Monday, June 29, 2009

Street With A View

Sorry, some of these posts are of out of date events and stuff I coulda/ Shouda/ woulda put on here before-- if I had time or whatever.

I finally got to the Mattress Factory to see the Thad Mosely show which was much much better than even I imagined (cept they shoula given him every inch of the place)

This made me remember about the weird antics some Pittsburgh Artist's rigged up when Google's street view car came by to film Sampsonia Way.

"On May 3rd 2008, artists Robin Hewlett and Ben Kinsley invited the Google Inc. Street View team and residents of Pittsburgh’s Northside to collaborate on a series of tableaux along Sampsonia Way. Neighbors, and other participants from around the city, staged scenes ranging from a parade and a marathon, to a garage band practice, a seventeenth century sword fight, a heroic rescue and much more..."

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Billy Mays : One Of Pittsburgh's Greatest Artist's Dies

It's hard to say just why a particular artist comes to symbolize a time and culture but you know it when you see it. Universal resonance and communication is what makes great art and by those standards little Billy Mays from McKees Rocks was one of Pittsburgh's greatest contributions to the world.

"During the past 11 years, Mays has sold more than 30 products from cleaning supplies to health insurance. Using products he pushes, he's repaired a parachute in seconds, pulled an 80,000-pound tractor trailer and cleaned the dirtiest of bathtubs.

Along with adult dating hotlines and televangelists, he's become a staple of late-night television."

What will the people from "Mighty Putty"or The Awesome Auger or What Oder? or Engrave It or The Hercules Hook or ZorbEEZ or The Vidalia Chopit or The Steam Buddy or iCan or Simoniz Fix it or Kaboom going to do?

Oh yea---- No refunds.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Images Of Swoon's Swimming Cities Of Switchback Sea

I've been meaning to post these photos I was able to take last September of Swoon's wonderful floating city and her collaborative intstalation at Deitch Projects. Better very late than never.You can see how she reused many of the print images one see's on the walls in Pittsburgh as well as in her amazing instalation at the Mayor's house in Braddock.Deitch's LIC space is absolutely huge, giving Swoon a freedom she has rarely had before to create elaborate instalation interiors.

I was not able to get too close to the Junk boats docked outside but here are some shots looking into the late afternoon sun setting on the East River.They may give one some idea of what the Venice Junk City might look like close up.

Threaded Line @ 709 Penn Gallery


from Lee Renninger's site --
Sous Ses Jupes is a metaphorical piece-one that seeks to reveal a complex, hidden layer beneath the larger, overlay of French history and culture. In this work, the bodice is made in a style that was popular during the reign of Marie Antoinette-a complex period of splendor and violent upheaval. The porcelain flowers as well as the gold thread, blue embroidery and white “tulle” all represent archetypal elements of France's cultural achievements-achievements that have been its real gift to the rest of the world. What lies beneath the skirts, though, is a different story.

These materials—a web of raffia and paper, red and brown and black—are earthy and ethnic as well as transient and coarse. They reflect the gritty and passionate, colorful and dangerous aspects of these ?other? cultures—hiding just beneath France's perfect skirts.

What struck me when I walked into the gallery was the overwhelming beauty of the work. I'm glad that I took the time to look up the artist's site to find this explanation. A friend relayed to me that the colored papers that embellish the skirt are actually pastry wrappers. In the context of the above statement, the wrappers take on a different meaning, especially when applied to the couture of Paris.

The works at 709 Penn are lovely, as are the works on Renninger's site.

Threaded Line
Lee Renninger
709 Penn Gallery
709 Penn Ave
Pittsburgh PA 15222
Gallery Hours:
Tues - Fri: 12-8PM
Sat: 12-6PM

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

9th Annual Anniversary Exhibition @Boxheart

Well, timing is everything. I saw the Boxheart exhibit about two weeks ago. I didn't post about it last week because I wanted to talk about Three Rivers Arts Festival and I thought this show would be longer. My bad! In looking at Boxheart's site, I realized that this show is ending on Saturday.

Boxheart's Anniversary show is a great way to get to know the gallery's artists. The range in the exhibit is wide but they have one thing in common; they are excellent. Boxheart doesn't carry something for everyone, even with the range that is exhibited. You won't find Pennsylvania landscapes. Rather, you'll find contemporary, formal works next to expressionistic outsider works. That's a helluva range when viewed together.

There were several really wonderful works that I was drawn to at the exhibit, mostly formal abstracts --

Joshua Hogan

Brenda Stumpf

Keith Garubba

Joren Dykstra

May 26 - June 20, 2009
9th Annual Anniversary Exhibition
Boxheart Gallery
4523 Liberty Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15224
P. 412 687 8858
F. 412 687 6338
Gallery Hours:
Tuesday - Saturday: 10 AM - 6 PM
Sunday: 1 PM - 5 PM

Monday, June 15, 2009

Swoon Junk Boat City Floating Into Venice

Here are images of The latest mad, free form floating Junk boat city led by the artist, Swoon as it floats into Venice--to gate crash the Venice Biennale!!

"This week, Swoon, a 31-year-old Brooklyn artist whose name is Caledonia “Callie” Curry, is leading a waterborne invasion of the Venice Biennale (she didn’t bother to try to get in officially) with a crew of 30 artists, musicians, and miscreants in tow. Though they have raised some $150,000 for this crash party, the money won’t show in the boats they’ll travel in, because the boats are made of trash—a symbol of the freedom that comes with radical self-reliance, and one that is meant to effect change. “Throughout history, pranksters have been looking at fences and then pushing them aside,” Swoon has said (the name came to an ex-boyfriend in a dream, in which he imagined her future as a graffiti artist long before her career began). “Through action, you can move the perception. It’s almost like a magic trick.”"

Oh yes they are "Art Stars Now", but I think most of the root energy remains.

I think I always latched on to the anarchist,utopian nature of their projects, which are designed to push the border between what's possible,allowable, safe and unsafe. This line is where IMO, all true art lies as well as all real human progress and fun.

Will-it work?
Will it float?
Can we work together?
Will we kill each other?
Is it worth it?
Will we die?
Is it art?
Is it Ugly?
What is Ugly?
Who says's so?
Is it Beautiful?
Who says's so?
Is it finished?
Is it ever finished?
Is it about the journey?
Is it about the destination?
Is it just about us?
Is it important?
To me?
To others?
Who decides?

EMBED-BURNcast.TV #44 - A Conversation with Chicken John (Part 2) - Watch more free videos

Chicken John, talks about stuff like that here.

Obviously, in a world in which too many think the freedom to make these choices and decisions shouldn't be allowed- Swoon's gentle transgressions have become more and more special.

Small Interruption

We interrupt this Depression for a moment.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Connie Cantor Exhibit "Scribbling for Dummies" at Moxie Dada through 6/20. DO NOT MISS

Connie Cantor has an outstanding, compelling and RICH series of new abstract works at Moxie Dada. For a quick preview go here:

Bear in mind that the photos, while quite good, cannot convey the subtle texture, color and layering in these pieces.

I have already seen the exhibit twice.

If you love painting, do not miss this!

Hours are: moxie DaDA 1416 Arch Street / Fri 4-7 / Sat 12-6 PM / Sun 12-5

The gallery will also be open next Saturday for an event:

Championship Scribbling
When: Saturday, June 20, 7 pm
Where: Moxie Dada Gallery 1416 Arch St. (near Mattress Factory)
What: PITTSBURGH'S NEWEST TEAM SPORT! (a.k.a. "people doing weird things with pens")
Think you can scribble? Come play or watch.
Its the Olympics of mark-making where anything can happen: Bring a team of 4 scribblers or join a team when you get here: Jerks on Paper, The Wet Doodles, Jackson Pollock 4, The Grateful Lead...(you get it)
---Make art by walking (and running) around.
---No talent is needed! (trust me)
---Win prizes, star in the YouTube video, take home the SUPER ScribBOWL TROPHY!
---Players: age 15+ (no kids)
---Prizes courtesy of Artist and Craftsmen Supply.
EASY SIGN-UP: email your name(s) to Indicate if you're bringing a team of 4, or wish to be put on a team.
FREE! (munchies and beer by donation)
The event marks the closing of the show "Scribbling for Dummies: new works by Connie Cantor"

Saturday, June 13, 2009


Guest post by Christine Whispell

Have you HEARD of EXTREME SCRIBBLING? HAVE YOU? I mean what is it? Who does it and what do they do it on? Connie Cantor has truly lost her marbles with this idea... she intends to challenge you to make your mark, marks and remarks at her mark making event of the year! The first-ever (well, for Pittsburgh at least) SCRIBBLE FEST is being held SATURDAY, JUNE 20 @ 7 PM.

Connie plans on creating teams of scribblers who will rise to the challenge of good, clean?, just for the hell of it, FUN. or well, for the TROPHY... or some prizes donated by Artist and Craftsmen Supply or a chance to be on YouTUBE. There are 6 games planned:
SO FAR there are 13 scribblers registered and she is looking for more... REGISTER by emailing: or CALL 412.682.0348 & leave your name, email & phone number.

WHY IS SHE DOING IT? Connie's exhibit at moxie DaDA gallery, northside, explores her unconscious thought put to paper... her squiggles, scrapes and countless marks come together to produce large scale abstract works. Those familiar with her previous work will find it difficult to recognize her new works... her ability to create fearlessly and without fore planning has enabled Cantor to produce a unique, compelling body of work for her exhibit "scribbling for dummies".

moxie DaDA / 1416 arch street / 412.682.0348 /
7 PM, Saturday, JUNE 20.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Pittsburgh Weekend Events: 6/12-13/09.

I realize that most prideful 'Burghers are likely to focus on the fortunes of their beloved Pens this weekend, and believe me... as far as vicarious pleasures of the sporting nature, I can think of few better than NHL hockey. Having said that, don't forget that you have many opportunities to engage in much more direct amusements, and on a much more intimate scale. For instance...


Local arts collective Unicorn Mountain is having the reception for a group show of participating artists, featuring many stellar works including those of rising star Elina Malkin. It all goes down at the Steve Mendelson Gallery (5874 Ellsworth Avenue, Shadyside) between 5:30-8:30. Participants include Jon Carling, Bill Wehmann, Jeff Schreckengost, Masha Vereshchenko, Ian Finch, David Grim, Christopher Kardambikis, Jenifer Cooney, Ben Kehoe, Beano, Christopher Cornwell, Tom Hall, Katherine Young, Amy Conroy, Brian Holderman, Laura Jean McLaughlin,
Paul Roden, and Valerie Lueth.

Continue the swank by making a hop to the North Side for the Urban Garden Party fundraiser at the Mattress Factory. Gourmet food, drinks, entertainment, artwork, and this year's "rock theme" should justify the exorbitant admission price. Besides you'll just feel cooler if you are there, rather than sitting at your local neighborhood bar doing whiskey shooters and talking about how great it feels to piss in a public sink (not that I know anyone who has ever done such a thing).

If you feel some pressing need to head downtown, stop by the SPACE gallery for "Smoke and Mirrors". Check out this roster- Cory Arcangel, Matt Barton, Chris Bearegard, Robin Brasington, Jacob Ciocci, Olivia Ciumo, Thad Kellstadt, Ladyboy, Guthrie Lonergain, Spencer Longo, Eileen Maxson, Jesse Jamaica McLean, Alex Miller, Jae Ruberto, Mike Smith, Scotty Vera, Jeffrey Vulture, John Daniel Walsh and David Wightman. Too bad I'm gonna miss this one. Also see ArtUp's "Homeland Insecurity" (937 Liberty, 8PM, $10).

And in the South Side (for the real masochists), Sam Thorp will be showing her latest work under the title "Adjournment" (7:30-11PM) @ The Rex (1602 East Carson). I've always enjoyed the clean lines and bright pallette of her portraits.


If you want a window into the vast diversity of celebratory options in Pittsburgh, consider visiting the Cultural District on Liberty Avenue in glorious downtown for "Pride in the Streets"- a block party featuring DJs, food, and fierce fun. That gets underway at 7Pm, and costs a mere $20. Jennifer Holliday headlines, and while I don't know who that is, I am assured that she is famous, and honey... that's all that matters.

Or for a completely different scene, check out the free opening for Warhol Live at the Andy Warhol Museum (competing at the 7PM slot). This show focuses on the themes of music and dance in the great one's work. Also, you get a chance to see Dean and Britta (of the band Luna) for a very reasonable $10.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

2009 Three Rivers Arts Festival

Three Rivers Arts Festival began on Friday June 3. The last day is Sunday June 14. Yes, it is a much shorter festival. In some ways, it is also smaller than the festivals in the past. This year, the festival guide includes a number of venues outside of the festival grounds and in the Cultural District. Missing is the juried exhibit, which was held last year in a series of shipping containers. New for this year was Three Rivers Arts Festival Gallery Co-Op, located at 901 Penn Ave. I think this a smashing idea. The venue houses a sampler of twelve Pittsburgh galleries with each gallery representing a few of their gallery artists. A full listing of the galleries is available on the festival website. There is a lot of good work hung in that one small space.

Morgan Conetemporary Glass had a piece by Paul Nelson (Teapot, right) that I thought was nice. Also, it photographed really well. I know, that's a bit of a cop out. But really, I'd rather show you a good image of a good work than a really bad image of better work. Glass is difficuklt to photograph. There were several pieces that were utterly amazing. You will jst have to go down to the venue or, better yet, actually go to Morgan Contemporary Glass.


You can see more of Jason Schorr's work at moxie DaDa. This was actually a pretty large work. I don't know as it really translates well here.


This next pairing of V. Mann's is from Boxheart.


Modern Formations brought this work by Taya Hanauer. This work reminded me so much of my good friend's, Pat Barefoot.


Okay, I am very excited about this venue idea. I think that Pittsburgh galleries are a really important part of the scene here and are the best suporters of local artists. Here's the thing that I thought was questionable. The galleries involved in this space are not allowed to make sales from this space. Let me repeat that; the. galleries. are. not. permitted. to. make. sales. I don't know who came up with this idea, BUT here it is. If a patron wishes to purchase a work, he must put his name on a list. At the end of the festival, the galleries are permitted to contact the individuals that have expressed an interest in purchasing a work and the gallery closes the sale off site. Really? Really? The chances of a gallery closing a sale after the fact like this is slim to none. That actually happened to me at one of the downtown, Cultural District, galleries. The gallery attendant collected the interested party's contact info and handed it over to me. I couldn't get past the guy's secretary. Lost the sale. Okay, excuse the mini-rant. Getting back to this venue, it is definitely a great way to showcase the city's galleries. Hopefully, with one little change, the Three Rivers Arts Festival will continue with this concept in 2010.

..:::.. ..:::.. ..:::.. ..:::.. ..:::.. ..:::.. ..:::.. ..:::.. ..:::.. ..:::.. ..:::.. ..:::.. ..:::..

The Three Rivers Arts Festival woldn't be complete without the Artist Market. There have been more booths in past festivals. That doesn't mean the quality was less; to the contrary, works on display were really good. Photography, jewelry, ceramics and leather were all well represented. And really, who doesn't like sock monkeys, penguins and Frankenstein's monster? Greg Stones (image above) feels the same way. Sweet little watercolors; his booth was just fun!

The festival continued with its Emerging Artist booths, another great idea that gives artists who might otherwise not have participated a chance to present.

First up, Kat Cole. Kat has shown her work in several exhibits in Pittsburgh and had some work in Luke & Eloy's Double Vision exhibit. It is too late to see Kate's work at the festival since June 9 was her last day. But if you get a chance, see some of her work before she leaves for graduate school. She does have work at Eastside Gallery.


Another newcomer to the festival is Crystala Armagost, an amazing artist. Check out her nearly-bare booth (below). She had a good week and sold quite a few of her framed works during the five days that she was at the festival. Unfortunately, June 9 was her last day at the festival, too. But you can catch Crystala's work out and about town, too.


I am absolutely positive that I missed some favorite artists while I was at the festival yesterday. Since it IS the Three Rivers Arts Festival, OF COURSE it rained; it comes with the territory. Some artists closed their booths during the downpour and I can't blame them. Kyle Fischer had a booth, as well as Amber Coppings. But have no fear! There is a whole new slate of artists scheduled for June 10-14. The line up looks pretty amazing. You can see representative images on the Artist Market page on the festival site. Although they provide listings by date and medium, they don't provide an alphabetized list. They do, however, have a printable booth map which will be very helpful in tracking down a favorite artist.

..:::.. ..:::.. ..:::.. ..:::.. ..:::.. ..:::.. ..:::.. ..:::.. ..:::.. ..:::.. ..:::.. ..:::.. ..:::..

Sarver's Bait and Tackle is in a category of its own. Part installation, part performance space, it is an enjoyable stop in the Cultural District.

A friend and I watched a short video piece playing in the back of the space, located at 905 Penn Ave. If you stop in to see the installation or check out a fish puppet show, make sure that you take friend into this little two-seat theater to see the video. We giggled like mad women. You can find out more about the activities scheduled at Sarver''s Bait and Tackle on the festival site.

For a full schedule of festival events, check out their website.

Monday, June 08, 2009

June Unblurred on Penn Ave

You better get yourself a cup of coffee. This is going to be a long one. First stop - Spak Brothers



Spak Brothers is a Pizza place on Penn Ave. Great pizza. I stopped in to see if they had a schedule for Unblurred. I really liked these smal enameled pieces, kinda old school tag. Actually, I was on my way to Artica, which is directly across the street. The show LESS IS MORE: AN EXHIBITION OF ART UNDER 12"X12", included some of my miniature works, like the ones below --


Also included at Artica was the work of Michelle Gregio, pictured below. Really, you kinda have to go in and see this. It was just such a great piece of fantastical work. ARTica, ART GALLERY & ANTIQUES - 5110 PENN AVE. 412-596-6521 Artica is open most Fridays and Saturdays from 11 am to 6 pm or by appointment.


Most Wanted Fine Art had a really great pairing for June. JR Holt and Frank Knezevich present entirely different works. Mr. Holtz paints these really luscious works on glass while My Knezevich creates string instruments from cigar boxes. Most Wanted is located at 5015 Penn Ave. I believe the gallery is by appointment only. 570-971-1584.



The last time I was on Penn Ave, work was still being done on this building. It didn't appear to be open for Unblurred, but maybe sometime soon. I found this description --
To create The Irma Freeman Art Center, as a community center for the arts in the district of Garfield. Our plan is to renovate an existing building as an art center using green resources and recycled materials as much as possible. The Irma Freeman Art Center will be an art educational center and gallery (and performance venue) with a resident artist studio apartment. Read more


David Grim's new works of the Eastern Penitentiary were very moving. The works were soft, indicating the gritty decay and fading appearance of the facility. My camera didn't really capture his images. From what I understand of David's process, the effects are produced with the camera settings; he does not "shop" these images on the computer. In all, a departure and evolution for the artist. Vanishings at IMAGEBOX - 4933 PENN AVE.


Benedict Oddi has a solo exhibit at Modern Formations. I liked his work the first time I saw it at Luke & Eloy. He had several new and larger works for this exhibit. If you can, make it up to the gallery for a viewing. Well worth the trip.



Thursday, June 04, 2009

Pittsburgh Art Events: Weekend of 6/5-6/2009.

This weekend arts summary is going to be a rush job, as I still have too much to do to prepare for my own obligations. Speaking of which- there is some unavoidable self-promotion about to happen, so bear with me...


Go to Unblurred (of course). For some reason, the Penn Avenue Arts Initiative schedule page is down and has been all day... so I suggest you juat show up somewhere along Penn (between Garfield and Friendship) and grab yourself a schedule. Make sure to stop at the Sprout Fund headquarters (5423 Penn, 5:30PM) for their annual social, visit ARTica (5110 Penn, where my friend Susan Constance is displaying some of her fine work). and come say "Hi!" to me at Imagebox (4933 Penn). Other highlights include Benedict Oddi at Modern Formations and Joey Kennedy at 5427 Penn.

Or alternatively, go on down to the opening of the Three Rivers Arts Festival. It will be jam-packed with sweaty cornballs eating fried foods and screaming kids with ice cream dripping down their chins. Seriously though- The Black Keys are playing for free, and (believe me) you'll have plenty of fun finding a place to park. If you do venture forth, you must see Tom Sarver's new installation, entitled "Bait & Tackle". It's great to have him back in the 'Burgh for the summer, while he's got a break from his fancy NY MFA program. Also, pop in at 937 Liberty for an AAP group show, and dig some pieces by my buddies Rick Byerly and Mia Tarducci Henry.


Moxie Dada (1416 Arch Street, the North Side) has an opening reception for artist Connie Cantor's "Scribbling for Dummies", starting at 6PM. I don't know what crazy stuff she has planned, but Cantor has been laboring on the local arts scene for decades, and I'm certain that whatever she puts up will be worth looking at.

You should also plan on spending some time at the Zombo Gallery to see Eric Luden's latest batch of illustrative gems. Personally, I haven't missed one of his shows at the gallery yet, and I don't intend to start now. Busty chicks, gritty lizard-like con men, etc... who wouldn't want to take a gaze at that sort of thing? It's called "Chicks and Beer", and the opening runs from 6-10PM. There's also photography by Laura Petrilla, which I find fascinatingly odd, since our good ol' Michael D. insists that shutter-buggery isn't "real art". Perhaps he's had an epiphany?

If you need something to do during the day, check out the new thrift stores along Butler in Lawrenceville. Don't let the new crop of would-be hipsters get all the good stuff.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Unblurred previews

I know I keep beating this drum, BUT... about the only time you can be sure of seeing the exhibits on Penn Ave is if you go to the first Friday Unblurred event. The full schedule for the event is posted; following are the shows I have every intention of visiting. Check back for an update next week.

Back in January, Benjamin Oddi had a solo exhibit at the incomparable Luke & Eloy Gallery. Opening this Friday is his solo exhibit at Modern Formation. Definitely worth checking out.

THE TRUTH IS MADE: ARTWORK OF BENEDICT ODDI The desire for freedom, escape, and exploration influence the narrative of these oil paintings. Figures are placed in situations of anxiety and peril, intervened with traces of otherworldliness. The artist approaches his work through escapism related to utopian and dystopian philosophy but does not align with one thought or the other; he chooses to respond to both by using the nature of free will. Exhibit runs to July 24th. 412.362.0274


I am not sure that this photo is representative of David Grim's series on the Eastern Penitentiary in Philadelphia, But it is a really good photograph. I'm sure the solo at Image Box will be wonderful.

Friday, June 5 | 7PM-10PM | IMAGEBOX - 4933 PENN AVE.
VANISHINGS Features previously unseen photography by David Grim. In 1831, Alexis de Tocqueville came to the United States to study the newest advancements in prison technology. One of his stops was Eastern Penitentiary in Philadelphia. Please join us for a reception and images taken from that very location 178 years after his trip. 412.441.0930.

Full disclosure: I have some work in this exhibit at ARTica. Swing by, okay?

Friday, June 5 | 7PM-10PM | ARTica, ART GALLERY & ANTIQUES - 5110 PENN AVE.
LESS IS MORE: AN EXHIBITION OF ART UNDER 12"X12" This exhibition will leave you in awe of what can be made when someone has a small view of the world. Come see tiny fabric pastries, little landscapes and other diminutive works of art. Also make a dinky doodle for our Gallery-on-Demand. Enjoy food, music, and all the usual fun that comes from mingling with friends old and new. Need more?