Monday, June 30, 2008

Artists Review Artists Project @Thinking About Art

JT Kirkland is always thinking. This time he is thinking about what constitutes a review in the current dialog about art and artists. From his new project --

... I am no longer sure what an art "review" is today. Is it a re-hashing of the gallery's press release? Is it a description of artwork in a show? Is it a blog post of images? Is it a thorough critical analysis of the exhibition, work and artist? Is it something else entirely?

JT Kirkland has conducted similar online projects in the past. His Artists Interview Artists project was at times very thought-provoking. This current project promises to be the same.

The impetus for the project is the lack of dialog in the traditional press for all of the arts. Currently, it is more likely for a paper to review a television show than it is for them to publish a review of an art exhibit or a new dance presentation. While I understand and agree with this premise, it also seems to me that this project could serve as arallying point for artists to have a direct and significant impact on the art dialog, which has for decades been the provenance of critics and historians. So, go and submit your work for participation in Artists Review Artists. Detailcan be found here.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Bike Pittsburgh Fundraiser Tonight

I'm really sorry for posting this event so late. Bikefest Pittsburgh is kicking off a series of events with a fundaiser tonight downtown. I also seriously apologise for the weird cut and paste job here. For whatever reason, their website resisted copying text off it.

A full run down of events and ticket info is available here.

"Celebrating bike advocacy, local cycling organizations and Bike Culture A fund-raiser for Bike Pittsburgh 6 PM-12 AM 121 7th St, 6th floor, Downtown Pittsburgh Production by Restorative Events, Clearstory Creative, and Impact Audio. Event Presence and Support: Allegheny Cycling Association (ACA) Built in Pittsburgh Disgruntled Off-Road Cyclists (DORC) Flying Colors Free Ride Friends of the Riverfront Major Taylor’s Cycling Club Pittsburgh Off-Road Cyclists (PORC) Pittsburgh Trails Advocacy Group (PTAG) Spokepunchers Team Caffeine Team Decaf Venture Outdoors Performances by: * Flotilla Way (one of their last performances) * Mary Mack * Laser Crunk’s Cutups and Keeb$ * Edgar Um Food and drink: Whole Foods, Dozen, and East End Brewing Environmentalism: * All compostable/recyclable wastestream * No trash except what you bring * Ride Your Bike to the event! Zero gas, Zero pollution, Zero CO2 * If you can’t ride or walk, please take transit or car pool Also: * Raffle for a Redline 9-2-5 commuter bike * Free Bike Valet * Family-friendly programming from 6-7pm * Expanded silent auction Price:

Go to to purchase tickets * $10 - Limited Income Ticket — limited quantity — Admission — 2 drink tickets * $15 - Current BikePGH Member Price — General Admission — 5 drink tickets * $20 - General Admission (non-member price) — 5 drink tickets * $40 - Friend of BikePGH Ticket — Includes membership ($25 value), and general admission to event * $50 - Patron of BikePGH Ticket — includes membership, general admission, and 7 raffle tickets for a bicycle giveaway * $150 - Donor Ticket — limited quantity — All $50 ticket benefits, two one-year memberships (or one two-year membership), and sponsor recognition on website and at the party Go to to purchase tickets"

I think one can assume really big Critical Mass ride tonight.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Bob Qualters continues to amaze me

Bob Qualters

Okay, so my camera isn't the best and sometimes my images leave something to be desired. I wanna tell ya, the above is from the Borelli Edwards Galleries site. The BE Galleries does not permit photography (seriously!) so even if I had gone back to my friend's car to retrieve my camera, it wouldn't have done any good. But this was a seriously amazing work by a long-established artist, Bob Qualters. I'm not even sure if the image is compelling enough to make someone seek out this Larryville gallery. If you do, it would be worth the trip. It has these strangely assembled layers, providing a very weird depth to the work. It is painterly and loose, a character that is cosistent throughout Bob Qualters work. I didn't note down the title of the piece, I'm afraid. Sometimes, titles can provide at least a glimpse into the inner workings of an artist's intention. I do know that this piece was incredibly more compelling in the gallery than it appears here in this scrappy little image.

While you are there, you might want to check out the Pittsburgh Print Group exhibit. Some works by Paula Klein and Sun Young Kang are presented. Both are accomplished artists, coming from entirely different perspectives. You can check out images from the PPG New Works exhibit on the BE site.

Borelli-Edwards Galleries
3583 Butler Street
Lawrenceville, PA 15201
412.687.2606 or

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Pittsburgh Biennial @Pittsburgh Center for the Arts

Several friends have told me that I should make time to go over the the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts to see the Biennial. I confess that I don't get there very often. I don't drive, so when I make excursions out, I generally try to tie several things together. The Pittsburgh Center for the Arts is situated in a mostly residential area, even though it is on easy traffic routes. When I go there it is the only place I go: there aren't even any restaurants or coffee shops close by. It entails a significant block of time and only one destination. But I am glad that I took the time to go to the show.

Sun Young Kang



Sun Yang Kang Filtered Memories (Incense burning on paper)

I'm glad I came when the gallery was pretty quiet. This would have been a difficult piece to see with a crowd. I spent quite a bit of time in this room. It was like sitting in a room crowded with another's ghosts. The scrolls, suspended over rods, moved and shifted subtly, tiny movements encouraged by the air currents in the room. Each of the scrolls is insribed with a legend on the bottom edge of the scrol. For instance --
May 28, 1965
Mother seems to have given up struggling with the tragedies in our family.
I cannot help but respect her when I face her calmness.

The legends printed on the scrolls may have some relation to the characters burned into the sheets; no way for me to tell. Somehow, I doubt that it is a direct translation, given the brevity of the english prose and the length of the burned characters. One thing that I would like to note. This work, all of the works that Sun Young Kang presented at the Biennial, are informed by her ethnic heritage. But the work did not strike me as a study in social anthropology, which is a tendency in other artists that work from their heritage. Instead I felt that, even though I could not understand the charcters, I still came away from viewing this work enriched.

Dylan Vitone


Dylan Vitone Ducky Tours

Vitone's panoramic photographs measured about 60" in width. The long format makes it difficult to get a feel for the work in the above image. I have provided a slightly larger image, linked here. I liked Ducky Tours. A lot. Really. How he chose that title, I don't know; there is so much random stuff happening in the above photograph. He could just as easily called it the intersection of Liberty and Smithfield, where the photograph was taken. Dylan Vitone is represented in the exhibit by several of these panoramic photographs.

Bovey Lee


Bovey Lee (Detail of one of her works)

This is a traditional artform, cutting paper. I have seen several examples of this type of work, most recently from a vendor at the Three Rivers Arts Festival. The difference with Lee's work is her use of contemporary themes and images. Several of the works that she presented for the Biennial had this chain link fence motif. I could not get a good image of the works, so I will refer you to her Artists File Online page. Much better images there.

The Pittsburgh Biennial, on the whole was very satisfying. I will mention that I am disinclined to watch video art. Something in my make up does not allow me to sit in a dark room and watch. Please know that several of the artists represented at the Biennial are video artists. The Biennial will be in place for the next two months.

Pittsburgh Biennial
May 3 - August 24, 2008
Pittsburgh Filmmakers/Pittsburgh Center for the Arts
6300 Fifth Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15232

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Things to Do This Weekend. (6/20-22/08)

t's a bit odd to find so much to do in the middle of the month in Pittsburgh, especially in the arts scene. But for some reason this weekend has a few things you might want to consider attending. That should be good news to those of you without travel plans. Now you can tell all the naysayers- "Y'see... the 'Burgh is just as exciting as anywhere else during the summer. Mild climate... lots to do... who could want anything more?" Or you could stay at home basking in the cool of your A/C unit, and cry in your beer while daydreaming about the seashore.

Friday night features an opening for the Group A artists collective at the Fe Gallery in Lawrenceville. I'm happy to report that I am now receiving snail mail hot-cards from Jill and Co. alerting me of events at this spot. This particular group show promises to address political promises (presumedly of the unfulfilled variety). Come see what this shadowy little cabal is up to. The reception runs from 7-9PM. Expect the gallery staff to be a bit distracted as they are laboring to put together the catalog for "In the Making: 250 Years/250 Artists"- an exhibition that will be in place by September. But as far as I am aware, this is the main art attraction tomorrow night.

On the other hand, Saturday is going to demand a bit of prioritization. If you get an early start, you should probably make Artists Image Resource (AIR) your very first destination. They are throwing down with their Annual Summer Bash. From noon until midnight there will be art, music, performances, and refreshments. All you have to do is pay a one-time $10 entrance fee, and you can come-and-go as you please. You can watch local superstar poster-boy Mike Budai do his thing live and in person... Or take a chance on the Artist-Made T-shirt Raffle. The Burndowns and Power Pill Fist will be playing for the hipsters, and I'm told there will be cupcakes and beer from East End Brewery!

Later in the evening you might want to make your way to Market Square for the last (?) Art Olympic Theater. Of course it will be hosted by its creator Tom Sarver (late of the Tom Museum). If you haven't seen any of this series of events, you have to grab the opportunity while you can. Sarver is off to Yonkers (or France?) in the Fall. Come see local and regional artists stumble all over themselves competing to make a sculpture out of random materials in the space of two hours. The contest is to be decided by Jeffry Inscho (Mattress factory), Kurt Shaw (Tribune Review), Al Hoff (City Paper), and Laura Domencic (PCA). Get there at 6PM to see local jazz favorites OPEK open for the event. It's all free and Penn Brewery is providing the suds.

Before you give in to the bars for the night, you should stop by the Wizard of Oddities (4314 Butler Street) in Lawrenceville. This is a relatively new gallery opened by some newly transplanted farmers. The owners are gracious on their occasional forays back into the city, and feature an eclectic mix of local and national artists. Saturday night's opening (@ 7PM) features the watercolors and collage of Bill Ireland and Chris Ingham. Just look for the neon naked-lady silhouette in the front window. If you stayed at AIR all day instead, head a few blocks over to Moxie Dada (1416 Arch Street) for the first installment of their new Summer Music Series (featuring the jazz fusion of "So Say We").

After a couple of busy nights in a row, you probably just want to take it easy with a nice Sunday morning church service. But if you are inclined more toward elitist, black-separatist, Socialist, Muslim, flag-hating, messianic figures (and their villainous associates)- make sure to stop by Zombo Gallery (4900 Hatfield St., Lawrenceville) between noon and 4PM for some baked goods. Sales benefit Barack Obama's campaign and

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Richard Florida's Google Talk

I finally got around to watching Richard Florida's Google talk about his new book, Who's Your City. Florida was a longtime CMU professor and his 57 minute talk is well worth watching. I might get back with some thoughts when I can on this.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Art Olympic Theater In Market Square

, Three Rivers Arts Festival

One of the highlights of the Thee Rivers Arts Festival will likely be a downtown outdoor Art Olympic Theaterand one of the last likely to be hosted by Tom Sarver himself. This one promises to unleash all the bitter neighborhood rivalry and pride into junk gang warfare as teams from around the city compete.

"My final ART OLYMPIC THEATRE main event is happening this Saturday, June 21st at Market Square in Downtown Pittsburgh. The event will begin at the Market Square stage with a concert by Opek. (Ben Opie and company) Thanks to a Seed Award from the Sprout Fund and a partnership with the Three Rivers Arts Festival, this event is FREE and open to the public. Team leaders for this event include Joshua Space, Elizabeth Keating and Scott Andrew.

Stop on down! The event will happen rain or shine. Opek will be playing throughout the evening and beer will be provided by Penn Brewery.

WHAT? Art Olympic Theatre "Neighborhood Challenge" (Teams representing Pittsburgh neighborhoods will be competing to make sculptures out of junk in 2 hours)

WHEN? Saturday, June 21st (6 PM Opek Jazz concert - 6:30 PM Opening ceremony for Art Olympics - Event ends at 9 PM)

WHERE? Market Square, Downtown Pittsburgh (Part of Three Rivers Arts Festival )

See you there! Tom Sarver"

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Three Rivers Arts Festival - Part II


One of the components for this year's Three Rivers Arts Festival is the Contained exhibit. The festival purchased ten shipping containers and accepted proposals for installations. Some of the installations were quite striking, with the artists taking the long and narrow space into account.

Contained #10
Twist, Tie, Multiply: Hands in Action
by Anna Divinsky, Joanna Commandaros and Karen Page
An interactive cabinet of curiosities representing the body that will evolve and grow over the course of the Festival.


Unfortunately, I missed the hands-on activities associated with Twist, Tie, Multiply. It is an exceptionally beautiful work, with the walls painted a soothing green and the beautiful floral motifs that were developed by the artists. The depth of th space was used advantageously in the work, creating a sense of an intimate garden. Below is a detail of one of the organic forms that adorn the walls of this container.


Contained #1
Code Words: Mutations
by Lori Hepner
An interactive print installation that explores binary code and the ways in which language breaks down.

I found this work to be visually appealing. It spoke to me about rhythm and the subtle variations available in the multiple reproduction of a few simple objects. The palette was limited, made up of softened hues. So, I am reacting to this work on a purely visual level, using the artist's aesthetics to reinforce my own ideas. The following is from Lori Hepner's statement --
Examining the interplay between technology, language and translation, Lori Hepner's Code Words: Mutations, is an interactive installation incorporating photography and hand-sewn silk panels. The photographs of binary code destructing as dyed silk in bleach speaks to the ways in which binary code can mutate and change unbeknownst to the user. Viewers will have the opportunity to interact with the exhibit by purchasing the prints, thus changing the overall meaning of the piece.

I tried to get a tight shot of one of the prints used in the installation, mostly to record a sense of the color -


Contained #2
by Joshua Space
An enormous kaleidoscope invites you to explore questions of light and space.


I loved this piece. I actually got trapped in this container by a sudden thunderstorm. I spent nearly a half hour with Joshua Space's kaleidoscope. And another festival goer who sat on the floor with me, he with his lunch, me with my coffee. This work is especially effective in its container. Of course, the still shot isn't quite enough to get the full effect of Equipoise. I also shot this little short video of the work --

Three Rivers Arts Festival
Market Square, Downtown
Every Day: June 6-22 : 12 - 8 pm

Friday, June 13, 2008

Three Rivers Arts Festival - Part I

The Three Rivers Arts Festival is in full swing. I went down today to check out a few things. It started out to be a slightly humid day, but an hour into my visit, the sky broke open with torrents of rain, I mean buckets! Which is, of course, part of every Pittsburghers expectation for the festival. It ALWAYS rains during the festival. I got to the Artists Market just as everybody was putting their booths back together, so I couldn't get good booth images.

This is Kyle Ethan Fischer --

Kyle has only a few more days at the festival - his last day is June 16. If you can't make it to the festival to see his work at the festival, you can always catch him at his studio on Penn Avenue on First Fridays. I took a few images while I was at his booth.



His work is really amazing. And really, he is one of the high points of the artist market. I suppose that these kinds of fairs have fallen out of favor with artists. It seems that the artist market has pretty much the same selection every year, with only a few new faces. Part of how the Three Rivers Arts Festival is keeping things fresh is through their emerging artists program, of which Kyle Fischer is one. These festival newcomers are given subsidized booths for one week of the festival.

Another tactic that is working well for the festival is gallery row. A few galleries in Pittsburgh usually have a presence at the festival. This year, it is Ash Gallery, the Union Project and Planet Art Gallery. It was still spattering when I went down gallery row, so of course I did not even try for a booth shot. This is Allison Hoge, Ash Gallery --


This work had some really subtle shadings and layering. It appealed to me because of the variations in focus within the edges of the canvas. Most of the works presented by Allison Hoge at the festival had a very fiery appearance, predominantly a very hot red. Gorgeous work, really.

One of my favorite glass artist teams, Dale Sauers and Jason Amstutz, was at the festival this year, presenting blown and fused works ranging from vases to jewelry. They had a major booth catastrophe with the storm, almost losing their booth. The storm also flooded their containers and vessels. They were still cleaning up and reorganizing when I stopped by their booth. Dale, even with the water-logged purse and paperwork, was a pleasure. I'm sure I would have been in melt down mode. And Jason was stoically securing the tent, making sure that it was secure before the storm returned this afternoon.




Pittsburgh Celebrates 250 at PPG's Winter Garden - Icing on the Cake
Every Day: June 6-22 : 12 - 8 pm


I love the Winter Garden; it's a beautiful setting. The installation on the AAP exhibit was really sweet, as you can see in the above image. Best in show - David Watt's Comfort Cake, a confection of fuzzy perogies.


Next up - Contained

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Art Events For Friday, June 13th.

Just as expected (given the amount of art events and other things happening around town last weekend) we are about to enter a rather slow weekend. Perhaps everybody really does need to wind down from the rash of frenzied activity of the Spring season. But before you decide to stay in with a glass or two of chilled white wine and the complete run of Freaks and Geeks on DVD, let me tell you about a thing or two that IS going on.

The Mattress Factory is having its annual "Urban Garden Party". Since this year's event falls on a very special day, the organizers have decided to run with a likewise special theme. As their website explains- "To honor Friday the 13’s superstitious origin in 18th century France, this year’s fête will feature guillotines, powdered wigs, bustiers and extravagant, over-the-top decor. Let them eat cake!" That last part is ironically appropriate as none of the peasants that I know can afford the $85 'ticket-for-the-masses-fee', let alone the $200 VIP ticket for the hour-long pre-party with a special performance by local chanteuse Phat Man Dee. Keep in mind that this is a fund-raiser, and so the high admission fees are understandable and vital to the operation of this first class institution. Oh, to be a true supporter of the arts!

On the exact opposite end of the spectrum is the Tattoo Artist's Freak Show over at Zombo Gallery on 49th and Hatfield Streets in Lawrenceville. Michael Devine (co-owner, namesake, and curator) has adopted the mission of bringing art to ordinary folks who are often intimidated by the prospect of high-falutin' art receptions. Over the last year he has shared his version of what he refers to as "lowbrow art". The stuff he shows is consistently accessible and fun. And the best thing is that most of it is priced under $200, as Zombo himself would love to see you actually buy a piece of it to hang on your wall. The 'Burgh is chock full of quality skin artists, and this Friday night will be a great opportunity to get a look at some of their work.

If you are looking for something in between the aforementioned events, I'd heartily recommend your presence Friday evening at the official opening reception of Sylvania at the 709 Penn Gallery (6-8PM). The title indicates the theme, and reflects the woodsy nature of the art. This show features the work of a bunch of artists involved in the loose arts collective called Unicorn Mountain. The group has published a number of art/comics-based books over the last several years. Their next publication is (tentatively) called Black Forest and is said to be forthcoming this Fall. It will feature a great lineup of local artists, some of which have gone on to national acclaim, and will be accompanied by a CD containing music by local bands.

At the risk of seeming personally biased (I am involved with the collective, have a piece in this show, and will be included in Black Forest), I have to say that there are a number of excellent artists contributing to this themed-project. You should really come to the "soft opening" tomorrow night, but if you can't make it- it will be available for viewing through July 12th. That includes Friday, July 11th, which is the date of the Summer Downtown Gallery Crawl. Artists exhibiting work include Matthew Thurber, Austin English, Ally Reeves, Katherine Young, Ian Finch, Thad Kellstadt, Beano, Tom Hall, Elina Malkin, David Grim, Thee Coyote, Michael Budai, Ben Hernstrom, Amy Conroy, Chris Cornwell, Kathleen Lolley, and Tugboat Printshop.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Carnegie Director, Richard Armstrong Resigns

To break the suspense, the other major piece of news from the Carnegie today was the announcement that Richard Armstrong will be moving on after 12 years as director.

"Mr. Armstrong has been at the Carnegie since 1992, when he was appointed curator of contemporary art and charged with organizing the 1995 Carnegie International. He became chief curator later that year, and was appointed director in 1996."

Richard oversaw many changes at the museum including the major expansion of it's endowment and collections.

Vija Celmins Painting Vandalized By A Carnegie Guard

Several dramatic events came out today related to the Carnegie Museum. The museum revealed that Vija Celmin's Night Sky#12 which is owned by the Carnegie and part of the International was damaged beyond repair by a museum guard.

Celmin's Sky paintings are insanely beautiful and meditative. I think I first came accross her work at Sonnabend Gallery in the early 1990's and saw an amazing solo at the Whitney in the mid or late 1990's

"I didn't like the painting," Timur Serebrykov told police when they arrested him at the museum on May 20, the affidavit said."

"According to the police affidavit, the painting was damaged on May 16, leaving a "large vertical gouge" down its middle.

Ellen Baxter, the museum's chief conservator, told police that the art piece was a "total loss."

A surveillance tape caught Mr. Serebrykov in the act of defacing the painting, the affidavit said."

Thursday, June 05, 2008

June 2008 Unblurred and other miscellany.

Not long after midday on Friday the temperature is going to hit 90 degrees Fahrenheit. I'm going to be making an effort to keep Baby E. and I cool. The heat is expected to linger throughout the day, and its projected staying power is daunting. says that it's still going to be 84°F by 9PM at night. You might as well just plan on being outside. In fact there's a lot to do this weekend to keep you distracted. Surprisingly it looks like several East End neighborhoods have coordinated their promotional efforts. They are advertising Art Cubed- with art, music, and cultural events through Saturday night. It looks a bit patchwork, but it's a good start. It will be interesting to see if it gets any traction.

June Unblurred is tomorrow. The event is the 'official kick-off' for this ART3 thing, but whoever put together the website didn't think to link directly to the Unblurred site. Anyway... there should be enough there to keep you busy. The Pittsburgh Glass Center (5472 Penn) has an open house, and Attack Theater (4805 Penn) is continuing their Game Night and 7-minute Dance Series. Carolyn Wenning re-opens her space (4823 Penn) to show a series of photo portraits taken by kids (age 5-15) who live and hang out along the Penn Avenue Corridor. Meanwhile there will be music and 'utilitarian' art (including Frank Knezevich's collection of cigar box guitars) down at Jason Sauer's Most Wanted Gallery (5015 Penn).

The Sprout Fund is having an open house (5423 Penn) featuring "snacks, drinks and live entertainment". If you missed the proposal unveiling at Concept Gallery last month, make sure to stop by for a taste of murals-to-be. There should be one or two board members and some staff strolling around, and you can accost and pepper them with questions. I guarantee they'd love to have the opportunity to justify their tastes. And when you are done there, make sure to drop in on the MOXBOX Fine Art Party (5014 Penn). The Boxheart and Moxie Dada Galleries used to be across the street from each other on Liberty Avenue in Bloomfield. They may have separated physically but they still occasionally pal around together.

At the center of Unblurred, the staple galleries are all featuring new work by artists I'm mostly unfamiliar with. Modern Formations (4919 Penn) has "Basements, Attics, and Closets", with Mike Tamburo, Darren Myers and Ange Gagnon. Garfield Artworks (4931 Penn) has
Laurie Trock, Laura Phillips and Kristen McLain. The International Children's Gallery (located at 5020 Penn, and most assuredly not recommended for kids) presents work by Jessica Lotman and Laura Koposko. Metamorphose (4922 Penn) is advertising a "Variety Show" chock full of stuff by twenty artists working in all types of mediums. And finally... my friend Joab Naylor is exhibiting his paintings at Imagebox (4933 Penn). He says they are "new works", but I'll believe it when I see it.

Now here's the thing- maybe none of this sounds appealing to you. Perhaps you are more interested in a smoothie and a hand-tooled leather handbag down at the Three Rivers Arts Festival. Yes, it opens tomorrow night as well. But (for god's sake) it'll still be there after this weekend. So avoid the crowds and do something cool instead. Zombo (4900 Hatfield Street in Lawrenceville) is showing the painted designs of Bill Cousins in a double shot- Friday under incandescence and Saturday under black light. The Waco Brothers (including Jon Langford and other folks from the Mekons) is at the Warhol with the Working Poor (it starts at 8PM- $12).

And Pittsburgh Filmmakers (477 Melwood Avenue on North Oakland) has their 3rd annual Media Tonic event. That costs $15, includes performances by Chuck Prophet and Paper Rad, and runs from 8 PM until midnight. But I definitely won't be going. They are having a special "V.I.P Reception" beforehand, and I wasn't invited. Snobs. No way I'm getting stuck with the leftovers.

My Carnegie International: Prospects And Thoughts

Ok, so here are some working notes and artist prospects for my Carnegie International which I see including at least 100 artists or projects spread throughout the city. No, I am not going to try and stuff the Carnegie with all this stuff, I am imagining using at least two other ofsite venues like Regina Miller, The Mattress Factory, The Center For The Arts or perhaps even The Westmoreland Museum. I also see at least 25 site specific sculptures, instalations, screenings or performances spread throughout the city/region. The list will tilt towards artists known for this kind of thing like David Byrne, Yoko Ono, Kim Jones, Julianne Swartz, Nina Katchadourian, Swoon, and Paper Rad.

This is just a working list and fails to include enough non American Artists. I liked Doug's inclusion of dead artists and older artists. Mark Lombardi, Eva Hesse,Gordon Matta Clark and Margaret Kilgallen are included. All four died far too young but left an ever growing mark on the art landscape.

Vija Celmins
Kim Jones
Martin Wilner
Mark Lombardi
Julianne Swartz
Diana Al Hadid
Nancy Rubins
Dawn Clements
Daniel Zeller
Yoon Lee
Yun Fei Ji
Roxy Paine
Joseph Beuys
Paul Thek
Kate Gilmore
Gordon Matta Clark
Tony Feher
Joanne Greenbaum
Yoshihiro Suda
Rei Nato
Liz Craft
John Waters
Astrid Bowlby
Joyce Pensato
Nina Katchadourian
Adam Fuss
Martin Puryear
Thad Mosley
Deborah Fisher
Sarah Sze
Paper Rad
Wolfgang Tillmans
Lucien Freud
Ellen Harvey
Laylah Ali
Tom Sarver
Jedediah Ceasar
Adler Guerrier
Arturo Herrera
Wangechi Mutu
Jeff Koons
Joe Coleman
Mindy Tucker
Neil Farber
Zoe Strauss
Polly Apfelbaum
Dana Schutz
Eva Hesse
Lari Pittman
Caroll Dunham
Margaret Kilgallen
Tim Hawkinson
Josiah McElheny
Do-Ho Suh
Jessica Stockholder
Mark Bradford
Yoko Ono
David Byrne

I have also included a number of artists living full or part time in the region with the goal of having no less than 10% and no more than 25% of the artists from within 300 miles.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

The Bright Existence and The Lamentable End of The Tom Museum.

This past Saturday I had the honor to be one of the very last official visitors at the Tom Museum over on the North Side. It was the closing reception, and local artist Tom Sarver was saying goodbye in preparation to move on to other things. If you're not familiar with this project, it originally started with a grant, and the support of the Mattress Factory. Tom had envisioned building an environment for his art, and keeping it open to the public. It was always a work in progress, and there was a large element of improvisation allowed by the concept. The building itself was simply a row house- a residence owned and rented out by the Mattress Factory's co-director, Barbara Luderowski. The initial plan called for the residency to last about a year, but it was extended for an extra 12 months, with Tom and the Mattress Factory becoming loose partners.

The facility itself was intimately-scaled, and filled to bursting with (often interactive) artwork. Sarver completed a mural on the front of the house that depicted a whimsical landscape of Pittsburgh itself. It was meant to capture the interest of passersby, and designed to be especially inviting. All along Sarver has tried to make the world of art more accessible to those with little familiarity or knowledge of it, and the Tom Museum served this purpose in an exemplary manner. Upon entering the front door the visitor made his way through an ever-evolving foyer called the "Universe Room", up-and-down some makeshift steps, and through another door into what would be considered the main gallery in an ordinary museum.

This "multi-purpose" room was the reception area for people who chose to kick up their feet and stay awhile. It also housed many of the numerous temporary exhibitions that Tom hosted throughout the last couple years- which included the cardboard contraptions of Doug Hill and "visionary" outsider Steve Smith. Some of the shows Sarver put together featured Small Works, Artist Made Books, and Mix Tapes. There was even a permanent installation by Jeremiah Johnson in the attic. At the other extreme, Sarver constructed his "Earth Pond" in the basement. This was meant to describe the various states of humanity's interaction with the environment, and included such pieces as the Island of Barren Wasteland and the Island of Pristine Wilderness.

Rounding out the offerings was the second floor, which included the Puppetry Archives Room and a mini-stage for the periodic performances Sarver would produce and share. This was in many ways the spiritual center of the Tom Museum, as its proprietor first gained notoriety in the 'burgh by co-founding and organizing the Black Sheep Puppet Festival. This annual event has brought significant joy to an ever-growing group of adults and children for nearly a decade. The Puppetry Archives shared the modest space with MIMA (The Miniature Museum of Modern Art) which (of course) was exactly what it sounded like, with little dioramas sunk into the wall. Alberto J. Almarza was responsible for that extended exhibit.

Sarver's one-room living quarters, and the facility's only bathroom were also on the second floor. The former was the only space that was not open to prying eyes. This was no doubt a boon for Tom, as he realized just how difficult it was to live within the extremely accessible environs of the Tom Museum. Nevertheless Sarver was upbeat and gracious as I spoke with him in his back courtyard last weekend. His greatest joy has been exposing a lot of people to a lot of art. The month of June will be dedicated to dismantling the innards of his Museum (keep an eye open for a possible closing sale), and the rest of his Summer is scheduled as a transition period of relative inaccessibility. Sarver has received a scholarship from SUNY-Purchase in Yonkers, NY to earn his MFA. He will receive many Western PA wishes of good luck upon his exit.

Life on Mars - Sus wraps up

Life on Mars - Paul Thek
Life on Mars - Wolfgang Tillmans + Vija Celmins
Life on Mars - Marisa Merz + Bruce Connor
Life on Mars - Rosemarie Trockel
Life on Mars - Rivane Neuenschwander + Thomas Hirschhorn
Life on Mars - Haegue Yang + Ranjani Shettar

There has been, as to be expected, a lot of commentary and Monday morning quarterbacking about Life on Mars. The majority of the commentary seems to be from beyond the Pittsburgh region and ranges from comparing Life on Mars favorably to the Whitney Biennial to suggestions of what the Canegie International should have been.

On one hand, I appreciate what the Carnegie International brings to the region. Although I can't say I connected with every work or artist that was exhibited in Life on Mars, it is an important experience insofar as it brings a glimpse of a larger world to Pittsburgh.

On the other hand, I think that the Carnegie International exemplifies the disconnect between the international and regional arts spheres. Similar aesthetics, quality or themes are being pursued by regional artists, at least here in Southwest Pennsylvania. But the international sphere only has a few portals for entry, none of which are accessible regionally. The Carnegie Museum, as well as several of the other renowned venues in Pittsburgh, has a history of distancing itself from the region's art and artists. Given that, it is no surprise that Life on Mars does not reach out to include Life in Pittsburgh. In fact, the only participatory program for local and regional artists are in discussion forums where local artists are permitted to talk about their responses to the works installed in the Life on Mars exhibit.

Interestingly enough, the local arts scene has forsaken the Carnegie International too. The long-term planning for the exhibit and the length of the installation presents a raft of opportunities for the local and regional arts sphere to hijack some of the International's energy. But there has been no related exhibits in the city's visual arts venues, no matter what their standing is beyond the region. Instead, the banner that everybody is rallying to is Pittsburgh 250, the year-long celebration of Pittsburgh's founding. Not that this isn't significant, but surely the city is large enough to address multiple celebrations of significance.

50 Works For Fifty States: Will Pittsburgh Get A Vogel Gift?

At a time when most people are sure that collecting art is all about money and important collections are only built by rich people, It's good to remember Herbert & Dorothy Vogel. I think Herbert was a postal worker or something and Dorothy was a librarian, but somehow through years of commitment, they developed one of the most important collections of minimal and conceptual art at a time when few people thought it was hot and artists were happy that someone was interested in their work.

"Works collected by the Vogels have appeared in numerous exhibitions throughout the world, including two major exhibitions the Gallery organized and presented that were selected solely from their collection. In 1994, From Minimal to Conceptual Art: Works from the Dorothy and Herbert Vogel Collection was on view at the National Gallery of Art. It was also seen in 1997 at the Archer M. Huntington Art Gallery in Austin, and the Portland Art Museum in Oregon. In 1998, the exhibition traveled abroad to the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Israel, and the Wäinö Aaltonen Museum of Art, Turku, Finland. In 2002, Christo and Jeanne-Claude in the Vogel Collection was on view at the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego."

The Vogels, and the National Gallery have announced that that an institution in each of the fifty states will get a work from the collection.

One still sometimes can see Herbert and Dorothy at openings in NY, where they are loved by both dealers and artists.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

The Last Days Of The American Suburb: A Few Thoughts On The Housing Bubble

At first it was hard to discern, but the fallout pattern of the housing bubble is starting to take shape leaving evidence even the main stream media can see. For the last 6-7 years in NYC, the cities insane real estate prices brought talk of a crash. So now, the bombs gone off and a funny thing has happened. It turns out that "Alpha City" urban real estate is still close to bullet proof and instead we are seeing the worst effects shaking suburban and exurban markets.

Yesterday's Times took a look at the market in Greensboro, North Carolina.

"To make matters worse, these outlying suburbs were built on the premise of cheap gasoline, says Keith G. Debbage, a geography professor at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro who tracks the local economy. With gas at $4 a gallon, he says, “travel costs are now a serious consideration.” Oak Ridge and Summerfield are bedroom communities, he notes, and many commuters drive 30 to 45 minutes each way to jobs in Greensboro and Winston-Salem. “People are doing a serious rethinking of where they live,” he adds.

Now reality has caught up with the hopes that animated so many real estate markets around the country. When the Tillmans moved down to Greensboro from Cortlandt Manor, N.Y., four years ago and discovered these fast-growing suburbs, Mrs. Tillman says, “we thought we’d be flipping homes. Now there’s just so much inventory out there.”"

The article also mentions people hopefully awaiting lower gas prices. Perhaps they went to public schools and don't know the size of India and China? Gas is still cheap!!!

Earlier, The Atlantic Monthly laid out a grimmer and more complete painting of just how archaic and poorly positioned the average suburb is to deal with the needs of an aging population and the effects of rising energy prices.It's called, "The Next Slum?"

"The decline of places like Windy Ridge and Franklin Reserve is usually attributed to the subprime-mortgage crisis, with its wave of foreclosures. And the crisis has indeed catalyzed or intensified social problems in many communities. But the story of vacant suburban homes and declining suburban neighborhoods did not begin with the crisis, and will not end with it. A structural change is under way in the housing market—a major shift in the way many Americans want to live and work. It has shaped the current downturn, steering some of the worst problems away from the cities and toward the suburban fringes. And its effects will be felt more strongly, and more broadly, as the years pass. Its ultimate impact on the suburbs, and the cities, will be profound.

Arthur C. Nelson, director of the Metropolitan Institute at Virginia Tech, has looked carefully at trends in American demographics, construction, house prices, and consumer preferences. In 2006, using recent consumer research, housing supply data, and population growth rates, he modeled future demand for various types of housing. The results were bracing: Nelson forecasts a likely surplus of 22 million large-lot homes (houses built on a sixth of an acre or more) by 2025—that’s roughly 40 percent of the large-lot homes in existence today."

Monday, June 02, 2008

Pittsburgh's Sprawl Problem

Bill O'Driscoll has a nice short story about the effects of our misguided, government funded and enforced development pattern which is at the root of our wastefull lifesyle.

"Jim Hassinger, executive director of the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission, led off by discussing Project Region, the group's effort to chart its 10-county territory's preferred future. Over two years, with input from 3,000 citizens, Hassinger says the SPC discovered a public preference for more compact, higher-density development.

"Thus, the SPC's long-range plan -- the region's blueprint for funding things like infrastructure and economic development -- leans toward revitalizing existing communities and preserving open space, in contrast to the low-density, bedroom-suburb-and-strip-mall model that has characterized growth in the region (and the country) for decades.

This was music to critics of the SPC's history of favoring highway-based development. Meanwhile, the conference's keynote speech by renowned metropolitan land-use strategist, author and real-estate developer Christopher Leinberger announced that communities designed to be more compact and walkable -- and hence more environmentally friendly -- are also the market's future. "The market basically is switching," he said, citing increases not only in fuel prices but in people who prefer urban living."

I'll be back on this subject again soon.

What The Carnegie International Could Have Been Part3

For the last 4 years or so, the New York "Art Season" has kicked off with a parade sponsored by a major dealer(Deitch Projects)Paper Magazine and Creative Time, a non profit dedicated to integrating art and NY's city life.

"On September 8th, 2007 the Art Parade took place for the third time on West Broadway, between Houston and Grand Street. This year's Art Parade included over 75 projects, including those by Tauba Auerbach, Assume Vivid Astro Focus, Matthew Rodriguez, The Dazzle Dancers, Kenny Scharf, COCO's Demoiselles, Trevor Stone and The Conundrums. The Art Parade 2007 involved over 700 participants. The Art Parade is a produced by Deitch Projects, Creative Time and Paper Magazine. Art Parade, New York, September 8, 2007. Vernissage TV." Video made by Vernissage TV.

Could The Carnegie International have involved an Art Parade?

What The Carnegie International Could Have Been Part 2

Well, I found this little idea on the T&A Blog (must geta lot of hits-- Fellas, it's Technology and The Arts)A small town in Florida is taking what is now known as "projection bombing" to a new level with an open call festival.

"“Digital Graffiti” at Alys Beach is a festival created to celebrate and promote the world’s most talented and innovative digital artists - with the entire town literally serving as their canvas.

Sometimes referred to as “Photon Bombing,” “Guerilla Projection,” “Projection Bombing” or “Urban Projection,” artists use the latest technologies to project their unique works onto the white walls of Alys Beach, Florida - a stunning new resort town on the Gulf of Mexico. Alys Beach is located on Scenic Highway 30A, between Destin and Panama City Beach in Florida’s panhandle, along what The New York Times said “may be the best beach in the continental U.S.”

Artists are encouraged to submit works of digital art for consideration before 5:00pm EST on July 11, 2008. Works may include abstract VJ sets, digital imagery, short graphically-themed films, photography, animations or innovative new interactive concepts. Many category prizes will be awarded, including a $2,500 “Best of Show” grand prize, as judged by a panel of artistic and industry experts.

The 2008 festival will be held on the evening of Saturday, August 30th (Labor Day Weekend), with thousands of spectators expected to attend."

Could the city of Pittsburgh have become a digital canvas?

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Everyone's A Critic

As you can see, This year's Carnegie International did get almost everyone talking about art.

FIMP Books Go To Scope Basel

So all you Gagosian types have pointed their private jets towards Art Basel. If you stop by the ADA Gallery booth at SCOPE Basel, you can pick up some of Marc Snyder's awesome FIMP books.

These books are approved for all buyers and might set you back $5 0r so, he is white and male but somehow looks Jewish to me. Once the blood tests are in, he's headed for Gagosian. SCOPE Basel is a non degenerate art fair.

Life on Mars - Paul Thek


Paul Thek 96 Sacraments


Leaving Life on Mars artists on a quiet note. Paul Thek.