Tuesday, August 11, 2015

"What happens in Pittsburgh stays in Pittsburgh" An honest post about our isolated visual art scene on Pittsburgh Articulate

Another Pittsburgh native and CMU grad, Cy Gavin may be on his way to art world glory.
A writer on Pittsburgh Articulate has noticed how his history here has been erased from his NYC gallery bio to make it seem they were the first ones to ever show his work.
"Why would Sargent’s Daughters make a claim that is so clearly false? Could it be an honest mistake? Unlikely. For an older, better-known artist these types of “firsts” tend to slide into obscurity, but for a young artist like Gavin with a short exhibition history, a glance at his CV should have revealed the truth.
Maybe the artist himself hoped to re-write his CV to have his debut sparkle with the light of New York City. If so, that would be dishonest and rude. But either way, writing press releases is not the artist’s job. Gallery press officers are responsible for doing the research and getting it right. 
This latest episode with Cy Gavin seems to reaffirm the sad fact that what happens in Pittsburgh, however awesome, stays in Pittsburgh. Revision Space is just too small and too far to see from New York City."
  The post also mentions the disappearance of Pittsburgh's pioneering, Outlines Gallery from the conventional narrative. 

I left a few thoughts in the comment section. Glad that some people see this isolation as a problem. 

The author hits on a huge point, so depressing, I try not to dwell on it. 
A show of Keith Haring sketchbooks from 1979 @ Barbara Gladstone Gallery made no mention of his time here- in spite of sketch titles, like drawing at The Carnegie,;drawing on Atwood St & Steel City drawing. Who knows his first solo was at the Pittsburgh Center For The Arts? His “real life” began in NYC. 
Likewise, Teenie Harris still draws blank stares among far too many outside our city.
But, what role does Pittsburgh itself play in this? If most galleries, foundations and media only support local artists why should anyone outside the city take notice or care. Artists sooner or later are left with the choice of accepting the joy of life in a bubble or leaving. 
Would the Mattress Factory be a nationally known venue if it refused to show a range of national and international artists? 
This website, of for and about art in Pittsburgh and only Pittsburgh is a good example of the problem. However awesome, its probably of little interest to anyone outside a 100 mile radius.
A further comment by me

Pittsburgh galleries, foundations and art centers help create this isolation.
How often, do local galleries show artists from Cleveland, Columbus, D.C., Baltimore or anywhere outside a very small local area? One of the main ways to gain regional and national press or collectors is to mix local and national artists. 
Almost nobody I know in NYC, has heard of The Pittsburgh Center For The Arts, because it rarely shows non local artists. FE Gallery did that and got reviews in national publications. Spaces like Bunker Projects are inviting artists from outside the city. 
Sites like ArtHopper and Belt Magazine that link stories and reviews across a wider region tend to get a broader audience..Both are centered in Cleveland. 
Someone from Revision Space pointed out that they do regularly show both local and national artists and... they will be included in a major Art Fair!

My final thought:

This goes back to talks I had with one of the early creators of this site.
I told them, what Pittsburgh needed above all, was a website that reviewed across a wider region, like the Texas art site, Glasstire. I also pointed out that an image rich site w\as critical to since many may never see these shows in person.
This site is awesome, but why would anyone outside the area be interested in a site without lots of images, that only covered Pittsburgh art?
This is not brain surgery.

Pittsburgh needs- more galleries that link local and national artists.

More art sites like Arthopper that connect art in a wider region  

More local critics and writers on Arthopper and national sites like Hyperallergic

More residency programs open to artists from outside of Pittsburgh

More juried shows and events open to artists outside the region

Projects that create collaborations between local and global artists

Programs that invite national curators into the city

Inclusion of local galleries in national and global art fairs.

More symposiums that include national and local artists.

Projects that bring national critics and art bloggers to tour the city.

Please share your thoughts on here or in the Articulate comment thread. I'm sure I just scratched the surface- In a high tech connected world, interaction is not hard to create if its really a goal.

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