As a child, Stephen Robin hopped from bus, to trolley, to El train in order to take lessons at the Fleisher Art Memorial in South Philly.
Fifty years later, his monumental sculptures can be seen everywhere from the Federal Courthouse in Omaha, Neb., to the International Trade Center in Washington, D.C. But while the vast majority of Robin’s work has been created in his workshop on Sixth and Berks streets in North Philly, few in the tight-knit local gallery scene know much about him.
Richard Rosenfeld of the Rosenfeld Gallery is looking to change that — and fast. This week, he unveils a 30-year retrospective of Robin’s work.
Early in his career, Robin worked with architectural firms, creating sculptural ornaments for buildings. Later, he began to play with the concepts and traditions of architectural ornaments, blending genres and transforming familiar floral patterns into his own unique style.
“In the ’80s, I was so involved with ornament work that I see much of my stuff from that time as parodies of architectural ornament,” says Robin, from his studio. “I continued that way until the ’90s, when I did the piece [outside the International Trade Center]. I realized then that I didn’t want to make parodies, but I was actually looking for a whole new form of ornamentation. And I take that very seriously.”