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: