Sunday, December 29, 2013

Happening this January

So, I've been collecting pins on events here in Pittsburgh that I want to attend. This far, far from a complete list of all of the cool things happening next month. Just the ones that I am particularly interested in going to. Check out the board!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Atlanta Street Art in Little Five Points

Almost all these pieces are in an old eastern neighborhood of Atlanta called Little Five Points. Most buildings and design dates from around 1900-1930, with a sprinking of new buildings. Atlanta's population surged from around 90,000 to over 290,000 (It was only 9,000 before the Civil War) in this period, which saw the development of many walkable, streetcar suburbs.

Little Five Points has an amazing number of vintage clothing stores; lots of planned murals and high quality street art. I wish we had more time to explore here.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Quick Trip to Atlanta: Several Posts On The Way

Me and Jean were lucky enough to get a mini vacation / business trip to Atlanta, squeezing in as much as we could, including a holiday tour of the historic Fox Theater, The High Museum, Emory University and The Atlanta History Center. Surprisingly, some significant areas of the city are walkable.

Several posts are on the way with thoughts about transit, neighborhoods, architecture and several museum visits.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Holiday art specials, happening this weekend!

Happy Hour Holiday at BoxHeart
Happy Hour Holiday at BoxHeart

The holiday show at BoxHeart this year features great gifts, sure. But it also features work from all of artists that are represented by BoxHeart. This show is a great way to get acquainted with these artists.

There are two opportunities to do just that this weekend. Tonight is a special holiday happy hour, when you can peruse the exhibit with other art lovers. Tomorrow, BoxHeart and the other shops in Bloomfield will be offering special holiday deals.

Holiday Happy Hour!
Friday, December 13th
6 - 8pm

Bloomfield Shop Walk
Saturday, December 14th
12 - 5pm


If you're over on the Southside, Superfriends might be a really nice stop. It's a last-minute, pop-up type of event with several local artists.

December 14, 2-6pm
CWP warehouse
2315 wharton st.
pittsburgh pa 15203

XMittens and Ludmila's Emporium
XMittens and Ludmila's Emporium

Love love love XMittens! Amber Coppings is now working out of a studio in Larryville. Over the next two weekends she will be having special open studio/pop-up store events. If you're in the neighborhood, check this out and then visit Salud on Butler St for delicious Cuban fare.

XMittens and Ludmila's Emporium
Xmittens DIY Gift Set Weekend
December 14, 12-5 and December 15, 1-5
December 21-22, 12pm-5pm
Solstice Sale
5252 Butler St, 2nd floor
Pittsburgh PA 10201

Of course this isn't a complete list of all of the really cool holiday art events popping up all over Pittsburgh. If you want to share something that you are doing, you can email me the information at susanconstanse at, or leave your information in the comments form. Wishing all of you a lustrous season!

Monday, December 09, 2013

NPR's World Cafe Explores Pittsburgh's Music Scene Dec 11

Gotta admit to not listening to The World Cafe since the mid 1990's. Always amazed at how tame, and boring a show aledgedly committed to the vast diversity of music can be.

Not expecting hard hitting Hip-Hop, Thrash Metal, Punk or even serious contemporary classical music to be explored.

From The Post Gazette

• A live interview and performance session with Donora, recently recorded at WYEP.
• WYEP Morning Mix host Cindy Howes talking about Pittsburgh and playing her top five new local bands.
 • A  chat with Jerry Weber of the legendary Jerry's Records
• Renowned soul singer Billy Price selecting his top five classic Pittsburgh songs.
• An archived World Cafe performance by Rusted Root.
• And Pittsburgh music selections chosen by Dye.
World Cafe is nationally syndicated to more than 225 radio stations by NPR. It airs on WYEP at 6 p.m.
Why not contact The Roboto Project, Brillo Box, Justin Strong (Of The Shadow Lounge)  or at least  a host or two from WRCT?
The good thing is Pittsburgh certainly has enough going on to fill several interesting shows.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Mommy, I want art for Christmas!

Do you, Virginia, do you really?

You're in luck, 'cause there's a lot of great stuff happening over the next two weekends!

Small Business Saturday is tomorrow. I'm sure that you have favorite store that you intend to patronize. One of mine is BoxHeart Gallery, located in Bloomfield.
Blooming with Holiday Spirit at BoxHeart Gallery
Blooming with Holiday Spirit at BoxHeart Gallery
 Enjoy holiday goodies while shopping for unique gifts of original artwork. In addition, they'll be offering 10% OFF all purchases and providing FREE gift wrapping!

Small Business Saturday Celebration:
Saturday, November 30th: Noon - 5pm
Free and Open to the Public.

- 10% OFF All Purchases!
- Free Gift Wrapping!
- Holiday Goodies!
Holiday Book Sale at Belvedere's Ultra Dive
Holiday Book Sale at Belvedere's Ultra Dive

Hosted by Small Press Pittsburgh, the Holiday Book Sale is gonna be great for all gifts Lit. The sale takes place at Belvedere's Ultra Dive on Sunday, December 1.

Browse selections from some of Pittsburgh's Best Bookstores, for the book lovers on your holiday gift list! New books, used books, art books, photography books, graphic novels, small press books, bestsellers, books on sale, cards, and more. More info
Unblurred Holiday
It's an Unblurred Holiday
Taking place, as usual, on the first Friday of the month (December 6). Tons of great opportunities to find those really unique gifts, for yourself or a special person. Check out the line up.

Pittsburgh Glass Center Holiday Glass Sale
Pittsburgh Glass Center Holiday Glass Sale
The Pittsburgh Glass Center has events going throughout the weekend, starting with Unblurred on Friday December 6. On Saturday and Sunday -

"Funky, fanciful and functional glass will be for sale for three days only! Regional artists will display handmade art and jewelry in all price ranges. Hot glass demonstrations will be ongoing on Friday evening. If you'd rather make your own glass ornament, you can on Saturday from 10am-4pm. Make a blown glass ornament for $35 or a fused glass ornament for $25." more info

Handmade Arcade
Handmade Arcade
"Enjoy this earth friendly sampling of handmade goods from Handmade Arcade artists. Because nothing feels better than giving a gift that reduces, reuses, recycles and inspires others to do the same. Come out to see the rest of our amazing artists and craftspeople at this year’s Handmade Arcade, Saturday, December 7th at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center." more info

This is far from a complete list of all of the great things happening in Pittsburgh during the holiday season. The Small Business Saturday event and the weeks leading up to Christmas are going to be full! Enjoy, and stay safe.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Great New Film on Iconic Pittsburgh Architect, Henry Hornbostel

OK, Hornbostel did works all over the country, but taught at Carnegie Tech, and designed so many loved buildings (110 building in the Pittsburgh area) here he is closely identified with the city.

The original Carnegie Mellon campus including

Hamerschlag Hall
CMU College of Fine Arts Building
 Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall
University of Pittsburgh's Thaw Hall
Pittsburgh City-County Building
 Rodef Shalom Temple
The Schenley Apartments (In Oakland)
Hamburg Hall (Originally the U.S. Breau of Mines Building)
Congregation B'nai Israel (Now, The Urban League Pittsburgh Charter school)

Henry Hornbostel Biography Pitch Video from New Perspective Productions on Vimeo.

The film contains great film footage of the building and extensive interviews with local architectural scholars & historians and tries to connect his buildings to his affable, constantly curious nature.

Long ignored as a stodgy architect trapped in the past, Hornbostel is now recognised  for designs filled with beauty, sensitivity, invention and lots of amazing engineering.

He also created one of my favorite NYC bridges- The Hell Gate.

Keep your eyes out for a repeat of the film on PBS.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Top of the Line Drawathon

Top of the Line Drawathon: a 24 hour online drawing marathon of prizes
Top of the Line Drawathon: a 24 hour online drawing marathon of prizes
This is a little short notice but -

Daniel McCloskey, Cyberpunk Apocalypse, has launched a Kicksatrter campaign to support his newest endeavor.

Top of the Line is the story of a kid growing into a hero, and in the process becoming a terrible human being. It's also kind of about a guy riding a bike and missing teeth (oddly) but this guy chops the heads off genetically engineered monsters with a sword.

But wait! There's more!

Starting tomorrow (Wednesday) at noon, you can -

Join Daniel McCloskey as he launches his new monster fighting comic, Top of the Line, with a 24 hour drawing marathon streaming at:

There will be bonus rewards announced throughout the day, and guest artists dropping in. This sounds like it's going to be so much fun; I'll definitely be checking in throughout the drawathon!

Penn Avenue

So, I just couldn't make it to the November edition of Unblurred. I was too busy reading a sign on a building to watch where I was walking and took a tumble, twisting my ankle, and banging up my knee and elbow. Ouch!

I am sorry I missed the full event, which are usually so much fun. I especially like going in the Fall. It's a lively street scene with so much activity that I rarely am able to get to all of it. I did get a chance to visit Penn Ave this past weekend. I stopped at ModernFormations to take a look at their current exhibits.

Signs From the Times: An exhibition of new works by Ron Copeland
Signs From the Times: An exhibition of new works by Ron Copeland

Ron Copeland's Signs of the Times was really great! The front room of the gallery is filled with these collage-installations of signs. Just a really gorgeous exhibit. The pieces were nicely detailed and gave you a lot to look at.

The installations include found and fabricated objects, with some lighted pieces mixed in. The combination of textures, coupled with the relief aspect of the assemblage made for some very appealing work. With so many works in the room, I would have assumed it would feel crowded, but the whole exhibit had a nice and balanced flow to it.
Signs From the Times: An exhibition of new works by Ron Copeland (detail)
Signs From the Times: An exhibition of new works by Ron Copeland (detail)

I happened to glance behind one the installations and found that there were several pieces completely out of view. It just sort of tickled me to find them, yanno? The show reminded me of the ghost signs that you see on some of the old buildings in Pittsburgh. The show seems to herald that nostalgiac look at our recent history.

More examples from Signs of the Times are in the gallery. There are a few more days to view the exhibit, and it's well worth the trip.

Signs From the Times: An exhibition of new works by Ron Copeland
ModernFormations Gallery

At Spak Bros
At Spak Bros
I stopped in Spak Brothers on my way up Penn Ave. Unfortunately, the works that were installed weren't labeled. But don't they look fabulous? There are a scant handful of these pieces, and they work really well with the space. Very whimsical! (Thanks for the update! Gabe Felice is the artist)

December's Unblurred should be a really good one. You should definitely bring your gift-giving list with you, though. Past years' experience has demonstrated that this is a great place to find something special and unique for those on your list.

Mostly Mod / Artica will be open, with their eclectic mix of kitsch and classic collectibles.

Stuff 'n Such Society, located in the basement of Most Wanted Fine Art, is a great place to pick up that one action figure from the Star Wars series that your friend doesn't have.

Clay Penn is the studio of Laura McLaughlin. Expect amazingly detailed ceramic art.

Pulse is going to be having a gift mart with lots of DIY vendors.

And stop by the Pittsburgh Glass Center for the Holiday Glass Sale.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Rob Ford, Crack & The Dangers of Government Consolidation

Often, the greatest dangers come from comforting confidence in bad ideas. Clearly, the absurd level of municipal fragmentation in Pennsylvania can be a problem. But the blind belief that merging often radically different communities together can only produce good is equally dumb.

In Toronto,  the bitter political conflicts born in the forced merger of the city with its major suburbs elected a crack smoking mayor and a city so divided it seems unable to get rid of him.

From The Toronto Star

In 1998, the Harris government forced a shotgun wedding on Toronto and five surrounding suburbs, in spite of local referendum results opposing the move more than three to one 
Not a single municipality affected was in favour of the merger, and all but one joined a legal challenge opposing it. The amalgamation bill was rammed through the Ontario legislature in one of the most bitterly contested battles in provincial history with opposition parties tabling 13,000 amendments over a two-week period in an ultimately futile filibuster.
The almost certain result in this case was a city dominated by suburban voters opposed to the basic values and interests of the city itself.

 What was unleashed on Toronto in 1998 was a diabolical masterstroke: a perpetual culture war between the suburbs and the city, where the later will almost always be outvoted by suburbanites with different values, priorities and motivations.
 Transit is a pregnant example. If the TTC only had to serve the former City of Toronto, it would actually turn a profit . Instead the beleaguered transit authority is whipsawed by populist politics and asked to deliver astronomically expensive subway service to the surrounding low-density sprawl. One of the first actions of Mayor Ford was to rip up Transit City, the guiding planning document for public transport even though it had been developed through years of consultation and had $1.3 billion in signed contracts.
No real surprise that Columbus, Ohio the regional poster child for a sprawling consolidated city now lags Pittsburgh & Cleveland in downtown construction.

Before one considers merging communities, consider what policies and interests would those voters bring. What would be the impact on land use policy, zoning & transit.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Carnegie International Reviews Pour In -- Updated List

No excuse, but I haven't seen it yet.

The professional art world is a bit of a circle jerk, where open, honest criticism is rare. Even so, the reaction seems very positive, with reviewers using words like smart, understated & playful

Check out the the blog entry with links. 

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Pittsburgh Children's Hospital Surprises kids with Super Hero Window Washers

Not exactly a fan of the monolithic, UPMC healthcare giant, a non profit that claims to be the region's biggest employer while saying it has no employees.

File this in the Pittsburgh fun & awesome category. Obviously many of these non employees and contractors are pretty good people.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Sherry Rusinack: Hats Off To The Insane @ Pittsburgh's Box Heart Gallery

I don't usually say this, but this is not just a great show to see but an amazing chance to buy great cheap art, with few works selling for more than $200 and many for as little as $35.
Works are being swapped out as things sell, creating an ongoing instillation of insanity.

If I had a gripe, its that I wish there was even more work by this prolific, intuitive artist on display. May get back with some shots.

Hats Off to the Insane: New Work by Sherry Rusinack
Box Heart Gallery
October 15--November 9
4523 Liberty Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15224

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Obligatory Pittsburgh Duck Post

The Pittsburgh Duck ended up pretty much the way, I thought it would, by operating as a medium through which Pittsburghers could gaze at cute kids (One in a duck costume), dogs, weather, the river, and the stunning beauty of the city itself.  Is it great art? Who really cares?

Saturday, October 19, 2013

West Virginia Bridge Day: Live Feed From New River Gorge Bridge Jump

Each year avid thrill seekers head to jump off a bridge over a massive gorge.

To each his own. You may not want to do this, but Pittsburgher's should be happy an amzing place like West Virginia's New River Gorge is just a few hours drive away.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Penn Ave in October

Garfield Night Market
Garfield Night Market
I started my Penn Ave tour at the Garfield Night Market last First Friday (aka Unblurred). Great place to start, since it opens earlier than most of the venues on Penn. Plus, you can get a taste of something to keep you going during your long walk. Unfortunately, October was the last Night Market for the season, but they will be returning in the Spring.

The Dirty Poet
The Dirty Poet
A lot of random stuff happens on Penn Ave during Unblurred. This past one, we were treated to a mostly-brass marching band. Which was totally fun. Although the Dirty Poet posts all over the city, I did run into one on a pole near Evaline St. Always a pleasure to read these, and they're distributed pretty evenly across neighborhoods.

But the meat of Unblurred remains the exhibits. First up, Olga Brindar had a solo at Artists In Motion.

Olga Brindar And then there was that unforgettable morning when Blackbird was out walking.
Olga Brindar - And then there was that unforgettable morning when Blackbird was out walking

There were more than a few of these large-scale drawings in the exhibit. I love the touch of myth that underlie these works.

I could here the sweet strains of John Coltraine, just a block away, at Mr. Roboto Project. Nicholas Perney, who uses the musicians of the jazz era as a source of inspiration, had a solo in the venue's space. The works were all created with mixed media on wood blocks. Very dramatic. (below)

Nicholas Perney at Mr. Roboto Project
Nicholas Perney at Mr. Roboto Project

The Irma Freeman Center exhibited its third round of Pittsburgh-based art. As always, the show is a democratic survey of Pittsburgh as seen through the eyes of its artists. The works are varied in media and concept, ranging from representational to concept.

Laurie Mancuso Rusty
Laurie Mancuso Rusty
 I particularly liked the above work by Laurie Mancuso, and there were a lot of really delicious works to enjoy. Some of my favorites are included in the gallery at the end of this post.

Paulette Poullet at ModernFormations Gallery
Paulette Poullet at ModernFormations Gallery

ModernFormations had a strong doubleheader for October. really a must-see pairing that offer completely different views on the subject of place. Paulette Poullet (above) is exhibiting Our Disappearing City in the back gallery. I wish the image did justice to the work, really. I found the work to be pretty compelling.

Kurt Garrison <em>Looking Back: Tate Modern</em>
Kurt Garrison Looking Back: Tate Modern
 The front gallery at Modern Formations hosted Things Are Looking Up: Abstract Tourist & Architectural Photography by Kurt Garrison. The title really says it all. Really striking work that went way beyond the concept of tourist.

Enjoy the Gallery!

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Birth of the Living Dead documents the making of Night of the Living Dead

Got say, Night of the Living Dead  is still very shocking and disturbing today. Low budget, quirky, raw and continually violent. Someday, I will get the nerve to watch it again.

Finally, what looks like a good documentary on the making of this pittsburgh icon, tracing the film partly to the unhinged nature of the 1960's when scenes not that different surged daily onto American TV screens.

Don't know where or when it's playing here- keep your eyes out.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Local Comic Artist, Ed Piskor goes Neck Deep into Hip-Hop History

This is weird for me, cause my high school, in Queens, Hillcrest was a hotbed of early Rap & graffiti culture. Ed goes really deep into this with his new comic book, Hip-Hop Family Tree and is certain to tell you things you, don't know.

Time magazine did a post and great video

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Francis Crisafio at 707 Penn

Francis Crisafio
Francis Crisafio

The last Gallery Crawl downtown was very packed, with spillover from the welcome party for the duck crowding the galleries. It was difficult to really get a good look at the work in most of the galleries during the Crawl, and I know I have to go back.

One show in particular was Francis Crisafio's solo at 707 Gallery. There's more to explore here than the undeniably good work on the walls, however brief a glimpse I got.

The works were large photographs that looked like live action collage. The images themselves were consistently strong and seemed very sensitive. But it was the use of masks in the portraits that was so intriguing.

The exhibition incorporates drawings, recycled photographs, and print media as well as body gesture to explore issues of race, class, and gender. The exhibition is open to the public Friday, September 13, through Sunday, November 3, 2013.

Holdup in the Hood
Francis Crisafio
through November 3, 2013
707 Gallery
707 Penn Ave
Pittsburgh PA 15222

Fragmentation: New Work by Seth Clark

Seth Clark Mass I
Seth Clark Mass I (diptych)Collage, Charcoal, Gouache, Pastel, Acrylic, Graphite on Panel, 72" X 84"[/caption]
Really great show at BoxHeart this month. Seth Clark has a solo of his large collage works of deteriorating architecture.

The works are a contrast of serene, empty space with heavily layered paper combined with drawing media. Clark achieves an incredible depth in these works, I feel like my hand would sink into the surface of the collage. Honestly, I really wanted to riffle through those layers. I'm sure there are secret letters and old movie tickets hidden in the walls.

From the show description:
These images are created through an ambitious layering process. Clark collages with found paper to reflect the fragmented and complex tactility of decay. Once a dimensional foundation is achieved, various mixed media are used to bring definition and depth to these raw materials. The processes of collage and drawing alternate between themselves lending to a seamless blend of the two mediums. It often takes months for the subject to appear out of the many scraps of paper and scribble.
Seth Clark's Fragmentation exhibit is up through October 12 at BoxHeart. Well worth the time to go and see.

September 17 - October 12, 2013
New Work by: Seth Clark
4523 Liberty Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15224

Friday, August 30, 2013

Chris McGinnis at 709

Chris McGinnis The Productive Machine #13
Chris McGinnis The Productive Machine #13
A really stand-out exhibit at the last downtown Gallery Crawl in July was at 709, where Chris McGinnis is showing The Productive Machine.

The presented works are a combination of drawings and paintings, with the subject of manual labor and urban environment. The works themselves seem to herald a romanticized vision of skilled labor, reminiscent of the Social Realism movement. There are some subtle observations about the nearly-defunct manufacturing dichotomy. The works record the current state of Rust Belt environs, showing the abandonment of manufacturing. Social Realism aimed to expose the plight of the underclass; these works continue to record those disparities.

Chris McGinnis Staccato Rhythm II (After Gilbreath)
Chris McGinnis
Staccato Rhythm II (After Gilbreath)

Interesting in this show is the exhibit of studies alongside their painted counterparts. And in an exhibit of interesting works I thought The Productive Machine #13 (above) particularly interesting. The study that paired with the piece, Staccato Rhythm II (After Gilbreath) (pictured left), is inset into the corner. The discord was intense, since the inset was an entirely different handling of pigment. The color keeps the superimposed images justified, but the deliberate obliteration of detail in the figure as well as the glowing diagram lines push an aslant dimension into the plane.

I like this pairing too -

Chris McGinnis The Productive Machine #12
Chris McGinnis The Productive Machine #12

Chris McGinnis The Productive Machine #12 (Study)
Chris McGinnis The Productive Machine #12 (Study)
 The drawing is held very true to form in both of these pairings,as well as with the pairings in the rest of the exhibit. Color gives the work an added dimension, while remaining true to composition and values. Because I am an artist myself, I would love to see the previous steps that led up to the drawing as well as any intervening studies between these very fine drawings and their pigmented counterparts.

Nothing like procrastination; I have been meaning to write about this exhibit for a couple weeks. Unfortunately for you, Dear Reader, there is only this weekend to see it. The Productive Machine closes on Sunday, September 1. Yes, 709 Gallery does have Sunday hours. So, what are you doing this weekend?

Chris McGinnis
The Productive Machine
709 Penn Gallery
July 12-September 1, 2013

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Corpse Flower is Blooming @ The Phipps- Promising a Sick & Amazing Experience

Yes, this is an absolutely huge flower that smells like a rotting corpse and is pollinated by carcass eating insects. People travel thousands of miles and hike for hours to see this in its native Sumatra.

From the Wikipedia

"The titan arum's inflorescence can reach over 3 metres (10 ft) in height. Like the related cuckoo pint and calla lily, it consists of a fragrant spadix of flowers wrapped by aspathe, which looks like a large petal. In the case of the titan arum, the spathe is green on the outside and dark burgundy red on the inside, and deeply furrowed. The spadix is hollow and resembles a large loaf of French bread. Down inside the sheath of the spathe the spadix bears two rings of small flowers. The upper ring bears the male flowers, the lower ring is spangled with bright red-orange carpels. The "fragrance" of the titan arum resembles rotting meat, attracting carrion-eating beetles and flesh flies (family Sarcophagidae) that pollinate it. The inflorescence's deep red color and texture contribute to the illusion that the spathe is a piece of meat. During bloom, the tip of the spadix is approximately human body temperature, which helps the perfume volatilize; this heat is also believed to assist in the illusion that attracts carcass-eating insects."

Apparently cultivating it is pretty hard and has only been managed by a few hundred botanic gardens.

The Corpse Flower segment on Essential Pittsburgh

The Phipps

Monday, August 19, 2013

Unblurred in the summer = hothothot

Night Market
Night Market
I usually get these posts up in a more timely manner, but August makes me lazy. If you missed the August Unblurred, I feel a little sorry for you; it was a blast!

I thought the Night Market was going to be limited to the Cultural District, but it appears to be branching out. A block of N Pacific, between Penn and Dearborn, was filled with local DIY crafters and purveyors of sidewalk cuisine. There were familiar booths and vendors, along with some new faces and new wares.

The Community Center on N Pacific, hosted a small press book fair, which is just the kind of event I love. Local and visiting authors and illustrators were on hand with tables of self-published books, 'zines and graphic novels. I am so glad that I didn't know it was taking place until I was on Penn Ave. I only had a limited amount of cash with me and these events always put a gaping hole in my budget!

Assemble was extremely active, hosting No Fly Zone - an installation by D.S. Kinsel. The space was a riot of color and sound, with paper airplanes (with greater and lesser success) sailing across the space.

Across the street at Mr. Roboto were these super sweet cross stitch pieces by Steel Wools:

Steel Wool at Mr Roboto Project
Steel Wool at Mr Roboto Project

I spotted several of this artist's pieces in the wilds of Pittsburgh, and have wondered about them. They're such a nice surprise to run into on a street corner. It's nice to be able to make some connection between these anonymous works and at least some semblance of their agent. Steel Wool documents their work on Tumblr. I am looking forward to spotting more works in the wilds of Pittsburgh.

Kathryn Carr Glorious Growth Hormone
Kathryn Carr Glorious Growth Hormone
Most Wanted Fine Art hosted an exhibit of Kathryn Carr's cut paper works. These are exceptionally striking pieces, with a lot of character to them. I was particularly intrigued by Glorious Growth Hormone (picture above) with its layered papers and its claim to a contiguous, amorphic space. While the works maintain a certain delicacy, they are considerably stronger than previous shows that I have seen.

There are several images of the exhibit in the gallery, but for a more complete picture of Kathryn Carr's work, check this link.

Carolyn Wenning at <c>space
Carolyn Wenning
  Carolyn Wenning opens her doors for some Unblurred events, and I was lucky enough to get in for a few minutes during the last event to see what is fresh from her easel. These very fresh paintings were up in her space. Her work is so atmospheric, with just a wonderful glow. I was so happy to see her open for the event, and I am looking forward to seeing her open again for future Unblurreds.

The next Unblurred is coming up soon, just a couple weeks away on September 6th. The Penn Ave Arts Initiative should be releasing the new calendar soon. I'm looking forward to it!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

First Impression - Knit The Bridge is Both Awesome & Underwhelming

A few initial personal impressions of The world's largest "yarn bombing" project, Knit The Bridge. (Opinion is my own and may change as I spend more time with it) 

Tons of people put lots of time, effort and love into this project and I'm very glad they did.


The awesome part of this sort of explains itself. The project was huge and pulling it off demonstrated a tremendously powerful community effort; technical skill and almost military coordination. Using an iconic bridge as a metaphoric demonstration of civil society involving almost 2000 people.

From The Post Gazette

"A niece in Toledo, Ohio, Rose Durant, also got involved. Ms. Deaniello didn't stop there, though, and brought in yet another acquaintance to create panels, 90-year-old Zella Poindexter, who lives in a Pittsburgh nursing home.

Much of the pre-site planning for Knit the Bridge was accomplished at the Spinning Plate gallery in East Liberty, where volunteers such as Ms. Deaniello, 71, were "little worker bees," she said, laughing.

The real buzz began early Saturday, when the actual assembly began. With the bridge closed off to vehicle and foot traffic, the low chatter of conversation from the mostly female crews was a backdrop as they stitched away hours in the sun."


The weakness of the project in some ways comes from it's greatest strength. 

Yarn Bombing as a movement tends to relate to street art and gather strength from pushing boundaries. Overwhelmingly the aesthetic is about softening the hard, technical world with the handmade, funky and chaotic. 

The main tower covering was machine knitted according to reports. Also, the most interesting aspects of the bridge like the cables were not "bombed". 

One also gets the strong impression that an effort was made to control and design out unexpected content or quirks- washing out anything remotely offensive or personal. (Could be wrong about that)

While I understand the physical and logistical barriers involved, the project fails to push the envelope in a way that creates true art. 

Views were from first look late Sunday evening. I may change my mind as I walk the bridge and soak it all in.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Station To Station Seeks Submissions for Mobile Train Public Art Spectacle.

The Station to Station concept seems to be fleshing out. It's gonna cost $25 to attend and honestly seems more about Art Star theater than real collaborative participation.

Even so-- they say they want your input.

"Send us images that inspire you-- an impromptu moment of beauty, absurdity, poinance or revelation. It can be a parking lot, the back of a bus, a field up-close, someones expression on a train platform- anything that moves you.

Your submissions will appear on our tumblr, and have the chance to be projected as part of the happenings! Help us make Station to Station a true nomadic experience, occurring over borders and beyond boundaries. The train is just the beginning."

Feel free to submit

Details to attend.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Bill & Ai Qiu Hopen's Mysterious Sutton West Virginia Studio

Once in while we get down to West Virginia, where one sometimes finds the strangest, most magical things. These shots were taken in a tiny place called Sutton. The old church seems abandoned but outside is a very romantic hanging bronze. Nearby is a store front with small maquette's displaying great skill. A worn flyer seems to indicate the artists.

 From, The West Virginia Encyclopedia

 (Bill)"Hopen studied painting at Lehman College, a branch of the City University of New York, and is largely self-taught as a sculptor. In the mid-1970s, he moved from Manhattan to Sutton. West Virginia hardwoods and stone were the materials that he first used for carving. Later in his career he devoted himself largely to sculpture cast in lead crystal, bronze, and other metals." Bill has had many commissions, throughout West Virginia, as well as New York, Wichita, Baton Rouge and elsewhere.

 His wife, has works all over China and keeps a studio near Shanghai. Amazingly, both artists have made life in West Virginia work for them. Hope they don't mind me sharing these shots from last year. Their aesthetic is similar enough that I can't be sure who did what. My guess is the dancing/floating violinist may be Ai Qiu's work.

Bill Hopen's Website

Ai Qiu Hopen's Website

Andy Warhol Bridge Yarn Bombing Begins: Knit The Bridge Project Should Be Complete By Tomorrow Night

Article in Post Gazette Follow #KnitTheBridge hashtag on twitter for images. Or go downtown and watch.

Friday, August 09, 2013

Artist Couple Makes Wild & Wonderful, West Virginia Window House

For people willing to put the effort in to live a creative life fully, West Virginia can be a great place. From This Is Colossal
"For their very first date, photographer Nick Olson took designer Lilah Horwitz on a walk in the mountains of West Virginia. While chatting and getting to know each other during a particularly scenic sunset the two jokingly wondered what it would be like to live in a house where the entire facade was windows, so the sunset would never be contained within a small space."
A year later, they had quit their jobs and started a road trip, scrounging windows & doors at garage sales and salvage stores along the way.

Half Cut Tea . com | Nick Olson & Lilah Horwitz from Matt Glass on Vimeo.

Not sure where this place is.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Lawrenceville's Rock All Night doubles size to 20 venues & 70 acts

I love this kind of free form event that links existing venues more than a lot of giant festivals. It really connects one to the neighborhood by making one roam and discover.

From The Post Gazette
"A 16-hour free festival featuring more than 70 acts at double the venues (20). The goal of actually rocking all night hasn't panned out yet -- they're still looking for a place where they can do a rock 'n' roll breakfast from 2 to 6 a.m. -- but they're starting earlier with unlikely venues such as the Dozen Bake Shop, Embody Juice Bar and Wild Purveyors Market playing host to acoustic music at 10 a.m."
Venues include:

4 - 8 PM Arsenal Park concert
Neid's Hotel- Classic Rock
Stinky's -Blues
Cattivo - Punk/Metal
Eclipse Lounge -Electronic/World Music
720 Records - Jazz/R&B
Hambones - Bluegrass
Arsenal Lanes (Bowling Alley)
Dozen Bake Shop-  Acoustic
Wild Purveyors Market- Acoustic

Also busking zones outside Rather Ripped Records and other places.

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Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Figment Project Live Streams Andy Warhol Gravesite

Love him or hate him, Warhol has become an immortal vessel on which the public projects itself.

"The Figment Project

To honor the anniversary of Warhol’s birthday, August 6, 2013 The Andy Warhol Museum and EarthCam launched a collaborative project titled Figment, a live feed of Warhol’s gravesite. This live feed, viewable 24 hours a day, seven days a week worldwide is available above.

Gravesite as Pilgrimage

Andy Warhol died on February 22, 1987 and is buried at St. John the Baptist Byzantine Catholic Cemetery, which is owned and operated by St. John the Baptist Church in Pittsburgh - a sister parish of St. John Chrysostom Byzantine Catholic Church. Warhol’s parents, Julia and Andrej, are also buried at the same cemetery.
Hundreds of devotees make the pilgrimage yearly to Warhol’s resting place. Often these visitors leave mementos at the site, including such popular culture items as Campbell’s Soup cans and Coca-Cola bottles."

Follow the stream here:

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Meet Baxter, the Trainable Manufacturing Robot Today @ CMU: He Works Cheap

Great news is that rising manufacturing wages in China and cheap natural gas energy are helping push more plants back to the states. The bad news that manufacturing employment is not going up, partly due to robots like Baxter. He doesn't need health insurance.

From the time the first "Ludite" smashed a loom competing for his job, workers have feared job losses from automation.

Check out Baxter today @ CMU

When: Wednesday, July 31. Media preview is at 11 a.m.; laboratory open house is from noon to 2 p.m.

Where: The Veloso Lab is in room 3201 of the Gates and Hillman centers on the Carnegie Mellon campus. From the Gates and Hillman elevators, make a U-turn to the left and follow the hallway to its end. Parking is available in the Gates Center parking garage. Because of construction, the Gates garage can no longer be accessed via Roberts Drive. Access now is via South Neville Street; call Byron Spice, 412-268-9068 for detailed directions.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Images of the unique Baby Doll Dance on Rust Wire

For over 100 years the Italian Catholic community in Lowellville, Ohio near Youngstown has celebrated a unique tradition. 

A person casts out the demons and bad mojo from the past year and celebrates life by spinning around in a large paper mache figure loaded with burning fireworks. Dangerous? It's a little toned down now, and they no longer blow the figure's head off. Zambelli Fireworks even helps with the design.

Check out the post on Rust Wire.
A longer article in The Youngstown Vindicator

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Ben Oddi at ModernFormations

Ben Oddi at ModernFormations

I walked into ModernFormations for the opening on July's First Friday and was just stunned by Ben Oddi's work. It was not what I was anticipating, not at all. In this case, my expectations were exceeded.

It's interesting to see how an artist's vision can evolve. While there are consistencies in the underlying themes from this current body of work to what Mr. Oddi has shown in the past, the visual interpretion is a magnitude away. Another significant change is his move into encaustics from oils. I love looking at encaustic works; the media has always fascinated me. The layers of pigment and wax seem to float and there is a sense of fluidity to the surface. The works created with encaustics seem luminous.

The works created by Mr. Oddi in this exhibit explore the layering potential of the encaustic media. What I really found fascinating in his exploration was the pentimenti that could be glimpsed through the layers. The works are firm and bold, with a very expressive quality. The pentimenti visible through the layers seem at once deliberate and exploratory, like a recording of a journey encased in one holographic image.

The works are narrative, steeped in storytelling. But since this is a visual medium, the narrative is not linear and doesn't progress from piece to piece. Instead, each individual panel explores a moment in all of its fullness, implying all of the connections to a larger narrative in their layers.

The exhibit is in place through August 16 at ModernFormations. I have included a few images in the gallery. Enjoy!

Dear Universe: New Encaustic works by Benedict Oddi
Exhibit runs to August 16th 2013
4919 Penn Avenue. Pittsburgh PA 15224
Gallery hours: 1-4pm Sat, 7-9pm Thurs, or by appt.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Artica + Mostly Mod

Mostly Mod and Artica
Christine Bethea and Bernie Schilling - Mostly Mod and Artica

Last month, I was in absolute despair: Artica was closing its doors! I've been an occasional patron since Christine Bethea opened Artica several years ago, and it was always a favorite stop on First Fridays. I purchased a beautiful kilim runner there just this past December (well, I did say occasional patron). Full disclosure: I've known Christine FOREVER. We have collaborated on projects, and we've shared studio space. Christine is also the power machine behind the GA/GI festival.

I was pleasantly surprised to see Artica preparing for July's Unblurred event. It seems that Christine has partnered with Bernie Schilling of Mostly Mod to continue in the Penn Avenue space.

With this new partnership, the space has taken on an entirely new color - literally. The walls are decorated with broad strips in soft colors. Classic furniture, representing a span of several decades, is shown alongside DIY works, handicrafts and fine art. There was a beautiful rosewood chest-on-chest that was absolutely gorgeous. Nearby was an equally stunning set of chests from Herman Miller. Good, clean lines and stunning in an entirely different way.

Artica & Mostly Mod have regular hours, and will be open for the next First Friday with extended hours. So, if you haven't had a chance to acquaint yourself with Artica, or if you were having separation pangs like I was, you still have ample opportunity to get yourself there. Here's a gallery to pique your interest. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Pittsburgh's Fire Arts Festival, Pyrotopia returns in October with paid admission charge.

I had lots of hopes for this event, which is the brain child of CMU robotics geek, performance artist and musician Eric Singer. Eric himself told me, his goal was to create the largest east coast festival of all things fire and light related- ala- "Burning-Man."

The reality, I saw a few years ago at the Pump House grounds in Homestead was pretty amazing, but far short of that goal. Most contributors, Phat Man Dee, local fire dancers and CMU artists like Singer were local. The logistics of the free festival were daunting with traffic backed up and people walking a mile or more to the site. While the site was inspiring, large crowds, small spaces and fire breathing robots don't always mix well.

This time they are trying a different site and a fairly steep $25 admission charge. ($35 at the gate)

 The second annual PYROTOPIA Festival of Fire Arts will be held on Saturday, October 12 at Westfield Park in Munhall Borough. The one-day event includes children’s activities and artist demonstrations in the afternoon, and fire performances, art installations and other fire and light acts after dark.
 PYROTOPIA showcases the majesty of fire, light and electricity in the arts, bringing together such diverse practices as fire dancing, blacksmithing, glass art, and LED installations.
Over 4000 people attended the first festival in April 2012. This year, the event moves to a larger venue with bleacher seating near the Waterfront. “Westfield Park is a great space that will offer festival patrons an amazing experience,” said PYROTOPIA founder Eric Singer. “The large field offers plenty of room for a variety of acts and spectacles which attendees will be able to experience up close.”
 Festival installations will include Flaming Simon, a fire-driven version of the electronic game "Simon" created by Singer that was the hit of last year’s festival. Stage performers include local talents Apex (fire hooping) and Steel Town Fire (fire dancing). Phoenix Fire Productions from Indianapolis will also return.
The evening will be co-hosted by jazz chanteuse Phat Man Dee and performance artist Andrew the Impaled. DJ Zombo will play special sets of fire-themed music throughout the night.

On Saturday afternoon, free make-and-take activities for children will be led by Assemble, a community space for arts and technology based in Garfield’s Penn Avenue arts district.

I am very glad they are trying to continue with this difficult, ambitious festival.