Saturday, June 30, 2007


Looking for a reason to record all of those sounds your dog makes when he's sleeping? Here's your chance --

Future Tenant Podcasts; 3 minutes of sound

Future Tenant wants you to answer the question, "What would you do with 3 minutes of sound?" Your 3 minute original audio invention will premier on our monthly FT Podcast. Any genre, anything goes. FT Podcasts are inventive, engaging audio extensions of Future Tenant. They include fresh interviews with artists, curators, and local personalities, and original audio and video works.

Submissions should be in mp3 format and no longer than three minutes.
Contact Kim Larkin (or
801-201-1211) for more details on how to submit.

Blogger Show Artists


We have just finished putting up a blog for the upcoming Blogger exhibit. Your one-stop page for information about the show and the exhibiting artists.

We will be including links to venue information, artists web projects and more. Right now, we have assembled RSS feeds to all of the exhibiting artists' blogs.

Go check it out.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Seaman Sarah @ drink and draw

Sarah brought rigging to the brillobox for the last drink and draw. She had all these great sailing props.

She actually has her seaman's papers n@. All that rigging, tools, knives and other pointy metal things were here gear.

Tough chick, great model!

Next up: Richard Gartner: gesture intensive.

Okay, I know I have to get a video editor if I keep doing this. I tried uploading this one to photobucket because it looked like they have an onsite video editor. But ick! Can you see this video with, like, BUNNIES around it?

Renee drawing Sarah

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Maxo Vanka and St. Nicholas Church, Millvale, PA.

Earlier I wrote about a little-known local Pittsburgh gem called St. Anthony's. Certainly this collection of relics housed in the Troy Hill neighborhood is like no other in the world. But it's not the only unparalleled experience you can have at a church around these parts. In nearby Millvale sits another form of unimagined treasure. St. Nicholas Catholic Church ministers to the needs of a local community of refugees from war-torn Croatia and Bosnia-Herzogevina, as well as the historically entrenched populations from these countries that have lived in Pittsburgh for decades. There are actually two St. Nicholas locations within the parish- a situation that has been a source of confusion for many years. One of these physical structures is no longer in service, as it lies along a well-traveled corridor dominated by Route 28. Planned roadwork has sealed the fate of this church, and the building itself is most likely not long for this world.

Meanwhile the Millvale location of St. Nicholas is a regional (and perhaps international) treasure. The outward appearance and construction of this house of worship offer no clues to its exceptionality. Yet if you manage to gain entry inside, you will quickly become aware that nothing like it exists anywhere else. For on the inner walls of the church are painted striking murals, complete with social commentary and unique spiritual resonance. They were painted in the 1930's and 40's by Croatian artist Maxo Vanka. As the official church website points out-
"They represent the struggles of the Croatian people in the face of war and poverty in their homeland and as immigrants in post-industrial America." They are the artist's emotionally- drenched and troublesome gift to this nation's people. And they serve both as a reminder of the importance of faith, and as a warning of what humanity is capable of.

Vanka's personal belief in the futility of war and his sadness at seeing his homeland destroyed are made patently obvious through his work. After being commissioned by Father Albert Zagar to paint the murals in 1937, Vanka completed two cycles of paintings (20 altogether)- the first in an eight-week span that spring, and the second group in 1941. The latter works clearly demonstrate his anguish over the war in Europe. He set for himself grueling shifts of up to 16-18 hours a day, and sustained his energy with multiple doses of Coca-Cola. Zagar gave the internationally-renowned artist a freehand to depict whatever imagery he so chose. In doing so, Zagar empowered Vanka to create timeless works mixing secular and spiritual concerns in a manner wholly original.

The content of these murals is truly unforgettable. There are mournful peasants entreating God for support in their difficult struggles in the Croatian countryside. An angel in a gas mask looms over the congregation from high upon one wall. An anguished, crucified Christ separates two war-crazed soldiers. In a similar scene, the Virgin Mary desperately tries her hand at a peaceful resolution. On another wall an industrial robber baron sits at dinner and is served a cleansing course of fiery retribution by a skeletal hand. These are not the placid reassuring scenes of sanctification that a regular churchgoer becomes acclimated to. They challenge the viewer to seek the holy in the most trying of times.

Had these paintings been completed for a museum, they would inspire a constant stream of tourists from all over the world. As it is, they await the few who become aware of their existence through word-of-mouth. Since my initial exposure to them, I have tried periodically to see them again. But it's no use showing up on church property, hoping for the random chance. You must call ahead of time to see the murals. Fortunately the woman in charge of tours is accomodating, and will show you around for nothing but a freely-offered donation. If you happen to be in the Pittsburgh area, I am scheduling a group tour for either this coming Monday or Tuesday. Contact me if you want to be included. The experience will leave an indelible mark upon you.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Big F***ing Thing @Digging Pitt Too

Big F***ing Thing @Digging Pitt Too
June 16, 2007 - August 18, 2007

We have the installation images from the Big F***ing Thing exhibit up. Here's a little taste. John Eastman's artist statement is available on Digging Pitt's site. Additional images of the installation and from the reception are available.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Gallery Guide released

I was dowtown for the gallery crawl on Friday. Mostly to check out what Art-iculate is doing with the gallery guide. from their website --

Pittsburgh Creative Network releases the premier edition of the Pittsburgh Gallery Guide at the Gallery Crawl. Thirty-five galleries & art organizations will be featured in the first catalog published, spotlighting the best of Pittsburgh's art. An exhibit will include galleries that have participated in the Gallery Guide.

We now have a gallery guide for Pittsburgh, which is great. The website will, hopefully, serve as a gateway to the city's visual arts. The exhibit, which was packed, had some familiar faces represented. See below for the images from the exhibit.

Since this was the gallery crawl, all of the venues were packed. There was a line for the elevator for Wood Street, SPACE was so packed and, well, LOUD, that I just backed off. Future Tenant and all of the usual suspects were open...

Anyway, I have to go downtown for a meeting on Friday. I'll be sure to take my camera and get some shots while I'm in the neighborhood.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Our Socialist Road System

The nature of a statist economy creates endless confusion as (which is why it's so popular) to who has earned what and who is paying their own way. One of it's results is that a lot of our countries most strident advocates of free markets, live a lifestyle totally dependent on vast government transfers and other expenses. Another Piittsburgh blogger has a long rant on this subject.

"The factors that have allowed people to escape and ignore the social problems in the city are cheap oil and the public subsidization of interstate roads. People bitch about the (actually very small) percentage of their tax dollars that is earmarked for social programs to help the lower classes. Yet no one ever talks about the fact that our federal government artificially depresses the price of gasoline in this country with an aggressive and costly foreign policy. It's a vicious cycle that keeps our ecomomy wholly dependent on the rapidly failing oil paradigm."

"And while cities can be transformed to meet the changing variables of time, suburban/exurban developent and its accompanying "car-culture" are not only unsustainable- but also so artificial and wasteful that they can't ever be transformed into something useful."

I don't think it's in anyway accidental that the period when our country came closest to having a free market was an age of dense cities, with rapidly emerging transit systems which were connected by rail lines.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Coming in November! Blogger Show

Digging Pitt has been working on a plan for a blogger show for several months. We are in the process of negotiating an additional venue in Pittsburgh along with Digging Pitt's two Pittsburgh locations and the space in NYC. The dates for the blogger exhibit are --

Blogger Show (working title)

November 10 - January 12
Public Reception: December 8

New York
November 1 - 30
Public Reception: TBD

Did you notice the show title? We've been kicking around a few ideas, but wanted to see if any of you have suggestions. Email them to us or leave them in the comments. Speaking of suggestions, if you have a web project, in progress or otherwise, please let us know.

If you have any suggestions or ideas, please send them on to John or Susan.

The New Ashcan School

The Bellow's show at the Frick got me thinking about some of my favorite artist's today. Bellow's was part of "the Ashcan School", a group of early 20th century American painters. These artist's rejected a lot of the formalities of the academy and tried to make work that represented, celebrated and was relevant to people.

They also tried to take control in other ways. "In 1908, as a protest against prevailing restrictive academic exhibition procedures the "Eight" organized a history-making exhibition that became a symbol of rebellion in American and modern art. The show was revolutionary in that it was the first exhibit that was self-organized and self-selected by a group of related artists, without a jury and prizes."

Anyway, there seems to a big group of artist's today,looking for new ways to do that; Swoon, Barry McGee and Zoe Strauss come to mind.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Rebels On The Way

At this time in 1863,the people of Pittsburgh were pretty concerned about Lee's invading army and where it was headed and started to construct crude forts to hold back the rebels around Pittsburgh.

"Military organizations should also be perfected as rapidly as possible. On Monday thousands of men sauntered idly through the streets, or helped to swell the crowd around drinking houses, and of these a majority would probably have cheerfully attached themselves to any organization for the immediate defense of the city. We trust that the authorities will provide for this contingency to-day, by summoning the idlers to assemble at proper places of rendezvous in the several districts, to organize themselves immediately into military companies, and begin to drill."

From the sound of it a lot of people rushed to defend their local bar.

Even Sleepy Ole New York is Doing It!

The European Fête de la Musique is being celebrated in New York this year for the first time—a day when music is coordinated everywhere, all over the city, all day on June 21st, the first day of summer and the longest day of the year. New York’s calling it “Make Music New York” and their website mentions that 300 cities are celebrating it worldwide this year (it was 100 last I read).

So, hey, Pittsburgh, it’s not too late. Grab your instrument and serenade your neighbors!

Artist Talk on Saturday - SPACE 101

SPACE 101 Gallery
The Brew House Association
2100 Mary Street
Pittsburgh PA 15203


SPACE 101 Gallery will host an artist talk on Saturday, June 23 @1:00 PM. Join some of the artists exhibiting in the show to discuss life, drawing and life-drawing.

Saturday, June 23 @1PM
Pat Barefoot
Rich Brown
Steve Dines
... and others

Pat Barefoot

Rich Brown

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Maggy Aston - Tour the exhibit

Tour Maggy Aston: Drawings and Constructions, currently installed at Digging Pitt Gallery.

Pittsburgh Blogger Co-curates NY Show

Readers of this blog may remember this post about the scientist, photographer and blogger, Joerg Colberg who happens to live in Pittsburgh. Joerg has one of the most read blogs following contemporary photography out there. Joerg is Co-curating a show with the NY photo dealer Jen Bekman, (who of course also has a great blog ) called "A New American Portrait".

"A New American Portrait features photographs by Christine Collins, Jen Davis, Benjamin Donaldson, Amy Elkins, Peter Haakon Thompson, Todd Hido, Alec Soth, Brian Ulrich, and Shen Wei. Their portraits, environmental, posed, and self-portraits among them, express the wide range of practice in modern American portraiture. Mr. Colberg observes: “A portrait lives in the interaction between the photographer and the sitter, a relationship which banishes any notion of objectivity. The work included in this exhibition explores, and at times exposes, this fragile intriguing dynamic.

These photographs illustrate the inherent contradictions in contemporary portraiture, as seen from a distinctly American point of view. While they appear to be "honest" representations, some revealing and confessional, in truth the subjects exist within narratives and environments carefully constructed by the photographers. Gallery director Jen Bekman comments, “Alec Soth's Bonnie smiles sweetly while holding her photograph of an angel, serene in her faith, having just shared a Bible passage with Soth condemning people to hell for their sins. Soth's presence, however, remains as it does in all his work: compassionate rather than condescending. In an untitled portrait from Ulrich's Thrift series, a young girl assumes a Classical pose amid the glare and chaos of a shopping mall. Hido's portraits are suffused with sadness and sexuality, ripe with a mysterious narrative. Davis's self-portraits brutally confront our abiding obsessions with thinness and desirability. The eighteen portraits in this exhibition explore potent themes and emotions which shape contemporary America: sexuality, gender, desire, heroism, consumption, fear, class, hope and loneliness are all in the mix.”

jen bekman, located at 6 Spring Street between Elizabeth and Bowery, New York.
Jen Bekman will host an opening reception for the artist on Friday, June 22, from 6:00 – 8:00pm at the gallery.

Flat File Updates

New images have been added to the flat file bolg and we have added tags to make the blog easier to navigate. So, what's in those drawers? Go check it out...

Old John Eastman Review

I thought I would post a link to a review of John Eastman's show of large drawings at Moxie Dadda last year.

"Numbering 16, these faces are Pittsburgh-based Eastman's UMOs. UMO is an acronym for "You + Me + Others." The images are intended to represent humans and reflect their imperfection. According to Eastman, UMOs are "looking back at humans, quite critical of the human's behavior."

George Bellows

It's been a season of last minutes. I got to the Frick on Sunday, the very last possible day to see the George Bellows exhibit.

It was a striking exhibit, three rooms of beautiful drawings and prints. Very active compositions, great observations. The materials he used in his drawings were of special note. He combined two or three drawing materials to achieve the effects. I am sorry that I didn't get over sooner. I would have made at least one more trip.

Besides, I like the Frick. It's a beautiful campus.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

England and Poland's Finest Hour

My dad, who is now gone was a WWII veteran and my mom narrowly escaped Poland with her family (not all) as a child. Her mom, and uncle were part of the Polish Government in Exile and she knew many pilots, both Polish and English who fought in the Battle of Britain.

On June 18th, Winston Churchill gave this speach thanking the RAF for it's role at Dunkirk, with full knowledge of the trial to come and how little they had to face it.

More on Jacob Young.

Just as I expected, the new Jacob Young film was both interesting and entertaining. Todd Walker (along with his "brothers" Davy and Dale) proved to be likable, amusing, and obsessive. The object that Walker suspected to be the biblical artifact of divination (the Urim and Thummin) was indeed wholly unidentifiable. As a focal point of meditation, it did have the requisite qualities to promote hallucinatory visions. Its surface (especially the interior) was both luminescent and oddly-shaped. Walker put the thing in the hands of many witnesses, and their testimony is (at least) indicative of the power of faith.

What passes for expert authority in the Appalachian communities of the film certainly made me chuckle. When Walker wants to find some especially convincing support, he turns to a two-time Jeopardy champion and the manager of the local Auto Zone. Only later does he drive to Vanderbuilt University, where academics in religious studies, archaeology and psychology demonstrate tremendous diplomacy and tact in meeting with him. Truth be told, it would have been quite easy for them to laugh at Walker from their "ivory towers". Perhaps Young's cameras restrain them. Nevertheless the scholars give generously of their feedback, while every established religious institution pushes Walker away. While Young claims the resistance from church leaders amazed him, I wasn't at all surprised by it. Walker's claims are a direct challenge to their perceived authority. If a bumpkin can receive a holy gift of true vision, then what does that say about the role God has bestowed upon HIS priests?

It was clear during the Q and A session that Young had great affection for his subjects. The director explained that the project was initiated because his producer and partner (Dub Cornet) had a phone number that Walker responded to numerologically. Cornet shot a bunch of video that Young was later tasked with making into a coherent film. Although Young never derived the same otherworldly experiences from the object that others had, he was sure to avoid passing judgment on the phenomena. He absolutely refused to discount Walkers' beliefs. Young pointed out that he needs to be on his subject's side if he is to make a quality documentary. And in order for his films to have any real depth, he has to convey the spirituality of the people in front of the camera. Any element of obvious skepticism would introduce a confrontation that would spoil his intentions. Young is, by his own words, inspired by people on a mission- and the more unlikely his subject is to succeed, the more interesting a subject he/she becomes.

Anyone who spends any substantial time with the works of Jacob Young will understand the purity of his intentions. But that wasn't the case with the network (CBS) executives who pulled the plug on his latest project- The
Real Beverly Hillbillies. Cornet and Young had decided to update the original concept for reality television. They identified an Appalachian family (the Griffeys) and planned to install them in a genuine multi-million dollar mansion in Hollywood. The idea encountered political resistance from people who believed that the show would prove to be patronizing and exploitative. But that was never the intention of the filmmakers. It was Young's contention that all the truly negative portrayals in the original Beverly Hillbillies centered on the city sophisticates. The countryfolk were shown to be caring, authentic and morally sound. Young made it a point to select a family that would be an ideal representation of Appalachia. He claims that anyone that met them couldn't help but like them.

When the project was killed, Young and Cornet felt bad that the Griffeys had been promised so much that was later snatched away. They took the money they had left from pre-production and rented a motor home to take the family cross-country. The intention was to both give the Griffey's the grand tour of America and to film a defense of the original concept. The result was a documentary called
The True Adventures of the Real Beverly Hillbillies (2006). Although I haven't seen it, I expect it to be a perfect palliative to the corrosive belief that authentic regional phenomena ought to be sugar-coated or homogenized for public consumption.

In fact I'd say that what I most enjoy about Young's films is their honest depiction of a widely misunderstood region of the country. This is most evident in his Different Drummer collection. I was lucky enough to buy a rough copy of the DVD set from the man himself. I stayed up late last night watching all the episodes. Now you too can be so fortunate as to own this set. Visit the Dancing Outlaw website to purchase it and other fine products.

Jacob Young @ Film Kitchen on Tuesday, June 12th.

I know that, during the run of this blog, I've made only scant mention of West Virginian filmmaker Jacob Young. That's a bit of an egregious oversight. Young is one of the most compelling documentarians working in the United States. He's focused his efforts on presenting people and stories from his home state. Of course when you're born in the Mountaineer State (the most beautiful and enigmatic place in the Eastern United States), there is plenty of ground to cover.

Some of Young's early subjects have included Appalachian junkyard owners, the rich industrialist who plagues the land with those goddamned three crosses, the warden from the Moundsville Penitentiary, white supremacist author Dr. William Pierce (author of The Turner Diaries - a book found on Timothy McVeigh after the Oklahoma City bombing), and the swami-turned-felon of the North American headquarters of the Hare Krishnas. Young has received some well-deserved praise for his West Virginia Public TV-produced Different Drummer series, which (of course) documented the antics of a string of eccentric WV characters. One episode is about a senior citizen hussy, who dolls herself up and sings show tunes in the dives of the hollers, performing as "Amazing Dolores".

But Young has received his greatest notoriety with The Dancing Outlaw. This was a documentary about the "Last Mountain Dancer", Jesse White. This Boone County native has appropriated at least two alter egos- Elvis (The King) and Satan himself (nicknamed "Jesco"). Young presented White, his family, and his girlfriend in all their backwoods splendor. Jesco assumes center stage as he relates stories about his lamentably departed father and siblings, and his own gas-huffing, thieving, and alcohol-sodden childhood. But when he's not raising hell White plies his trade in a mix of clog and tap dancing, accompanied by bluegrass music. This was his own father's stock-in-trade, and Jesse has aspired to keep the dying art alive.

Having received his fifteen minutes of fame, Jesco later resumed his place in the spotlight when Roseanne Barr became a fan of The Dancing Outlaw. He was actually invited to Hollywood to appear on her show, and Young was along for the ride to document his adventure. All did not go as expected. Barr had Jesco removed from the set when she noticed a tattoo of a swastika on his arm. White later had the offending symbol covered up when he realized its significance. He explains that it was merely a youthful indiscretion.

It would be a more just world if Jacob Young had received as much acclaim and name recognition as Jesco. But his misfortune pays off for us tomorrow. We can actually meet him in person at Pitsburgh Filmmakers in Oakland (Melwood Street). He'll be at Film Kitchen, presenting his newest documentary- Urim and Thummim*. It's about a man named Todd Walker who bought an object at a Nashville Goodwill for 69 cents. Apparently he was pleased to discover that the thing proved to be a visual gateway to both Heaven and Hell. But evidently others were skeptical about his claims. Young followed Walker on a "witness tour" aimed at convincing the locals that the relic was a genuine and miraculous holy object.

If you are so inclined, you can chat with Jacob Young at the reception (7PM) that precedes the screening. I've spoken with him on two previous occasions, and I've found him to be both accessible and generous with his thoughts. But if you are the shy sort, stick around for the Q & A session after the film. It's sure to be illuminating.

* - Find out more about this obscure-sounding title here.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Zoe Strauss Punched My Face

Zoe Strauss's, "If you are reading this" show was one of the most powerful things I have seen in a while. She is doing a closing party and slide projection outside the space on June 22nd. If you are in NY you should make this.

Roberta Smith's review in the Times was on the mark.

" Stylistically, her images of down-and-out people, many of them her neighbors, and derelict places suggest a gritty street photographer with a certain awareness of Nan Goldin’s work. But Ms. Strauss, who is self-taught, veers more toward Helen Levitt in both her refusal to sentimentalize or exploit her subjects and in her instinctive grasp of the drama of the street. "

" Ms. Strauss’s images are not without tenderness, but their harsh, unblinking force is a bit like a punch in the face. They show us what most Americans don’t want to see. "

Zoe's show got a lot of attention and all of it was deserved. sometimes behind a lot of sizzle, there's a really great steak. Here's her blog and her flickr
Friday June 22nd
8:30 PM Slide presentation around 9pm
Sivertein Gallery
525 West 24th ST.

Blog Becomes Gallery In Detroit

The seems to be a little trend of people taking virtual identities from blogs into the real world. Ann Gordon, the 26 year old artist and art nut behind the great Detroit Arts blog will be trying her hand at curating and running a gallery for the summer. Needless to say she will likely a lot more known and connected in the scene there and likely has a pent up audience eager to see her shows as well as a lot awareness of local artists.

Ann's goal of mixing Detroit and non Detroit artists will also be helped by the following and support her blog has developed out of town. Ann will have some of her own work in my upcomming blogger show.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

St. Anthony's Chapel, Troy Hill, PA.

Every once in awhile it's refreshing to pretend to be a tourist in your hometown. Inevitably there are things going on in the city that rarely cross your mind. It's easy to tell yourself, whenever the attraction lasts several months to a year, that someday soon you'll make the time to pay a visit. But then things come and go, and you realize a week or a month after it's gone that you've simply missed out. When these destinations are "permanent" there is even more of a chance that you will neglect them.

For years I've been telling myself that I'm going to take a trip over to St. Anthony's Chapel in the Troy Hill section of Pittsburgh. A few years ago a group of my friends and I tried to stop by on Easter Sunday. But it was closed to the public that day. We laughed at the irony, and resolved to return again in a few weeks. We never did. Why did we want to see St. Anthony's, anyway? Well... it houses the largest collection of saint's relics in the United States. A man named Father Suitbert Mollinger began acquiring these holy objects in the 1800's, and built the chapel to house them between 1880 and 1883. As their brochure points out- "Over five thousand relics of the saints have reposed peacefully in the chapel for over a hundred years."

The most revered relic in the Chapel is from St. Anthony of Padua. Unfortunately, I don't know what it actually consists of. And since I didn't take the tour, there was no real way to figure it out. Is it a tooth, a femur, a gallstone, or what? There are literally hundreds of sacred containers labeled only in Latin. Where's the the "splinter of the True Cross" (yeah... that one)? Where is the thorn from the Crown of Thorns (uh-huh... you got it)? Where's that piece of stone from the Holy Sepulchre (and just what the heck is a "Sepulchre")? Indeed, other than the top of some unfortunate's skull- many of the actual relics are completely unidentifiable. Yet despite the overwhelming presentation, it's certainly an impressive assemblage.

But one might ask, "How is one to know whether all (or any) of these relics are authentic? Apparently there are documents of authenticity for every last one of them. They are "retained with security provisions by the parish" (so says our friendly brochure). The ambiguity of that assertion is puzzling. Imagine the hellfire and damnation that a theoretical burglar would face if attempting such a heist. Evidently the church caretakers are not confining their preventive measures to heavenly methods. I guess that keeping the artifacts and their accompanying papers in different locations is prudent. Because really... who is going to believe that inner cheek swab originally belonged to St. Francis of Assisi? How are you going to convince the aficionado that the wart scraping at the center of that gilded cross once grew on St. Bartholemew's thumb? It reminds me of the freaky girl in Linklater's Slacker- buzzing around and accosting strangers on the street in order to sell Madonna's pap smear. And shit... that Madonna is still alive.

After you've had a chance to check out the biggest church trophy case in this hemisphere, take a look at the large wooden sculptures representing the "Stations of the Cross". They were made by artists at the Royal Ecclesiastical Art Establishment of Mayer and Company in Munich. And there's plenty of stained glass to look at too. There's even a gift shop. We chose not to stop by, assuming that the good stuff was not for sale. I did notice an advertisement for a picture book of the "Stations" sculptures ($5). That sign was next to another one warning the pilgrim not to take any photographs in the chapel. Since getting some photos was my main reason for coming, I was pretty disappointed. Why are these religious groups so damned proprietary about their treasures? You'd think they'd want to spread the word in any way possible. But since they've cornered this particular market, I guess they can call the shots.

In any case, it is still worth stopping by (it's open to the public on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 1-4 PM) . It's an amazing place and a true 'Burgh diamond-in-the-rough. The one piece of advice I'd suggest to the curators- get a more appropriate container for the "Blessed Water". It's sitting there in an oversized plastic jug that makes me think that a rogue gang of monks is going to sieze it and tip it over the head of the Holy Father, in celebration of some celestial victory. That's just not right.

Review OF Swoon Show

By the way there was finally a well written and insightfull review of the Swoon show in the City Paper. From what I can see, that was about it in terms of coverage here.

"Stain and Swoon, derive their inspiration, and in which they define their creative practices. Put simply, they see the outside world of pedestrians and walls as a more potent display space for their ideas than the comparatively sterile pretenses of art patrons and the white cube. Swoon, in an interview with The New York Times, once said that outdoor display avoids the "quiet, boring preciousness" of the gallery world."

You can see very clearly in the show how much all three artists valued and loved the tragically sacred setting of Braddock.

Score One for Richard Florida

One of the things that supports Pittsburgh reputation as a provincial backwater is it's tendency to ignore and ostracize people with new ideas. Richard Florida was a long time CMU professor with a way of looking at things that cut straight against the way things are done here. His Breakthrough book openly used Pittsburgh as an example of how not to do economic development.

His theory was that we were in a new age in which employers and capital chased skilled, creative people and placed issues of culture, openness, diversity and quality of life at the forefront of economic development discussion rather than government subsidies, backroom deals and sports stadiums.

One of his concepts is that regions are increasingly looked at by people as job and talent pools. Growing a new drug company would be easiest in an area with a large base of qualified researchers, investors and managers knowledgeable about the field etc.. Well anyway, here is another real life example of why he might be right.

Images From Maggy Show

Maggy Aston's show makes a complete whole and I haven't gotten around to shooting instalation shots yet but here a few images of works in the show that she provided. She will be adding to and changing parts of the work as the show goes on so come in more than once to see how the work changes.

Her working process of layering multiple images results in lots proofs and experiments so I also have a lot of her prints, drawings and watercolors in my files -- with some for as little as $100.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Opening reception on June 16!

Join us tonight -
Opening reception on June 16

Maggy Aston: Drawings and Constructions - Side I more information

In June, Digging Pitt will present a solo exhibit of the work of Maggy Aston. Maggy works with naturally occurring forms rendered with sensitivity to line and form. Maggy Aston earned her B.F.A. from Maryland Institute and her M.F.A. in printmaking from West Virginia University in 1995. She currently lives on the banks of the Monongahela River in a small rural town south of Pittsburgh, PA. Aston teaches drawing and design at the California University of Pennsylvania.

Inside Out Six: Selections from the Flat Files - Side II more information

Digging Pitt Gallery welcomes new artists to its flat file archive on a continuing basis. Every once in a while we like to let every one know whose work can be found by digging through the flat files. Currently, Digging Pitt Gallery represents over 190 local, regional and national artists. The archive houses hundreds of works, from the experimental to the whimsical.

Big F***ing Thing @Digging Pitt Too more information
John Eastman

In June, Digging Pitt will present Big F**king Thing: John Eastman @Digging Pitt Too. John Eastman is a painter, writer, and mixed media artist. His education of abstract art and skills are self-taught.

Digging Pitt Gallery
4417 Butler St.
Pittsburgh, PA 15201
p 412.605.0450
f 412.605.0451
Gallery Hours
TH 12 - 9
FR 12 - 7
SA 11 - 7
SU 11 - 7
Digging Pitt Too
45th and Plummer
Pittsburgh PA 15201
p 412-605.0450
SA 12 - 5
by appointment and
other random times

Digging Pitt
Digging Pittsburgh Arts

Digging Pitt, MySpace

Three Rivers Arts Festival

At the last possible minute, I took a trip downtown to visit the Three Rivers Arts festival: the festival ends on Sunday. Controversy surrounds this year's festival, from the reduced footprint of the exhibition to the censoring of one of the works.

The Best of Pittsburgh exhibit is held in PPG's Wintergarden this year. The giant atrium lends itself more to installation than to the plastic arts, and there was plenty. The Post Gazette review is a good overview of the exhibit. My stand-outs were Rise Nagin's installation and Josh Tonies' mixed medium works.

The art community is alarmed by the trend of the Three Rivers Arts Festival. Recently, the curator for the Best of Pittsburgh exhibit, who also coordinates the juried art exhibit as well as other visual arts components to the exhibit, was eliminated from the festival staff. Katherine Talcott did her best to bring more of the visual arts into the festival by expanding the festival's footprint to other venues in the downtown area. However, this tactic was not very successful because the core of the festival had migrated to food and entertainment years ago.

Let me step into my time machine....

I lived in Portland OR for many years. When I first arrived, they had an arts festival in downtown. The streets were closed to traffic, huge tents were installed, and a range of artists and artisans presented a a diverse selection of art. Entertainment was generally provided by buskers and a few local restaurants had booths to feed the hungry masses. As the years rolled along, the arts component diminished to be replaced by more and more food vendors. Within five years of my arrival, the festival had been moved to Waterfront Park and had been re-named Food-Fest. Seriously.

So, it could be worse. Instead of the death knell of visual arts and the rise of performance-based art, TRAF could become some gargantuan food festival. At least there is some art involved in the festival. At least the artists and artisans of the artist market still have a place.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Goth prom queen @ drink and draw

This was a good one. Lauren at drink and draw on June 12.
Next session is June 26 with Sarah Austin.

Also, the little film clip at the end of the post is me looking over Steve Dine's shoulder while he was drawing.

Everybody had a blast with this pose --

Musicians, Take to the Streets! Day of Music—June 21st

I’d never heard of this until the other day, when my aunt told me about her Argentinian friend who is flying from Greensboro to Paris soon for the annual Fête de la Musique, a day when every square in the city boasts live performers, and especially amateurs. Turns out that in the early 80s, a fellow named Maurice Fleuret was in charge of the music portfolio at the Ministry of Culture in France. He heard a statistic that there were five million people in his country who owned musical instruments, and the idea hit him—what if everyone took those instruments to the street on the same day!

France began its Day of Music in 1982. When the European Year of Music was celebrated in 1985, the Day got exported to London, Rome, and Istanbul. Ten years after that, a charter for the “European Fête de la Musique” was introduced, imposing the original principle of the event--that the music had to be free and open to the public. Now, over 100 nations participate in this sonic celebration of the longest day of the year.

So, if you own a musical instrument, find a street corner next Thursday! And shouldn’t your next Sprout Grant proposal involve the organizing of Pittsburgh’s Fête de la Musique 2008?

Thursday, June 14, 2007

The Undressed Art

The Undressed Art: Why We Draw
Peter Steinhart

I finished reading The Undressed Art about a week ago. It's taken awhile for what Mr Steinhart wrote to really sink in. The book is an easy read, at least for me because I do have an interest in the subject. I have been going to drop-in model sessions, off and on, for over twenty years. I've been coordinating them for the last several years. (Follow the tags for Barely Brunch and Drink and Draw at the end of this post)

Mr Steinhart concentrates on the function of life drawing in training an artist to see and examine. I think that Mr Stenhart wrote a very in-depth view of these model sessions from this viewpoint. While I have found this to be a primary function of attending drop-in sessions, I think that there are other motives for going to theses sessions.

I use these sessions to experiment with materials. While a small part of me hopes to hone my hand and eye skills in drawing from life, a larger part of me finds a greater satisfaction in examining the relationship with the model.

Another reason I go is for the companionship. It is the one place that artists meet in a work environment. There is a lot of give and take in theses sessions, where you can pick up the odd technique or information about the use of an unfamiliar material. I know from looking through this blog that it seems like working from live models consumes a lot of my artistic life, but it doesn't. I am willing to put the effort into these endeavors because I have learned so much from both the models and my peers.

Sometimes, if I am stuck on an issue with a current body of work, I go to extra drop-in sessions. The immediate reaction of hand to paper sometimes opens a level of my subconscious that resolves whatever difficulties I am experiencing.

For another take, read Serendipity's review.

Thursday Evenings in June and July7:00 - 9:00 pmStephen Foster Community Center286 Main St., Lawrenceville
June 7, June 14, June 21, June 28July 5, July 12, July 19
for more information contactCarl DiSalvocarl.disalvo[at]
I bitch a lot about what seems to be the lack of ground level interaction between Pittsburgh's universities and the general community. This looks like a good chance to tap into some of the CMU geek energy.

More John Morris at the famous Odessa

From left to right, The Food Network's Vince Camillo, The Butane Group’s Noel Salzman, and John Morris. June 6th, 2007, East Village, USA.

John Morris In New York

Here's John at the old Odessa on Tompkins Square Park, making an emphatic point. With him is New York film editor, Emily Gumpel.

John says: ( I am getting treatment for my problems )

New Projects

Sorry for not posting more, several trips to NY and a busy schedule of gallery shows have kept me from seeing a lot of shows and from posting on a lot of things I did see. I am planning rent a space in NY for a show of artists with blogs and other events involving flat file artists. That show, if i can pull it off would involve both the Pittsburgh and NY spaces and will require a lot of help from the art blogging community. The idea has been kicked around for a long time to do a show involving bloggers but somehow it has never been done.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


The opening reception for BARE III was on Friday. The show looks absolutely wonderful. Thanks to the installation team for all of your hard work --

Pat Barefoot
Laura Conkle
Steve Dines
Kristen Divers
Kim Freithaler
Helen Song
Heidi Wettlaufer

This exhibit is pretty rare for a community show. The work has only the common theme of being created from the inspiration of working from a live model. Barely Brunch has been operating for several years now at the Brew House. We have been very lucky to have the space for the sessions and for having such a lovely facility for exhibiting.

Stop by SPACE 101 to check out the exhibit. We will be having an artist talk on --

Saturday, June 22 @1PM
Pat Barefoot
Rich Brown
Steve Dines
... and others

Images from the reception --
Fran Frederick and Jim McManus

Images from the exhibit--
Pat Barefoot
Ruth Renee Ickes
Rich Brown
Kristen Divers
Olwyn Best
Susan Constanse (above: Scroll II, below: Detail of Scroll II)
SPACE 101 Gallery
The Brew House Association
2100 Mary Street
Pittsburgh PA 15203