Thursday, July 31, 2008

Pittsburgh Art Events: 8/1-2/08.

The summer season is flying by, but we still have another month of sweat and sun. In most other cities, the art world is on hiatus in August, but here in the' Burgh we keep rolling right along. Of course it's the first Friday of the month, and you know what that means... Unblurred along the Penn Avenue Corridor.

This time around I'd like to shine a spotlight on Garfield Artworks (4931 Penn Ave), where teen prodigy Dean Cercone is having his first official solo show of paintings and drawings. Dean was once a student of mine, and is the nephew of one of my all-time favorite Pittsburgh painters- Rick Bach. While his uncle's influences certainly showed in the young Cercone's "early work", he has increasingly developed his own idiosyncratic style. And his experimentations are not limited to the visual realm... his music performances are innovative and unfettered by traditional conventions. Make sure to stop by between 7 and 10PM.

Over at Modern Formations, there is an exhibition (4919 Penn, from 7-10PM) of artwork by survivors of emotional and physical trauma ("SIGNS OF SURVIVAL: THE ART OF LIVING AFTER TRAUMA") . I have no idea what to expect, but I plan on having a few drinks before I hit that show. On a lighter note, MOXBOX (5014 Penn Ave) is having their second open house with artists from both the Moxie Dada and Boxheart Gallery stables. Mark Traughber, Dean Beattie, TK Mundok, Shari Lynn Bennett, and Maria Napoli are among the creators represented.

Also on the bill are two new venues- Sandidge Photography Studio and Gallery (5515 Penn Ave) and Passports: Art Diversity (5110 Penn Avenue). Apparently photographer Ahmad Sandidge will be giving away free 5 X 7" color portraits. Can't beat that. And don't miss Gene Fenlon and Jesse Zito at Sauer's Most Wanted Fine Art Gallery (5015 Penn Ave), as well as the photographic documentation of a Haitian orphanage by Laura Petrilla and Eva Mueller over at the International Children's Art Gallery (5020 Penn Ave).

As much as I am loathe to promote any happenings going on in Shadyside, I do want to give a shout-out to Gallerie Chiz (5831 Ellsworth Avenue), which is to my mind the main spot worth checking out in that neighborhood. The proprietor (Ellen Neuberg) consistently shows work by local artists that I respect and enjoy, and I would like to see her gallery stay open for many more years. Unfortunately, with the economic times the way they are (and no signs of imminent improvement) nothing should be taken for granted. If you can make time to stop by on Friday night, I'm sure Ms. Neuberg would appreciate it. She is currently running an "ARTISTS' STUDIO CLEAN-UP OFF-THE-WALL SHOW & SALE", and it features work from 45 artists, including Bill Miller, John Eastman, and Laura Jean McLaughlin. That runs through August 30.

Finally, this weekend sees the opening of the 98th Annual Associated Artists of Pittsburgh Show at the Warhol Museum. However, I couldn't find any mention anywhere of a reception. I'm assuming it's probably an invite-only deal. You can stop and see it during ordinary museum hours until September 14.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

WVU Not Nation's Top Party School Anymore

A significant milestone in the region's decline is WVU's loss of the top party school title which has gone to the University of Florida, who's taxpayers are said to be ecstatic. The few student's who could be awoken from their comas vowed to recover the title.

"Florida also came in first this year in the categories of students who study the least and students who pack the stadiums."

Monday, July 28, 2008

The grass isn't always greener over the state line

Got to this via Thinking About Art (thanks, JT).
Why is it so GOD DAMNED hard to sell a piece of art around here? I can’t help asking myself this as I soon join the ranks of civilians outside the Art World proper and close the doors on my 4 year long project, Lisa Boyle Gallery. Read the post

What Lisa Boyle says could be stated by any gallery director of an emerging gallery or alternative space, particularly in cities like Pittsburgh. I would have thought that Chicago wouldn't be encountering the problems that Pittsburgh has. I was oh-so-very WRONG. This is a very well-considered article. Make sure to scroll down to the comments section.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

the open thread's variety show, feat. dave bernabo & assembly

Last night after a few days of work-induced insanity I went to the Brillobox to see Dave Bernabo & Assembly play. Pleasant surprise -- the band was playing as a part of Open Thread's Variety show.

I was glad to be there to support; mixed bill shows are notoriously hard to get audience for. This one had a sunny fun feel light on the caustic see-and-be-seen vibe that can sometimes poison parties in Pittsburgh. Drag diva Sharon Needles blew my work stress away with a high-camp Rocky Horror cover re-sewn into Pittsburgh clothing. Not to mention her Pittsburgh Prostitute - astute social critique from a yinzer service-girl in a Steelers jersey.

Artists had a couple of tables modestly attired with collage, photography, and book arts available for sale. I picked up Austin English's Windy Corner Magazine #2, an assemblage-zine with high production values featuring capsule comics, artist interviews, and comic commentary, from Austin himself.

Then there's what I came for ... Here's how Assembly looks:

Owl Barnes/drums

Dave Bernabo/guitar, vox (right)

Chris James/ bass (left)

Brandon Masterman /sax

Daniel Newman/guitar, backing vox
(right, behind Dave)

As to what they sounded like ....

They play highly structured improv spread over complicated rhythm. Its funny to think of Mr. Bernabo as a jazz band leader from the 40's, but its really his role, from my perspective. Each of the artists has an intensely developed skill-set that is featured at different moments in the music's vocabulary. The band strikes the perfect balance of group-produced structure and individual improv. "Smart" music that keeps you moving, complicated sound woven with muscular rhythm.

As usual we couldn't hear the vocals over the Brillobox's system (when are they going to fix that?) but its such a good time, who really cares? DJ Victor Hugonaut set up to close the night with the inevitable dance party. I made my escape.

... Jessica Fenlon

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Bernd And Hilla Becher @ MOMA

Bernd and Hilla Becher have a rather amazing little show up at MOMA. Here they talk about their long career documenting the functional, industrial objects and buildings of the world, from water towers, to blast furnaces and coal tipples. A good number of the subjects are from Western PA and West Virginia.

Sponsor A Warhol Time Capsule

The words museum, gallery and exhibition space are often used interchangeably but the distinctive aspect of a museum is that it must have a collection of stuff it is charged with preserving, cataloging and displaying. The Andy Warhol Museum came into being in Pittsburgh, not only because Andy was from here, but also because no other institution wanted to take on the vast task of preserving the huge collection of art and artifacts that he left behind.

"At the heart of this vast collection are the "Time Capsule" boxes. Their contents, like Warhol's artwork, are both illuminating and enigmatic. Originally, these boxes were used to simplify a move from Warhol's studio at 33 Union Square West to a new location at 860 Broadway. Afterward, Warhol began to use these moving boxes to store the bewildering quantity of material that routinely passed through his hands. Ironically, he referred to these boxes as "time capsules." Normally, time capsules commemorate events of special significance. By placing a few carefully selected objects into a container, sealing it, and specifying a date when it should be opened, a time capsule is meant to capture a sense of the current Zeitgeist for future generations. For Warhol, however, his Time Capsules functioned not only in the traditional way, but also as a memento hominem, a register of his everyday life. In documenting the most insignificant details of his existence, Warhol created a complete, though often cryptic, diary of his life and the world in which he moved."

The Warhol is now trying to raise money to fund the ongoing project of opening, cataloging and preserving the Time Capsules.Donate Here.

"To open each Time Capsule costs about $5,000, total. This includes the documentation, archival processing and cataloging, scanning every object (and digital photography of large objects) and properly re-housing them in acid-free folders and Mylar sleeves. Once the cataloging is complete, we'll be able to to begin researching what we've found and, eventually, put the entire Time Capsules collection on the web, so everyone can access it.

Together, we can take the "maybe" out of this project, because we won't be relying solely on foundations to support the work. This project can be completely funded by the people who will get the most out of it... people who care about Andy Warhol and his legacy. People who care about preserving original artifacts from the '50s, '60s, '70s and '80s. People who are just glad something this weird is being taken on by a major museum."

Braddock Mayor, John Fetterman On You Tube

Pop City posted a nice video interview with Braddock's mayor, John Fetterman.

Friday, July 25, 2008

If I Was In NYC, July 31st

"Announcing the City Reliquary's first Summer Benefit Party!
We hope you will join us for this delightful evening benefiting everyone's
favorite community museum on July 31 at 7:00pm.
Please email to reserve your tickets
as soon as possible! Tickets are $50 (civic level) or $100
(metropolitan level -- includes a Reliquary membership!).

In addition to enjoying drinks, snacks, and music while exploring the
Reliquary and its grounds, the evening will include a silent auction
featuring swag from Crest Hardware and Transportation Alternatives, a
personalized NYC tour from The Levy's Unique New York!, original
artwork, and more. We'll also offer you the once-in-a-lifetime
opportunity to "Win-a-Date with a Reliquarian."

You can pay for your tickets by mailing a check to the Reliquary at PO
BOX 110948, Brooklyn, NY 11211 or by cash or check night-of the party.

Thanks for your support and see you on July 31!"

It's unlikely I'm going to this mainly cause I'm too broke but if I think residents of NYC should consider going to this benefit for on of the little gems of Brooklyn-- A tiny storefront museum commited to an active engagement in NY's past and future in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.Both me and Merge went to this place a while back during the Festa Del Giglio.

Art What You Got

Lauren Toohey and her Ducktopus

The devastating wind, the heavy drops of rain, did not deter us from having a wonderful time at the first arts festival in Polish Hill. Even through the disastrous weather, the bands kept playing.

How absolutely marvelous.

There was a taste of everything for the arts crowd; jewelry next to zombie art and across from hand-thrown pots, it was an amazing variety of works. It was nice to see some artists that usually wouldn't participate in a festival stepping out for Art What You Got. Too, this festival drew an atypical festival crowd. While there was the expected hipsters, there was also a grand attendance of neighborhood residents. The food at the festival was great, too. Who could turn down homemade halushki?

The festival was a grassroots effort, supported by members of the Polish Hill community and arts lovers everywhere. The city of Pittsburgh did their part -- Citiparks sent a sound system and manager. I thought the festival was unique for that and I am looking forward to next year's first annual Art What You Got.

Heather Pesanti Becomes Head Of Buffalo's Albright Knox Gallery

People relying on this blog for up to date info on everything should realise that this is a small operation and lots of things fall through the cracks.

"Heather Pesanti, Carnegie Museum of Art assistant curator of contemporary art, will leave the museum in October to become curator at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, N.Y., a museum known for its fine collection of modern and contemporary art.

Pesanti joined the Carnegie in 2005 to assist with "Life on Mars," the 2008 Carnegie International, curated by Douglas Fogle, Carnegie curator of contemporary art. She curated "Forum 58: Jonathan Borofsky -- Human Structures" and "Forum 60: Rivane Neuenschwander" at the Carnegie."

The revolving door at the Carnegie has likely just begun to spin. I wonder if Heather might help build alliances between The Albright Knox and the Carnegie. I would imagine both institutions have similar issues in terms of having strong collections and large facilities that reflect their once wealthy heritage.

Heather was the primary Carnegie curator that did studio visits with local artists and played an active role in curating local shows like a Gestures show at the Matress Factory and the recent show at Unsmoke in Braddock.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Pittsburgh Art Events: Weeekend of 7/25-27/08.

You'll have to excuse the late notice of this weekend's events, but truthfully I didn't think I'd get around to posting today at all. Through most of the year I've carried a backlog of a few entries that I can resort to if I don't feel up to writing. If I had a spare today, I would have posted it and called it a day. I've had a stomach ache that's been brewing since a particularly nasty interchange with a neighbor a couple of days ago. But an inspired trip to the local ice cream chain for a milkshake has given my gut other things to think about, so here I am with a late night post. Please forgive me its shoddiness.

On Friday evening from 4-9PM, the Manchester Craftsmen's Guild (located at 1815 Metropolitan Street on the North Shore) is having their "Family Day". You can see a live hot metal pour, or create a personalized superhero in the Digital Lab. And if you stick around, you can also be part of the reception for Space and Place, an exhibition of works from the Pittsburgh Society of Sculptors. There are plenty of artists featured in this show, including two of my favorites- Dennis Childers and James Rettinger. I'm a bit embarrassed to say I've never been to MCG... perhaps this would be the time to make my inaugural visit?

Well, that's only going to happen if I don't get caught up at the Encyclopedia Destructica Release Party for the first issue of Volume Coatlicue. The folks over at ED have been putting out this high-quality art "zine" for several years now. The books are hand-bound, alluring and quite collectible. The event (which includes music) is going to be held at 146 41st Street in Lawrenceville. It starts at 7PM.

Saturday brings us a long-awaited opening at La Vie Gallery (3609 Butler St., in the L-Ville). Shortsleeved includes work by Mike Budai, Jon Carling, Dan Chainer, Ben Kehoe, Melissa Kuntz, Danny Paracat, Thommy Conroy, James Maszle and Jairan Sadeghi. Not only will there be wall-hung work, but there will be wearable pieces as well. I was actually going to submit something, but never got my act together. Regardless, I'll certainly be there (it runs from 7-11PM). If you still haven't seen this space, you better make it a point to do so while you still can. Who knows how long great things like this can last?

If you want to get out of the East End, you could do worse than a trip to the Brew House (in the South Side) for a party celebrating "the success of Citywide Salon" (7:30-11PM). Have you noticed the presence of posters displaying artwork in the bus shelters around town? Well, here's you chance to see some of the original works. If you want to learn more about the project first, check out this article. They are promising food and drink. That in itself should compel a few of you.

Keeping America's Failing Road System Alive

Taking the train to NY on Pittsburgh's original rail link to the world takes more than 9 long hours which gives one plenty of time to think about the decline of America's rail infrastructure and the coming decline of it's competitor-- the government funded highway system.

People already worried about the woes of the housing bubble, the cost of the Fed's bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddi Mac and the city of Pittsburgh's debt might not be happy about finding out there are a lot more liabilities and unbacked promises still under the torn up rug. The word "Trust Fund" is usually a good clue that a big unfunded liability lies under your feet.

The LA Times has a nice story on a funny situation the government is in as people start to drive less and move towards fuel efficient cars.

"The result: The principal source of funding for highway projects will soon hit a big financial pothole. The federal highway trust fund could be in the red by $3.2 billion or more next year.

The fund, set to finance about $40 billion in transportation projects next year, is increasingly strained. And the problem has taken on greater urgency as lawmakers face a backlog of projects to maintain the nation's aging interstate highway system and ease traffic congestion.

"The situation has only been exacerbated by rising fuel prices, which are causing motorists to drive less and resulting in less revenue for transportation improvements," said David Bauer, senior vice president for government relations at the American Road and Transportation Builders Assn."

One is reminded of the situation the government is in as a major player in the cigarette business. Allegedly, they want people to stop smoking but at the same time they rely heavily on cigarette tax revenues.

President Bush had a particularly bizarre plan to fill the hole in road funding by actually cutting Mass Transit subsidies at a time when use of this far more efficient mode of transportation is exploding. Of course this is why we need the government to be involved in the first place. Projects that make financial sense will be paid for by private investors, but we need the government to sustain those that make no sense.

Braddock Active Arts

Polina Soloveichik

I'm NYC, which I always get to by train. One treat was looking out the window and seeing part of a wonderful mural by Polina Soloveichick from outside the window.It was done as part of a project by Braddock Active Arts involving artists from all over making works and interventions throughout Braddock and North Braddock.

Braddock Active Arts is the project put together by artists like Swoon, and the Toy Shop Collective working in locations chosen by kids in the community.

"Points of Interest is a public art project instigated by Just Seeds member Swoon & her cohorts in Braddock Active Arts in Braddock, Pa (a steel town just outside of Pittsburgh). Just Seeds artists Swoon & Mary Tremonte, as well as 10 others, are making site-specific out-stallations at sites selected by Braddock youth. Public events over the next week include a Swoon lecture at Carnegie Mellon University and Shake Your Money Maker, an all-ages danceparty. Read on for event details. Who: BraddockActiveArts, a collective of artists and fledgling farmers are contributing to the latest population boom in Braddock, PA. We have moved to Braddock from Brooklyn, NY and Tallahassee, FL with a commitment to using artistic practice as an accessible tool for confronting the challenges of the post-industrial urban center. BraddockActiveArts aims to provide living models of possibility and transformation in order to catalyze sustainable growth and revitalization. We envision a community in which all residents are considered artists, empowered to change their own environments, and able to translate that empowerment into tangible social and economic benefits. What: Points of Interest began in January as a way to actively introduce ourselves to our new community as well as create meaningful opportunities to listen, meet and build diverse relationships. In response to the memories of the past and the realities of today, with deep faith in our collective internal ability to create growth for the future, we have invited twelve artists to create public art in Braddock and North Braddock. They are coming from Pittsburgh, New York, Chicago, Portland, and as far away as Russia. The project will continue as we talk with neighbors about the impact the sculptures, murals, and installations have on their lives. When: Nearly twenty people will be in Braddock from April 6 -13 to build and document Points of Interest. Where: Points of Interest will be located on corners, walls, underpasses, and lots throughout Braddock and North Braddock."

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Shrinking Cities Data In Motion

Moving Datas from 1kilo on Vimeo.

Some people might remember my posts on the Shrinking Cities touring exhibit a while back. Thanks to Null Space, I found this amazing data visualization put together by the Shrinking Cities Project. The original exhibit dealt with four cities but obviously has expanded beyond that.

"From Fall 2006 to Spring 2008, the project Shrinking Cities will now present the results of its global investigation and its proposed concepts for action in a worldwide context. The tour focuses on some of the countries facing massive processes of urban shrinking. Since the 1990s, 25% of the world's big cities are losing population, and the tendency is increasing. The project Shrinking Cities is thus initiating an international exchange of experience with this until now neglected urban phenomenon, which has become a crucial issue of urban development all over the world in recent decades, in parallel to the rapid processes of urbanization."

A large series of touring exhibits and symposia have been going on including the show a few Years ago in Detroit and a very recent one in Cleveland.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Save The Date: San Rocco Festa in Aliquippa

Save the dates August 8-10 San Rocco Festa in Aliquippa

"A three-day religious celebration held annually in August that includes a festival, church service, family procession, and traditional Italian Tarantella, the "baby doll dance." It honors San Rocco, born into a wealthy French family in the 14th century, who distributed his wealth among the poor, took a vow of poverty, traveled as a pilgrim to Italy and ministered to those suffering from the plague. Veneration of San Rocco exploded so rapidly after his death that today Italy has over 5000 churches and chapels named in his honor. As early as 1789, Patricia, Italy, began to honor San Rocco with festivities and civic ceremonies, including distribution of chiambella (an Italian pastry) and bread to the townspeople.

Many Patrica residents immigrated to the Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, area to work in its steel mills and, wishing to keeping their Italian heritage alive, brought this tradition with them. During its early years (1925-1955), the San Rocco Festa was a street fair that became linked with the Musical Political Italian (MPI) Club Band, which played the music of Italy at many Aliquippa civic gatherings. During the 1950s, the Festa evolved from a street fair into a structured two-day celebration held during the weekend closest to August 16, featuring band concerts by the MPI band, food, fireworks, amusements, a San Rocco Mass, the traditional "baby doll dance," and a parade/procession with floats decorated with paper flowers and men bearing aloft the San Rocco statue. The "baby doll dance" brings the festival to a close when the identity of the Taranatella dancer, sheathed in an 8-ft. tall wooden frame fashioned in the shape of a young woman, is revealed. (The Tarantella has its roots in Italian folklore, in which a young women, bitten by a poisonous spider, dances faster and faster to try to rid herself of the poison.)"

Given the fact one of my favorite things in the world was the Festa Del Giglio in Brooklyn, I kind of am guessing this is pretty amazing and a lot of fun.

Both the Festa Del Giglio in Williamsburg and Alliquippa's San Rocco Festa have provided glue to communities in times of change and have come to be reunions that bring people back to the old neighborhood. Pittsburgh Magazine has a nice story about the energy people from all over have put into keeping this tradition alive.

Jeff Stimmel , "The Art of Failure: Chuck Connelly Not for Sale" (2008).

About a week ago a friend told me about an HBO documentary called The Art of Failure. The subject of the film is a Pittsburgh native named Chuck Connelly, who found success in the New York arts scene in the 80's alongside such names as Basquiat and Schnabel. Truthfully I despaired of having the opportunity to see it, since I don't have cable. Fortunately on my recent trip to Eastern PA my host had plenty of channels. Although I kept myself busy with other stuff, I did get an hour here and there to surf the tube. One night after returning from a long walk I plopped down on the sofa and started scanning the program guide. I was pleased by serendipity when I discovered that I would get a chance to watch The Art of Failure from the beginning.

Right from the start it was clear that Chuck Connelly was a bit unstable. He paced through the screen nervously, ranting and raving against his perceived enemies and the injustices of his life. He was shown haranguing a woman who I soon figured out was his ex-wife, and it was clear that being around Connelly must be a trial. He is the true manifestation of the artist as L'enfant terrible. He drinks incessantly, and becomes increasingly agitated until the point of violence. This isn't surprising as he is said to view himself as a Jackson Pollock-type, outside the realms of polite cultured society. Apparently he learned quite early that he would be allowed a certain amount of self-indulgence, given his profuse talent.

But evidently Connelly miscalculated the reception his act would generate. At one point he looked assured to attain the lofty ranks of art-stardom. He was represented by Annina Nosei, and courted by collectors and celebrities. He sold millions of dollars in paintings. Martin Scorcese even used him as his subject in his segment of New York Stories. According to the tale that director Jeff Stimmel spins, this tribute actually led to his downfall. After New York Stories (starring Nick Nolte as the infamously truculent artist) was released, Connelly was asked for his reaction to the film by The New York Post. He called the portrayal mundane and cliché, and made a rather unflattering comparison to Scorcese's masterpiece, Raging Bull.

While Connelly's remarks about New York Stories were obviously impolitic, this viewer found the premise that they singlehandedly sabotaged his career a bit implausible. Connelly had clearly built a track record of being recalcitrant. No matter how things were going for him, he seemed to have the belief that he deserved better. But there were other factors that may have kept him from being as prominent as he would have liked. It's clear that from the many examples of his paintings shown in The Art of Failure that his style was far from consistent. His subject matter and aesthetic approaches were all over the map. No doubt his talent was prodigious, but there doesn't seem to be any real cohesion that would tie his work together.

Nonetheless I would certainly love to get my hands on a few of his artworks. His expressionist brushwork lends an undeniable charm to the most challenging of subjects. One specific piece has a portrait of a particularly ugly Santa Claus overlaid with the word "Ho-mo". There are also post-apocalyptic cityscapes and a cavalcade of freaks. No doubt the exposure that The Art of Failure is likely to bring to Connelly will go some length in reviving his career. He has alienated a lot of people, but his most grievous sins are now buried in the past. The current media environment has a very short memory. Reportedly Connelly is achieving a measure of success now. Who says there are no second acts in the Twenty-First Century??

Monday, July 21, 2008

Unsmoke Systems in Braddock

Carly Parrish

Unknown Artist

Chris Kardimbikis

Ed Parrish

I got over to Unsmoke Systems the new art space in Braddock on Saturday. Unsmoke is a raw studio space in an old catholic School and the opening combined an exhibition of art and installations throughout the 3 floor building as well as a number of artist open studios.

A number of artists made great use of the unique history and vibe of the space. My favorite work was a site specific installation by Carly Parrish(It's the first image) in an old classroom cloakroom which involved a large old mirror at the end of the room who's wall's were covered by strange shadow cutouts of children and whirling black paper which implied a strange unknown narrative, at once playful and disturbing. Part of the works power comes from the weird way one views the room by looking down from a window perch above it sort of like a distant memory, you can't fully grasp. Yes, you do think of Kara Walker, but I think it transcends that.

I also liked Ed Parrish's equally strange dark room of mysterious crude designs that often involved materials like tape and debris.

Chris Kardimbikis's studio was another standout, filled with work that combined narrative and abstraction in unified by a great sense of linear beauty.I also liked the paintings of Stephanie Arbruster, but the paintings that most moved me are way too subtle for me to shoot.

There was also a lot of great work by artists, I can't properly identify.Another, not entirely unexpected treat was some nice work by Swoon right by the entrance.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

moxbox's new program, Ask A


This sounds like it will be a very worthwhile venture. Boxheart and moxie daDa Galleries have been teaming up for a lot of events and programs over the last couple years. Both will be well represented at the Ask A DJ event by Nicole Capozzi and Christine Whispell. Following is their description of the event --
moxbox Premier Art Consulting presents: Portfolio Review, series 1The “ASK A” Series will provide emerging artists with the opportunity to ask questions and present their work to the moxbox panel of consultants. The panel consists of: Christine Whispell, owner of moxie DaDA gallery and consultant with Mox Box Premiere Art Consulting (PAC); Nicole Capozzi, owner of BoxHeart Gallery and consultant with Mox Box PAC; Kyle Ethan Fischer, owner of Kyle Ethan Fischer Studio and consultant with Mox Box PAC; and Grant Bobitski, curator of moxie DaDA gallery and consultant with Mox Box PAC. Consultations and recommendations with Matthew Indovina, special marketing strategist with moxie DaDA and moxBox PAC, and Joshua Hogan, framing specialist with BoxHeart gallery and consultant with moxBox PAC, will also be available.

Panel contributors and consultants will offer educated critiques as well as provide information to artists about current opportunities within the art market. The panel will select at least one artist from the portfolio review to showcase his/her work in the final “ASK A DJ” event. This will provide the artist(s) with the opportunity to follow a project through to exhibition, giving the artist(s) the experience of presenting, preparing, producing, marketing and exhibiting artwork.

The “ASK A DJ” event promotes diverse lifestyles and encourages creative living through an event which provides artists with a unique opportunity for showcasing, selling and promoting artwork which is site and event specific in an alternative venue.

Artist’s are welcome to bring portfolio binders and artwork on CD (one laptop will be available for viewing). If you are bringing actual pieces for review, there is a limit of 3. THANK YOU.

And Remedy is one really cool venue, one among the few watering holes under new management here in da burgh.


WEDNESDAY, Jul 23, 2008, 7 - 10 PM
@ REMEDY Restaurant & Lounge
5121 Butler Street /Larryville
REPLY with interest to:

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Rust Belt Blogger's Summit Update

I never got to Erie for the first Rust Belt Bloggers summit so Ive tried to to link to a few people who were there. Hopefuly, this is the first of a number of events aimed at linking together members of the informal and formal, online media accross the Rust Belt.

There is some debate as to the value of networking accross the region which contains many communities with a full plate of local problems. I think it's very, very important. Perhaps, one of the most negative characteristics of most Rust Belt cities is their relative lack of connections to the outside world. Aside from a few obvious college towns, the region has extremely low levels of foreign or internal migration, Insular political structures and highly localized single newspaper and TV monopolies. The result of which is a lack of information and capital flow accross the region and an inability to learn from other places successes and failures.

I'm very happy and grateful to Jim Russell for trying to break this mold.

As near as I can tell, there were probably not many more than 20-25 bloggers present at the two day summit with representatives from Erie, Cleveland, Youngstown, Pittsburgh and other places like Washigton county and Butler.

Dale Hannah, who contributes on Outside Erie has two updates; One, Two.

"The Rust Belt Bloggers’ Summit wrapped up Saturday afternoon with a 4 hour roundtable discussion about our own personal goals and achievements as bloggers. For some of us(me), it was a learning session. Several visitors came in from the Youngstown and Cleveland areas and one from Butler. The guys from Youngstown gave a great shared presentation about the founding and successes of the New Media in their town. A gentleman from Cleveland, a former city planner there, is now working in the same capacity for Youngstown. It was obvious from their stories that they have put together a very workable plan."

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Singing Revolution Review

Well, I have to confess to not getting to the Gallery Crawl on Friday Night, or Doo Da Days on Saturday or any of the other events of the weekends cultural orgy. I did however see the movie, Singing Revolution and I have a few random thoughts.

My first thought is that You Should Se This Movie. I want to put that out there first, just in case any pimples I found turn you off.I give the film, an A-.

I'm part Polish and raised mostly by my mom and the "Polish wing" of the family, which gave me some familiarity with Baltic history, The Hitler Molitov Pact, The Pottsdam Conference, I even knew what a Forest Brother was.

So, anyway I came to the film knowing that the Estonian people had an amazing story to tell and a long list of questions about their history. I think I was dumb to think, that all of this could have been captured in one film. The directors, wisely didn't try to create seven hour melodrama mentioning every twist and turn, unsung hero, lost folk song and nameless grave in Estonian history. They pretty quickly leap to the post war era and some of the events of the "Singing Revolution" which helped bring Estonia it's independence. Most of the major political actors are included.

There is something very Estonian about the production itself. It's a well organised, simple documentary that tells a tale without dwelling on scars and revenge. The music is often amazing, and I wished very much that there could have been more of it and information and detail about it. Also, there was less historical footage of protests in the Soviet period since they were living in a police state.

Another, perhaps Typically Estonian aspect of the film is the lack of hype and crowing about Estonia's amazing economic transformation since independence.

"As a member of the European Union Estonia´s economy is rated as ▲high income by the World Bank. The level of the Estonian economy Estonian economic miracle has been often being described as the Baltic Tiger.

Since re-establishing independence, Estonia has styled itself as the gateway between East and West and aggressively pursued economic reform and integration with the West. Estonia's market reforms put it among the economic leaders in the former COMECON area. In 1994, Estonia became one of the first countries in the world to adopt a flat tax, with a uniform rate of 26% regardless of personal income. In January 2005 the personal income tax rate was reduced to 24%. A subsequent reduction to 23% followed in January 2006. The income tax rate will be decreased by 1% annually to reach 18% by January 2010. The Government of Estonia finalized the design of Estonia's euro coins in late 2004, and is now intending to adopt the euro as the country's currency between 2011 and 2013, later than planned due to continued high inflation. In 1999, Estonia experienced its worst year economically since it regained independence in 1991, largely because of the impact of the August 1998 Russian financial crisis. Estonia joined the WTO in November 1999. With assistance from the European Union, the World Bank and the Nordic Investment Bank, Estonia completed most of its preparations for European Union membership by the end of 2002 and now has one of the strongest economies of the new member states of the European Union.

A balanced budget, almost non-existent public debt, flat-rate income tax, free trade regime, fully convertible currency backed by currency board and a strong peg to the euro, competitive commercial banking sector, hospitable environment for foreign investment, innovative e-Services and even mobile-based services are all hallmarks of Estonia's free-market-based economy."

The film has a lot of footage shot in what seems to be an obviously successful culturaly rich country and many of the interviewed speak of how happy they are to be free. I do think a few bows, would have placed the film in more perspective since by almost any measure of human development, Estonia seems to rank well.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Stephen Foster Tribute Part 2

Beautiful Dreamer (one of Foster's last great songs written six months before his death.)

Old Folks At Home

Oh Susanna!

Maggie By My Side

Camptown Races

Stephen Foster Tribute

Willie We Have Missed You

Jeanie With The Light Brown Hair

Old Black Joe

Old Kentucky Home
(for the Orphan Brigade)

Old Kentucky Home

Hard Times Come Again No More

If I Was In LA Tonight

People, might remember that my former gallery's flat file concept was modeled after a gallery called Pierogi in Brooklyn and also perhaps that my files included a number of Pierogi file artists like Lori Ellison and Martin Wilner. Daniel Weinberg Gallery will be having a summer group show of artists connected to the Gallery.

Summer Group Exhibition
12 JULY - 23 AUGUST, 2008
Reception: Saturday, 12 July 6 - 8 pm

Group exhibition featuring Nadja Bouronville, Dawn Clements, Hugo Crosthwaite, Steve DiBenedetto, Kirsten Deirup, Lori Ellison, J.Fiber, Tony Fitzpatrick, Jonathan Herder, Patrick Jacobs, Darina Karpov, Yoon Lee, Chris Martin, Ati Maier, Ryan Mrozowski, Johan Nobell, Thomas Nozkowski, John O'Connor, Bruce Pearson, David Scher, Ward Shelley, James Siena, Greg Stone, Tavares Strachan, Lynn Talbot, Jim Torok, Sarah Walker, Martin Wilner and Daniel Zeller.

The image at the top is the work of Ryan Mrozowski, who makes very strange paintings around fictional, fantastic and mysterious religious rituals. I saw Ryan's show a while back at Pierogi. Pretty great. Ryan also happens to be from Pittsburgh and went to IUP.

If I was In LA, I would see this show.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Rust Belt Bloggers Summit In Erie Today and Tomorrow

I'm really, really sory for not posting about this event earlier. The first ever summit meeting of bloggers in the Rust Belt will kick of today in Erie. Here's the City Paper Story.

"This weekend, for the first time ever, bloggers from the entire region are being invited to meet face-to-face at a formal conference. The Rust Belt Bloggers Summit will take place in Erie, on July 11-12, giving members of the often faceless new media a chance to shake hands and swap notes.

Jim Russell -- coordinator of the summit and author of the blog Burgh Diaspora ( -- says he's not entirely sure what will come out of it, but thinks the type of networking and collaboration that already take place in Pittsburgh (through online communities like PodCamp Pittsburgh) could grow outwards."

Some people you might meet are the bloggers behind.

Outside Erie
My Brilliant Mistakes
Should I Drink That
Cleveburgh Diaspora
Null Space
Something To Be Desired
Erie Gay News
I Will Shout Youngstown

There may be many more people showing up-- I think a few more Youngstown Bloggers and almost surely a crowd of Erie Bloggers.

The Rust Belt Blogger Ring has 71 registered members including several in St Louis, Dayton Ohio, Buffalo,Cleveland and Milwaukee so it's any one's guess who might show up.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Some Events On June I2th

Merge gave us some grasp on the orgy of events tomorrow night focused around the Gallery Crawl and the Gestures opening at the Mattress Factory.

But there are a number of good things to highlight on Saturday the 12th.

Brillo Box in Bloomfield will be hosting a rock show/ mini craft fair upstairs.

The MAKE SHOP ROCK SHOW is a fantastic culmination of craft and music. The evening centers around designers showcasing and selling their handmade work, alongside performances from Boston & Pittsburgh musicians!

Here's the line up:

Family Dinner for One (Boston, MA) | Ray-Min Shoulderware (Pittsburgh, PA) | Miaow (Boston, MA) | Early Jewelry (Lawrence, KS) | Built in Pittsburgh (Pittsburgh, PA) | Fresh Popcorn Productions (Pittsburgh, PA) | Cyrstala Armagost (Pittsburgh, PA)

Pete Spynda (Pandemic) |DJ Klaus (Certainly, Sir) |Triggers

Zombo Gallery in Lawrenceville hosts it's first aniversary with the mad pop art of Wayno.

Doo Dah Days celebrates the life and music of Pittsburgh's Stephen Foster with cemetary tours and a music festival in Allegheny Cemetetary in Lawrenceville running from 12:30- 5:30

"The trolley will depart from the front of the Conservatory. Each tour is identical and will take participants past the grave of Jane Foster, Stephen Foster's wife.

From there the trolley will proceed to Stephen Foster's grave where Eliza Foster (Stephen's mother) will tell a little bit about her son. Next the tour's partakers will be greeted by Jane Foster (Stephen's wife). Both women will give different views of the composer. Finally, the group will be invited to participate in a brief sing-along featuring two Foster songs."

Music will be hard core traditional and feature Frets and Feet, Pittsburgh Banjo Club, Home Front and Open Window.

The documentary, Singing Revolution will debut at the Harris Theatre downtown

A variety of drunk girls might sleep with you and or vomit on the South Side as usual.

Pittsburgh Art Events 7/11-12.

Rick Byerly ain't just shuckin' and jivin' (over on his Pittsburgh Gallery Blog) when he says that this weekend is a "hot spot" for art in the 'burgh. There's no possible way that you can see everything there is to see over the next couple of days. You're going to have to pick-and-choose just like the rest of us. Frankly I'm not even going to mention everything that's happening, but rather the things that I'm considering attending. So without further ado, here's the breakdown...

The biggest concentration of receptions tomorrow evening are part of the Downtown Gallery Crawl (5:30-9:00PM). I have to admit being underwhelmed by the last couple of these, but I have reason to believe that this one will be an improvement. It's not just personal bias that drives me to recommend a stop down at 709 Penn Avenue for the Sylvania show. You'll get to see a preview of some of the artists who will be appearing in the next Unicorn Mountain publication (tentatively entitled Black Forest). I'm going to be in it, I have a photo in the exhibition, and there is a good amount of strong work to peruse. Plus all the hipsters will be there. Yum! If you do show up, ask me where the "after-party" is that Curt's been talking about for a month (if he's not just blowing smoke, of course).

Of course you're going to want to plan to hit SPACE Gallery for curator Robert Raczka's You Are Here. It's a group show including 11 artists riffing on the concept of place. Meanwhile Wood Street Galleries, Inc. is always worth a quick run-through. OK... I meant to say "seldom", but what the hell? The image posted for this exhibition is actually intriguing. And Jairan Sadeghi has a SOLO at 707 Penn. I dig her illustrative musings enough to own a piece. If you are into high-falutin' chamber music, you can see Chatham Baroque at Future Tenant.

If you don't want to mess with the "Golden Triangle", you should definitely head over to Millvale for 91-year old artist Sid Kweller's opening at Panza Gallery (6-9PM). Apparently it's the Merry Green Dog creator's birthday, so stop by and say "Hi". While you're at it, you should have a refreshing draft beer with the estimable Mark Panza, owner and operator of the gallery. For the first time in awhile he's scheduled a reception that's not on his band practice night. He won't be distracted.

Then there's your opportunity to see Eric White's display of 'monoprints' over at Modern Formations in Garfield (7-10PM). With all the other stuff going on, you'd think the artist could come up with a more compelling tagline for his show than "An Exploration of Technique". That work is usually done in the studio well before showing its results in public. But I have confidence in proprietor Jen Q.'s tastes, so it's likely to be worth a visit. While you are at it, why don't you check out her fancy new website.

Finally we have the 11th installment of the Gestures series over at the Mattress Factory. It's called Meet the Made and the opening reception is 6-8PM tomorrow night. Not only will the participating artists be displaying their creations, but they will be working on them too- in real time. Appearing will be my buddy Christopher Lisowski, along with Kim Beck, Adam Schreckhise and 13 others. This is tied in with the whole Robot250 initiative. Meet your future masters!

Take a pause for the cause overnight, because Saturday has its own enticements. I've already mentioned Urbanic: Sightlines and Microcosms over at Moxie Dada. I mentioned a "soft opening" last week that never happened (thanks, Kyle!). Anyway the official reception is definitely two evenings hence, from 7-10PM. I'm tempted to boycott it, but I expect it to be too good to miss.

And I'll be doing my damnedest to get over to the Zombo Gallery's first anniversary celebration (Stubble and Smoke) featuring the illustrations of noted cartoonist Wayno. My presence is still up-in-the-air though, as this happens to occur simultaneous to my gay friend's annual outdoor summer tiki party- and after all... how could I possibly miss that?! And while we are on the subject of private affairs... Saturday night also offers Jason D.'s bash complete with Spelling Bee- but if you don't know what I'm talking about, I guess you aren't invited.

If none of this appeals to you, you can try Doodah Days in the Allegheny Cemetery. Or brave the weekend carnage of SouthSide Exposed (Rick will be there). Or go crosstown to the monthly Bellevue Art Crawl. Have fun.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Estonian Song Festivals

After seeing the Singing revolution trailer. I researched a little into the awesome tradition of song festivals and mass public singing in Estonia, and also some of it's Baltic neighbors. And, heads, up-- the music is good.

"The Riverdale Choral Society (RCS) has just returned from Estonia, Finland and Russia after participating in the Estonian United Song Festival, an event organized every five years since 1869. RCS members were among the 35,000 choral singers, dancers, and instrumentalists who performed for an audience of about 200,000. Unusual this year was the presence of 49 foreign choruses, including those from the Estonian diaspora (mainly in the United States, Canada, Australia and Sweden), as well as six American choruses independent of the American/Estonian communities."

"The performance may not have provided the highest possible quality of music making, but it certainly was a special human experience. Seeing composers and conductors cheered, as rock or sports stars are the U.S., was unforgettable. The President of Estonia spoke, and even though many couldn't understand his words, his presence showed the importance of choral music in our host country."

Then things went wrong and a rotten stepchild was conceived called the Estonian Punk Song Festival.

Estonia's Singing Revolution @ The Harris Theatre

It's going to be a very busy weekend of Arts events in the Burgh but I want to see this Documentary downtown @ The Harris which opens on the 12th. I came across the trailer on You Tube. Estonia's quiet (well they might have sung loud) peaceful rebirth as an independent nation is a worthy story for a documentary.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Artist Talk with Ranjani Shettar on July 15

This was, without contest, the work that I felt was the most compelling in the Life on Mars exhibit at the Carnegie Museum. I have been so looking forward to attending this talk.

Ranjani Shettar
Life on Mars, the 2008 Carnegie International
July 15, 2008, 6:30-7:30 p.m
Carnegie Lecture Hall
412.622.3131 or visit
Free to the public.

One For The Croatians

Right after the travel story on Pittsburgh, the Times did one highlighting and insanely beautiful town on the Dalmatian coast called Zadar. The town is at least 2700 years old and is a mix of all the cultures that settled, dominated and fought over the region on the ancient firing line between east and west, Rome and "barbarians", Christianity and Islam, The Papacy and Byzantium.

Since Pittsburgh has the largest Croatian American community, I thought I'd try to slip this in.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Another Boring NY Times Loves Pittsburgh Story

OK, so if you've been following the NY Times like a true Yinzer with low self esteem, you might have noticed a fair share of nice mentions of the Burgh in the last few years.

The recent, 36 Hours in Pittsburgh is above average in that the travel writer went a bit beyond the Incline, Stillers, PNC Park, and the Warhol to mention gems like Brillo Box in Bloomfield and Zenith on the South Side. It's a keeper with a lot of nice info for anyone planning to stop by. Interestingly, the Carnegie Museum is not mentioned.

Art What You Got - Save the date

Okay kids, time to have a party.

We have been working on this for a few months now, down in Polish Hill. It is going to be an absolute blast! Seriously, you gotta come. Some of my favorite artists are going to be there, like Maura Doern Danko and Lauren Toohey. Also, live music from some terrific bands. I am especially looking forward to hearing Joy Ike. What I have heard on her MySpace page is pretty incredible.

Did I mention the food? No holds barred, authentic Polish cuisine coupled with yer standard festival fare. And pickles on a stick. No, really; and they're only 57 cents. Yum!

So, what else? demonstrations and hands on stuff to do --

Ice carving, provided by Mastro Ice
Origami hats
Face Painting
The Andy Warhol Museum
The Mattress Factory

Where is this happening? In Polish Hill, between 30th and Dobson on Brereton Street.

All kinds of information is available on the MySpace page. Check out the artists roster and the festival playlist!

Thursday, July 03, 2008

July Unblurred and Moxie Dada Soft Opening.

I was surprised and a bit impressed when I found out that the July Unblurred on Penn Avenue would indeed fall on the 4th. It's all too typical to have everything put on hold when a holiday comes around. Certainly there will be a lot of folks who choose to get lit up at some or another barbecue during the day. What better way to spend the Nation's birthday? Sports and alcohol are the the mad pairing that seem to dominate the country's leisure ethic. So if you've already made this kind of commitment, I wish you good luck with the grilling. Otherwise why not try something different for a change? Come up to the Penn Avenue Corridor and see some work worth celebrating.

Of course there isn't a full bill listed on the event guide this time around. I'm not sure whether that is merely because people got their signals crossed, or if it genuinely reflects a lack of involvement among many of the galleries. At least a couple of stalwarts are advertising openings. Garfield Artworks (4931 Penn Ave.) is having Evolution in Art V. Featured are the works of Gabe Felice, Obsolete, Kate Jarrett, Elizabeth Sanchez, Micah Feeney, Andrew Karaman, and Michael Koehler. Of particular interest to me are the paintings of Greensburg resident Felice. His trippy line work inspired me to purchase a couple of his pieces from the La Vie Gallery this past winter. Since then he has continued to work the local scene, and was considered for a Sprout Fund mural.

Next door at ImageBox (4933 Penn Ave) gallery-owner John Mahood has decided once again to share some of his impressive photography. This time around he promises "botanical splendor". Also showing is Charles Smith, sharing images (with commentary) of exotic locations from around the world. And besides some after-parties, that's all that's announced on the official program. Unfortunately Modern Formations is closed for "repairs" and preparations for next weekend's exhibition (artwork by Eric White). But you never know what surprises may be in store for you on that street. If you find yourself underwhelmed by the offerings, be sure to check out the Pandemic Dance Party at Brillo Box at 9PM.

You could be forgiven, given this rundown, for thinking that this is a dead weekend in terms of Pittsburgh art. But fear not, because I have a tip for you. I ran into Kyle Ethan Fischer last night and he gave me the scoop on a "soft opening" at Moxie Dada on Saturday night. This is the first time that the gallery has had a "guest curator", and knowing Fischer's background, I strongly suggest that you make it a point to see this show. Entitled URBANIC: sightlines and microcosms, it runs through the 26th of the month. It features "artists from around the country and abroad who are redefining the complex relationship and dialogue between artist and city".

The participating artists include Grant Bobitski, Adam Grossi, Jaison Vespucci, Kaley Finegan, Matthew Indovina, Amy Casey and Deanna Mance. What was Fischer thinking when he put together this show? In his own words, he believes...

“that urban decay is giving way to transformation. As with much of the change at the beginning of the 20th century, the 21st century has a new pluralism and a concentration on locality with both a depletion of natural resources and an expansions of information in global proportions. The selected artists have unique viewpoints. Whether microcosmic, ironic commentary or suburban surrounding, visionary, samplings of city life or distortions of the sight lines that impact our vision, the viewer will be given a glimpse of what is coming to be - urbanic.”

Pretty heady stuff, eh? If you want to wait until the official opening reception, that's on Saturday, July 12, 2008 from 7-10 PM. See you there?