Digging Pitt Gallery encourages you to take a peek at Adam Grossi's exhibit at GRACE. Adam is included in our flat files and, along with Josh Tonies, produced a fabulous showcase of collaborative works.
Adam Grossi begins his work at the intersection of utopian ideals and the American cultural mainstream. Drawing from architecture, advertisements, maps, and illustrations the artist uses paint, collage, and installation to chronicle his travels within the middle class suburbs. A Reston native, Grossi has a long history growing up in a planned community which he develops into imaginary narratives he calls, "welcome mats at the doors to stranger's homes." From the GRACE Website
"This is a solo show, nestled deep within the heart of my very own hometown -- a place that has often served as my primary source of image-making inspiration for about three years. Reston is one of the country’s first and foremost planned residential communities, making it kind of like the town in “The Truman Show,” except for the fact that no one is acting. It is a fascinating place; driven by utopian development ideals and intricate planning, and yet, also susceptible to the same mainstream cultural dilemmas that challenge the rest of the country’s suburban landscape. The paintings I am presenting here are products of my fascination with this tangled intersection of idealism and conventions. Roughly twenty images have made it into the show; additionally, the gallery staff has been generous enough to allow me to supplement my work with some painting and drawing directly on the walls… so I’ve created a temporary landscape of my own." Adam Grossi - Artist Statement
People shocked at the low quality of the previous blog, will be pleased with recent developments. After a series of hostile takeover efforts and a violent management shake up-- a new and improved blog is emerging. A free floating team of contributors will be gradually emerging that will ad content on thier favorite subjects. I will still be responsible for keeping the fairly unballanced part of the blog intact.
The recent entry of the NY artist, Martin Wilner into my flat files has brought me back to a post merge did on one of Martin's, artist friends-- Joe Coleman. I will be seeing a new documentary on Joe with Merge next week. The rest of this post is by merge.
A couple of years ago I happened to stumble across a short-lived television series called Disinformation. The show was a sort of post-modern news magazine, detailing outsider artists, conspiracy theorists and odd cultural phenomena. Despairingly, the creators of the show (who are also coincidentally the men behind a controversial publishing house) were not able to get it aired in the US. The four episodes that were made were shown on BBC television. One of those episodes contained a segment with an introduction to a Brooklyn-based artist named Joe Coleman. Coleman made a lot of noise as a performance artist, when he became known for strapping explosives to his chest and detonating himself a mere few feet from shocked audiences. He had other strange proclivities too, including biting the heads off of live mice. Disinformation collected a few snippets of those early performances, along with Coleman's elaborately detailed, comicbook style paintings. The artist portrayed himself, his friends, loved ones, serial killers, Jesus, and his enemies, in post-apocalyptic settings reminiscent of Bosch and Brueghel. His process is so meticulous that he wears magnifying glasses and employs a single-hair brush to paint. The artist also has his own private museum, called the Odditorium, that he allowed the television crew to view. In this collection are human and animal oddities, the grisly remains of biblical saints, and a genuine pickled punk affectionately-named "Junior". The entire Disinformation segment was a mere tantalizing glimpse at this strange and dark figure.
Fortunately for me the Disinformation label has recently issued a DVD of Rest in Pieces: A Portrait of Joe Coleman. In this fine documentary by Robert-Adrian Pejo, we are privy to a substantive exploration of the man, his history and his work. We get to see him at work in his studio... blowing off steam with his companions in the Odditorium... at work and play with various friends and associates... and yes... performing his explosive act as Professor Mombooze-o. We also get a heaping helping of his homespun philosophy. Coleman believes we are living in a "Time of Death", in which perversion is natural. He also likens humanity to a cancer threatening the health of the earth.
Despite his dark tendencies, Coleman is exposed as a rational thinker, a romantic mate, and a generally nice guy. Interviews with friends, former girlfriends (including the lovely Dian Hansen), a sibling, and others demystify the artist, and give valuable insights into the man. It's not surprising when we learn just how obsessed Coleman is with Catholicism. I found quite a lot to like about him- we share a wide array of interests including carnivals, moral relativity, freaks, film noir, the occult, horror movies, true crime, and cults. He's a shamanic persona, who is not afraid to speak truth in the face of glaring hypocrisies. You could do a hell of a lot worse than tracking down this film.
Here are some thoughts from Merge on the Tom Museum ,
Last night I went to the preview of new installations at the Mattress Factory. I don't think people in Pittsburgh realize just what a great resource this place is. It adds a hint of international credibility for Pittsburgh in the arts sphere. Whenever I do make it a point to go to the museum, I always wonder why I haven't been there in such a long time.
The inspiration for this particular visit was the opening of the "Tom Museum" (at 410 Samsonia Way), an installation centered around the life and work of local artist Tom Sarver. Artists can be a notably envious lot, and if it's appropriate to reward just one with such indulgence, then I am glad Tom was chosen. For those of you who have had the pleasure of meeting him, he's a very generous and accessible guy. I felt particularly welcome yesterday as Tom took the time, in the calm before the storm of his official unveiling, to give me a personal tour of his new living/working/installation space.
The exterior of the townhouse (which belongs to the Director of the Mattress Factory) has a colorful mural done in Tom's bright cartoon-like style. Walking through the front door, you enter a fantastic foyer with carved wooden stairs, like a monotone version of a Dr. Seuss environment. You step through another door, and are treated to a video feed from a piece in the basement. Down another short stairway, and through the reception room, you reach Tom's conceptualization and media documentation room. Out the backdoor, there is a courtyard that will be transformed over the next few months. His companions will be two interns from the museum, and the killer Rottweiller that lives in the yard behind his (don't worry, Tom has installed additional reinforcement to the back fence!). And visitors, of course. The intention is to encourage day-to-day interaction with the museum's patrons. He plans a series of special events throughout the life of the installation. One of Tom's annual projects is intensive partcipation in the Black Sheep Puppet Festival. This October, he is planning to move the festival's puppet-making workshop to the Tom Museum.
The second floor of the house consists of Tom's handmade puppet archives, and the one room he has alloted himself for personal living space. The third floor is yet another work in-progress (and you'll just have to visit in the future to see what he has planned- I know what it is, and believe me, it's gonna be worth the wait). Sarver has plenty of time to complete his vision- he will live and work out of his museum for the next eight months. After that, who knows? Tom talks of maybe wanting to take some varaition of the concept on the road, or continue his developing relationship with large-scale mural work.
The Tom Museum can be visited Wednesday through Sunday, between the hours of 11AM and 5PM. Contact the Mattress Factory for further details. This is a must-see.
*And if you want some additional "Tom", please make sure to stop in at the very first traveling exhibition from the "Tom Museum" at the Digging Pitt Too. The opening reception is this Thurday (the 14th), from 6-9PM, on the corner of 45th and Plummer Streets in Lawrenceville (Pittsburgh).
Crystala will be posting about all things craft, including the Handmade Arcade. With Crystala's help, Digging Pitt will be having monthly craft events at Digging Pitt Too, located on 45th and Plummer Streets in Pittsburgh. Stay tuned for further developments and check in with Crystala at Digging Pitt Stuff.
Sorry, I have been jammed up and procrastinating and then when i have a little time, blogger acts up. I will be back with more updates, images from my openings and the Tom Sarver, David Gonzalez and Jean McClung Show.
Here are some shots from the Opening of my Pittsburgh Alumni Show on The 14th. Sorry for not posting this sooner. I will be improving on this post as I can. Let's just say the show looks good and the opening went great. It's also been fun to watch in the gallery as people see the work of people they know and to see who knew who and stuff.
Update. Here is a link to Kurt Shaw's Review of the show. As we all know, Kurt writes for the "right wing" paper in town, that i often strongly disagree with ( an understatement ) and often not. But Kurt is in truth one of the most reliable reviewers in Pittsburgh. I mean he bothers to show up and look at alot of stuff and that alone makes him OK.
The review is well done and actually has some nice pictures, if you see it in person. However, he had to review the show before Kate had installed her Solo, and had to sort of wing the review from looking at images and seeing some of the Kate's on hand. This is work to see in person.
I had a nice crowd at the opening but sold very little work, with my "big sale" coming in my satelite space with a whole buch of David Gonzales's flying out the door. Well they are still there, but let's say a lot of them are now hitched and spoken for.
I just want to assure my vast audience that the previous post was not some kind of suicide note. I have just been too busy to post for the last week or so. Many things have happened and I will be trying to catch up a bit.
I would also like to anounce that Merge Divide corporation has nobly joined us as an occasional contributor to this blog. Merge Divide is a nice small and sincere corp with an interest in the arts in Pittsburgh and is not affiliated with the more sucessfull Divide and Conquer corp. I have in the past often linked to posts on thier blog. The main thing is that the people behind it seem to know how to use a spell check program and can think clearly. I will continue to post when I can, with the ultimate goal of creating a more comprehensive forum for dialog about the arts in Pittsburgh.
I think that bloggers would call this post a link dump in that I am just dumping a few interesting posts that I have come across out there. All credit goes to thier authors. People who read this blog might know that I am attracted to open ended posts that lead to conversations and or fist fights.
, The North Side will be buzzing with a bunch of events in the next week, a lot of them are loosely connected to the Mattress Factory. Sept 9th has the members preview for the Tom Museum and for the Mattress Factory's new "Factory Installed" show.
"The Tom Museum is both an irreverent commentary on the museum experience, and a view into an artist's creative process. Tom blends everyday activities and pastimes, such as cooking, fishing and gardening, with the arts of puppetry, painting and sculpture to engage visitors on many levels. His projects within the museum are inspired by everyday observations and experiences, including the weather, current events, and people he meets through visits, phone and e-mail. Visitors passing through the museum may get to take part in a puppet show, appear on a talk show, enjoy breakfast with the artist or critique his tomato plants. Audience interaction and feedback are encouraged. "
“It’s almost a commentary,” Sarver says. “I’m trying to reinvent how a regular museum would do things. I’m kind of running this whole thing myself, trying to make it a really accessible thing to your everyday person on the North Side or Pittsburgh or wherever."
A new Factory Installed exhibition will feature five artists who have come to Pittsburgh from across the country and lived at the museum while they created four new installations. This Factory Installed, features Nick Cave, Dan Steinhilber, Deborah Aschheim and Jesse Bercowetz & Matt Bua will be on view through January 28, 2007. Jesse and Matt will be rushing in from thier Solo opening at Derek Eller on Sept 7th.
Here is some stuff of of the Derek Eller website that relates to that show, but from what I know of thier work it will likely apply here as well.
"Bercowetz and Bua pursue their narratives down every digression, diversion, false start and dead end that presents itself. The work can never be complete, because the stories never end: a bowling ball sits undisturbed on top of a rickety seven-foot-tall model of a World Trade Center tower made from cheap wooden shish kebob skewers; audio interviews with authors of books on the supernatural and the sub-rosa, spinning tales of ransacked apartments, Charles Manson and the Virgin Mary; a room memorializing missing children topped by an outsized milk carton, while a bookshelf beneath is stuffed with dozens of CD jewel boxes labeled with the names of countries invaded by the US military or infiltrated by the CIA.
Cities Of Asylum Sept: 9th
Also, on the north side that day will be the dedication of Pittsburgh's second "cities of asylum" house.
"City of Asylum/Pittsburgh provides sanctuary to writers exiled under threat of death, imprisonment, or persecution in their native countries. We enable the writers to continue to write, while transitioning to a potentially permanent exile. The current writer hosted by us is the Chinese poet Huang Xiang, who was imprisoned and brutally tortured in his native China. City of Asylum/Pittsburgh is a nonprofit that was started by local Pittsburghers. It is funded by concerned individuals and foundations and receives no government money for its writer-support programs."
Also, AIR will be opening it's new anex with a solo exhhibit by Patricia called Afujo. Aflux. AIR rarely has much info on thier site, but here it is. This is all wthin walking distance of the Mattress Factory.
I apologize, for the thinness of some of the info. I got what I could online in the time I had. I am trying very hard. There is a strong sense that a lot of things here seem intended for some inside and in the know crowd.
I have been very busy setting up for the new season so I am handing David the floor with his impressions of First Friday on Penn Ave. A number of new spaces opened and the crowds were pretty huge. I spent a lot of my time at Carolyn Wenning's new space and actually didn't even make it into a few spaces. David's brain has been taken over by a corporate entity known as Merge Divide.
One fact about things on Penn now is that they are growing past the stage in which they can easily be absorbed in one night. There was a somewhat cold frenzied atmosphere on the street with crowds moving rapidly up and down Penn to see shows in spaces that are rarely open at other times. More of these places now have websites and David has been good at putting in links.
Since moving to New Mexico from the east coast, my work has undergone many changes. My use of graphic symbols has lessened and the spaces in the paintings have deepened. In many ways, these paintings have represented a shift in my own artmaking process towards a more deliberate, structured and personal outcome. The more open and vast my spaces have become, the more solid are my intentions for the viewer. They reference landscape [or mindscape, as I like to call it....], as well as objects in nature. The colors shift as the light changes, appearing sometimes impenetrable, sometimes transparent. They offer an invitation to explore, to look, to think, and to inhabit the spaces in and between them. They are a visual record of my own thought development.
Many of my pieces function both as landscape and mindscape, referencing the tides and erosions of nature, as well as the steady pulse that drives us to work, to create, to desire and to change. Women artists, in particular, are challenged daily with multiple roles. It is important, as artists, to find the time to think and to create. My recent paintings have evolved out of a need for a thinking space. I want people to enter the work and yet have space enough to react to its presence. Ultimately, my main desire is to evoke thought. I don't mean to imply that my paintings function as backround noise, rather that the strong personalities of each painting serve to mimic our own varied thought processes.
My own thought process generally involves a lot of organization together with a good amount of intuition. This duality is constantly present in my work, creating an active tension (and sometimes an active harmony) across the surface of each painting. I have a need to create ordered surfaces through an imperfect and often time-consuming process. I apply the lines in my paintings by hand instead of through mechanical implements. I draw and tear my geometric shapes freehand, and I often spend hours woodburning on an individual painting.
I see my work as a sort of visual topography; a recording of internal and external experiences within a carefully constucted space.
It is in these carefully constructed spaces - between the active and the still, between constraint and freedom, and between logic and instinct - where I take my viewer to new landscapes by way of a personal adventure.
Jim Towns is a formally trained painter and illustrator, an alumnus of the Savannah College of Art & Design. After graduating he worked in Philadelphia and New York City for several years as an illustrator and set designer for theatre before immigrating back to his native Pittsburgh.
In Pittsburgh he re-dedicated himself to painting and mixed-media assemblage. His work has been exhibited all over the city including venues such as Blue Ruin, Box Heart, Gallery in the Square, Digging Pitt, and the Mattress Factory. He was also a co-manager and frequent exhibitor at Penn Gallery in Lawrenceville. His work is in private collections in the United States and England.
Under the aegis Mad Monkey Productions he wrote and co-directed three films between 2000 and 2006 with friend and collaborator Mike McKown: 2003's The Sleep of Reason, 2005's One Nail too Many, and the recently-completed Prometheus Triumphant, a Fugue in the Key of Flesh .
Since late 2005 Towns has lived in Los Angeles, CA. He has written five independently-produced screenplays (Abandoned, The Vicious Circle, Murder on the Red Sea, The Scroll, and the upcoming Scions of Atlantis) and also a one-act stage play entitled Two Fools at the Feet of a Hanged Man. He has provided storyboards and art direction for the independent films The Coming, La Muerte, and Killer Krabs.
He currently works at Fox Studios in Century City, and plans to return to Pittsburgh in spring of 2007 to film his sophomore directorial effort.
"I think on the surface it seems that my work is just a crazy hodgepodge of different disciplines, genres, and styles… but if you look at it across the board, I think you begin to see an overall pattern… similar themes recurring and evolving… one of those themes is definitely time and it's effects… the way people and things age and decay… scars and erosion. I think that all comes from my experiences in Pittsburgh as a child. The city has a powerful history that is still visibly etched on its contemporary face. The bones of the once-mighty steel mills still rise from the ground like the fossils of dinosaurs, now just the rusted skeletons of giants. That iron and earth and that the idea of that now-broken strength have definitely influenced my art, my writing, and my film work. Pittsburgh is definitely one of the reasons that I'm doing the art that I am today…"