the trending topics on Twitter. Users circulated the above photo of 5-year-old AvaLynn, posted by her mother…

International

Terrorism could spread to US and Europe in…

Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah said terrorism would soon spread to Europe and the United States unless it is quickly dealt with in the Middle East,…

National

Ex-Bitcoin official to plead guilty to Silk Road…

Bitcoin entrepreneur Charlie Shrem has reached a plea deal to resolve U.S. charges that he engaged in a scheme to sell over $1 million of…

International

China's army changes tactics to prepare for war…

Chinese President Xi Jinping has said China will spur military innovation and called on the army to create a new strategy for "information warfare" as…

Gossip

Joan Rivers on life support: Report

TMZ reports that comedian Joan Rivers has been placed on life support, "completely reliant on machines to stay alive." Rivers has been hospitalized since she…

Movies

What's new on Netflix in September

September has a supernatural theme for Netflix. UFO "documentaries" and the survivalist reality series "Doomsday Preppers" are among the new series coming to the online…

Going Out

'Friends' coffeehouse Central Perk coming to NYC —…

"Friends" is coming back for a one-off special: "The One with the Free Coffee." Warner Bros. is bringing a pop-up replica of Central Perk, the…

Movies

Interview: 'As Above, So Below' directors: 5 ways…

The fraternal directors of the found footage horror "As Above, So Below" dish on the best ways to frighten the bejesus out of audiences.

NFL

3 things we learned in the Giants preseason…

The final score didn’t matter — a 16-13 win by the Giants — but it would’ve been nice to finally see Big Blue’s new-look offense get on track.

NFL

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots, 49ers start…

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots start at top

U.S. Soccer

5 facts about new England captain Wayne Rooney

Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney was named as the new England captain by coach Roy Hodgson on Thursday.

NFL

Jets vs. Eagles: 3 things to watch

A win on Thursday night at the Eagles would give the Jets a 3-1 record and just their second winning preseason under head coach Rex Ryan.

Wellbeing

VIDEO: Still not wearing sunscreen? You will after…

Sunscreen is possibly the most often repeated - and ignored - piece of skincare advice. But Thomas Leveritt took a different tactic. With a short…

Food

Twitter used to track down sources of food…

When Chicago health officials saw Twitter users complaining about local food poisoning episodes, they reached out on Twitter to those users and often ended up…

Style

Trend: White hot on the 2014 Emmy's red…

White was one of the big trends on the Emmy's red carpet.

Food

Recipe: Samuel Adams beer-marinated grilled shrimp

Summer calls for two things: a cold beer and light food. Sam Adams' Latitude 48 IPA fairly bursts with citrus notes, making it an ideal marinade…