Friday, December 29, 2006

Visit To The Warhol & The Carnegie

I finally got back to the Carnegie and the Warhol. Both museums have restrictions on Photography in their special exhibits, which will make translating my experiences hard. The Glen Ligon show at the Warhol made me take a much deeper look at his work and it was worth it. I also saw the Borofsky show, a very well put together Tiffany show and finally the AAP show
at the Carnegie. More to come.

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Monday, December 25, 2006

Artscan CMU


When I started this blog, I had the grand intention of covering not only the Pittsburgh shows, but also the activities of artist's that are connected to pittsburgh in some way. I was nuts! And, at least so far I haven't gotten the kind of help I would need to make a dent in that goal.

One place to go to try to keep up with the CMU alumni and faculty is Artscan. Every month they give at least a narrow snapshot of some of the shows and activities that the CMU alum are in. I talked to the person who was in charge of this and it's far to big a job for one person to do on a part time basis. Isn't this a great project for the alumni association to get involved in?

Diana Al - Hadid : The Gradual Approach of My Disintegration @ Priska C. Juschka

Here are some shot's I took of the Diana- Al Hadid show @ Priska C. Juschka. (Suprisingly, this artist grew up in Ohio and went to Kent State) The shot's on the gallery website are much better than mine, but I felt compelled to use my own. I also hope to come back and add some of my thoughts about this amazing show.

Here's a blurb from her artist's statement.

"My most current work melds my romantic idealizations of far-off places with my sometimes romantic relationship with my native country, Syria. The relationship between sense and nonsense, logic and imagination, is spitefully interdependent. "

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Don't Show The Kids This

This are shots from some kind of bar crawl I ran in to around Hunter, last weekend. The truth is that not only is there more than one santa, but also that a lot of them have drinking problems. The artist I was there to do a studio visit with seemed visibly shaken to be in the area. It sounds like a few of these crawls in the past have turned ugly.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Hunter MFA Show: Part Two

Gretchen Scherer
Gretchen Scherer
Gretchen Scherer
Jen Curry
Jen Curry
Jen Curry
Monica Carrier
Monica Carrier
Monica Carrier

Here are images from three more artist's in that show. Gretchen Scherer's work was just amazing; a perfect recreation of the gorgeous tumbling world one sees after a drinking binge. ( right before you black out )

Jenn Curry is yet another artist from Pittsburgh that I ran in to.

Hunter MFA Show Part One

Nikki Shiro
Nikki Shiro
Nidhi Jalan
Nidhi Jalan
Nidhi Jalan
Don Porcella
Don Porcella
Don Porcella

One of the nice things I saw on my last trip was the MFA show at Hunter ( I think this is some kind of multi part thesis show ) Young creative flesh like this is no doubt is prime product for the current art market, but I have to admit that there was a lot of talent in that show.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Dorkbot Pittsburgh

dorkbot is a regular meeting of people who like to do strange things with electricity. It's all volunteer and non-profit -- meetings are held in donated space and no admission fee is charged. dorkbot pittsburgh meetings are smoke-free / non-smoking events, even when we hold them in a place where smoking is normally allowed.

dorkbot meeting frequency, format and content varies by city: San Francisco meets monthly and has everything from political talks to virtual reality. NYC has had electronic art installations, theatre, and presentations on new software development environment. Madrid has had robots that draw and Japan has had electronic music. Most dorkbots have a couple of primary speakers with 20-40 minute presentations and an "open dorkbot" session where anyone can show off for 3-5 minutes.

dorkbot pittsburgh will reflect what people in this area are interested in. Since we're new, we don't know what that means just yet. Maybe it's military robot prototypes reborn as art projects. Maybe it's el-wire costumes, neon art, and backlit stained glass by local arists. Or perhaps it's cutting edge animation from local students and hackers or a local pneumatics expert showing off technology that artists might use.
We don't know.

Next Meeting: 7:30pm, January 25, 2007

We're still lining up speakers for the January dorkbot, let us know if you're interested in presenting or know someone that we should invite to speak
dorkbot pittsburgh meets at Brillobox (meeting info and maps). Admission is always free and open to the public. dorkbot pittsburgh is a non-smoking event, but you're free to smoke downstairs in the bar.

96th Annual Associated Artists of Pittsburgh Exhibition

Christine Creuzzi Bartell Nasturtiums: Triptych Blossoms

James Scott Munshour Mask for the Festival of Wrong Beliefs

John Eastman American Foreign Policy: Lost Our Way
Ruth Levine Traversed: Passage I

96th Annual Associated Artists of Pittsburgh Exhibition
October 27, 2006-January 14, 2007
Opening reception: October 26, 6:30 - 9:00pm
Carnegie Museum of Art - Heinz Galleries
4400 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213-4080

It has been nearly a month since I went to the Carnegie Museum of Art to spend time viewing the Associated Artists of Pittsburgh 96th Annual. I had not intended to take so long to post this review but finishing Mean Stream had to be a priority.

The exhibit really is particularly strong this year. The range of works represented abstract through figurative, which is something that would be expected in a large survey show. Overall, I would say that the selected works emphasized rich surfaces and textures. Now, don’t tell me about exceptions; there are notable ones.

I got busted taking pictures by the guards, so I don’t have images of all of the pieces that I noted. As a little piece of back story, the pieces for the Annual are traditionally chosen fro actual work instead of slides or digital images. While I was dropping off, I saw these wonderful works by Christine Creuzzi Bartell. I was so pleased to see one of them, Nasturtiums: Triptych Blossoms, included in the exhibit. As with many works on paper, the above image does not come close to giving you a sense of the subtle detail in mark and texture of the actual work.

Ruth Levine is always a favorite artist. In Traversed: Passage I, she has overlapped marks in degrees of transparency, building a rich surface. The work, with its marks arranged in columns, reads as a code or something that verges on language.

In Mask for the Festival of Wrong Beliefs, James Scott Munshour seems to be commenting on several conceptions that American society holds dear; the right to bear arms and the puritan work ethic. In this instance, the narrative of the title is imperative in deciphering the artist’s intent. The work was well balanced with an immediate visual appeal.

Elaine Morris was unable to provide an image of Inscribed. This small work has and intimate and personal quality, assembling clippings and letters into a scrapbook image that feels like a brief look into the trials and tribulations of an individual life.

Scott A. Turri’s Poppies and Heroines is interesting for a couple reasons. It had the kind of flat posterized imagery you would expect in Pop art. The colors that he chose, however, took the piece beyond expectations for the genre.

John Yochem Winberg’s At Home in the Forest combines the disparate elements of gridiron and trees. There was something about the work that reminded me of Eastern European painters, with their delight in twisting the parameters of formal ground/object relationships.

John Eastman has an energetic and aggressive painting style. His abstract, American Foreign Policy: Lost Our Way, dominated the room. In this case, the title did not help me gain entry into the artist’s intent. But it also did not in any way deter me from enjoying his piece.

The 96th Annual is on exhibit through January 14th, 2007. So if you haven’t made it to see the show, there are still a few weeks left. In order to make your visit more enjoyable, you should prepare yourself for some of the many rules of behavior that the museum guards enforce. You may not carry any bag larger than 11” x 14”. You may not carry your back pack with both straps on your shoulder but must walk around with it dangling off one side of your body. You may not take pictures. You may not wear a pick in your hair. Do not, under any circumstance, come within a foot of any area that is currently undergoing installation no matter how enticing it is. Also note that if you do bring a larger bag to the museum with you that you will have to check it into self-serve coin-operated lockers. Bring quarters! If you should violate any of these unwritten rules, be prepared to be followed by museum guards throughout your tour of the museum.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Back From New York with Eye Candy

Diana Al-Hadid @ Priska C. Juschka
Ezra Johnson @ Nicole Klagsbrun
U-Ram Choe @ Bitforms
Chris Hammerlein @ Derek Eller
Lena Cronqvist @ Nancy Margolis
Jonathan Meese & Tal R @ Bartolami Dayan
Polly Apfelbaum Studio Visit

I am back from a pretty intense trip to NY, filled with gallery and studio visits and posting a random selection of images from my trip. It will take me a while to digest everything I saw.

Munch's The Scream

Have you seen this Herald Tribune article?

Museum fears recovered Munch masterpiece "The Scream" suffered permanent damage in theft

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Round Town Winter 2006

Digging Pitt welcomes guest writers to the Digging Pitt blog on occasion. This is one of those too rare occasions when Alice Winn has graciously given us her insights into the Pittsburgh art scene.

Round Town Winter 2006
Alice Winn

Excavated from the concentrated museum of Lawrenceville's Digging Pitt's flat files, a multitude of small works sparkle with private meaning, like tiny gems from every gallery wall. Jude Vachon's good-natured critters seem stuck in limbo between a diminishing homeland of ravaged wilderness and an artificial hell wrought by human will. In one assemblage, a street-talkin' deer clings to a torn scrap of autumnal orange field cast into an expanse of faux wood paneling. In another work, a breathy stenciled subtitle is the only language left to a phantom horse, distilled to its delicate pink, spray-painted essence. Anne Patsch's faint, outlined figures peeking through the roses of sentimental wallpaper appear like accusatory apparitions in the boudoir, plotting otherworldly vengeance on untrue lovers. Susan Constanse's silhouettes of wind-swept leaves suggest gothic heroines, fading like smoke trails into the shadows of summer's last night. Jill Scipione's delicately rendered silverpoint studies of rib cages drift weightlessly like structures underlying wings. Her compositions heave heavy bones into a vast white space that seems to echo with the emptiness of death's mysteries. Kate Bazis' ecstatic, candy-colored biomorphic fantasies buzz with deep, newborn cellular intent. In John Morris' etchings, spindly lines form infinite loops, recalling the microscopic pathways taken by traveling genes as they piece together every fiber of every being. Mary Judge's linear charcoal trails lead to getting lost as a way of finding the road home, winding back on themselves and spiraling outward simultaneously, like growth rings and mandalas. Thad Kellstadt's bright RV rolls like a dazzled tumbleweed into great plains where sacred monsters tower to spacious skies, guarding grand secret truths. Maggie Aston's freshly-minted snowflakes glitter gold, falling through some ancient land that has turned to ash. A spiky, exotic flower breaks through darkness to breathe the hot red air of Gary Nichol's tazmanian landscape, luring the imagination into a state of longing for unknown wonders. Rena M. Porter fills discarded soda bottles with fearsomely cute grow-beasts tangled-up in colored string - messages cast-off from childhood's shores bound across the seas of time for an older, heart-broken world.

In the ghost town of Braddock, stirrings of life were felt at "dorothy 6", a gallery shaped by curators Lauri Mancuso and Edgar Um. Its inaugural t-shirt show featured wearable works by scores of locals. Dj Mary (Mack) Tremonte sent along her crew of feisty silk-screened squirrels to dance in multi-colors across a range of styles. Julie (madorangefool) Dyer contributed t-skirts, nice for tea parties, festooned with dragon mascot and words of team cheer. Sam Pace's tarred-and-feathered creations provoked a tension between the promise of avian-assisted warmth and the dreaded chill of public humiliation. Third Termite and crew provided charming children's drawings on tiny undershirts depicting glowing moments of simple joy shared by a girl and her wise-guy kittie.

The north side's Mattress Factory's recent "Factory Installed" exhibitions have left lingering afterimages and afterthoughts. Minimalist pieces had powerful implications. Dan Steinhilber covered a whole gallery floor with a huge blue tarp, defying that dropcloth's function as a shield against the ravages of time and the elements. Rigid air movers animated the azure expanse, making it, instead, a force of restless change, rolling it into rhythmic motion, suggestive of the sea bound-up like a bagged beast, held captive in some desolate chamber. In Karyn Olivier's small room, a low-slung chandelier set with burning candles illuminated a circular spot of bare wood floor from which years of grey paint had been sanded. This juxtaposition simultaneously achieved a shamanistic lifting of the burdens of history - the miseries and inequalities of Pittsburgh's industrial past - and an invitation to reach for a brighter present.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Digging Pitt Gallery small works

While you're out and about, checking in with the galleries here in the 'burgh, make sure that Digging Pitt Gallery is on your list of stops. The current small works exhibit amasses a varity of work that shows to great advantage artists represented in Digging Pitt's flat file archive.

At no other time has Digging Pitt's ideology been so apparent as with this show. The work is consistently good, ranging from the truly bizarre to the deeply beautiful. Digging Pitt is the antithesis of the white-box gallery. While the work presented in traditional galleries are without doubt of high quality, there is also no doubt about who is in charge in these presentations. The artist has, at best, a secondary role with the curator or director the real star. This includes a number of so-called alternative spaces whose presentations, while challenging, are far from democratic or inclusive. While many make the effort to present challenges to the viewer, they share the same insider bias that is prevalent within the traditional gallery system. In addition, viewing is limited since many of these venues have erratic or limited hours.
The gallery was started by John Morris, who moved here from New York in 2004 with the express purpose of opening a gallery. Digging Pitt is modeled after the Pierogi Gallery, located in Brooklyn. Digging Pitt, much like the Pierogi gallery, brings a wide range of works from a vast array of artists, into one small area. Several articles have been written about Pierogi. You can read more on their site. Following is an excerpt from Gregory Volk's essay on Pierogi's flat files:
Moreover, there seems to be a vast gulf between this era and others when
galleries—in addition to their major business of selling or merchandising
art—were also cathartic arenas where people met, exchanged ideas, mixed it up,
formed friendships, engaged in foolishness and exploration, and where other
genres like music and literature made frequent appearances.
The gallery itself is dominated by large flat files, the drawers of which contain folios of carefully stored artwork. Perusing the collection of artwork gives one a sense of discovery, delving into unknown depths in search of some hidden gem. When you walk into the gallery you get such a sense of discovery, with a feeling that there are no wrong choices.