Friday, September 30, 2011

Art Fag City Looks @ Michigan's ArtPrize

Art Fag City is pretty great, but very NYC oriented art blog. It's main writer, Paddy Johnson took a road trip to experience ArtPrize.

"Frankly, I’ve never seen anything like it. People who normally would never have any interest in art are now flocking to buildings to catch a glimpse of the work. Almost all of it is for sale, though nothing can be bought until after the competition closes (ArtPrize takes ownership the winning work). It’s exactly what I have always wanted for art, but of course, for one thing: People have bad taste. Of the ten finalists I will see today, I expect to like only one or two pieces. Amidst this year’s top crop, are the father-son living sculpture, a sci-fi eco-system sculpture, and a chainsawed log into a grizzly bear. Also, a giant preying mantis with a butterfly and a metal dog."

Interesting on a whole bunch of levels. First, off it's used mostly unknown artists to create an event with a huge financial and tourist impact in a severely depressed state. For the same reason, it's now heavily supported by a local business community and other non traditional arts funders.

The downside, as Paddy says, is realising just how bad, your neighbors taste is. But as she also points out, this may change as a wider public becomes more exposed and interested in art.

Tonight: Downtown Gallery Crawl, Tomorrow Wood Fired Words

A particularly packed full Gallery Crawl of exhibits and events occurs tonight.
For information go here
Then tomorrow, Wood Fired Words in Braddock at Unsmoke Systems.
Wood-Fired Words
A literary event curated by Sherrie Flick of the Gist Street Reading Series

Saturday, October 1st
7pm – 10pm. Reading at 8pm.
Admission is $5.
Wood-fired pizza & BYOB drinks.

The 3rd annual Wood-Fired Words will feature a fiction reading by Josh Barkan, Braddock’s first Into the Furnace Writer-in-Residence. The event will also include live music by The Emily Pinkerton Trio, The East End Book Exchange pop-up used bookstore, paintings from the “Meet the News Team” series by John Fleenor, and wood-fired pizza baked in Braddock’s community pizza oven.

Into the Furnace is a new writer-in-residence program in Braddock, PA. The selected writer is housed in a two-room suite in the former St. Michael’s parochial school convent, which is located beside UnSmoke Systems Artspace, across the street from the Edgar Thompson Works, and beside the community pizza oven. Into the Furnace offers an adventuresome creative person, whose work and work ethic can benefit from the energy Braddock has to offer, up to 9 months of creative work time at our urban residency.

Josh Barkan begins his Into the Furnace writing residency in September 2011. He was awarded a literature fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. He has taught writing at Harvard, New York University, and Boston University and is the author of the short-story collection Before Hiroshima. His first novel, Blind Speed, was named a finalist for the 2009 Paterson Fiction Prize. He spent much of his childhood abroad, living in Kenya, Tanzania, France and India. After attending Yale University, where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa, he spent a year teaching in Japan and received his MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. His writing has appeared in Esquire and as a contributor to The Boston Book Review. He lives in New York City and Mexico City.

Sherrie Flick is author of a novel, Reconsidering Happiness (Bison Books), and the flash fiction chapbook I Call This Flirting (Flume). Select anthologies include Flash Fiction Forward (Norton), New Sudden Fiction (Norton), and The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction. She has received fellowships from Sewanee Writers’ Conference, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Atlantic Center for the Arts, The Ucross Foundation, and Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. She recently served as January-term writer-in-residence at Salem College. A recipient of a 2011 Work of Art Award for Artistic Vibrancy from the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council, she teaches at Chatham University and (for 10 years) served as Artistic Director for the Gist Street Reading Series. Sherrie was instrumental in the creation of the Into the Furnace writing residency program.

Born in the heart of the Midwest, songwriter Emily Pinkerton has crafted a style with roots that stretch from Appalachia to the Andes. High, haunting vocals soar over pulsating guitar and banjo riffs that draw from a decade of travel between her hometown of Valparaiso, Indiana and her second home in Valparaíso, Chile. Her bandmates include Jose Layo Puentes, Lucas Savage and Daniel Marcus.

The East End Book Exchange was founded in the summer of 2011 on two simple ideas: love of books and love of Pittsburgh. It is a pop-up used bookstore dedicated to connecting booklovers and books in the heart of Pittsburgh’s East End. Each weekend, The East End Book Exchange appears in a community space or local business in a different neighborhood.

John Fleenor is a painter living in Pittsburgh with his wife, Helen, and his daughter, Zephy. His “Meet the News Team” series features portraits of 25 news anchors from stations across the country. Fleenor created this series during a residency at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts in 2009.

Wood-Fired Words is supported by Pennsylvania Partners in the Arts (PA Partners), the regional arts funding partnership of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency. State government funding comes through an annual appropriation by Pennsylvania’s General Assembly and from the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency. PA Partners is administered in Allegheny County by the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council.
PREV / NEXT 1 / 4

Monday, September 26, 2011

Rebel Bookseller in Pittsburgh

I've invited Andrew Laties, longtime bookseller and author of Rebel Bookseller, to Pittsburgh (from Massachusetts) for an event next Monday, October 3rd. Copacetic Comics (Polish Hill) is graciously sponsoring this event, and one phase of the event will be held downstairs at Lili Coffee Shop. Laties thinks that 2011 is a great time to open a bookstore, and he'll tell you why. Event schedule will be as follows:

Rebel Bookseller in Pittsburgh
6:00pm: Meet & greet with author Andrew Laties upstairs at Copacetic Comics
Reading & panel discussion downstairs at Lili Coffee Shop
Book signing upstairs at Copacetic

The subtitle of the book, "Why Indie Bookstores Represent Everything You Want to Fight for from Free Speech to Buying Local to Building Communities" makes me think of the resilience of, and communities that surround, so many mom and pop stores in Pittsburgh, as well as the creativity that drives so many Pittsburgh small business ventures. I should note that Rebel Bookseller, although a chronicle of Laties' years of starting and running indie bookstores, has been embraced as a helpful manual by indie businesses of various kinds. The book is now out in its second edition on Seven Stories Press but was originally published by Vox Pop (a Brooklyn bookstore/cafe and publisher opened by Laties and Sander Hicks) in 2005.

As part of Laties' visit, I've organized a panel discussion with local store owners in some kind of transition. Bill Boichel at Copacetic has been selling comics in the Pittsburgh area for over 30 years; he just moved his bookstore from Squirrel Hill to Polish Hill a little over a year ago and added a branch at the Toonseum about 6 months before that. Frank Oreto has been co-running Eljay's Used Books since the mid-90s and recently relocated the store to Dormont from the South Side. And Jovon Higgins recently opened 720 Music, Clothing, & Cafe on Butler Street with her partner; the store also sells select music books and lifestyle magazines, and the space hosts readings, book talks, and music events. Pittsburgh mom and pop businesses seem to be doing well overall (whenever I go back to New York, I see more and more small businesses shuttering and chains moving in), and community seems to be a big part of that success: I want to hear more from these indie entrepreneurs about how their businesses build sustaining communities. The event was also definitely inspired by the event site: 3138 Dobson opened last May as a triple-threat of indie businesses: bookstore, record store, and groovy cafe. The building has become a favorite hangout and the gem of the neighborhood.

I invite other small business owners as well as anyone interested in bookstores, the future of Pittsburgh storefronts, the semiotics of indie businesses, or grassroots urban planing to come to the event and join in the conversation.

Panel Discussion: "Indie Bookstores and Small Businesses Creating Communities"
Andrew Laties, Rebel Bookseller author
Bill Boichel, Copacetic Comics
Jovon Higgins, 720 Music, Clothing, & Cafe
Frank Oreto, Eljay's Used Books
Karen Lillis--moderator

Rebel Bookseller in Pittsburgh
Monday, October 3rd

3138 Dobson Street

Polish Hill

Facebook event page is here.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Major Donor to CMU, Pledges 125 Million to University Of Pittsburgh

Pitt fans shouldn't feel too jealous, of the huge 265 million dollar donation CMU recently got, since the same local steel executive just promised 125 million to Pitt.

The 73-year-old Dietrich said in a statement that he made the pledge for a number of reasons.

"As a graduate who personally benefited from my own studies at Pitt, I want to ensure that the university can continue to provide educational opportunities of the highest quality to its undergraduate and graduate students," he said.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Exhibit Openings Downtown 9/23/2011

Yes, you could wait til next week and go to the, you will Gallery Crawl. But if you go tomorrow night to the opening will be a lot easier to see the work:
From the Cultural Trust website:
Harish Saluja Progression
Presented by: The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust
Venue: 707 Penn Gallery
Friday, September 23 - Sunday, November 13, 2011
Tickets: Free and open to the public
While doodling is generally seen as something anyone can do, local artist Harish Saluja transforms seemingly simple drawings into richly intricate and colorful works of art. Saluja’s latest series Progession can be interpreted as an extension of his passion for Asian-inspired art. The abstract expressionistic drawings found in Progression explore indian music, Raga paintings and Hindu dieties.
Filmmaker, entrepreneur and art doyen Harish Saluja is best known in the Pittsburgh art scene for his leadership of Silk Screen, which celebrates Asian and Asian American culture through film festivals, art, dance and music. Saluja’s film The Journey won several awards and was shown in more than 30 film festivals and distributed by IFC (Independent Film Channel). In addition to his nationally recognized artwork, Saluja is co-host of Music From India on Essential Public Media 90.5FM, which is the longest running radio program of its kind in the U.S. In addition to his artistic pursuits, Saluja is 33-year veteran in the publishing industry.

ExtractionGuest curator: Jill Larson
September 23 – November 20, 2011
Gallery Crawl September 30

SPACE will be filled with over 20,000 free pieces of art, created with the intent that
viewers will interact with the artwork by "extracting" a piece, placing the gallery in a constant state of flux, change, and loss.

Exhibiting artists:

Delanie Jenkins, who will be present at the gallery on Thursdays between 12-3, from September 29 - November 3.

Ryan Keene
Alexandra Watrous
Matthew Paul Isaacson
Karen Rich Beall
Meghan Olson
Gail Heidel
Delanie Jenkins
Traci Molloy
Chris Craychee
Aimee Manion
Wendy Osher
Ana Kovacic
Tim Kellner
Staycee Pearl
Yuko Oda and Theodore Johnson
Jay Stuckey and Brian Dick
Thommy Conroy and Tommy Bones

SPACE gallery, a project of The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, is located at 812 Liberty Avenue, downtown Pittsburgh Cultural Distr ict. For more information, please visit

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Pittsburgh Biennial at the Warhol, Opening Reception 9/17/2011,Gertrude's/LOT

First, I will get my gripes out of the way. Why was the reception only two hours long and on a Saturday afternoon? Why not your typical evening reception thats 3 hours long? Having said that (and I just don't get it....WHY!? ....I almost missed the whole thing, cause I thought it was in the evening! And I would have loved to have been there longer. Plus, I was afraid I was going to be really late, because it looked like I had a flat tire...and I grabbed the wrong shoes, and my feet were killing me...and I was walking around in the parking lot in just tights with no shoes looking for my car....becuase I parked in such a rush.....WHY!?).
Anyway....having said that, the work is wonderful. Eric Shiner picked a marvelous group of artists. The work is terrific.
Standouts for me on the first go round (I'll go back soon):
Vanessa German, Large elaborate sculptural pieces.
LaToya Ruby Frazier, Photographs related to the Braddock Levis ad campaign. While I am not on the anti Levis ad side(Braddock needs money) she brings up some very valod points about this ad campaign, and about the relationship of other corporations to Braddock. Really interesting!
Kim Beck, Large backlit photo of her "The Skys the Limit" skywriting piece was installed in the cloud room. Perfect. This piece (the actual skywriting with the vintage plane) will be happening again in NYC over the HighLine in the beginning of October.

Elise Adibi, two new beautiful subtle yet very powerful nonobjective paintings from her new "Oxidation" series. The photo and detail are by pemission of the artist.

And there was the Milk Truck (artist, Jill Miller)......actually, I liked so many things..........

The Warhol seemed less concerned about picture taking this time around.....hence all the pictures. That, I liked!

Saturday, September 17, 2011


I assumed this opened tonight!But it is an afternoon opening. From Kim Beck's email
If you're free this afternoon, I hope you'll join me for the opening of the Gertrude's Lot & the Pittsburgh Biennial at the Warhol Museum. I will have a new piece installed in Warhol's Silver Cloud Room!

Curated by Eric Shiner, the exhibit will feature the work of Elise Adibi, Lilith Bailey-Kroll, Kim Beck, Patricia Bellan-Gillen, Cara Erskine, Dara Birnbaum, T. Foley, Jill Freedman, Amisha Gadani, Vanessa Louise German, Deborah Kass, Eileen Lewis, Jill Miller, Ayanah Moor, Dulce Pinzon, Madelyn Roehrig, LaToya Ruby Frazier, Diane Samuels, Carrie Schneider, Karen Seapker, Renee Stout, and Alisha B. Wormsley.

Friday, September 16, 2011

"Is The Age Of The Foundation Over?" Thoughts From an Artist

One big reason I have this blog, is to say a few things that I feel need to be said. Many artists feel that there are deep problems with the traditional arts funding process that go way deeper than just a lack of money-but surprisingly few will say so publicly.

Happily, in these very hard times, more creative people are stepping outside the system and developing many new ways of getting money.

A Cleveland Artist and blogger has a great post on the subject (you may have seen her work at Boxheart)

Let’s face it, many people who sit of boards or head up foundations are living in a bubble going for the same kinds of projects time after time. In fact, how many artists or writers get grants or funding consistently? Quite a few! It’s almost as if they’ve proven they got funding from one reputable source, then it’s okay to give the green light because it looks good for the foundation to be in the know, not to mention an opportunity for press. Again, most board members and judges don’t go out of their comfort zone (ask any of them if they know about new art movements, and they don’t), and many really don’t care but are partaking for social cache. Then there are the ones who grant to former colleagues (cough*cough* NEA grants cough*), former students, or as in the case of a Rome Prize juror — their girlfriend. It really is like winning the lottery sometimes and not just based on reputation or quality of what you do. This isn’t to say everyone who gets awarded isn’t deserving, but it can be very spotty at best.

Further on...

Now here’s the funny part: everyone I know who has been denied grant or bank loans went to the internet and got funding. In fact, many got over-funded! Thanks to websites like Kickstarter, funding isn’t based on a small group of old ladies who don’t like nudes in art or a guy in a bad suit looking at your credit score.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Pittsburgh Biennial: Opening at The Warhol and Regina Miller Gallery at CMU

The final two parts of the large multi-site Pittsburgh Biennial open this weekend. Exciting stuff!! Great venues!! Wonderful art. I have been so impressed by the three sections of the Biennial that have already opened (at Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, Pittsburgh Filmmamkers and the Carnegie Museum of Art).This ambititous multisite model is a great step forward for the Biennial! Note that the PCA, CMOA and Filmmaker's segments of the Biennial are open for the final day this Sunday.
The Pittsburgh CP has a great rundown of the Biennial openings this weekend (see below). By the way, Transformazium is the group associated with the internationally known artist Swoon, who spends some of her time working in North Braddock.
September means Giant Art Weeks, but this weekend you can almost get your fill at two venues alone, as The Andy Warhol Museum and the Miller Gallery open their sections of the Pittsburgh Biennial. On Sept. 16, the Miller offers five new collaborative installations that "imagine alternative realities and possible futures." The exhibit, curated by gallery director Astria Suparak, includes: a work in which Transformazium collective artists and gallery visitors do "green demolition" by cleaning bricks from a condemned building near the artists' North Braddock home; the Justseeds printmakers' cooperative reinventing billboard culture; and the subRosa collective speculating on how feminism could affect science. On Sept. 17, the Warhol honors Pittsburgh women artists from Gertrude Stein to Martha Graham with Pittsburgh Biennial -- Gertrude's/LOT. The exhibit, curated by Warhol director Eric Shiner, features work by 22 contemporary locals including Kim Beck, Patricia Bellan-Gillen, T. Foley, Vanessa German, Ayanah Moor and Diane Samuels. And because there's not quite enough happening, the Sept. 17 opening reception (featuring live performances) also heralds the Warhol's other new exhibit, The Word of God: Max Gimblett The Sound of One Hand. Bill O'Driscoll Miller Gallery: 5 p.m. (exhibition tour) and 6-8 p.m. (reception), Fri., Sept. 16 (Carnegie Mellon University campus, Oakland; free; Warhol: 3 p.m. Sat., Sept. 17 reception (117 Sandusky St., North Side; free with museum admission; 412-237-8300).

Open Calls!

So, there are many opportunities for artists in Pittsburgh. Following are some picks for October deadlines. More information is available at the links.


Deadline: 10/1/2011
MOST-WANTED FINE ART along with moxie DaDA gallery would like to invite artists to submit work for a fall themed show at the Hollywood Theater. This powerhouse of a team will put together a FUN exhibition, which allows artists both emerging and tenured to showcase their talents. The galleries are scouting talents in a trial run at the Hollywood Theater, and also to support the Hollywood Theater's efforts in programming.

October Themed art preferred. Fall, Macabre, Reds, Oranges, Halloween, blood, horror, Costumes use your imagination. No Nudity Please.

More information


Deadline: 10/16/2011
Naked in Pittsburgh: Autumn 2011
Naked in Pittsburgh is a celebration of nudes in art, a positive reflection of our shared human form. The show is open to realism or abstract, traditional media, digital media, photography and 3D artwork.

More information


Deadline: 10/23/2011
Becoming a member of Pittsburgh Society of Artists Guild

The Pittsburgh Society of Artists Guild offers artists in all media the chance to join with fellow artists in the lifelong pursuit of artistic perfection. Twice yearly new member screenings are held at the Center for the Arts.

Any individual eighteen years old or older who lives within 150 miles of Pittsburgh may apply for membership by submitting three original pieces of art to a screening by the Board of Directors. Screenings are held in the spring and fall of each year.

More information

Great Lakes Urban Exchange Conference Comes To Larimer, Sept 15-17

I have no intimate knowledge of this group which aims to bring together, grass roots thinkers and doers to share knowledge and best practices, in dealing with many of the common problems and opportunities facing Rust Belt cities.

This is the third conference and the first one held in Pittsburgh. One cool thing is the organisers felt a downtown hotel would not be the right location--so it's centered right in the neighborhood of Larimer.

From Rust Wire

After GLUE’s 2010 “Urban Laboratories” event in Cleveland, workshop co-facilitators Fred Brown, of the Kingsley Association, and Pat Clark, a community development consultant and principal of Jackson Clark Partners, worked with GLUE director Sarah Szurpicki to reexamine and retool the annual GLUE experience. In particular, they saw an opportunity to do more with the energy these conferences generated, by being more deliberate about forging relationships across racial, socioeconomic, and neighborhood boundaries.

While Pittsburgh has made great strides in becoming America’s “most livable city,” some neighborhoods – like Larimer – have not reaped the benefits of its redevelopment. In spite of this, Larimer is home to innovative, collaborative organizing efforts to make sure that its residents have a say in the future of their neighborhood. The future they’re envisioning is ambitiously green. The work happening there may be a model for how Rust Belt cities ensure that every resident benefits from the revitalization of our cities.

Most likely, Rust Wire will do at least one direct post about the event.

Of course, if someone who attended or knows more about this would offer up a post, that would be awesome. Sadly, a family emergency has come up and I will be out of town right when there all these great things going on.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Photos of Wilkinsburg Murals by Kyle Holbrook and Brian Holderman

You likely have seen work by these artists around. Holderman did a big Downtown mural and Three Rivers Arts Festival Poster; Holbrook's murals are all over East Liberty and many other places in and near Pittsburgh.

Still, these murals are pretty great examples of their work. Brian is all about, highly designed and skillful hipster style--but this work is also extremely imaginative. One of his best works.

Kyle, who works with local kids and community members on his projects, throws the book at the walls, filling them with cultural and historical images. This is just a small taste of some of his murals which fill the area around the Bus way in Wilkinsburg.

Monday, September 12, 2011

PIttsburgh Biennial LeRoy at Pittsburgh Center for the Arts through 9/18

John and I are happy to be a part of LeRoy's work in the Pittsburgh Biennial. As you can see, we are a very small part. LeRoy's huge installation of a fabric collage at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts is fascinating. So much to look at. To quote Kurt Shaw from the Pittsburgh Tribune Review:
The remaining works on display are quite compelling, if not beautiful. Pittsburgh artist Paul LeRoy Gehres, a.k.a. LeRoy "King of Art" MFA, presents a fabric-collage installation of pop-cultural references in his installation "I'm a Lover not a Fighter." The installation encourages audience participation with FOR TWOS, a wearable garment designed for the interaction of two people at once, originally invented by German contemporary artist Franz Erhard Walther. Visitors are invited to wear the FOR TWOS, have a conversation about the subject matter that Gehres has printed on each, photograph the process, post the photos on his "I'm a Lover not a Fighter" Facebook page and continue the conversation on his blog,, making for one of the more engaging works in the exhibit.

There are many terrible ties. And many other images culled from photos of Pittsburghers and others, presented in interesting ways. I was particularly taken by a photo of Phyllis Diller on a PINK khaki background.
BE AWARE that the earlier parts of the the Pgh. Center for the Arts, The Carnegie and the Filmmakers are open only through Sunday!

Some Shots of Wilkinsburg

Here are some of the shots I took in Wilkinsburg, the other day, which I hope give a somewhat balanced view of both the opportunities, amazing buildings and work that still needs to be done there.

Partly, because part of it is relatively flat, this particular place reminds me pretty strongly of Cleveland, in terms of the big mix of building types, relative abundance of empty lots and fascinating rural and urban character.

As you can see, there's a lot of serious restoration work being done here.

Wilkinsburg is pretty big so I want to go back and shoot some more.

Great Place: Garden Dreams, Urban Farm in Wilkinsburg

All the great events coming up in Pittsburgh, have pushed off some of the slice of life posts I would like to do more of.

We have a tiny but productive garden in our front yard, but when we need more great stuff from fresh plants to fresh vegetables, we have been heading to this amazing and beautiful urban farm in Wilkinsburg.

"Heirloom tomatoes, sweet & hot peppers, eggplants and basil are our passion and specialty. We offer an amazing variety of each."

The farm has a large selection of small seedlings, available during regular hours. Vegetables are primarily marketed to restaurants and only available Saturday mornings.

(PS, I know the basket shows a few things that are overripe or have minor defects. We happily take their rejects)

Saturday, September 10, 2011

TONIGHT in Pittsburgh's Literary Scene

Three events are competing for your ear tonight on Pittsburgh's literary landscape:

sponsored by City of Asylum/Pittsburgh
Poet Sonia Sanchez
with many other City of Asylum poets from around the world
music by Oliver Lake and Tarbaby
7:30 pm, Saturday, Sept. 10
The New Hazlett Theater (this venue shift was recently announced due to the rainy forecast)
North Side

Creative Nonfiction release party, Issue 42, "The Night"
Readings, art display, and refreshments
7:30 pm, Saturday, Sept. 10
The Irma Freeman Center for the Imagination
5006 Penn Avenue

September Cool-Off open mic event
Cyberpunk Apocalypse Writer's House
7:00-9:00pm Saturday, Sept. 10
5431 Carnegie Street at 55th Street
$2-$4 donation

Thursday, September 08, 2011

What is Going On @ Pittsburgh Regional Museums? Great Rundown in The PG

While, many of us feel the Post Gazette still ignores far to much of our grass roots local art scene, it does a pretty good job covering many of the major museum shows.

Here's a Fall Art's Preview of major regional shows @ The Carnegie, The Frick, The Butler, The Westmoreland and more. Very well laid out. As I said, I think if you haven't visited Pittsburgh yet, now might be a great time to spend a week here--or just a few days, if that's what you got.

Cleveland area museums are not included in this list.

Fall Arts Preview

Amazing Survey Exhibit of Romare Bearden Graphic Works Closes Sept 12

I'm a bit bummed this absolutely amazing show is already almost over--wanna go back.

Honestly, when I heard about this show, I figured they got 6-10 prints loaned and put them up, this is a pretty extensive survey of years of printmaking output, from screen prints, to etchings, lithographs and many inventive colograph and monotype prints one could spend hours looking at. They also include some of the plates!

From Artdaily

"The exhibition offers a unique opportunity to examine Beardenʼs print making process as he worked and re-worked a particular image, theme or technique, to consider how his thinking and approaches were shaped through collaborations with master printmakers and to understand how key themes and motifs like trains, family life, rituals, urban scenes, jazz and mythology extended his artistic imagination from collage into other media.

The works in the exhibition show Beardenʼs extraordinary facility for weaving into every art form a rich tapestry of literary, biblical, mythological, popular culture and western and non-western themes that were informed by his African American cultural experiences. Included are prints based on collages like the Odysseus Series and Piano Lesson that he reworked in several media through changes in technique, scale and color and through the use of photographic processes. Also included are two important photoengraving series, The Train and The Family and the extraordinary limited edition 12 Trains. John Loring writing in Arts Magazine in 1973 proclaimed The Train “one of the 10 most important prints of our time.”

August Wilson Center Website

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Carnegie Mellon Recieves One Of The Largest College Donations Ever of $265 Million

CMU has truly marched into the big leagues of world class schools on so many levels, however it has lagged badly in one area--private donations.

To put this in context, Harvard University has an endowment of pretty close to $100 Billion. CMU's endowment is not much more than a billion. CMU is not Harvard, but it's not exactly chopped liver and has educated tons of very successful folks.

Hopefully, this is changing.

A philanthropist and former steel executive, William S. Dietrich II, will be making one of the largest single gifts to an American University of $265 million!

From the Post Gazette.

"It will provide to the university something it has had so little of throughout its history -- certainly during my time here: Discretionary funds that can be directed toward whatever the university thinks is the most important," he said.

At a university that Mr. Cohon said is associated with science, arts and business education, the gift also represents a commitment to another area: the humanities.

"Bill has always loved history and now he is making history with this wonderful gift," Mr. Cohon said. "Bill understands the special character of Carnegie Mellon with the unique ability of our faculty to work collaboratively at the intersections of science, technology, art, humanities, business and policy.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Who Knew? Steubenville, Ohio "City of Murals"

One of the big reasons I've tried to take the blog more towards a wider, more regional view is that a lot of the area is still a mystery to most of us, filled with all kinds of great secrets and changes. 10 years ago, most locals didn't know how great Pittsburgh was.

Who knew, this fellow steel town just to the east on the Ohio is becoming known as "the city of Murals", with 25 easily viewable in or near it's downtown?

A few of these lean towards the dry and boring but some look really stunning. Most, which are now old pay tribute to the area's unique history.

Check out this great post about them.

"Many of the murals were fading—the reds in particular—and recent extremes in Ohio weather haven’t helped. Other murals lie in rubble, like verdigris-covered Roman ruins. To some extent, weather and a shifting city scape are the hazards of public art. Just as a struggling economy helped birth the City of Murals tough times are encouraging people to rally in support of this part of Ohio history. Funds may be scarce, but in tough times public art helps communities maintain their unique identity and share that vision with the world. A small group of people are rallying to retain the City of Murals through audio tours, events and by raising funds for upkeep and preservation."

Check out a link and see more images.

Hat tip to Burgh Diaspora.

Art in Johnstown

It was a great weekend, and the highlight was getting out of Pittsburgh for a day trip to Johnstown PA. If I had bothered to do a little research before we left, I would have been a little better prepared for the trip. Johnstown has an annual Ethnic festival, taking place on Labor Day Weekend, which takes over blocks of the city with food and music.

But we had gone to Johnstown for an art event, a satellite exhibit curated by Box Heart Gallery at the Venue of Merging Arts (VOMA).

VOMA is housed in a former church, located in the Cambria City section of Johnstown. The pews have been removed, but some of the original details are still in place. VOMA offers support to art makers in sound, visual and literary disciplines, conducting events and exhibits that showcase community arts. Warning: shameless plug! Box Heart took a few of my works, along with works by Shawn Watrous and several other gallery artists, to Johnstown for the exhibit. I'm not sure how long the pieces will be installed, but if you are in the area, stop in and say hello.

307 Chestnut Street
Johnstown, PA 15906

There are a few other arts venues located in close proximity to VOMA. Art Works in Johnstown is a beautiful space, open and light. The venue showcases the work of local artists and provides working studios and classrooms. As you enter through the garage doors, you'll find an open multi-use space. During the festival, this space was set up as a cabaret, with tables and a stage area. On exhibit in the main gallery are the landscapes of Jim Salem.

On the trip back to Pittsburgh, I was so much more aware of Pennsylvania's landscapes after seeing these paintings. The colors were beautiful, and the exhibit was very lively. As a counterpoint to the rich surfaces and lush subject, visitors to the center are greeted by this mural --

Art Works in Johnstown is representing the different expressions of visual arts produced by local artists. Alongside the gallery were several small studio/shops, where artists were producing, showing and selling their wares. During the festival, and I am sure at other times, Art Works had several artist vendor tables set up. You can find out more at their site, or by dropping in for yourself.

Art Works in Johnstown
413 Third Avenue
Johnstown PA 15906

We also visited the Bottle Works Ethnic Art Center, a few steps away from VOMA and Art Works. Check out that mosaic, very cheering on a dreary, rainy day. From their site: "The mission of the BOTTLE WORKS is to preserve and celebrate the cultural diversity of the peoples of this region through their arts - such as music, dance, costuming, foodways and literary traditions."

The center houses working artist studios, classrooms and two galleries. The front gallery was very crowded, with tables set up for festival activities. They looked like they were having so much fun, I didn't want to roust the out just so I could look at the small works group show, mounted in the front gallery. It looked like everybody was having fun, making flowers, getting their faces painted, and dressing up a dog statue!

The real showcase, though, was the Abandon the Frame exhibit, a collection of quilts in the main gallery. The quilts were created by Kerry Larkin, a local artist, and were an display for the Ethnic festival You can read more about her and the quilts here.

The Bottle Works has a lot going on, with small tribute displays and an earnest interest in supporting the efforts of its artist community. You can't miss the building, with its bright facade.

BOTTLE WORKS Ethnic Arts Center
411 Third Avenue
Johnstown, PA 15906

All said, it was a very satisfying outing. Having these three venues in such close proximity to each other, as well as other cultural attractions, makes Johnstown a great destination.

Some Details On Upcoming Pittsburgh Small Press Festival In October

Got this email from occasional blog contributor, Karen Lillis, who is up on all things lit related.

Keep up with all details and news here on the SPF site.

"SPF, Pittsburgh's Small Press Festival, is on for October! The Third Annual SPF Expo will happen on Saturday, Oct. 8, as a part of VIA, Pittsburgh’s premiere audio and visual festival! The expo will be held on the 2nd Floor of the Family Dollar building at Broad & Sheridan in East Liberty—a superb location near lots of students, writers, readers, and arts enthusiasts (and even more free parking). They’re sharing the space with the Pittsburgh Record Fest, which (along with our association with VIA) will surely help draw a crowd in this tight timeframe.

Because they are still confirming some details with both VIA and the Pittsburgh Record Fest, they are tentatively slating the SPF Expo for an 11am to 5pm timeframe. The SPF website will be updated and ready for online registration soon. They’ll also be flooding the local media with press releases to reflect this development in the coming days, but for now, please respond to Adam's email (below) if you intend to register as a press, magazine, zine, author, etc.—and feel free to tell your friends in the literary and publishing communities, as well!

The price for a table and chairs at SPF remains at $25. If you have any other questions, please do ask away. They understand that this is invitation is down to the wire (The Expo date is less than six weeks away!), and really appreciate your patience.

Please note also that the same weekend (Saturday and Sunday), Pittsburgh is hosting its Second Annual PIX Indy Comics Expo. This two-day tabling event drew many awesome comics artists and small presses last year, from the Midwest, East Coast, and the Pittsburgh area. PIX will be located a short bus ride from SPF."

Monday, September 05, 2011

Pittsburgh Artist, Mike Egan: Life & Death Situations @ Yard Dog Gallery In Austin, Texas

You likely have seen Mike Egan's work at places like Modern Formations in Pittsburgh.

If you are in Austin, Texas check out his show and the gallery in general.

September 10 - October 9

"I've been working in funeral homes for the last five years and I've become quite familiar with all three subjects. Through funerals we tend to celebrate not only someone dying but we also celebrate that persons life. Through religion we hope that our loved ones are in a better place, that they are not suffering anymore. My inspiration comes from many different sources: The German Expressionists, stained glass windows, Halloween, Southern folk art, funeral homes, horror films, music, lowbrow/outsider art, Religious icons, etc. I am always adding and subtracting ideas and colors to my work to make each painting have it's own story. I like to think that each painting is in some way a good bye to somebody who passed away. A funeral portrait."

Yard Dog Art Gallery
1510 S Congress Ave Austin, TX
Sat, September 10, 7pm – 9pm

Monday – Friday 11 am – 5 pm

Saturday 11 am – 6 pm

Sunday 12 pm – 5 pm

Heads Up On Some Great Upcoming Events: Time For A Pittsburgh Roadtrip?

Of course as someone who came here from somewhere else--I'm always looking for that right time to call up people I knew back when and tell them they gotta see Pittsburgh.

Now might be a good time to make plans for an extended mini trip of a few days or a week to check out some of these happenings.

Great Lakes Urban Exchange Conference, Sept 15-17

Pittsburgh Parking Day, Sept 16

Pittsburgh Biennial @ Miller Gallery Opening, Sept 16

Pittsburgh Biennial @ The Warhol Museum, Opening, Sept 17

Podcamp Pittsburgh, Sept 17-18

Downtown Gallery Crawl, Sept 30

October Penn Ave First Friday "Unblurred" Arts Crawl, October 7

Pyrotopia Festival of Fire Arts, Oct 7-8

VIA Music & New Media Festival, October 5-16

Pittsburgh Zombie Fest, October 8

Pittsburgh Mini Maker Faire, October 23

Three Rivers Film Festival, Nov 4-17

Handmade Arcade For The Holidays, Nov 12

Of course, there's a lot more stuff goin on. Double check the dates-check out all the details you can and plan that road trip.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Call For Artists "Pittsburgh By Pittsburgh Artists" Exhibit @ Irma Freeman Center For The Imagination: Deadline Sept. 17

"Pittsburgh by Pittsburgh Artists”

We are Seeking Artwork Submissions

for Exhibition & a Published Book

The Irma Freeman Center for Imagination

5006 Penn Avenue, Garfield, Pittsburgh 15224


This is a group show where artists are invited to enter up to 3 pieces of found/collected or constructed/created art or artifacts related to Pittsburgh. All forms of media are acceptable, including audio, video, posters, prints, paintings, drawings, installations, state of the art technology, or artifacts. All art or artifacts must be accompanied by a biography of the artist/collector, and an Artist Statement of how the submission(s) relates to the above theme. All documents may be edited as deemed appropriate or necessary by the curator. PLEASE note we would like a unique perspective of Pittsburgh, with a limited number of the beautiful, but often seen, downtown skylines. WE would like to include pieces that contribute to the flavor of Pittsburgh’s diversity, including its history and neighborhoods. Also note Pittsburgh Artists may include relocated artists, either those who are no longer living in Pittsburgh, or people who have moved here from somewhere else. Artwork of by posthumous artists may also be submitted. Please NOTE this is a juried show. There is no guarantee that one or all of your works will be accepted, though emerging as well as established artists are encouraged to enter!

The deadline for this exhibition is Saturday September 17th at 5 pm. The gallery will be accepting proposals and artwork from 2 – 5 pm. For further inquiries please call 412-924-0634 or contact the curator, Sheila Ali, Please submit documents through email as well as hardcopies with your submission. The entry fee is $15 per piece. If sold, the IF Center will take a 25 % commission fee. Also see

See full submission and exhibit details here.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Idora Park Update: Carousel Finds It's New Home In NY

The last significant remnant of Idora Park may never come back to Youngstown but it sure will be a big star in the bright lights of NY.

"It’s a pretty dramatic location, between the Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges, and the carousel will be sheltered in a pretty ritzy pavilion, a $9 million transparent acrylic jewel box by the French architect Jean Nouvel. The horses, originally installed in a theme park in Youngstown in 1922, are now looking pretty good themselves: Their glass eyes glitter; they have brass tags denoting their fine lineage, the Philadelphia Toboggan Company; they’re costumed in sweet sherbet colors of peach and tangerine. There’s a palomino here, a bay there, a line of ponies. Each is different: one, perhaps an American Indian pony, has two feathers on its decorative, or what carousel aficionados call its “romantic” side, the one that is visible to spectators. Another has a shawl across its back and a clutch of roses at the saddle. A Gypsy woman’s horse, no doubt."

Let Youngstown become the really livable, affordable, creative place NY once was. We take the people and the energy and they get the shiny museum pieces in plastic boxes for tourists too look at. Fair trade.

My previous posts about this.

See The Idora Park Carousel : In New York

Letter From Youngstown : Can The Idora Park Carousel Return?

Idora Park Carousel Update

Michigan's ArtPrize Competition Continues To Grow and Evolve

ArtPrize 2011: September 21 - October 9
Grand Rapids, Michigan

I've posted a few times in the past when ArtPrize first started-in perhaps what was percieved as the least likely place-Michigan.

It's continued success comes as no surprise to me--raising the very real question--why is this type of open ended invitation for creative interaction between communities and the wider world still so rare?

A good recent article from The Washington Post--which is covering some of the D.C. area artists participating.

Started in 2009 by Rick DeVos, with funding from his family foundation, the showcase now attracts 1, 582 artists from 36 countries and 42 states. The competition is spread over 164 venues around Grand Rapids, an approach which won an “Our Town” grant from the National Endowment for the Arts in July. “We want to reboot the conversation with the public around the arts,” said Catherine Creamer, the executive director of ArtPrize.

The unusual exhibition style is combined with a departure from the expert juried panels. From the opening on September 21 until September 28 the public votes on all the art. Then the Top 10 works are announced on September 29 and the public can cast one vote for its favorite until October 5. The festival closes October 9.

In spite of lots of buzz, I can't help feeling the "professional, institutional arts infrastructure is just trying to ignore all the implied potential here. Thankfully, many artist's are not.

"ArtPrize appealed to her because “it’s a very different concept. The public is voting, and you are getting unbelievable exposure,” Hester said .

In Grand Rapids the work is displayed for 19 days. The venues range from a coffee shop to a mechanics workshop to a theater. “We wanted to bring artists together and let the public curate,” said Creamer, the program’s executive director. The boundary of the displays are 3 -square miles from downtown Grand Rapids."

Anyone from the wider, Western Pennsylvania, West Virginia or Ohio Region participating or attending? What are your thoughts?

Friday, September 02, 2011

Artist, Austin Thomas Swings Through Spaces Gallery In Cleveland

The blog's ambitious title implying that it covers creative culture from Pittsburgh to Cleveland is still more a goal than reality. Sadly, I have only been to Cleveland once during an Easter break when several places were closed. Still better than anyone else other than Rust Wire is doing in building any connections at all.

An artist I admire from NYC just did a nice post about her visit to one of the key hubs of creativity in Cleveland, Spaces Gallery.

Check it out here.

Curators and artist's should keep up on this space which pretty regularly puts out calls for artist's --both regional and national.

Faculty Exhibit University of Pittsburgh "On a Lucky Day A Suprising Balance of Forms and Spaces Will Appear"

This will be a beautiful exhibit. Opening Reception is Thursday, September 8th,2011.
Pitt’s Studio Arts Faculty Exhibition Set for Sept. 8-Oct. 21
Patricia Lomando White
PITTSBURGH—An art exhibition titled On a Lucky Day a Surprising Balance
of Forms and Spaces Will Appear will take place from Sept. 8 to Oct. 21
in Pitt’s University Art Gallery,Frick Fine Arts Building, 650 Schenley Dr., Oakland.
The exhibition—which comprises paintings, drawings, prints, video, and mixed media
— represents the work of 14 faculty members in Pitt’s Department of Studio Arts.
Gallery hours are from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays Wednesdays, and Fridays,
and from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursdays.
An opening public reception will take place in the
gallery from 5 to 7 p.m. Sept. 8.
The gallery is closed Monday, Oct. 10.
On four Wednesdays during the exhibition’s run, some of the participating artists
will be on hand during the noon hour to discuss their works. The schedule is as follows.
Conversations With Artists
Sept. 21 Paul Glabicki
Scott Turri
Sept. 28 Kenneth Batista
Julie Stunden
Oct. 5 Delanie Jenkins
Barbara Weissberger
Oct. 12 Aaron Henderson
Michael Morrill
For more information, call 412-648-2430.


So Much Art, So Little Time: Friday 9/02/2011 (and Sat.9/03/11)

Lots of great stuff tonight. No way to make it all! Also an interesting exhibit opening Saturday in Shadside at Galley 4. Take your pick:
Penn Ave. "Unblurred" As always, numerous openings here, including "Digital Salad" at Assemble.Most galleries open 7-9 or 7-10
"Confluence" at Unsmoke Systems From 7-11 in Braddock. A traveling exhibit with photographs of the Ohio and Monongahela River Valleys.
"Undressing the Body, Poetry Reading and Bhangra Dance Party" Warhol 6-9. Related to The Word of God(ess) exhibit. That exhibit ends Sunday.
On Saturday "Funhouse of Terror" Gallery 4, Shadyside, Paintings by Brian Holderman 7-11.