Thursday, May 31, 2007

Iconicity @ La Vie

It was my pleasure to attend the opening for Iconicity on May 26. The work was really amazing. I could probably have loaded this blog wit a ton of images, but I kept it to just a few representative and extraordinary examples.

Contact information for La Vie is at the bottom of this post.

Eric Stern - Untitled (Ecstasy, Rapture, Euphoria)
Eric Stern - Untitled (Cloud Fill)
Eric Stern - Untitled (Occurrence)
Tommy Bones - white cloud minnow
Tommy Bones - Installation image
Alex Alessi - Old Mirror
Clare Parry - Construction of Arcology
La Vie
3609 Butler Street
North of 36th
Tuesday-Saturday, 12:00-6:00p.m.

Enjoy the Literary Landscape

Uptown: Friday, June 1st, 7:30pm, The Gist Street Reading Series. Pittsburgh poet Deb Bogen's collection, Landscape with Silos, has been called “naked and necessary, unadorned and political, intelligent and generous” (Carol Frost). She’ll be reading tomorrow night along with Scott Hightower coming in from New York, and Francisco Aragón, from San Francisco by way of Indiana.

This monthly reading series, around since 2001, is so popular that our weekly City Paper won’t even list it anymore. “I’d just get angry calls the next day from people who couldn’t get in,” one editor complained. So, if you’re going to go, go early (although I’m told that June is actually not as crazy-crowded as the academic months). Reading starts at 8:00pm, hobnobbing starts at 7:30pm, doors open at 7:15.

Friday, June 1st, 7:30pm
Gist Street Reading Series
James Simon’s sculpture studio
305 Gist Street, 3rd Floor
Uptown, Pittsburgh
$5 bucks admission

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Pittsburgh Folk Festival (May 25-27, 2007)

It was great to see so many people from Pittsburgh’s international community gathered in one place for the 51st annual Pittsburgh Folk Festival on Memorial Day Weekend. I’m often complaining about Pittsburgh’s lack of public space—spaces where strangers from different communities and walks of life can meet and mingle--but at $8.00 a ticket for the whole weekend, this festival came close to fulfilling the definition.

Representatives from Pittsburgh’s more recent Filipino, Turkish, Chinese, and Indian communities as well as longer-in “Americans” of Irish, Scottish, Italian, Bulgarian, Ukrainian, Carpatho-Rusyn, and Lebanese descent, and many other cultures and heritages (though notably, almost no one representing Africa--I saw one "Ghana" jewelry stand) celebrated their homelands in terms of dance, costume, cuisine, cultural displays, and arts and crafts. The food was delicious, the costumes were spectacular, the marketplace (including jewelry, pottery, books, fabric, clothes) was hard to resist, the dancing was of varying talent, but the good dancing was impressive, and a treat to watch.

From the top down, the photos above represent dancers in the style of: Bulgaria, China, Slovakia, Slovakia, and Lithuania.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Burlesque Drink and Draw

Well, Wednesday's Drink and Draw was great! Our lovely burlesque model was Olga.
The Wednesday session was the last time we'll do Wednesdays, at least for a while. We do have a summer of Tuesdays scheduled, so check in with us about upcoming sessions.
Terry Schuster
Nancy Schuster
Steve Dines
Katy Carlitz

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Women in the arts

The New Hazlett Theater is beginning a year-long festival, celebrating the contributions of women to the arts in Pittsburgh. You can read the entire Pittsburgh Post Gazette article, announcing the inaugural fundraising event, but here is an excerpt that I found interesting --

The city lags behind the national average of women in executive roles at public companies -- holding 10.9 percent of the jobs, to the nation's 15.6 percent -- but makes a much better showing in the arts. Almost 60 percent of executive roles at Pittsburgh's cultural organizations are filled by women, according to a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette study last year.

The festival, Women in the Arts: Founders, Pioneers, Instigators, continues with a multi-day symposium in September and performances in September, November, January and February.

This is a continuing theme this year in Pittsburgh. In March, 709 Gallery mounted the Women's Work exhibit. Just a month ago, an anonymous artist posted signs around the Carnegie Museum asking --

Where are the names of notable women on the facade of the Carnegie Museum? Some suggestions for inclusion are written on Easter eggs and hidden in and around the museum. How many can you find?

More information about this project, as well as a statement from the artist, were posted in the Digging Pittsburgh Arts blog. Coming up this October, Future Tenant will mount Power, another exhibit that is working to expose the contributions of women artists in Pittsburgh.

There's something in the air, isn't there?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Summer Reading Series Includes Open Mic

I was really happy to find out that summer Tuesdays, Hemingway's "Cafe" and Jim Cvetic will host poetry readings by various Pittsburgh poetry ensembles, with open mic afterwards. They'll be at 8:00pm, with Free admission, in the Back Room of this Oakland bar. Personally, I've always wished that there were more non-University events going on in Oakland, which seems centrally located and bus-served enough to warrant it. But it seems a lot of the best hangout places were driven out of business, or just out of Oakland, before I got here.

Tonight's reading will feature writers from the SQUIRREL HILL POETRY WORKSHOP: Marilyn Bates, Nancy Esther James, Marc Jampole,Pam O'Brien, Rosaly DeMaios Roffman, Joanne Samraney "and maybe more."

Next Tuesday, May 29th, Jan Beatty's infamous MADWOMEN IN THE ATTIC will read--Beatty plus several other women writers TBA. Beatty, pictured above, is an amazing poet, a native of the Burgh, the host of a local poetry radio show, and has a strong following here—no doubt in part because she does readings with frequency. Many of us, myself included, would like to get recognition without leaving our attic, but alas. It helps to put the body out there.

See Pittsburgh poetry listings (and more info on Jan Beatty's radio show) here:

Tuesdays through July 31st
Various Poetry Readings with Open Mic
Hemingway’s Café
3911 Forbes Avenue
8:00pm, Free

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Pittsburgh's Toynbee Tiles

Swoon's work reminds me of another mysterious entity who's street interventions appear in Pittsburgh. You may have walked accross one downtown without noticing it. According to the Wikipedia, people first started noticing strange plaques ( some very disturbing ) embedded in the Philly crosswalks in the early 1980's and now they have turned up in an amazing number of cities in Both North and South America.

Here's a story in Chicago about them and one in Philly and one in Saint Louis.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Green Car Crash

For those of you wondering about it--- Warhol's Green Car Crash went for $71.7 million and the total Warhol sales for that night totaled $136.7 million.

Digging Pitt wants you...

Digging Pitt Gallery and Digging Pitt Too are looking for volunteers to help out at the gallery and at special events. Digging Pitt takes a 30% commission on sales, with the artist receiving 70%. Although Digging Pitt is not a non-profit, many of our events and initiatives serve the public and the arts community. If you want to help out, or if you have some other ideas, get in touch with us. Contact us by phone at 412-605-0450 or by email. We are looking for help in …

1) Special event help. Digging Pitt is trying to increase its visibility to the Pittsburgh public through events held away from the galleries. This could include sitting a table at a fair. It’s easy work, but with limited manpower, it is difficult for the gallery to participate in some really cool ventures. Some events of this nature include PYP events, tabletop shows at Unblurred and DIY events as well as fundraisers.

2) Assistance at opening and closing receptions. This is just helping out with food, smiling at patrons and making sure that interested parties know where to go to make a purchase.

3) Assistance with installation. We could use all levels of experience for this. As long as you can swing a hammer, we can use you!

4) Internet assistance for one of our many internet initiatives. We are looking for contributors for the Digging Pitt blogs and MySpace pages. Also, anybody that has some experience with Dreamweaver and can help out with the website. That would be tremendous!

5) Postcard and other printed material distribution. Hey, if you are going to that coffeeshop or venue anyway, why not take a few gallery cards with you?

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

brillobox drink and draw - May 15

Christine Allen is the best! She came up with great poses, but what was really challenging were the facial expressions. I'm so used to the neutral expressions that most models use -- this was a refreshing change.

Stay tuned, we are entering our next season and will be bringing in some new models. Some of the models we are looking at scheduling include a yoga teacher, a dancer, burlesque queen and some of the usual suspects.

Get updates on our mailing list or be our friend.

Photomakers at Filmmakers, North Oakland

At Pittsburgh Filmmakers in North Oakland, two recent graduates and one established local artist are showing photographs in the lobby gallery surrounding the Melwood Avenue screening room. Mandy Kendall’s “Inverted Landscapes” use double exposure, long rectangles, and black and white film to show the “extraordinary beauty of the everyday world.” They’re beautiful, lyrical images shot in Eastern Ohio and Western PA. In an age of digital everything, these are images true to what the photographer captured on old fashioned film; only the printing is digital.

CMU’s Eno Thereska works to portray the human condition in “Species.” Eliminating backgrounds, placing his human subjects against a stark white page, these singles, pairs, and couples look lonelier and more detached than ever. Except the ones that are hopeful, or something else entirely. I really liked these. They were like Richard Avedon for regular people.

Deeper into the gallery, Artist Image Resource director, Robert Beckman, has rearranged the space, adding a wall, and then covering the squarish room with life-sized images of East Ohio Street. This installation, called “STREET” (detail above), uses huge inkjet prints, pushing their color to gaudy and gorgeous tones. Beckman gets the “visual abundance” he’s going for, and if you’ve ever been to East Ohio Street on Pittsburgh’s Northside—with its pawn shops, luncheonettes, sports bars and thrift stores--you know where the inspiration comes from.

Through June 10th
Filmmakers Galleries
Hours: Noon-5pm, M-F
and during film screenings in Melwood Screening Room
477 Melwood Avenue

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

If the Brillobox Were a Chapbook, This Might Be It

A Taste of River Water: An Anthology of Pittsburgh Poets is now available exclusively at Caliban Books on South Craig Street in Oakland. Contributors include Claire Donato, Jessica Fenlon, Kristofer Collins, Andy Mulkerin, anthology editor Ed Steck, Scott Silsbe (pictured above reading at the Six Gallery Press event at Mac’s Paperbacks in Cleveland), and numerous others from “the new Pittsburgh poetry.”

For only three bucks, check it out and see what you think.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Clues to the Swoon Mystery

So, I think I found some clues to what connects the artist Swoon to Pittsburgh. The shot above was taken outside of Swoon's jammed art opening at mega dealer Deitch projects in NYC. Look carefully through the bikes at that black shirt that says Kraynicks. Yes, it's that kraynicks on Penn Ave.

And here's another clue.

Never Souled Out

Another chance to Swoon in Braddock and to see her show too!!

The legendary Northern Soul party will do it's first all nighter ever in Braddock.

Never Souled Out - 9pm-6am, May 12-13 - will be held at the desanctified
First Presbyterian Church
416 Library St., Braddock, PA, 15104
(Resanctify this baby with SOUL!)

$8 in advance and ten at the door.

Other facilities on-site include the Elks Lodge, with full bar, located two doors up, and Dorothy 6 art gallery located next door, which will be open during the early part of the evening with a multi-artist show including newsworthy NYC artist SWOON.

Never Souled Out is a BYOB event - please bring the adult beverages of your choice to see you through the night. We'll supply a couple of free kegs initially, as a gesture of beer-drinkin' good will!

However, the good folks of Braddock, PA, will be staffing a cash-only coffee/Red Bull/snack/etc. bar until 2 or 3 a.m. Tip well!

Several record dealers of no-small repute will be on hand, including Des Parker, Dave Moore, "Philly" Dave Brown, and more. So bring cash for your 45 fix, too.

But why Braddock?

"Just as small otherwise forgotten industrial towns such as Wolverhampton and Stoke, Blackpool and Wigan, ( and Manchester!!!) provided the original Northern Soul scene with its fans and clubs, Braddock’s post-industrial legacy makes it the perfect setting for Never Souled Out. But what’s more, by bringing soul fans from around Pittsburgh and around the country to see the revitalization process underway in Braddock, we hope that people will make that connection and realize that, with the right support, Braddock can fulfill its destiny as Pittsburgh’s once and future king (neighborhood)!

On our first site-visit to check the possible Braddock location, we were greeted by members of the local Elks Lodge who were old-school Porky and Mad Mike fans, R&B and record folks just like their “northern” brethren – and with a similarly caustic sense of humor. Braddock Mayor John Fetterman and Deputy Mayor Jeb Feldman have supported Never Souled Out with the passion of devotees, and really, we can’t think of a better fit."

Images From the Philly Show

Here are some shots Thad put up on flicker of the Philly show.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

After Party: Pittsburgh Artists in Philly

As far as I know, Thad Kellstadt, an awesome Pittsburgh artist put this show together in Philly.

Space 1026
1026 Arch St.
2nd Fl. Philadelphia

(215) 574-7630

"Visionary deer glimpse the future in the facets of a glittering stone. Burnt out freaks linger in the dawn's early rays. Fantasy characters are held captive amongst conceived decay. A simultaneous longing and dread for the inevitable future song. The weighting of universal truths versus the universes gravity.

In the month of May, Pittsburgh artists fill Space1026 with painting, sculpture, photography, video, screen prints, and taxidermy."

Artists include, Matt Barton, Jim Lingo, Jesse Jamaica McLean, Thad Kellstadt, Josh Tonies, Jesse Hulcher, ladyboy, Jae Ruberto And Josh Bonnett.

Reflections of the May Unblurred.

Spring is swingin' and folks have unleashed their A-game. All of that cooped up energy from winter is being released simultaneously. It's a fun and exciting time. This month's Unblurred was no disappointment. After a string of First Fridays that did little to excite me, yesterday was refreshing.

I started out with a visit to the Community Activity Center, where some of the galleries from Lawrenceville were represented by rows of Bingo-style tables. I'd never been to the location before (it's a former church on Pacific Avenue) and I was struck by the possibilities of the space. Manny T. told me that he booked a show there once. Unfortunately I believe that there are few people outside ofGarfield that know it exists. Anyway, I was pleased (in a vain sorta way) to note that John from the Digging Pitt had a portfolio of my work sitting out. It reminded me that I have to get some of my newer images into his files. Beth from Musee' de Monoian and the owner of the Trinity Gallery were hawking their wares as well. It's just a shame that everyone on Penn Avenue didn't make it to this setup.

It was nice to see Carolyn Wenning's SPACE with an active show of work by CMU students. It's a great looking studio, and run by a talented and gracious woman. Carolyn did say that it will be the last exhibition for awhile, as she wants to concentrate on her own work, and get a figure drawing session up and running (I am anxious to see that happen, as many of my regular spots are shut down for the summer).

The highlight for me last night was the Bigfoot-themed show at Modern Formations. You all should know of my pseudo-obsessive interest in the elusive, furry beast. There was ample quality work in the gallery. The "gentle giant" was represented in needlepoint, sculpture, collage, paintings, and illustrations. Initially I had difficulty trying to choose what I wanted to take home with me. It was curated by parties outside of the gallery, and for some reason the artists insisted on not listing any of their prices. Initially I was put off by this choice, but ultimately it worked to my advantage.

On my second look around the gallery, I noticed a wooden box upon a stool, with a peephole drilled in its front. When I bent down to look at the illuminated scene within, I was struck with joy and wonder. Inside was a diorama with a Bigfoot impersonator languishing in a bathtub with a hairy suit hanging on the wall like a bathrobe. The piece was inventive, lovingly-crafted, and had a lively sense of humor... and I knew I had to have it. I inquired about the price and was stunned by how reasonable the figure was. The artist (Beth Warner, if my flawed recollection is correct) was pleased to have made the sale- but not as happy as I was to purchase such genius. My friends may laugh at my penchant for being first at these events, but I am often rewarded by getting the opportunity to buy the best pieces. Anyway, I left lots of great stuff for them. Luckily for those who missed this, the gallery has a series of events scheduled for this month. It's well worth making a note of it in your schedule.

Another stop worth making is Garfield Artworks. Despite the resident curator's seeming disinterest in the visual arts, every once in awhile he comes up with some gems. My friend Marci Gehring continues her saturation of the local arts scene with her form-fitting afghan dresses and a retrospective of one of her earliest series of paintings. This month she is joined by Jenn Crawford, who displays some of her own slinky (?) fashion designs. Also notable are the Juxtapoz-y paintings of Cleveland resident Amy Casey. Illustrative colorful animals invade post-industrial urban spaces in her accomplished works. Particularly striking is a mural-sized canvas priced beyond my means at $3000. It's worth it if you have the cash. But it don't cost nothin' to see it.

Rounding out the night were exhibitions of the works of Vanessa German (@ The Clay Penn) and Jason Shorr (@ ImageBox). I had seen both bodies of work represented elsewhere around town, but they stood up to repeated viewings. From secondhand accounts, I learned that one very offended "art-lover" actually pulled one of German's pieces from the wall. Apparently he was enraged by its title- "Nappy-Headed Hos". It's really too bad he wasn't patient enough to learn the context of the work- not all art is meant to be decorative. On the other hand, Shorr's work (meanwhile) manages to be both decorative and packed with subtle hints of meaning and inflection. If you ever get a chance to talk to him about his paintings (which are inspired by both Pop Art, classical mythology AND medical illustrations), you should seize the opportunity.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

A Mural Presentation in Edgewood.

Tonight I went to the Edgewood community to present my mural proposal. I can't say exactly what I expected to find there. I guess I figured it would be a politician, a gallery owner and a handful of neighborhood notables. Nope. If I were to have tried to conjure an audience least likely to be sympatico with my vision, I would have surely fallen short of what awaited me. It would have been the very first failure of imagination on my part during this entire process. Because I didn't realize that when I got to the Edgewood Borough building I wouldn't know a single soul. I also didn't know that I'd be making my presentation to the Borough Council- eleven (or so) very conservatively dressed people appearing to be anxiously awaiting the serious business of their bimonthly meeting.

When everyone was present they called the gathering to order, and then everyone rose to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. This is a ritual I am oddly familiar with, so instead of unsettling me further, it gave me a sense of inevitability. Mercilessly I didn't have to sit through the whole proceedings, because the developer of the project kicked off the meeting by introducing the concept, and the proposals of the artists who wouldn't be showing up to explain their work. I knew there was going to be trouble as soon as he opened up the floor for questions from the panel. This was a very pragmatically-oriented council. They wanted to know about coatings for the work, which would ostensibly be used to keep them graffitti-free. What type of polyurethane covering was going to be employed? They were also concerned that the kids who would be working on the project would be safe from the reckless driving of PAT drivers. All practical considerations aside, they yielded the floor to teh "kooks". Luckily the other artist (who was actually present) went first. Unluckily for me, he knew ahead of time that he was going to be submitting his piece to the Edgewood neighborhood, and had painted an actual scene from the community.

Then it was showtime. I stepped up to the lecturn, introduced myself, and unveiled my 18 x 24" illustration board. I felt it was important to mention that I had not been told about any specific area for which my piece would be considered. I was resigned to my fate and launched into the spiel I have intermittently delivered to friends and onlookers over the past month or so. I figured there was nothing else I could do, but forge on ahead without reservation. I spoke about Meadowcroft and sacred Mayan symbology. I talked about our industrial past and the difficulty in envisioning the future. I even went ahead and mentioned human consciousness and stages of development. The response was a row of faces full of flat affect. I continued with all of that 2012 stuff. I tried not to read their thoughts as I heard myself sounding like a new age psychotic. And finally I made sure to point out that none of it had to be taken literally- that it was all an allegory for sustainability. That was my main concession. Besides that, I did get one laugh when I explained that the Mayan temple on the Hill in my picture was my failed proposal for a new arena. Never underestimate the power and universality of a sporting reference in Pittsburgh.

I thanked them for having us, and reclaimed my seat. We were able to make our escape shortly. As soon as I was outside I sought reassurance from my fellow artists. I asked them how crazy I sounded. They tried to console me by saying I sounded like "an artist". This was cold comfort. One (or maybe two) of the submissions will be chosen for the project. The council itself will make a recommendation, and then representaives from the community will have a chance to vote for their favorites. I wonder if it is a good or bad thing that they won't hear my conceptualization. In a way I think it's appropriate that the piece will have to stand or fall without explanation. That's the way most people will experience the mural if my work is chosen. I won't be there to talk about it. Maybe folks will like the colorful alien, and appreciate the mystery of the obscure references. Or perhaps not. I don't flatter myself with favorable odds. But at least I'll have more time to travel if I am not chosen!

Digging Pitt wants you...

Digging Pitt Gallery and Digging Pitt Too have a few volunteer internship positions available. There are a lot of benefits in working for a small gallery like Digging Pitt. You will be working directly with John Morris, the Gallery Director. All of the positions have a lot of meat to them, with real opportunities for applying what you know and expanding your skills. We are open to ideas in customizing an internship program that works for you. Please contact the gallery at 412-605-0450 or by email for more information. We are currently looking for interns in the following areas --

Art Registrant Intern
Assists the director in organizing art work in portfolios. The candidate will develop an inventory of work and log new works into the inventory. The inventory list will include cross referencing available images. In addition, the candidate will assist in the installation of exhibits. Digging Pitt is currently using Microsoft Excel for a database.

Public Relations Intern
Will assist in the maintenance of current internet initiatives underway at the gallery. Includes the maintenance of a MySpace page as well as several gallery blogs. Some writing for posts and press releases may be involved. Researching press contacts and maintaining a database of email addresses. Developing and maintaining addresses for the gallery email list. The gallery currently maintains an email list on Outlook.

Web Development Intern
Will assist in the maintenance and update of the gallery website. Will include experience in Macromedia Dreamweaver and related graphic programs.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

The Mother May I Marathon @brillobox

Set up and ready to go...

This was immersion therapy for artists. The models were wonderfilly inventive. Time flew by as a handfull of artists labored on the second floor of the brillobox on May 5.

I really enjoyed Andy More-hole and his Mom. "Mom" was a wonderful model and a delight. Thank you all so much. For more information about the brillobox's Drink and Draw sessions, check out our MySpace page or email us.

Next session:
Christine Allen and her trunk-full of characters
May 15

First session models, from left: Andy More-hole, Christine Allen and Andy More-hole's Mom
Second session models: Al and Nikki
Paul LeRoy
David Grim

Leo Goode

Steve Dines

Renee Ruth Ickes
Kyle Pattison
Susan Constanse