Friday, December 22, 2006

96th Annual Associated Artists of Pittsburgh Exhibition

Christine Creuzzi Bartell Nasturtiums: Triptych Blossoms

James Scott Munshour Mask for the Festival of Wrong Beliefs

John Eastman American Foreign Policy: Lost Our Way
Ruth Levine Traversed: Passage I

96th Annual Associated Artists of Pittsburgh Exhibition
October 27, 2006-January 14, 2007
Opening reception: October 26, 6:30 - 9:00pm
Carnegie Museum of Art - Heinz Galleries
4400 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213-4080

It has been nearly a month since I went to the Carnegie Museum of Art to spend time viewing the Associated Artists of Pittsburgh 96th Annual. I had not intended to take so long to post this review but finishing Mean Stream had to be a priority.

The exhibit really is particularly strong this year. The range of works represented abstract through figurative, which is something that would be expected in a large survey show. Overall, I would say that the selected works emphasized rich surfaces and textures. Now, don’t tell me about exceptions; there are notable ones.

I got busted taking pictures by the guards, so I don’t have images of all of the pieces that I noted. As a little piece of back story, the pieces for the Annual are traditionally chosen fro actual work instead of slides or digital images. While I was dropping off, I saw these wonderful works by Christine Creuzzi Bartell. I was so pleased to see one of them, Nasturtiums: Triptych Blossoms, included in the exhibit. As with many works on paper, the above image does not come close to giving you a sense of the subtle detail in mark and texture of the actual work.

Ruth Levine is always a favorite artist. In Traversed: Passage I, she has overlapped marks in degrees of transparency, building a rich surface. The work, with its marks arranged in columns, reads as a code or something that verges on language.

In Mask for the Festival of Wrong Beliefs, James Scott Munshour seems to be commenting on several conceptions that American society holds dear; the right to bear arms and the puritan work ethic. In this instance, the narrative of the title is imperative in deciphering the artist’s intent. The work was well balanced with an immediate visual appeal.

Elaine Morris was unable to provide an image of Inscribed. This small work has and intimate and personal quality, assembling clippings and letters into a scrapbook image that feels like a brief look into the trials and tribulations of an individual life.

Scott A. Turri’s Poppies and Heroines is interesting for a couple reasons. It had the kind of flat posterized imagery you would expect in Pop art. The colors that he chose, however, took the piece beyond expectations for the genre.

John Yochem Winberg’s At Home in the Forest combines the disparate elements of gridiron and trees. There was something about the work that reminded me of Eastern European painters, with their delight in twisting the parameters of formal ground/object relationships.

John Eastman has an energetic and aggressive painting style. His abstract, American Foreign Policy: Lost Our Way, dominated the room. In this case, the title did not help me gain entry into the artist’s intent. But it also did not in any way deter me from enjoying his piece.

The 96th Annual is on exhibit through January 14th, 2007. So if you haven’t made it to see the show, there are still a few weeks left. In order to make your visit more enjoyable, you should prepare yourself for some of the many rules of behavior that the museum guards enforce. You may not carry any bag larger than 11” x 14”. You may not carry your back pack with both straps on your shoulder but must walk around with it dangling off one side of your body. You may not take pictures. You may not wear a pick in your hair. Do not, under any circumstance, come within a foot of any area that is currently undergoing installation no matter how enticing it is. Also note that if you do bring a larger bag to the museum with you that you will have to check it into self-serve coin-operated lockers. Bring quarters! If you should violate any of these unwritten rules, be prepared to be followed by museum guards throughout your tour of the museum.

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