Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Michigan Focuses Economic Policy Around "Placemaking"

Rust Wire writes about the new broad consensus, developing in Michigan towards what urban planners now call, placemaking.

After reading a number of stories and blog posts about this, it's still not exactly certain what the term means-beyond respect for place and quality of life. Looking at Michigan's previous policies makes the change clear.

The earlier attitude, could be summed up as, anything for jobs. In 1981, The city of Detroit, evicted thousands of residents, destroyed the bulk of a neighborhood and handed the land over to GM for construction of a new car plant.

"At first glance the project seemed brilliant. In 1979, the old Dodge Main plant in Hamtramck had closed and that city lost $1.7 million in tax revenue. Hamtramck was happy to join in the deal. But there were obstacles in Detroit -- 1,300 homes, 140 businesses, six churches and one hospital lay in the path of the proposed plant.

The neighborhood adjacent to Hamtramck's southern border was, like Hamtramck, home to Poles as well as Albanians, Yugoslavs, Blacks, Yemenis and Filipinos. But some families had been there for generations, since the influx of Polish workers to the auto plants in the 1920s and '30s, and even before. Some of the first Polish settlements in the city in the 1870s had been in this area. It was the home of the original St. Mary's College and Polish Seminary at the corner of St. Aubin and Forest. It was the original location for the International Institute. St John the Evangelist Catholic Parish had been founded there in the 1890s, Immaculate Conception Parish in 1918."

The same attitude went for highway construction, where few power players cried when eggs needed to be cracked in the name of progress. People moving and endless new construction always was sold as growth, even though the state's population was in a long steady decline. The people who found where they lived, unpleasant would stay cause they had jobs-and the fancy pants, over educated, complainers could just leave.

The huge car companies these policies were built around proved less stable than expected and the new dynamic firms needed the over educated, creative types who found Michigan so gross. A depleted tax base, also meant that growth at any cost was no longer a financial option.

From Model D

The state of Michigan, for example, is focusing on placemaking initiatives as part of its economic development strategy. "Economic development and community development are two sides of the same coin," said Gov. Rick Snyder in a special message to the Michigan Legislature last winter. "A community without place amenities will have a difficult time attracting and retaining talented workers and entrepreneurs, or being attractive to business."

Kent’s son, PPS Vice President Ethan Kent, said placemaking is striking a chord in the current economy because it’s resourceful and builds on a city’s existing assets. And the placemaking philosophy requires extensive public buy-in upfront, so officials can stand on safer ground politically. "Building convention centers and using tax incentives to attract big corporations or new business isn’t working," Ethan said.

Instead, placemaking emphasizes smaller, inexpensive improvements: Adirondack chairs to watch the sunset on the Buffalo waterfront, or temporary incubator retailers with lower overhead costs. At Gabriel’s Wharf in London, for example, a set design company created colorful facades on concrete garages, and then worked with artists to convert them into studios where they could sell their work. The fast-working set designers finished the job in three months. Rather than developers spending money on a costly master design, the tenants themselves provided the vibrancy to make the area compelling for visitors. The scheme was designed to pay for itself in four years.

Strangely, the new embrace of the small, incremental improvements and livable, walkable neighborhoods has attracted strong support from across the political spectrum, columnists, The Department of Transportation, Michigan State University and Michigan's Governor.

This widespread attitude is new, and pretty rare across the country. It will be interesting to see if it lasts and how things start to play out.

Article on The Project For Public Spaces Website

Wired Magazine Analyses A Call in The Bengals/Browns Game

Wired took a questionable penalty call in the Cleveland/ Cincinnati game and put it under some pretty in depth review.

Sorry, I just had to post this.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Night Of The Living Dead Fans Try To Rescue Cemetery Chapel Featured In The Film

The New York Times blog has a short piece about efforts to save the decaying chapel at the Evans City Cemetery. $50,000 is needed by next year, a very steep amount for a Butler county town with around 2000 residents. So far $7000 has been raised.

Ron Volz, the president of the cemetery association, praised the efforts of Gary Streiner and other like-minded “Living Dead” fans to keep the chapel standing.

“He’s come up with great ideas to raise money, but 50 grand is going to be tough to raise, I think,” Mr. Volz said. “But if he gets zombies from all over the United States to contribute … he can raise it.”

The Post has a more in depth article.

Mr. Streiner said that he hopes to restore the chapel just as it always was -- no running water, no electricity, no gas hookup, just a potbellied stove. He hopes that it can be rented out for use at events such as zombie-themed weddings or graduation parties and maybe even function as a mini-museum.

Mr. Streiner considers himself blown away by the response from fans and the fundraising success thus far. Fundraising efforts on the group's website,, are just getting under way.

Posters designed by one Facebook group member are already for sale online and Mr. Streiner expects T-shirts to be available soon -- in time for the holiday season. A movie screening and benefit will be held in San Francisco in early December; there will be appearances on Internet radio shows.

To help visit,

Facebook Group

Open Studios, Holiday Concert and Many Other Events, December 9 @ CMU

Tour the Pittsburgh Biennial at the Miller Gallery in the Purnell Center for the Arts: Noon – 6 p.m., free admission

Attend the School of Music’s Annual Holiday Concert: Noon, Rangos Hall, University Center (free admission); 8 p.m., Carnegie Music Hall, Oakland ($5 in advance, $7 at the door)

See student projects in the School of Architecture: 1:30 – 6:30 p.m., Margaret Morrison Carnegie Hall (MMCH) and College of Fine Arts (CFA) building, free admission

Tour the School of Art Open Studio Day, “IDK, SRY”: 5 - 9 p.m., CFA third and fourth floors, free admission

The Open Studio features more than 40 senior artist studios with works in progress spanning sculpture, video and 2D, plus a Holiday Art Sale with everything from DIY fashion, paintings and prints to performances and predictions for mankind in 2012. A reception from 7 – 9 p.m. features WRCT 88.3FM DJs, food, drink and entertainment. For more information, call the School of Art at 412-268-2409.

The STUDIO for Creative Inquiry hosts “Envisioning High Point Pittsburgh”: 5 – 7 p.m., CFA 111, free admission, RSVP appreciated by email:

STUDIO Fellow David Bear and a team of CMU architecture and civil and environmental engineering students will present the possibilities for transforming the rooftop of the 64-story U. S. Steel Tower into a publicly-accessible green roof park — a “pinnacle of perspective.” For more, go to

School of Drama presents “Mad Forest” by Caryl Churchill: 8 p.m. through Dec. 10, Philip Chosky Theater, Purnell Center for the Arts ($15 adults/general, $10 students, at the door or in advance)

Check out all the details here.

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Post Gazette Looks at Pittsburgh's Dirty Dozen Bike Race

I want to see this in person next year. For better or worse, I'm not alone jumping on the bandwagon. WQED filmmaker, Rick Sebak filmed last years race, which drew more than 300 racers.

While, Pittsburgh has fewer casual bikers than some other places, many who do ride take it very seriously. This is the best known of of a large number of unsanctioned races and events.

From the Post Gazette
"Many of those people who have helped support the race and spread the word of its insane beauty over the years believe that popularity means it will soon have to change. The hills they race up are narrow streets designed two centuries ago, and it was already getting tight with 185 racers. And with 300 cyclists, the peloton is that much longer and unwieldy on even the main roads.

"It's getting to the point where now it really needs a title sponsor and some formal organization," said Mr. Gottlieb, who owns a scrap metal plant on Neville Island. "Because, eventually, something is going to happen as it gets bigger."

Glenn Pawlak, owner of Big Bank Bikes in West Mifflin and a sponsor of the race for the last two years, agreed that having 300-plus cyclists in one race could be a tipping point "or a breaking point."

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Geography Of Stuck in The Atlantic: The Rust Belt's Unrecocognized Weakness Is Mobility

I've mostly given up on trying to counter all the myths that pass for truth in these parts-many of which have to do with losing people, brain drain etc...

Richard Florida has a good post and map at The Atlantic showing the percent of people living in the state they were born in. Surprise, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, West Virginia and several other "rust belt" states lead the nation.

Is that a good thing? 70% or more of the people in these states were born in state, yet this is mostly a list of the nation's economic laggards. What should be pretty obvious, is that fairly high numbers of people moving both in and out, correlates pretty strongly with economic growth, with most of the states with healthy economies falling closer to the middle in this category.

Florida guesses that the recent dramatic declines in mobility, don't bode well for the economy. What's so disturbing is that in 80% of the region this isn't even widely recognised as a problem.

Several good reads on this subject.

The Geography of Stuck

America The Stuck

Burgh Diaspora is a blog that mostly focuses on the general subject.

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Tides of Provincetown: Pivotal Years in America's Oldest Continuous Art Colony (1899-2011) @ Westmoreland Museum

If you live anywhere in the main region this blog covers and have never been to The Westmoreland, you are really missing out; if you don't it's just one reason to swing by. I myself miss way to many shows there.

Put together, by New Britain Museum of American Art in Connecticut, this is the first major museum survey of the most important single artist colony in America. Included in the show are works by Milton Avery, Adolph Gottlieb, Hans Hofmann, and Charles Hawthorne, Charles Demuth, Marsden Hartley, Edward Hopper, Jackson Pollock, Robert Motherwell, Lee Krasner, William Zorach, Michael Mazur, Robert DeNiro, Sr., and no doubt many other artists spanning the entire life of the colony up till today.

"The Provincetown Art Colony was largely established by Charles Hawthorne and quickly rose in importance as a major haven for the arts in the early 20th century. Hawthorne and the early students of Provincetown made significant contributions to American art through their exploration of movement and light. These small departures heralded the beginning of a new and modern approach to art. Later, the art colony, particularly under the direction of Hans Hofmann, broke from traditional European formats of study to create a system of learning that was uniquely American. The symbiotic relationship between Hofmann and Provincetown resulted in what is considered the best work of his career and the development of Provincetown as a world-class center for modern art. An esteemed string of abstract artists followed in his footsteps, finding inspiration in the famous "light" and environment of Provincetown. To this day, Provincetown remains a thriving arts colony with an impressive legacy of abstract artists. Contemporary artists still flock to this small seaside town for inspiration from the masters who worked there long ago as well as the indescribable energy that Provincetown exudes."

The Tides of Provincetown: Pivotal Years in America's Oldest Continuous Art Colony (1899-2011)

Saturday October 29, 2011 - Sunday January 22, 2012

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A pop up tour

Project Pop Up had a soft launch of several spaces during Pittsburgh's Light Up celebration on November 18. I took a little time on Saturday to tour the spaces, which are all in different stages of readiness. It appears that the Pop Ups cover a lot of ground, from retail to art projects.

Awesome Books

I was not able to get into most of the locations, but did make it a point to get at least outdoors images. There is a map available for download, along with a brief description of each of the projects. Below are links to each of the projects, along with address and some descriptions.

The Sweet Lounge
They are billing themselves as a "sober bar" on their website, which is under heavy construction. I got an outdoors shot, but the lounge won't be open until mid December. The pictures on the site look scrumptious.
901 Penn Ave.

Robot Repairs
Falling under the category of art project, the Robot Repairs shop is an installation work by artist Toby Atticus Fraley. You can read more about it on the project's website. There are no open hours, what you see is what you get.
210 Sixth St.

Burgheoisie (Listed as Steel Town Craft Co-Lab)
There are several Artist/Designer/Crafter represented at Burgheoisie, with home and personal accessories in abundance. By Suz hats and accessories, beautiful ceramic wares by Robyn's Nest Pottery, and crafty adornments by Spyral Eyed Studios and Dollz-n-Skullz are sharing the space.
208 Sixth St.

Summer Sky Eternal
The idea of perpetual summer is rather nice. I gather that this project will be offering respite from Pittsburgh's gloomy weather. It wasn't up and running when I went by the space.
604 Liberty Ave.

Society for the Advancement of Miniature Curiosa
Aside from the map's description, I can't find a single thing on the intertubes about this project. From the map: "A gallery, toy theater parlor, performance space, & workshop that seeks to spark the resurgence of curiosity and wonderment in Downtown Pittsburgh."
929 Liberty Ave.
2nd Floor

Awesome Books
Awesome Books, headquartered in Garfield, has taken over a space on Liberty Avenue. Bob Ziller was there, greeting the curious, on Saturday. He has a lot of plans for his space. His selection includes small and independent press, collectibles, and memorabilia. Watch for readings and other special events.
929 Liberty Ave.
1st Floor

As with the Society for the Advancement of Miniature Curiosa, the only thing I can find on this project is the description from the map, although it appears that the monitor display is pretty much the project. From the map: "A photographic installation comprised of morphing photographic portraiture, analog televisions, and a wall of personalities and identities, representing the importance of community."
422 Wood St.

The Pop Up projects is evenly divided into retail and installation concepts. I've included a slideshow of the spaces, each carefully captioned. Enjoy! You can read more about the Pop Up project on their site and blog.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Great Shots Of Braddock Benefit Concerts in Rolling Stone

Still kickin myself for missing Titus Andronicus and The Hold Steady play at the Carnegie Library. I stayed in NYC, to catch the Transformazium folks do a talk at The Queens Museum--and then somehow got the date wrong, missing both events!

Anyway, here are some nice shots from the three nights of concerts from Rolling Stone.

Jean, went and loved the show. Sadly and amazingly, she saw some empty seats.

Shots From This Year's NY Halloween Parade: Why Doesn't Pittsburgh Do This?

Sorry this post is so late, I'm still getting stuff off my camera from more than a month ago.

The Halloween Parade, now is close to being one of it's biggest single, one day events in NYC. The Parade itself must draw about 2-3 million onlookers and perhaps 50-100 thousand participants. This alone, might not make it that unusual in a very dense, transit oriented city where several parades draw huge crowds, but it's only part of a vast night of reveling and madness that overtakes almost all of downtown Manhattan. My guess is that 5 million people or so may be partaking in some way.

I stopped taking pictures pretty early and many are blurry, but I think they capture the spirit. We also didn't stay out late, when some of the more extreme insanity happens.

Unlike most, this parade lacks single large sponsors or much of a formal organizing committee. Started sometime in the late 70's or early 80's, it originally went through the narrow streets of The West Village, graduating to 6th ave around 1989.

As near as we can tell, anyone in a costume can march, but procession is semi organised in a staging area, and the major floats, large scale puppets and dance groups have an assigned sequence.

I wonder, why Pittsburgh has never gotten together a free form Halloween Parade like this? Bloomfield's does look like something just for small kids.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Bill Radawec Retrospective @ Shaheen Modern and Contemporary in Cleveland

I've come across the late Cleveland artist, Bill Radawec's work a few times in Pittsburgh, most memorably as part of a four person show at FE Gallery where he showed his strange little boxes.

From The Cleveland Plain Dealer

A collection of small, wooden boxes mounted on the walls at oddly differing levels might escape notice entirely. But if you get close and peek inside, you’ll be treated to bizarre miniature tableaux, including one in which a woman strips naked at what appears to be an open-air tea party, while a construction worker stands nearby with a coil of cable in his hands and another fellow guzzles a bottle of wine.

The show is an eclectic mix of objects and images resembling the visual equivalents of Zen Buddhist koans, or riddles, that could produce effervescent moments of intellectual bliss if understood properly. Taken as a whole, the show is a fitting introduction, and tribute, to an artist known for having an odd, quirky and eccentric sensibility, liberally spiced with a well-developed sense of whimsy.

Seems like it was a very sad day for Cleveland when he died, since he played an active role in creating and running alternative art spaces in both LA and promoting artists in both LA and Cleveland.

The show at Shaheen, assembled and installed with the assistance of his widow and friends, is characteristically oddball, with works hung high or low on walls or stuck in corners, as if to require extra effort and to encourage the viewer to take nothing for granted.

The cumulative effect is that of a quiet sense of joy and delight. Radawec never swings for the fences in any individual work but seeks instead to prick the conscience and tickle the funny bone.

Bill Radewec: A Retrospective
November 12, 2011 - January 20, 2012

Shaheen Modern and Contemporary Art
740 West Superior Avenue, Suite 101
Cleveland, Ohio 44113
Phone: (216) 830-8888

Harvey Pekar Tribute Drive on Kickstarter Blows Past $30,000 Goal

Looks like the amount needed to install a desk and statue memorial to Harvey Pekar at the Cleveland Height-University Heights Public Library will be well funded. It proves that projects with large amounts of latent support and good will can raise fairly large amounts of money on Kickstarter.

"Joyce Brabner, Pekar's widow, said in early November that $30,000 had to be raised by Dec. 5, for his tribute.

The campaign, started online at Kickstarter, had already raised $30,787 through Monday with 669 backers, according to Carole Wallencheck, a reference associate with the library.

With 13 days to go before the deadline, Wallencheck said any surplus donations will be given to the library to buy graphic novels."

Harvey spent a lot of time at that library.

"The desk and statue will be mounted next to the library's Harvey & Friends Used Bookstore and face the library's ever-growing comic shelves."

Who did this Work, Outside The Children's Museum of Pittsburgh?

It's not my favorite thing ever, but I like this satellite made of welded auto parts. I suppose I could find this out by googling but I'd like to get the answer on here.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Art @ The Pittsburgh Children's Museum: Tim Kaulen, One Great Blue

Since I don't have kids, I feel a little weird going to the Pittsburgh Children's Museum. Don't let that stop you, the museum is filled with all kinds art and large scale creative projects that might appeal to all ages.

We finally got there for the Pittsburgh Mini Maker Faire and didn't scope the whole place out.

You may have seen this large Tim Kaulen work at Space Gallery a number of years ago. It's found a permanent home in the Museum's entrance lobby.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Magic Trip at Hollywood Theater in Dormont Tonight....The Merry Pranksters Landmark Trip Across Country

I am very happy that I can go to this movie and "experience" the wild LSD fueled trip that is a landmark in American socio-cultural history...........without having to actually go on such a wild ride. This movie is pieced together from footage someone shot during the trip of Ken Kesey (author of One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest, Neil Cassaday and the Pranksters trip across the U.S. in 1964. It has had great reviews!
The Post Gazette notes: "At 29, Ken Kesey, "one of America's greatest writers," led a scruffy band on "a bus trip across America that changed everything," declares narrator Stanley Tucci. Their search for themselves and America was largely conducted on LSD."
To read more go here
NOTE The movie is at the Hollywood Cinema in Dormont tonight at 7 NOT at the Melwood Cinema. The latter is an error in the Post Gazette story.

Pittsburgh's Mac Miller Boosts Into Big Time with Free Music and Internet buzz

Caveat--I have never listened to Mac Miller's music and know very little about this.

The Times has a good article about new artists breaking into the scene without the help of major record labels as Mac Miller joins Wiz Khalifa as a recent chart topping artist from Pittsburgh.

First, the good news: A new generation of rappers is actively trying to build a new business model in which releasing oodles of free material online builds a fan base that paves the way for revenue streams: touring, merchandise, even something as old-fashioned as a record deal.

“Blue Slide Park” (Rostrum) is the first independently released album to top the chart since Tha Dogg Pound’s “Dogg Food” (Death Row), in 1995. But Tha Dogg Pound was affiliated with Dr. Dre and Snoop Doggy Dogg, the heavy hitters of the day.

Later, the article, points out the importance conventional radio play still holds in giving careers staying power.

But once the loyalists have spent their money, then what? Be mindful of the drop in sales from Week 1 to Week 2 — these artists have so far had only moderate success on radio, which is where albums go to not die. In their second week on sale, Wale and Mr. Cole’s albums each sold just a quarter of their first-week numbers. Without the singles to guarantee them consistent exposure and, by extension, consistent sales, these first-week figures will be a historical blip, a trivia question 20 years from now.

Good read. Please share your thoughts.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Children's Science Center in Youngstown gets 1 Million Dollar Anonymous Gift

While Youngstown is showing some progress, money is still pretty hard to come by.
This sure sounds like great news for a new kids science center there.

Teenie Harris @ Carnegie Museum of Art

My first impression of the Carnegie's Teenie Harris show was anger, over the tiny number of 12 framed prints. Slowly, I've spent more time with the show and am gathering in the wisdom of what was done.

More than most photographers, Harris's work has a dual identity as both potentially fine art and clear journalistic, documentation. Harris himself, never considered himself an artist. When late in life, he said he felt his pictures belonged at the Carnegie, my guess is that he was making more of a statement about his subject matter than anything else. Clearly, he felt that Pittsburgh's African American community and the Hill District was deeply worthy of recognition and he was proud of doing that. We now largely know this community through his work.

I think, the curator said the museum has about 80,000 Harris negatives, of which only about 30,000 have been well researched. The format, built around a large room of projected images and a larger one showing small postcard sized photos in a huge grid, makes one aware of the huge output, and the immense richness of his subject. Of course, the high consistent quality reveals that Harris rarely took a bad photo.

Be back with more thoughts about this show, which requires and rewards spending time looking.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Where to Buy Handmade in Cleveland: Great Rundown In The Plain Dealer

An in depth article with lots of tips on buying handmade crafts in the Cleveland area was published in the style section. Choices include not just stores but indie craft fairs and lots of pop up shops.

Wall Street Journal Looks at Single Artist Museums Like The Warhol

Institutions dedicated to works by a single artist are growing in number with the new Clyfford Still Museum opening tomorrow. The WSJ, looks at some of the practical problems of keeping them interesting, fresh and continually relevant. Obviously, the Warhol stands out as one of the more successful.

"When the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh opened in 1994, it showed only the artist's work, largely in chronological fashion. However, "pretty early on," said Eric Shiner, the museum's current director, "people realized that they didn't want this museum to be a mausoleum but, rather, a vibrant place that is connected to what else is going on in contemporary art. You don't want visitors to say, 'Now, I can check that off the list. I don't need to go back.'"

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Material Witness: Hannelore Baron, Donna Sharrett and Vanessa German @ Pavel Zoubok Gallery in NY

Wow, Pittsburgh artist, Vanessa German will sharing space in a big NY gallery with some pretty amazing and iconic artists. Hannelore Baron is an artist, whose work had a very visceral impact when I first saw it. Vanessa's does very much the same thing.

Link To Exhibit Page

"I surrender myself to the objects that call up to me. there are stories in the air and in the objects & materials I am building with, there is something about possession- in going into the place where the building can be done. I love to build. I love to troll my neighborhood for secret on-the-ground, or buried just-under-the-ground treasures that have to be, a word, in the sentence, of the stories that come insisting through my hands, through my blood."

Not to lay it on too thick but, Vanessa might be an authentic genius. Yes, she has had some success here in Pittsburgh, but I'm so glad she is being recognised in the wider world also.

Material Witness
November 17 - December 17, 2011

533 West 23rd street
New York, NY 10011

Several Great NY Shows Explore Artist's Collections

One pretty dominant trend in museums right now is toward subtle and often smart explorations of their own holdings. The Real/Surreal show at the Whitney was purely from it's collection, and The Brooklyn Museum's Youth and Beauty show leaned heavily towards things they owned.

The Metropolitan has two utterly amazing shows looking at some of the works left to the museum by pioneering photographer and art dealer, Alfred Stieglitz.

Stieglitz and His Artists: Matisse to O'Keeffe October 13, 2011–January 2, 2012

The exhibition features some two hundred major works with hefty helpings of Georgia O'Keeffe, Marsden Hartley, Arthur Dove, John Marin, Charles Demuth, Vasily Kandinsky Constantin Brancusi and other more unknown artists.

Smaller but at least as interesting is a related show of Stieglitz's photography collection.

Photographic Treasures from the Collection of Alfred Stieglitz October 11, 2011–February 26, 2012

I actually didn't know about much of this work from a group of photographers dedicated to pushing the creative and spiritual range of photography as a real art form.

Anne Brigman, Alvin Langdon Coburn, F. Holland Day, Gertrude Käsebier, Joseph Keiley, Heinrich Kühn, Edward Steichen, Clarence White are all in this show.

The Museum of Modern Art, also has a good ehibit, looking at some of the personal drawing collections that helped form the museum. Many of the people were not artists, but a few are. Hanging selections next to a profile of each collector helps one see the personal vision and taste of each.

Gifted: Collectors and Drawings at MoMA, 1929–1983 October 19, 2011–February 13, 2012

One important part was the collection of Kay Sage.

Another major show was at Gagosian Gallery, uptown.

The Private Collection of Robert Rauschenberg November 3 - December 23, 2011

Monday, November 14, 2011

Assemble - Call for artists


Nov 22-28th Call for Artists/Makers/Technologists- Opening this December 3rd, join us for the first annual HyperLocal Show + Art Bazaar at Assemble, a community space for arts + technology.

For this show- we are inviting makers/artists/technologists who live in a 5 to 10 block radius from Assemble to submit one work that they have made. Size is not an issue. Work includes everything but food or edible material. New media art, robots, sculpture are encouraged and so are crafts.

This is open to ALL AGES.

Please drop off your work at Assemble between 4-9pm from Nov22- 28th

With your submission include your NAME/ Address/ AGE/ PRICE / WHY YOU LIKE TO MAKE THINGS. We request that the artists kindly donate 20% sales back to Assemble. Come buy your neighbors art! For more information:: email assemblepgh[at]

5125 Penn Ave
Pittsburgh, PA 15224-1636

A Wealth of Exhibits on the Upper East Side (Pun Intended)

Image above "The Starecase" by Thomas Rowlandson isctually part of an exhibit at the Met (Infinite Jest Caricature and Satire from Leonardo to Levine)but fits this post.
The Upper East Side, land of many 1 percenters, is home to a number of outstanding exhibits this fall. John Morris and I saw several of these on a recent trip to NYC.
The Braque exhibit at Aquavella Gallery is an stunning exhibit in an exquisite 19th or early 20th century townhouse space. Actually the elegant townhouse is reminiscent of the Rowlandson drawing above, without the huge crowds. Though if you go on a weekend, you may well have to wait outside for awhile. The exhibit a wonderful survey of Braque's work.
To quote the NY Times on the subject of blue chip gallery exhibits and the Aquavella exhibit:
other blue-chip galleries including Acquavella and Pace have been presenting them on and off for decades. “I’ll never forget in the early ’70s when we had a Matisse show,” William Acquavella recalled. “We had people waiting on line in the pouring rain.”
His gallery, just two blocks north of Gagosian’s Madison Avenue headquarters, is attracting crowds right now with “Georges Braque: Pioneer of Modernism,” which opened on Oct. 12. The show, which was organized by Dieter Buchhart, an Austrian curator, includes 42 paintings, many on loan from museums including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the National Gallery of Art in Washington and the Tate in London. “It’s good advertising,” Mr. Acquavella said. “Braque is an amazing artist and hasn’t really gotten his due.”
A review of the exhibit can be found here
The Gagosian Gallery on Madison has a very large exhibit of the private collection of Robert Rauschenberg. Again to quote the Times, " [the exhibit]will give visitors an inside peek at the art that Rauschenberg lived with, both in Manhattan and at his home and studio on Captiva Island in Florida. There will be examples of work by some of his old friends, including John Cage, Merce Cunningham, Jasper Johns and Cy Twombly as well as others he collected over the decades by Magritte, Robert Mapplethorpe and Brice Marden. " This is a very large exhibit and fascinating. For more information go here
An article in the NY Times discusses these, and other exhibits at very high-end galleries this fall here They include the reminder that these exhibits are free, as opposed to the ever
increasing museum entrance charges (be they suggested or required) in Manhattan these days.
John and I also went to some other exhibits in the area....and it proved yet again that the degrees of separation in the artworld are not too far apart. A visit to Sheperd and Derom Gallery to see a group exhibit including work by George Nama (John's old teacher at Pratt) led to the gallery director's query, "He's here! Would you like to see him?". An added bonus for an afternoon of gallery going. For information on this gallery (which actually deals mostly in 19th century work, go here
For more information on the Rowlandson drawing of gallery goers taking a tumble at a Royal Academy exhibit circa 1800, see here

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Handmade Arcade

Oh, I have been looking forward to this. It seems like, for the last several years, I have been occupied during the single day that Handmade Arcade is on. This year, I was free to attend. Although many of the vendors are local, and I have seen their work in other settings, it was really great to see everyone in one place.

The huge hall, filled with vendors and shoppers, was noisy with conversation and music. There were tons of hands on activities to keep little hands occupied. It was my first visit to the David L Lawrence Convention Center. I didn't stick around to explore, and don't know if it's possible to do that, but it warrants its own visit.

There were over 150 vendors at Handmade Arcade, I'm sure everyone has their favorites. Here's a few of mine --

Suz and Tim Pisano

I love hats. I have a beautiful old fedora, my dad's favorite hat, a variety of watch caps, and several By Suz originals. She makes some really funky accessories, as well as her hats. A selection is available for viewing at the Pittsburgh Artist Registry.

Folk Couture by Grace Napoleon

Grace Napoleon up-cycles clothing, making clothes out of clothes. She calls her dresses "party dresses for big girls". And so they are. There was a great variety of beautiful and quirky dresses and sweaters.

You can see more of the great designs on Folk Couture's Facebook page.

Phil Barbato

Great little stuffed toys. I loved these great clear colors, and the variety of toys from Phil Barbato. Especially the octopuses! More on his Etsy site.

Paper Robot Army

Toys for grown ups. Or at least sort of grown up. Paper Robot Army,A paper doll disguised as a robot. Fully non-functioning and incapable of any minor computations.

Renee Ruth

These great little paper cuts were created by Renee Ruth. She had some beautiful prints available, based on these images. Watch for her Etsy store!

Cotton Factory

Loved the Cotton Factory sign! If you missed them at Handmade Arcade, catch them at Unblurred in December.

The Littlest Bean

All kinds of fun little things, made from fun colors, from The Littlest Bean. above are pincussions, more in the slideshow.


Super great colors. Amber Coppings started out with a line of handwarming fingerless mittens, and expanded to year round accessories. More on her site.

Get Felt Up

More pretty colors! Yes, there were traditional jewelers, and vendors with beaded and assembled earrings. I was really drawn to the fiber pieces, though. These headbands were from Get Felt Up, more in the slideshow.

Gnome Enterprises

Gnome Enterprises had some very fun tee shirts. I'm not real big on team shirts, so these kind of fun images are a great alternative.

Although it is too late to attend the Handmade for the Holidays fair, the lovely folks at Handmade Arcade, and the vendors that brought their wares in today, do other events throughout the year. Keep up with them here. There were too many vendors to list here, and too many images! The post would be miles long, instead of just feet! Check out the slideshow.

Post Gazette Music Review of Built To Spill, Benefit Concert In Braddock

Tonight, Titus Andronicus and The Hold Steady take the stage in the last of three benefits at the Braddock Library. Seriously doubt it's not sold out.

Here's a nice review of Built to Spill's show in the Post Gazette with the critic honestly admitting he had never been in the town.

"The show I had to see was Built to Spill, because I love that band and somehow I've always missed them. I dig the Hold Steady too, but have seen them a bunch of times already.

What I realized getting there Friday night is that I thought Rankin was Braddock, so I drove around aimlessly for a while, not wanting to stop and ask the guys on the streetcorners, "Um, where is the library?" When I finally stumbled upon Braddock, I realized I hadn't been there before. Obviously, it's not the healthiest looking town and, other than the people going to the show, the streets were pretty deserted on a cold Saturday night."

Friday, November 11, 2011

Citizen Architect: Samuel Mockbee and the Spirit of the Rural Studio: Film Screening @ Carnegie Museum of Art Tomorrow

I came across an exhibit of Mockbee's and his student's several years ago at Max Protetch Gallery in NYC. Many of the structures are planned to be easily built with materials easily available to the rural poor, like cut tin, spare tires and earth.

Even so, the resulting homes are filled with invention whimsy and dignity.

I would love to see this film and definitely would try if I was in Pittsburgh.

Saturday, November 12 · 2:30pm - 4:30pm
CMA Theater

Double Feature: New Pop Up Gallery in Cleveland's Gordon Square Art District

Who knows how long this will last, so check it out!

opening tonight from 8 p.m. to midnight.
1392 W 65th St

View Larger Map

Youth and Beauty: Art of the American Twenties @ Brooklyn Museum

Malvina Hoffman: Martinique Woman

Florine Stetheimer: Natorium Undine

Spending a bit of time in NYC again, hoping very much that others will keep one up on shows in Pittsburgh.

The Brooklyn Museum has an awesome permanent collection, heavy on great American art, strong Egyptian and African holdings and lots of contemporary work. Sadly, much of this is marred by ugly and hugely distracting, educational labels and giant signs. Even worse are the loud video displays that make it very hard to spend time or think about what one is seeing. Even so, this is a must see place.

The Youth and Beauty show currently up has none of these problems and is wonderfully, curated and displayed.

George Bellows: Two Women

It's hard for any one show of a modest 64 or so works to fully represent an artistic era, but this seemed to. I was struck by the contrast between so much of the American Art from this period with what was happening in Europe. The twenties in Germany and Eastern Europe was a time of turmoil and political chaos. While, beauty, gaiety, and infatuation with technical inventions is evident, it tends to be tempered by the scars, anger and questions left by the great war.

Much of American Art, in contrast is just very happy, sincere and optimistic. Our time of doubt comes in the 30's

Artists of the period dealt with the impact of European modernism; migration to cities, mass production, photography and the emerging role of women's liberation. The show reflects all of this. Several great works from the Harlem Renaissance are included.

Aaron Douglas: Charleston

An insanely great show, with works by Alfred Stieglitz, Georgia O'Keeffe, Marsden Hartley, Stuart Davis, Peter Blume, Joseph Stella, Thomas Hart Benton and many more. See it if you can.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Cleveland Institute of Art, Highlights Three Alumni, Mangold, Mieczkowski and Stanczak

Who knew Cleveland's CIA had such a long list of alumni who impacted modern and contemporary art? The list starts with Charles Burchfield and ends with artists like April Gornik and Dana Schutz.

A current exhibit at the school's galleries focuses on three abstract artists who are each becoming more relevant.

Julian Stanczak and Ed Mieczkowski, formed the backbone of what was in the mid sixties considered the important Op art school. Both taught at the CIA for decades. Ed was from Pittsburgh and later recieved an MFA from Carnegie Mellon.

CIA exhibit website.

Story on Cleveland.Com

Red, A Drama Based on Mark Rothko Comes to Pittsburgh's Public Theater

Seems like the Abstract Expressionists are really in vogue, a major de Kooning retrospective at MOMA; a whole museum dedicated to Clifford Still and shows dedicated to lesser know artist's like Richard Pousette-Dart.

Rothko's more minimal and lyrical work is not always put in this box, but he very much shared their sincere belief in the power and spiritual nature of art.

Seems like this a major subject of the play.

Rothko, who flourished during the abstract expressionist movement, found himself rejecting the arrival of Pop Art in the late 1950s, particularly one of its practitioners.

"You really think Andy Warhol will be hanging in museums in a hundred years?" Rothko asks Ken dismissively.

"Andy Warhol's like the 'great' third [human] character in the play," said Mr. Logan. "He represented a lot of the things Rothko rejected. He felt that artists needed to know where they belonged in the continuum of artists.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Great Post On Rust Wire On how Surface Parking Kills Cleveland's Downtown

Something like this seems so obvious to me since I don't drive thus tend to see cities on a slower, more intimate level. Rust Wire has a speculation that the core problem with Cleveland's downtown comes from the vast area dedicated to surface parking lots. (As well as atractive but large, "keep off the grass" parks.)

Comparing aerial views of Cleveland and much more successful downtown like Toronto shows just how much space is dedicated to cars.

I'll be really honest, when I visited Cleveland, we pretty much drove everywhere in the downtown. It just wasn't nice to walk.

If this theory is sound, it means that the huge single use venues like football stadiums not only deplete tax dollars, but create masses of parking that subtract life from the city when (95%of the time) they are not used.

Two Great Henry Koerner Paintings in Real/Surreal @ Whitney Museum

The Whitney has a series of six consecutive shows curated from their collection. Real/Surreal highlights works that can be loosely be grouped this way. Henry Koerner's work fits right in, drawing small crowds of avid viewers.

Surrealism was not born in America but by the late 30's a large group of artists here were exploring the various poetic and dreamlike possibilities it opened up. One feels that many were already strongly inclined in this direction.

Several highlights in this show, include works by Rockwell Kent, Paul Cadmus, George Tooker, Charles Sheeler, Joseph Cornell, Charles Burchfield and Kay Sage.

OCTOBER 6, 2011–FEBRUARY 12, 2012
Whitney Museum of American Art

Handmade Arcade

by Suz

Lots and lots and lots of really cool stuff, all in one place. Handmade Arcade has everything, from accessories to music. A lot of local artists try their hand at creating gift items for this spectacular show, so the wares should be really varied. Also, some of the artists will be doing hands on tables, so bonus for making some stuff!

Some of my favorite DIY creators are going to be presenting for the day. Amber Coppings with her XMittens and Suz Pisano with all of her quirky accessories. Here's the complete vendor list. I plan to have images this Saturday from my visit.

David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Downtown
SATURDAY, NOV. 12, 2011
11 AM - 7 PM
Free admission

Monday, November 07, 2011

The Small Benefits Of Density: New York Suburbs Spend Over A Week Without Power

Visiting my mom in NYC, I notice an urban benefit that's common in NY, but actually pretty rare, not stadiums, but buried power lines that make outages extremely unlikely.

Ever since 1888, when a blizzard knocked out the power on Wall Street, the vast bulk of NYC invested in buried power lines, a cost pretty easily offset by the intense level of development in the city.

A recent storm brought home once again the almost third world nature of suburban overhead power lines. Several inches of heavy wet snow, brought down close to 1000 trees in Central Park alone, but by a day or two later, most of the trouble was forgotten and the city lost barely a beat.

Not so in the surrounding area, where in many cases, very similar conditions created an catastrophic loss of power leaving many wealthy and smug suburbanites rushing to book warm cozy, New York hotels to escape days in the cold and dark.

In New Jersey, repair crews recieved physical threats from angry customers. Power is still out after almost ten days for some in Connecticut!

"Connecticut Light & Power, the state's largest utility, announced Sunday night that it would miss its goal of restoring power to 99 percent of its 1.2 million customers by midnight. Chief Operating Officer Jeffrey apologized, saying that power might not be restored to everyone until Wednesday. About 6,000 of the outages were new and unrelated to the snowstorm, he said.

Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has called the delays unacceptable and said the state is keeping its legal options open in case there are grounds for recourse in the courts once the circumstances are examined."

More than a few are finally seeing how great reliable, underground utilities are. The problem is that at low density levels, there is just no way to offset the massive expense.

Just a thought, but cities looking into attracting residents and businesses might consider doing something New York did in 1888.

Green Building Deconstruction Workshop With The Transformazium @ The Queens Museum

Oh the irony, I booked my trip back from NYC to see the Hold Steady play a benefit at The Braddock Library, only to find that the folks from North Braddock's Transformazium, Caledonia Curry,(AKA, Swoon) Leslie Stem, Dana Bishop Root, Ruthie Stringer will be talking at the Queens Museum the same day.

"Initially attracted to North Braddock because of the radically different set of resources it offered (in the form of abundant space and cheap real estate as well as a moody landscape of aesthetic decay), Transformazium rapidly realized a need to pause and examine the realities of their post-industrial neighborhood and build relationships with their new neighbors.

After doing a personalized tour of Detroit Disassembled, Transformazium will bring their experience living and working in a neighborhood that in many ways parallels neighborhoods in Detroit to QMA’s Detroit Project Room, and will use their Deconstruction activity book as a framework for generating questions, discussion, and reflection on the appeal of the post-industrial landscape, the challenges of relocation, the potential social and economic impact of Deconstruction on areas struggling with abandonment, and the possibilities for communication and exchange that can exist in a neighborhood."

Deconstruction: Coloring and Conversation with Transformazium
Saturday, November 12, 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm, 2011
The Queens Museum

Unblurred November

My tour of Unblurred started out at Dance Alloy, with an open rehearsal of the Staycee Pearl dance company production of Octavia. Open rehearsals offer a great opportunity to get a glimpse into the process of creation, and the communication between choreographer and dancer as they work to balance the vision of the piece. This was such a great way to start the evening. The dancers flowed across the stage, trading phrases in groups and speaking alone. Watching the rehearsal doesn't tell the whole story, though, and I am looking forward to seeing the entire production.

The narrative was just outside of my reach at the rehearsal. The dancers were like ideagrams, building these complex characters that implied a story. From a visual standpoint only, the scene was varied, with a lot of levels engaged. Also, I really admire the effortless athleticism of dance.

Octavia will be presented at the Kelly Strayhorn Theater in December. Tickets, etc. Also, Facebook event page.

Lizzy De Vita (at Assemble)

Assemble is a really changing space. The first time I went in, it had been turned into a warren of rooms. Each time, the configuration of the space changes, sometimes through he simple expedience of hanging a tarp, sometimes through judicious installation, which is the case with their current exhibit.

Lizzy De Vita has a solo at Assemble. The works cover several mediums, including site specific installation. There are also two multimedia pieces installed in the gallery, as well as a participation piece where the general public was invited to paint one of the gallery walls.

Lizzy De Vita

LaVerne Kemp was a special guest at Artica for November Unblurred, and her work will be available through at least the end of the year. Special shopping tip: Artica is a great place to go for collectibles and quirky little gifts. Tucked in among the tea sets you'll find work from many local artists, including Christine Bethea's masks, assembled from found objects.

LaVerne Kemp

Mike Budai at Mr. Roboto Project

The Mr. Roboto Project took over a space on Penn Ave. A few months ago. The space is a combination of music venue, gallery and meeting space, so there's always something happening there. Currently, Mike Budai has installed dozens of small framed works throughout the space. His work has been seen all over tow, in the form of hand-pulled event posters.

Mike Budai has a Myspace page where you can view his work. He had a roomful of these great line drawings at the Mr. Roboto Project.

Jason Sauer's Sing me Home at Most Wanted Fine Art.

When I arrived at Most Wanted Fine Art, it was to the gentle strumming of a guitarist who was covering a favorite singer: John Prine (Souvenir). The guitarist was previewing the upcoming concert by Grand Snafu. Very nice!

Anyway, a few of Jason Sauer's works were on exhibit. Great assemblage, lots of energy to these pieces.

Most Wanted Fine Art

Michael Patrick (left) Nathan Mould (right)

New kids on the block - Artisan Tattoo/Gallery. This seems to be a pretty popular pairing, by the way; housing art in tattoo parlors. The artists on exhibit for November are all tattoo artists whose custom tattoo work will be available at Artisan when it officially opens in December.

Artisan Tattoo/Gallery and Jason Angst

Steph Neary Speaking Tar

“Butterfly Kingdom: The Artwork of Christian Breitkreutz and Steph Neary”
The works in the exhibit are quirky, ironic and tongue in cheek. Also, mostly small-format pieces. The colors are vivid, as is the wit. Definitely worth checking out.


Katy Dement, at the Pittsburgh Beautification Project

Dean Cercone, at the Pittsburgh Beautification Project

A little bit of everything. A handful of artists have studios in this cavernous space on Penn Ave. It is not generally open to the public, with the exception of Unblurred. The space hosts guest artists, and the regular denizens are there to talk about current projects and give you a glimpse into their studio practice. It's a very active space, and lots of fun to visit.

Pittsburgh Beautification Project studios

It was a really great evening. As always, I am sure I missed as much as I got to during November's Unblurred.
Notes of interest
While I was up at Dance Alloy, I stopped into the Tee Rex event that the Cotton Factory puts on. Lots of great Tee's, and some special guest vendors. It appears the event is held every first Friday, at 5440 Penn Ave.

The Glass center continues with its Ten More Years on Penn exhibit, scheduled through February 11.

Watch for Awesome Books in the Cultural District as part of Project Pop Up!

Things to watch for on your next Penn Ave tour - Guest artist and craftsman, offering wares at the galleries. Estate sales in buildings that are generally closed. Franktuary! A shortage of pizza by the slice at Spak Brothers.