Saturday, May 31, 2008

Gagosian Rocks

As you might know by now, I am sort of a binge blogger. So I haven't checked out Paddy at AFC in a while and boy was it a mistake as she was loaded with dirt, great links and reviews as usual-- One of which might be The global Gagosian, empire's record breaking month of May with all 15 spaces across the world showing only male artists.

I want to reassure the collectors out there that there are still plenty of hot babes in black around the empire to point to the work and big strong men to make sure you don't take photos of the art.

One Of The World's Biggest Sporting Events-- Page 9 Of Sports Section

I have to admit to not following soccer very much at all, although I loved to play as a little kid. I went to two different camps both of which employed a huge array of foreign camp counselors from places like Germany,Brazil,Mexico, Italy, Ghana,Senegal, Spain Haiti,Poland and Greece all of whom seemed to be intimately familiar with a soccer ball. Soccer is a world sport but one would never know that by reading Pittsburgh's two main papers.

Pittsblog has a nice post about that.

"Neither is Pittsburgh xenophobic, despite occasional evidence to the contrary. Rather, the major institutions that shape Pittsburgh's public sphere often seem to be completely unaware of the fact that there are large constituencies of people here who don't care about hockey, or the future of Downtown, or the Allegheny Conference's celebration of Pittsburgh's 250th birthday. There is an international population in Pittsburgh and a population of people here who are deeply involved in international business, culture, and even sport. And much of the time, they are invisible in the broad public portraits of the region that we watch and read in the media.

Soccer coverage in the Post-Gazette, in other words, is a symptom rather than a problem in itself. With the Internet, cable TV, and other newspapers, I can find all the soccer news I want in other places; it's absence from the local paper just gives me another reason to ignore the irrelevance of most of the PG."

What The Carnegie International Could Have Been Part 1

I think when one sees the Carnegie International this year one should have an idea of what it might have been; a full blooded, all out, courageous interaction between artists and the city of Pittsburgh instead of a show in a museum.

"Walking through the concrete pillars, you dance with the space. You waltz with the other people circling the pillars in clockwise and counterclockwise motions. Sometimes in sync with your temporary partner, sometimes in opposite directions. From east to west, from north to south the dance continues. Along the way, people walking their bikes; people biking through; people on skateboards; people in-line skating; neighborhood kids roving in packs; are all a part of the space."

"And then you reach the north wall. #73 is also somebody's home."

I for one, know there are artists who desperately want to to interact with more than just the "art world" in an "art museum".Zoe Strauss is one.

Doug Hill's Cardboard Gears

One of the great aspects of organically curated "Tom Museum" was the exhibitions he staged of little known artists from around the town. One of my favorites is Doug Hill who used the space as a studio from time to time.

"I met East Pittsburgher Doug Hill around 2001 when I was working on Craig Street in Oakland. Back then he was making a lot of colored pencil drawings and watercolors of places that were changing in Oakland. (Views that would no longer exist after new buildings were constructed)

A few years back, Doug started making a wide variety of gears and gadgets out of cardboard. I kept in touch with him as I transitioned into The Tom Museum. Not long after I opened, Doug became a regular at the museum, appearing at least once a month to conduct demonstrations for visitors. Doug’s work has caught the attention of people from around the world."

I found this video on Tom's new Blog.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Artini: Art Shaken, Not Stirred


Artini is the first of several events planned by Passports: Art of Diversity. The organizers, Christine Bethea, Brenda Brown and Leslie Ansley, have brought together a wide range of artists for the exhibit. As with most exhibits on Penn Avenue, the time that you can see the work is limited to just the one evening, so a review of the show is not really an option. Since the exhibit is so short, I thought it was important to put it out there early.

Passports has, thankfully, provided a list of artists that will be in the exhibit --

Kate Dambach
LaVerne Kemp
Laura McLaughlin
Bill Cousins
Ruth Ward
Sandy Simon
Bob Johnson
Tom Panei
Susan Constanse
Leslie Ansley
Ian green
Vanessa German
Monique Luck
Ian Green
George Gist
John Wlater
Bob Ziller
Adam Wadell
Ben Crouse
Susan Wagner
Micheele Gregio
Mart Martin
Justin Rothshank
Cheryl Capezzuti
Norman Brown
Cathleen Bailey
Wendy Osher

I am sure that, if you are a Pittsburgh resident, you recognize quite a few artists on the list. The show promises to present a diversity of mediums, including representations from assemblage through painting. Along with the usual crew for first Friday Unblurred events, Art Cubed will...

Kick-start your summer June 6th & 7th with Art Cubed, a weekend-long celebration of the art, music and culture of three flourishing East End neighborhoods. The festivities begin Friday night with Unblurred in the Penn Avenue Arts District. Saturday features events in all three neighborhoods, highlighted by Proud Hood Happenings in East Liberty and Lawrenceville's all-day Sidewalk Sale. Don't miss this two-day showcase of the best Pittsburgh has to offer!

You can find more information about the event, along with a map and schedule, here.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Life on Mars - Wolfgang Tillmans + Vija Celmins

A continuation of Life on Mars. It's been almost two weeks since I attended the exhibit, but things are extremely busy right now and there are other shows that won't be up quite so long that really should be attended. Like Paid Sick Days and the Tom Museum. There is still plenty to say about Life on Mars and thankfully the longevity of the show lends itself to leisurely posting. And so, on to one of the most impressive galleries in the exhibit.

Even this long shot of Wolfgang Tillman's gallery in the Life on Mars exhibit doesn't do the installation justice. As a totality, this artist's gallery was remarkable. The work ranged from non-objective to narrative, which I thought was one of the coolest things about the gallery.


This particular work struck me as being very eerie. I've used that word a lot in putting down my thoughts about Life on Mars. The theme comes through very forcefully throughout the exhibit. It was rather large, as you can tell from the long shot. It is difficult to tell with this image why the work was so strong. Part of its strength was in the print quality and in the subtle shadings which provided a subtext for the narrative.

Several of Vija Celmins' star fields were installed in their own gallery, providing a point of respite. Knowing the limitations of my camera, I didn't try to get a shot of these works. But I do want to mention some of the qualities of the artifacts that don't come across in reproductions. The works are all oil on canvas, which is mounted on panel. For the most part, the surfaces are without the texture associated with either canvas or brush stroke which is why the stars are able to glow the way that they do, making the works about light. Interestingly, the sides are left raw and it is here that the substrate is observed, providing a glimpse into the artist's process. The raw canvas is also visible, to greater and lesser degrees, along the perimeter of the face. Given the fineness of the canvas, it seems a deliberate act.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Paid Sick Days @ Panza Gallery

Only one week remains to find the treasure that you want to take home from Paid Sick Days. The installation is exuberant, with works not only covering every square inch of the gallery walls, but also mounted on the ceiling. LeRoy really out did himself on this one. Panza Gallery is a generous space, which the King of Art has transformed into a womb of Pop Culture.

Read Kurt Shaw's review

Millvale, 412-821-0959.
Opening Saturday May 10
"Paid Sick Days (the healing process),"
by Mister LeRoy, through May 31. Closed Sun.-Tues.

Friday, May 23, 2008

The Tom Museum's final hours


Only a few days remain for the Tom Museum. Tom Sarver has concentrated on very little else over the last two years. The Tom Museum, located a few doors away from the Mattress Factory, provides an intimate counterpoint to its grandiosity. The Tom Museum is only open for a matter of hours over the next week. He has hosted several exhibits and events out of the museum and has contributed greatly to Pittsburgh's cultural scene over the last two years. I don't know what his plans are after he closes, but I wish him luck.

After nearly two action packed years, The Tom Museum will officially close on May 31st. Below are final dates and times for public hours. THE FINAL CLOSING PARTY will take place on Saturday, May 31st from 7 PM to 10 PM.

Saturday, May 24th Noon to 5 PM
Sunday, May 25th 1 PM to 4 PM
Saturday, May 31st Noon to 5 PM and CLOSING PARTY 7 PM to 10 PM

Life on Mars - Marisa Merz + Bruce Connor

I haven't mentioned how beautifully the works in Life on Mars are installed. Marisa Merz's piece is a prime example of the thought that was put into the installation of the show.
Placed as it was in the first floor gallery, it had an advantage of natural light. The gallery is nicely proportioned and good-sized. This solitary piece held the room.

Here's an interesting fact: the work was actually produced in 1966. It's great to see the definition of contemporary includes relevant work that was created over forty years ago. It emphasizes the timeless potential of art. This work is so beautiful. It has this silver glow to it.

In contrast to Merz's light-filled installation, Bruce Connor's photograms were hung on the darkened balcony in sculpture hall. The image below, of Kiss Angel 1975, doesn't do the work justice. Obviously, you'll just have to find some of Connor's work from this series yourself. I did shoot without a flash, to preserve some sense of the space. These works glowed for an entirely different reason. The lightest areas seemed to float around the perimeter of the room.


Below is a detail from Angel. The works really held up on close examination, providing subtle depths of texture.


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Carnegie International Curator Webcast

Hi, this is John. I'm very, very sorry for disappearing on you and grateful that Susan has helped me revive the blog. The city really lacks a good art blog and naming the thing, Digging Pittsburgh Arts, placed a huge responsibility on us to try to cover the large, and widely dispersed art scene here.

Doug Fogle, will be available online tomorrow and in person to answer talk about the Carnegie International and some of the choices he made one of which was to try to create a dialog about the show online, which I appreciate

"In another of the firsts that have characterized the inventive 2008 Carnegie International, the curator of "Life on Mars" begins a three-part public encounter tomorrow with visitors to his show's Web site.
"On-line and On Stage: Douglas Fogle and Living on Mars" is a live Webcast lecture/discussion from 6 to 7 p.m. tomorrow at Carnegie Museum of Art. Fogle will respond to questions and comments submitted to the site ( as well as to those from the auditorium audience. The exhibition will be open until 9 p.m.
This is the time to talk about favorite or not-so-favorite works in the International. What is the artist trying to say? Why did Fogle choose particular works and/or artists? What materials were used in a particular piece? Whither contemporary art?"

Life on Mars - Rosemarie Trockel

Slowly, I am getting to posting about the Life on Mars exhibit. There are still several more artists whose work really struck me. I will mention, though, that I didn't spend any time with the video artists. At laest, not on this trip. Maybe when I return to the exhibit. After all, it is a very long show.


This is a really eerie piece. It struck me as soon as I walked into the gallery. I admit, I wanted to sit down on the sofa and make I on my sofa into We on my sofa. What made it so eerie was the shadow box construction. I felt like the portrait was floating up through some heavy liquid. The sofa itself was strange, which really doesn't come through in these images. On close examination, I know that it would be uncomfortable to sit next to this I. Very uncomfortable.


I am looking forward to visiting Rosemarie Trockel's work when I return to the museum.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Life on Mars - Rivane Neuenschwander + Thomas Hirschhorn

By far, Rivane Neuenschwander's I Wish Your Wish is the most popular work in this year's International. During my visit to the Carnegie Museum, I passed this piece several times. There was always a crowd gathered around it, sorting through the ribbons to find the one sentiment that matched their own wish.


It is a visually appealing work, with its bright, sun-drenched colors. Installed in the main entrance to the building, it faces a glass wall, so the lighting was full on.

The other piece that I have heard widely acclaimed is Thomas Hirschhorn's Cavemanman. I really wasn't going to mention Cavemanman since it is not a work that I find intriguing. But it was obviously well traversed and several artists that I know here in Pittsburgh were thrilled to see it or were looking forward to seeing it when they visit Life on Mars.


What the inclusion of this piece demonstrates to me is that the curator is offering the fullest exploration of the theme within the art sphere that he is most knowledgeable about. That does not mean that everybody is going to feel in accord with all of the expressions of the theme.

Now, with that disclaimer out of the way, I will say that I found this piece to be too blunt. I prefer work that is asking questions. Cavemanman did not make me explore. Perhaps it is familiarity with the politics that infom this work, about which I have already drawn my own conclusions.

The exercise of writing about CI08 is definitely an unabashedly biased appraisal of what I experienced in this exhibit. And I am finding that I enjoy putting these thoughts down. It is helping me to catalog what and why I am reacting.

A visit with an artist


Sunday is a lovely day to sit around, drink coffee, and talk about your current projects. It's especially enjoyable when you can spend that time with a fellow artist, like John Morris. I have been watching John's new body of work rapidly developing over the last couple months. The work is coming together so beautifully.

These works are incredibly detailed, speaking as much to process as to theme. The above image is linked to a rather large file, so you can get a really clear idea of the physical detail. The layers of marks and transluscencies are incredibly beautiful. I'm looking forward to seeing John's new work develop.

All of the below images are from the studio visit on Sunday. All link to a larger file.



Here's a nice wall shot from the studio


Sunday, May 18, 2008

Life on Mars - Haegue Yang + Ranjani Shettar

Friday May 16 2008 - Notes from Life on Mars, Part One

Yang and Shettar are both housed in the second floor galleries of the Carnegie Museum. I stood in the middle of Haegue Yang's installation of Three kinds of Light Painting for quite a while. It deserves even more examination. The color shiftings were complex; layers of light breaking and receding in waves. It made me think of the formal arrangements of music with repeating rhythmic themes, punctuated with intensity and silence. A viewer could choose a theme on which to focus and follow its permutations throughout the room. However, there is something to be said for remaining stationary while the themes come to you.

By contrast, Ranjani Shettar's Just a Bit More required movement to come alive. The work is comprised of netted beads of wax in a range of softly glowing jade. The nets were suspended in sheets, drawn taut in places and left to fall gracefully in others. It was like standing on the outside of a field of stars. It would have been interesting to be able to see this work from beneath, to look up into the star field. I can understand why it was restricted from that kind of access, it was exceedingly delicate. But still, I wonder what that would have looked like.

Both of these works were, quite simply, beautiful. Both spoke to me about rhythm, about density and sparseness. There is a sense of acknowledgement about the grandeur of life, the universe and everything. Their complexity was so alive, so textured and layered. Yang's work brought to me a sense of a cohort with the mysteries of the world. In Shettar's work, there is a distinct sense of observing from the outside. The two separate views of the universe in such close proximity provided a counterpoint of response.

Friday, May 16, 2008

A sweet gesture

Carnegie Mellon University is presenting Elizabeth Catlett with an honorary doctorate during their commencement this Sunday. Catlett, whose work addresses social justice and women's rights issues, has had a long career only recently acknowledged. A small presentation of her sculptures and prints will be on view at the Regina Gouger Miller Gallery on the campus today and tomorrow. The gallery will also have a taped interview of Catlett available for viewing through May 31.

Additional information about the event can be found here.

Regina Gouger Miller Gallery
Purnell Center for the Arts
Carnegie Mellon University
Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890
event line: (412) 268-3618

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Carnegie International - the reviews are rolling in

The reviews for Life on Mars are starting to roll in. I have been skimming them, in preparation for an excursion on Friday. I am planning on spending most of the day at the museum. I did have a very brief peek on Monday evening at the Art for AIDS, Art for Change fundraiser. The brief view was enough to whet my appetite.

There are several reviews in both traditional print and blogs. The general impression I am getting is quite positive. At least about the art and artists. I will examine these sources a little more closely after I see the exhibit on Friday. But for now, here are the highlghts --

Roberta Fallon on Philadelphia Weekly

Tyler Green on Modern Art Notes put up several posts

Christopher Knight on the Los Angeles Times

Roberta Smith on New York Times

Christopher Yates on the Columbus Dispatch

There were, of course, several articles in both of Pittsburgh's local papers, the Pittsburgh Post Gazette and The Pittsburgh Tribune Review. If you get a chance, make sure to read Kurt Shaw's take on the International.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Paid Sick Days @ Panza Gallery

Paul LeRoy, variously known as Lucky and King of Art, will be opening at Panza Gallery on Saturday.

His quilts, which will appear in abundance for this exhibit, use needle sharp wit along with pop aesthetics and a few patches of irony. This show promises to have a little something for everyone, installation, quilts, drawings, humor and pathos.

Millvale, 412-821-0959.
Opening Saturday May 10
"Paid Sick Days (the healing process),"
by Mister LeRoy, through May 31. Closed Sun.-Tues.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Scott Alan Fertig

Scott Alan Fertig
April 24, 1967 – May 2, 2008

Many of the residents of Pittsburgh are familiar with Scott Fertig's Chevy mural, located on Penn Avenue in the Strip District. Scott Alan Fertig, 41, an artist best known for his commissioned work as a caricaturist, muralist and illustrator, died peacefully at home on Friday, May 2, 2008 in Arlington, VA surrounded by his wife and family.
Scott was born in Pittsburgh, PA on April 24, 1967

The Washington Post has a lovely article about Scott Fertig that you can read here.

A memorial service will be held at All Saints' Church at 3577 McClure Avenue in Pittsburgh, PA on Saturday, May 10 at 2PM. A wake will follow. Scott wished to thank everyone who gave him their love and support during his battle with cancer.
Donations can be sent in his name to the American Cancer Society or your local community
children’s arts program.

To Scott Fertig's family and friends, I would like to extend my deepest sympathies for your loss. Scott's mural on Penn Avenue and 16th Street is a long-time favorite of mine. I appreciate what his life, love and art brought to my world on an almost daily basis.

Monday, May 05, 2008


Last Friday was Unblurred on Penn Avenue. It was a lovely night to be out and about the city, with mild weather and a beautiful sky. A lot was happening around the city. Life on Mars opened. Which explains why there weren't a lot of people out and about on Penn Avenue. I opted for Penn because, generally, the only time you can get in to see some of the exhibits is on first Fridays. The downtown galleries have regular hours and Life on Mars will be open through January.

Maybe if there was enough interest, these venues could consider extending their hours. It's always a mixed bag, with a wide range of disciplines and aesthetics You are likely to run into NOISE and poetry readings as you are examples of the plastic arts.

Some of the spaces, like the International Childrens Art Gallery, are difficult to pindown. ICAG is a recently opened venue; I have seen a couple of exhibits there. Neither were of work by children. Go figure.

At any rate, Lauren Toohey was exhibiting work at ICAG this past Friday. The works were blatantly ribald and fun.

The above mural was painted on-site by Lauren expressly for this exhibit. Pretty large undertaking for this exhibit.

There were several paintings like the one above, kind of a modern take on the traditional woman-at-toilet paintings. What I found interesting about these was that Tooey is using contemporary content in this context. Also, and this doesn't come through well in the images, the color in these was amazing.

Actually the night for me was all about color and sensuality. Down the block at Metamorphose, another young artist, Joana Ricou, was exhibiting these gloriously erotic paintings --

If you get a chance, please drop by her site and check out the drawing portfolio. Very nice stuff there. I liked the paintings that I saw on Friday, and the drawings are really fresh.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

"Pittsburgh Small Presses" opens Friday, May 2nd

The May exhibition at the "Most Wanted Fine Art Gallery" is "Pittsburgh Small Presses". About a dozen of Pittsburgh's small presses will be represented, with plenty of interesting work available for purchase. The show opens this Friday, May 2nd, with a reading from 6 - 8 pm, and the reception continuing to 10 pm with live music. It should be a lot of fun.

The Most Wanted Fine Art Gallery is located at 5015 Penn Avenue in Garfield.