Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Next Three Days...Worth Seeing on the Big Screen and Great PR for Pittsburgh

No matter the reviews, John Morris and I were definitely going to see the thriller "The Next Three Days", given that the film was said to have loads of shots of Pittsburgh being Pittsburgh. As opposed to for example, the as yet unreleased "One For the Money" which made Pittsburgh into Trenton NJ.

The first reviews I saw ranged from indifferent to a downright bad one in the New York Times. However, the usually tough David Denby of The New Yorker liked the movie.........a lot. He calls it an "accomplished, intelligent, often exciting piece of work." The movie was written and directed by Paul Haggis who made Academy Award winner "Crash" and wrote the script for another Academy Award winner "Million Dollar Baby".

I am not a Hollywood movie person,being more an indepedent film fan, but this was fun, suspenseful, entertaining. While violent in parts, it had none of the person being tortured stuff that is frequently found in action films now, and which infuriates me.

It turns out that not only are scenes of Pittsburgh all over the movie, Pittsburgh is written in everywhere. And the city looks gorgeous (ofcourse).Since it is not actually a travelogue for Pittsburgh, yes, there are a lot of things missing if a person really wanted to "see" Pittsburgh. No time in this thriller to shoot details of our wonderful period architecture, or ramble through our big beautiful city parks.
However, I notice I don't know that I'll ever look at even mundane things, such as the I79 sign, in quite the same way again.

This movie will end up being seen by millions of people, and it will be really good PR for our city.

Several big Hollywood films have been made here recently (I am sure this is not news to anyone who lives in Pgh!).

A Pittsburgh Post Gazette interview with Paul Haggis(warning some plot spoilers)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Detroit's Heidelberg Project

Yesterday I got a brief tour of Detroit, courtesy of an old friend who lives in Ann Arbor and teaches in Flint. The trip was too short for me to really wrap my mind around Detroit as a whole--I did notice how spread out it was, but I didn't always get a sense of what part of this was just a wider-scale city planning or a car-centered urban vision vs. Rust Belt depopulation. Until we went seeking Heidelberg Street. As soon as we turned off Jefferson Avenue and entered the neighborhood of McDougall-Hunt, I could see the Detroit I'd heard about: the abandoned and half-burnt houses, the many empty lots where houses used to be, no evidence of any grocery stores, and some evidence of urban gardening.

Then we reached The Heidelberg Project. Due to my longtime East Coast chauvinism no doubt, I had never heard of this amazing outsider-artist, two-block-wide "installation," although it has been around since 1986--growing, evolving, getting demolished by Detroit police, and growing back again like unstoppable knotweed. One Detroit resident, Tyree Guyton, grew up on Heidelberg Street and witnessed the 1968 riots, from which he says Detroit has never recovered. After he began cleaning up the debris in empty lots and abandoned houses on his block, he started to create art by decorating the empty houses with the trashed items he'd found. The result is colorful, beautiful, and critical, and seems to succeed in getting attention for the plight of the neighborhood and the city--and Detroit's efforts to rally around creative community engagement. While we walked around, we overheard one of the street's residents explaining the project to a visitor, and saw foreign tourists stopping to shoot pictures and wander among the houses, the sculptures, and the makeshift billboards. We met an artist, Lisa Marie Rodriguez, who is an artist-in-residence at the Heidelberg, studying at Wayne State U. She's been working on an entranceway to the block and has constructed a welcome sign, a sun dial, and a meditation garden. She knew all the neighborhood residents who passed by and told us that the community wants to see not only that they get attention, but that someone sticks around and cares about the continued progress of the neighborhood. She considers herself an artist in residence for the long run.

This project is best described in images; see more pictures here.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Pittsburgh Weekend Art Events: 11/19-20/10.

c. David Grim (taken 10/31/10)


It's that time of year again- the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts is celebrating its Artist of the Year. Brian Dean Richmond has been a familiar face to anyone who's been on the Pittsburgh arts/music scene for the past couple of decades. Now you have a chance to understand the full scope of his creative output.

I've mostly associated Richmond with some of the best local bands of recent history- The Johnsons and The Working Poor among them... what I didn't know was that he is a prolific visual artist as well. Over the years I've seen him out, and he once shocked me by buying an unsolicited beer for me at Gooski's (I have no idea why). Still I've never had a conversation with him. I'm sure I've seen a few of his short films at Film Kitchen over the years, but I haven't really paid close attention to his paintings. Now I'll have the chance to remedy that (5:30-8PM, $5). Alongside Richmond, Gregory Witt will be honored as Emerging Artist of the Year.

If you make it downtown during the (newly-copyrighted) Light Up Night, stop in at the Space Gallery (812 Liberty Ave.) for a group show curated by Ally Reeves, with the rather unwieldly title "Scale: Aesthetic Turbulence and the Search for Lifestyle Panacea”. Artists featured in the show include Bill Daniel, Dana Bishop-Root, Derk Wolmuth, Teresa Foley, Gordon Kirkwood, Heidi Tucker, Jon Rubin and Caleb Gamble. The reception runs from 6-9PM.

And WildCard in Lawrenceville has turned over their walls to Kim Fox. She's made screen-printed box frames of her illustrations. The show is called "Prints Charming" and focuses on domestic and other pleasant themes. For free refreshments, show up at the store (4209 Butler Street) between 7-9PM.


I wouldn't normally do this, but I'd like to mention Bobby Porter's wake at Kopec's
Corner in Lawrenceville (3523 Penn Ave, 9PM). I knew Porter, iconic frontman for the Thin White Line. He was a friendly guy with a large spirit and a lot of talent. Thanks, Bill D. for memorializing him in the City Paper this week.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Pittsburgh Weekend Art Events: 11/5-6/10.

c. David Grim (taken 10/23/10)


It's once again time for the critical mass of the arts scene on First Friday. Of course enough is packed into this one day to fill the social calendars of discriminating viewers for the entire month, but we'll take what we can get and try to jam as much as possible into our limited hours.

Start with Unblurred in the Penn Avenue Corridor. As always it's a great opportunity for you to see a lot of stuff by a lot of different artists in one compact area. Check out Fumino Hora's installation at the Pittsburgh Glass Center- "The Way of Samsara" has to do with the cycle of reincarnation. Perhaps that's just the angle of perspective we need going into another cold season. Or maybe William W. Wade's non-characteristic attempts at experimental photography is more your speed? You can see that at Imagebox (4933 Penn Ave).

"Round 5: An exhibition of the Brewhouse Distillery Art Program" will be opening at C Space: Collective (4823 Penn Ave), and highlighting the efforts of Aimee Manion, Meghan Olson, Jaci Rice, Kara Skylling. and Ryan Woodring. And Unblurred veterans Jason Rosemeyer & Christian Breitkreutz will display their stuff at Modern Formations (4919 Penn Avenue). Meanwhile Garfield Artworks (4931 Penn) is jam-packed with work by Dennis Warner, Obsolete, Tom Jefferson, Ian Green, John Fox, Gnome, and Elma.

You could also head over to swellsville and check out Gallery Chiz (5831 Ellsworth Avenue). They have a selection of ceramics artists to honor the AAP Centennial. Perpetual favorite Laura Jean McLaughlin is one of the featured participants (along with Jane Freund, Marcia Winograd & Jordann Siri Wood). That runs from 5:30-8:30PM. The one-word descriptions included on the press material should be all you need to understand what each artist is up to. Meanwhile the German-born Jens Jensen is showing his colorful abstract paintings at the Steve Mendelson Gallery (5874 Ellsworth Avenue) from 6-8PM.

Did you check out the Three Rivers Arts Festival this year? If you did you likely saw the work of prize-winners Deanna Mance and Maria Mangano. And you can see it again at the 709 Penn Gallery (Downtown) at their opening reception between 6-8PM. But if you want to step off the beaten path, go to Point Breeze for an exhibition of Steve Hankin at his studio space (408 Lloyd Street). His realist style of painting can be appreciated from 6-8PM.


Unfortunately some venues seem so far removed from the center of activity on the local arts scene that events tend to be neglected. Don't let that be the case forever. Get out to Hopmestead to visit Artspace 105 (105 East 8th Street) and see the drawings and watercolors of Rachna Rajen. The artist was a refugee from the first Gulf War, and is reputedly interested in electronica and other"aspects of modern life". This gets underway at 7PM.

Yelena Lamm unveils her sharply rendered paintings at Panza Gallery (115 Sedgwick St, Millvale) in an opening reception for "Forbidden Fruit" from 6-9PM. Naturally I'll be looking forward to that.

The Christine Frechard Gallery (5871 Forbes Ave) over in Squirrel Hill is also hosting a reception from 5-8PM. Jane Haskell and Jeffrey Schwarz are the featured artists.

All weekend

Will this year FINALLY be the one that marks my long-awaited return visit to the films of the Three Rivers Film Festival? Who knows? But YOU can check out the entire schedule at the official site.

Ruth E. Levine Memorial Service Friday Nov 5th

Ruth Levine, a well known artist in Pittsburgh passed away in October. She was a tremendous artist and a wonderful and charismatic individual. A memorial service will be held tomorrow, Friday the 5th, at Heinz Chapel at 1:30. Ruth's passing is a blow to the Pittsburgh art community, as well as to her devoted family and her many (MANY!) friends. People loved Ruth.

The memorial, as well as a reception afterwards at the Sculpture Hall at Carnegie Museum of Art, is open to all.

I am very fortunate to have been one of her firends. I interviewed Ruth a couple of years ago. Here is a link to that interview. The interview includes links to images of Ruth's work.

Marilyn exhibit at Warhol, through January 2nd 2011

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The photo above is from the irreverent take by some attendees on the Warhol/Marilyn link.

The exhibit is up through January 2nd and has many terrific photos of Marilyn, some large scale. Ofcourse, there is also artwork related to Marilyn. A standout for me was a terrific DeKooning painting. Personally, I would have liked a bit more archival material, but over all a very interesting exhibit. Personally, I'd go just for that DeKooning.

The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, PA is pleased to announce Life as a Legend: Marilyn Monroe, an exhibition that captures the spark, sex appeal and sensation that was Marilyn Monroe through the art of Andy Warhol, Allen Jones, Peter Blake, Richard Avedon, Bert Stern, Henri Cartier-Bresson and many others. Documenting the iconic life of America’s favorite sex symbol in styles ranging from fashion photography to Pop Art, this exhibition is on view at the Warhol Museum from October 23, 2010 through January 2, 2011.