Thursday, September 30, 2010

Look Up: Look Out For Kim Beck's SKYWRITING Project

More than a few of you will doubt hiring a plane to print out huge mysterious sentences over the city of Pittsburgh qualifies as art. If you were looking for a way to take a huge number of people out of their normal comfort zone, this might be a good plan.

Kim sent me the messages, most of which seem related to a giant sales pitch of some kind but are loaded with enough double meanings to leave a lot of questions. I like that it's not just targeted to the normal art world/ museum crowd.

When/Where: Friday Oct. 1 at 5:30 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 2 at 3 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. Skywriting will last from 30-60 minutes depending on wind and air quality. The plane will fly over downtown Pittsburgh, the North Side and Oakland. Each letter will be one mile high and will be visible throughout the area. Follow for updates!

Pittsburgh Weekend Art Events: 10/1-2/10.

c. David Grim (taken 9/25/10)


Once again events have conspired to line up all at once, like some sort of cultural eclipse. There is so much going on in the local arts scene that you are going to have difficulty seeing only a portion of it on Friday.

Downtown features its seasonal art crawl starting at 5:30PM. You can get an earful of cutting edge art at Wood Street Galleries with two separate sound installations called "Longplayer" and "Dark Matter". But if your predilections run more toward the visual (as many readers of this blog), you might enjoy the selection of new outdoor lighting installations along the streets and avenues of the Cultural District. They are part of the Pittsburgh Festival of Lights, and will be on display through the middle of October.

At SPACE Gallery (812 Liberty) they have an exhibition of "socially-engaged" printmaking including a cast of 200 international artists. This traveling show has been in the 'Burgh since August, but this month is your last chance to see it in this city. Additionally, if you head downtown you should make it a point to check out Eric Stern's piece(s) in the TXT group show at the 707/709 Penn Galleries. Also, the Pittsburgh Society of Artists has a group show called "Shelter" at the Society for Contemporary Craft – satellite gallery (One Mellon Center Gallery, 500 Grant Street in the lobby of the Steel Plaza T-Station). There's an emphasis on green and recycled materials in the included selections.

And stop in at Shaw Galleries (805 Liberty Ave.) for a fine assortment of Warhol photos and prints. After all, it's great to go look at his work at the museum... but it's another thing altogether to get the opportunity to actually purchase a piece of art history.

Unblurred October is upon us as well. The Irma Freeman Center (5006 Penn Ave.) is celebrating its anniversary with a selection of photographs from early-90's South Side hipster Brian Cummings. He seems to have captured the activities of a generation within the Pittsburgh urban underground. Check his images out along with performances by the Mud City Manglers and the Moodswingers.

Most Wanted Fine Art (5015 Penn Ave.) features the work of its proprietor Jason Sauer and tattoo artist Jason Angst (who toils at Tattoo Noir in Bloomfield) in a show called "Derby Cars and Skulls". I suspect that there is some truth in advertising with this title. Meanwhile Imagebox (4933 Penn) has paintings from the always-intriguing Susan Constance. Her work has evolved in unexpected and delightful ways over the years, so "Unreal Spaces" is a necessary stop in your nightly travels.

The Academy of the South Side returns to Penn Avenue for their second annual exhibition, entitled "Harvest 2". See paintings and video by participants in the programs at the International Children's Art Gallery (5020 Penn Avenue).


If you haven't had your fill of art yet, you can make a trip (5-8PM) to Squirrel Hill and the Christine Frechard Gallery (5871 Forbes Avenue). "Between Stillness and Movement" features the work of Carolyn Olbum & Ursula Neubauer.

Susan Constanse "Unreal Spaces" Opening at Image Box 10/1, 7-10

There are many things to see tomorrow night, with both the Gallery Crawl downtown and Unblurred going on. This exhibit "Unreal Spaces" (part of Unblurred)is a don't miss. I have seen some of the paintings in Susan's studio, and they are wonderful. I think it is best to let the artist describe the series, see below.
I am pleased to announce that I will be presenting works from my Unreal Spaces series at Imagebox. Opening in October, I’ll be exhibiting the newest work from this series. Hope you can make it for the reception on October 1.

Unreal Spaces series
Recent Works by Susan Constanse
October 1 – 29, 2010
Opening reception: Friday, October 1, 2010: 7-10PM
The show is available for viewing during the opening reception, all other times by appointment only. Contact Susan Constanse at to set up a meeting.
4933 Penn Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15224
(412) 441-0930

Artist Statement
Unreal Spaces series

I am a habitual pedestrian, using public transportation only for journeys further than two miles. In my walks through the neighborhoods of Pittsburgh, I became very aware of the structure of the streets, with its triangle blocks, breezeways and alleys. The streets echo back to the birth of the city, when pathways evolved along the contours of the land, seeking always the path of least resistance. The city has an organic quality to its structure, with houses and buildings evolving and decaying in their use and function. Much of the architecture has strange, almost purposeless, features.

The geography implied in Unreal Spaces references the architecture and contours of Pittsburgh. The works do not reflect a physical landscape but are a recording of foot travel and its purpose; an abstract auto-geography. As I travel between my home and various points around my city, I am fully engaged, taking the time to observe building facades and the odd corners and spaces between structures.
The paintings take several sessions over the course of a month. In this respect, the works are like a portrait, not of a moment but of a time span. The difference between a portrait and a photograph is just this distinction; that the artist records their observations over a period of time, providing a denser and more meaningful representation.

Light features highly in the work, specifically referenced in adding dimension and depth through veils, shafts and implied reflection. Palette, which is a subtle and complex vocabulary, is integral to my work. Color, in all of its values, provides a way of creating a subtext within individual works.

I am influenced by the design and color characteristics explored by painters like Klee and Kandinsky. Klee’s compositions and palette are emotionally orchestrated, implying movement and space beyond the confines of the individual works. Kandinsky is a master at reconciling objective and non-objective elements.

Paintings. The paint is applied in thin layers, building from broad foundations to greater complexity in color and in hand. The paintings are allowed to mature and are finished with Dammar varnish.
Works on paper. The works on paper allow a casual exploration of themes and materials.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Final Sale at Vacca's Drycleaners and Tailoring This Weekend

As so well described by Merge in the post below, lots going on in the Burgh this weekend.
Need some interesting clothing to go to all your events? Check out this sale:

Vacca's Drycleaners and Tailoring has been in business (at the current location) for 50 years. Sadly (for me, not for him) Mr Vacca retired several months ago (at age 80). He created a wonderful environment (definitely could have been a set for the show Madmen)in which he did the highest quality work possible, and he was an integral part of the community.
More on Mr. Vacca later , as I have a blog entry I am working on. I will be putting that up later this weekend.
Since his retirement, they have been having having very periodic sales at the store. I had wanted to post about these earlier, but I never knew when they were going to occur.
The final one will be this weekend. Fri- Sunday 10 am to
4pm in conjunction with the Little Italy Days in Bloomfield,
4623 Liberty Ave, bright blue facade.
This was NOT a place where they got rid of the drycleaning/tailoring if no one picked it up after 30 days. Actually, there was such an overwhelming amount of clothing for sale that I only really started to look at it last weekend, once it had thinned down a bit. There is a lot of stuff there. I bought some great jeans and a vintage boys white cotton shirt that I love....and a boys black formal jacket. Among other things.
The prices are very low. There are also some other random items left in the store, including buttons, bows, ties, that kind of thing, and maybe they will put more out. There are some amazing vintage wedding dresses.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Pittsburgh Weekend Art Events: 9/24-25/10.

I certainly could be forgiven for eschewing my semi-regular posting of weekend events this go 'round. It's the end of the month, and truthfully... I'm not overly excited about anything in the listings. These posts take time anyway, and sometimes I wonder if anyone even considers checking them out when they are making plans. Sometimes this feels like screaming into a vaccuum. But I guess anyone who has ever kept a blog for more than a week has similar stories, so I'll quit whining before I expose myself as a 'net cliché.


I'll make an admission right off the bat- I've never attended an art crawl in Sewickley. I've considered it, but I've never made it an actual priority. Most of the time this swell little community schedules its events to coincide with "first friday", so it loses out to Unblurred. Now it's seasonal so I have no excuse besides the time it takes to get there from my house. I'm not going to provide a detailed rundown (that would make no sense because I don't know any details from personal experience), but Pittsburgh Art Blog has posted the schedule HERE.


The Andy Warhol Museum is sponsoring a field trip to Braddock! "Library Pop!" runs from 1-4PM, and offers a celebration of the Braddock Carnegie Libary (419 Library Street) that includes printmaking projects, an unveiling of some special Warhol wallpaper, and free food. Plus you'll finally have the opportunity to explore this wonderful historical building. The last time I saw the palce was at one of the very last Flux events several years ago. I don't know what condition the place is in nowadays... but I'm curious to find out how this local treasure is faring.

The second annual Pittsburgh Small Press Festival and Two-Day Expo will happen Saturday and Sunday (from 12-5PM) at Artists Image Resource (518 Foreland Street on the North Side). There will be vendors (books and food), literary word games, workshops, and free stuff for th efirst 500 attendees. Check it out. Who knows what else you'll find?

What I can tell you for certain is that opening receptions at the Michael Berger Gallery (30th South Sixth Street, South Side) are always worth the visit. The work is often stuff that wouldn't look out of place in a major international art museum. Recently the gallery seems to have a direct line to some of the best contemporary art from Asia I've ever seen. Check out Naijun Zhang: The Examiner and Heidi Taillefer from 4-6Pm. I hardly think you'll be disappointed.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Pittsburgh Art Events: 9/17-18/10.

c. David Grim (8/6/10)


It seems like a couple of downtown art venues are getting a head start on the seasonal art crawl by rolling out their shows now. The 707/709 Gallery (Penn Avenue) has a collection of work by a number of artists inspired by text. Naturally the exhibition is called "TXT", and the accompanying reception begins at 6PM. And Future Tenant (819 Penn) has its own opening for "Eat Me", a group show put together by the former curator of Fe Gallery, Jill Larson. This too seems to have assumed a more literally descriptive title to suggest its content. Apparently the participants are somehow concerned with "exploring food, art, and desire." Who said that all artists have to be enigmatic?

Meanwhile a new venue on the North Side (605 East Ohio St.) called "Keep the Change Shop" appears to be offering a selection of stuff by Janet Pazzynski. I can't find much info about the place (or the artist) online, so a visit in person seems to be in order (from 6-9PM).

And PARK(ing) Day Pittsburgh is Friday, so metered spaces throughout the city will be transformed into temporary public parks. This annual global event was initiated in San Francisco, and has spread as a non-commercial celebration of imagination and creativity within the temporarily appropriated commons. For a full listing of participants, check out the local site or Pittsburgh Art Blog's write-up.


Persad's Red Tag Studio Sale will be held at Imagebox (4933 Penn) from 6-10PM. It benefits the counseling center for the region's gay, lesbian, bi and transgendered community. Show up, drink some wine, and put a bid on some quality art to help those in need.

Over in Braddock, Unsmoke Systems is hosting an opening for "Fool's Gold", which includes some rather involved works representing collaborations between five different artists (Agnes Bolt, Julie Leidner, Daniel Luchman, Jennifer Myers & Michelle Gratacos-Arill). If you want to see it, you have to make your way there between 8-11PM.

Also, if you want to take a short drive away from the city to Lower Burrell... you can go see "Open Call" at the Artform Gallery and Tattoo (2603 Leechburg Road). The opening for the show (for which i can find no details whatsoever) runs from 6-11PM.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Has this illuminated art work found a home in Braddock or is it in a dumpster?

I had the very impractical idea of making an illuminated piece that was based on my Carrie Furnace photos, and putting it in the doorway of an abandoned building in Braddock.

I picked a spot near the closed UPMC Braddock, as that area could use some light these days (or nights rather). I experimented with using solar powered lights, and did some otherthings that were new for me in my work. The piece is? was? about 40 inches high,and was stapled to a make shift pedestal since the doorway wasn't level.

Now obviously, it was unlikely I was actually going to ever get this piece back....I didn't really secure it, just a few staples. I was really hoping it wouldn't get trashed.....and I don't think it the staples seem to have been carefully removed so as to not damage the piece or the lights.

So, I don't want it back....but I'd love to know where it is.

I do think I'll make my next one a bit more difficult to I think this one was only out 24 hours or so.

Any info?

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Pittsburgh Art Events: 9/10-11/10.

c. David Grim (taken 8/6/10)


It's turnover time at Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, and that means there are several new galleries worth of material to check out. The highlight of this cycle is a collection of work by Maxo Vanko, the internationally-famous Croatian muralist who created some amazing imagery in the first half of the Twentieth Century. Perhaps you've been to St. Nicholas Church in Millvale to see his stuff there? I recommend the trip. Also, while you are over at PCA... you can see five other exhibitions, including the latest Group A show, and Context Ingeminate- presented by the Philadelphia-based Center for Emerging Visual Artists. It all gets underway at 5:30, and costs $5.

Society for Contemporary Craft (2100 Smallman St., Strip District) is opening DIY: A Revolution in Handicrafts. English-speaking artists from three different countries weigh in on issues like politics, environmentalism, community and a redefining of a producer/consumer relationship. This runs from 5:30-8PM.

At the Spinning Plate Artist Lofts (5720 Friendship Ave.), you can find glass work by Jason Forck from 6-9PM... and something called Stevo's Studio in Squirrel Hill (corner of Forward and Murray) is listing an opening for "three artists from vastly different walks of life" (7-11PM).


If you are interested in discovering the state of abstract photography in the modern age, head over to Silver Eye Center for Photography (1015 Carson Street) for "Spectra: New Abstract Photography". The show is guest curated by Lisa Kurzner, a photo historian based in Cleveland, Ohio. The reception runs from 6:30-8:30PM.

There's also an opening (6-9PM) for Michael Walter's "Man and Nature" at the Panza Gallery (115 Sedgwick St.). His paintings give the viewer much to ruminate on.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

TWO Small Press Expos in Pittsburgh

Not one but TWO small press expos are coming to Pittsburgh in the next several weeks! One is the Second Annual SPF: Small Press Festival and the other is PIX: Pittsburgh Indy Comics Expo. The SPF Expo (September 25-26 at AIR on the North Side) will have a representation of literary and other presses, from Pittsburgh, Ohio, New York, and more—while small press activities are going on all month (see their calendar). PIX will obviously focus on comics and graphic novels, and presses and artists are expected from near and far. PIX will be held October 16 & 17 at the Guardian Storage facility in the Strip District. I am personally excited about the Small Press Tourism both these events will bring to Pittsburgh.

As part of the SPF's month of events, I have been asked to conduct two tours. On Sunday, September 12th, I will be taking people to tour a few major libraries in Pittsburgh, and on Sunday, September 19th, I will conduct a tour of six of Pittsburgh’s indie bookstores. Pittsburgh has such an embarrassment of riches when it comes to historic libraries and indie bookstores, that we won’t get to all of them, but I’ll talk about the ones we don’t go to. Both tours will be from 1:00-4:30pm, both cost $10, and both will come with a “swag bag” of goodies, including one free Autumn House Press book for each tour participant, as well as a brochure-map of either Pittsburgh's historic libraries or our indie bookstores (respectively). You must sign up before the tours. Tickets and details are HERE for the Library Tour and HERE for the Bookstore Tour.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Pittsburgh Art Events: 9/3-4/10


I realize that this post may come a little too late for you to incorporate the information into your weekend plans, but I thought I'd give it a shot anyhow. September Unblurred should be worth attending, so it would be a shame if I let it come and go unmentioned.

Sam Thorp and Eric Luden will be on display at Most Wanted Fine Art (5015 Penn). If past shows are any indication, there should be images of smokin' babes rendered in clean lines and vibrant colors. And Dean Cercone has been popping up around town with his announcements of a solo at Garfield Artworks (4931 Penn). Not only is this wunderkind mightily prolific, but he is also consistently entertaining. Of course that means that having a look-see is mandatory.

Meanwhile Crystala Armagost and Ashley Andrykovitch are sharing their sense of loss with the opening of "Deaf and Death" at Modern Formations (4919 Penn). Anyone who has caught rumors lately of this much-esteemed venue's closing over the last few months will be more than excited by the prospect of a new show. Make sure that you stop by to let Jen Q. know how much you appreciate all her efforts.

The proprietors of Boxheart and Moxie Dada are once again bringing Mox Box to Penn Avenue with a party at the Glass Lofts (5491 Penn). The folks have focused their energies toward directing local artwork to interior designers, corporate offices, and home-makers... and the results are on display for you to walk through.

Check out the Pittsburgh Beautification Project's garage (4810 Penn Ave), and participate in the making of cooperative public art to benefit the Kullu Valley Bike Project, which is raising funds for a bike shop run by children in orphanages in India. Get on one of the bipedal machines provided, and spread paint on to large sheets of paper. The results will be cut up and sold via auction at the Shadow Lounge in October.

And I realize that one doesn't usually consider Bloomfield as within the purview of Unblurred, but apparently Tattoo Noir (4514 Liberty) is piggy-backing on the event. Kati Zmenkowski and Michael Galone are sharing their ink-inspired works there from 7-9PM.


Come by Zombo Gallery (4900 Hatfield St., Lawrenceville) for the second night of a weekend-only show featuring custom-made vinyl toys, curated by Nat Chamberlin and Brian "Bullets" Holton. There are 23 participating artists, and DJ Keebs will be on hand providing musical accompaniment.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Harish Saluja "Mandalas and Deities" opens 9/3 Friday 7-9,Mendelson Gallery

In the 1980's Harish was very well known in the Pittsburgh art scene as the creator of rich and dynamic abstract paintings. His work was collected both locally and nationally. I have always found his work to be inspiring and exciting. His new series, Mandalas and Deities, looks...even better.
The opening reception tomorrow is likely to be very crowded, but lots of fun. So if you do come tomorrow, you may also want to plan to stop by in the next few weeks to see the paintings properly. See write up from Silkscreen Asian American Film Festival below
After a long detour in the world of Cinema, artist Harish Saluja has a new set of paintings to share. The show ‘Mandalas and Deities’ opens at the Mendelson Gallery Sep 3 and runs through October 2, 2010.
Although he has an engineering degree from the prestigious IIT Kharagpur which remains unused, he has been painting and showing his work for over 40 years. Harish’s work falls under the Abstract Expressionism discipline.
Apart from painting, Harish’s creativity has explored literature, music and film. He directed, produced, and acted in several movies and plays, including the award-winning film The Journey. He also co-hosts one of the longest running Indian music radio programs in the country, Music From India, on WDUQ Pittsburgh. Since 2005 he has been running Silk Screen, a non-profit Asian Arts and culture organization.
In his Mandala and Deity Series Paintings, his latest set of works on canvas, he has started incorporating figurative and semi-abstract images with abstraction. The result is a sumptuous, almost erotic celebration of joy.
Mandala is Sanskrit for circle, polygon, community, and connection. It is a symbol of man or woman in the world, a support for the meditating person. It is often illustrated as a palace with four gates, facing the four corners of the Earth. Before the meditating person arrives at the gates, he/she must pass the four outer circles. Saluja builds on this basic discipline and gives it an abstract flavor.
The other set of paintings are Abstract depictions of Hindu deities: Shiva, Ganesha, Sarasvati and others.