Sunday, February 24, 2013


Kuzana Ogg: Urbane
Kuzana Ogg - From Left: Carnac Road, Churchgate Street, Dadar
My first thought when I walked into Box Heart to see the annual Artist of the year exhibit was that Urbane is a beautiful show. The air shimmered with color and light, and gave me a sense of peace. I though, here is someone who is pursuing intense beauty in their work. Not that sticky sweet beauty that is confused with prettiness, but real heart stopping beauty.

Kuzana Ogg has an exceptional grasp of color, and a fine hand with her media. The paintings are composed from delicate layers of translucent pigment, holding their own shimmering light. Her color choices are finely chosen and sophisticated, with an emphasis on warm and cool contrast. The works are patterned without being overwhelmingly busy, with expanses of muted tones playing an important counterpoint.

Included among the paintings are a few small textile works, which look a little like crazy quilts. I gather that textiles, along with cellular biology and urban development, are where Ms. Ogg finds her inspiration. From the show description --

The transformation of Ogg's paintings from organic imagery to patterned shapes resembling silk saris to geometric urban shapes offer a glimpse into the divine and the derivative idea that biological and botanical entities share fundamental similarities.

It seems to me that these inspirations are simply a vehicle for explorations in self and expression. There is a complexity apparent in these paintings that take them beyond beauty. I like the way Ms. Ogg successfully challenges the confines of her plane, especially in the above triptych. It seems so effortless, doesn't it? But the ground to figure relationship in this instance could have been static and dead if it wasn't done with a demonstrated understanding of composition.

Kuzana Ogg: Urbane (BoxHeart Gallery)
Kuzana Ogg: Urbane at BoxHeart Gallery

Seriously beautiful show. Urbane is on exhibit through March 2, and Ms. Ogg's work will continue to be available at Box Heart.

February 5, - March 2nd, 2013
Paintings by Box Heart's 2013 Artist of the Year

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Stephen Tuomala: A Permanent Gesture

Stephen Tuomala
Stephen Tuomala

Stephen Tuomala is showing a recent series of drawings at Fe Gallery in Lawrenceville. A permanent Gesture is a striking exhibit. The space lends itself to the large-scale work, providing enough room for the works to breathe and to be able to take the work in completely.

The works, regardless of scale, are created on bible pages. For the larger works, this means attaching the individual pages into expansive, wall-sized sheets. The smaller works are made from single interleaves and pages. Is that the correct term? When you disassemble a book, groups of printed pages are folded in half and sewn. So, you are looking at two pages on each sheet. (and aside: I find bookmaking fascinating.) I am not sure which bible edition Mr. Tuomala used for this exhibit, but the paper is beautiful and the volume must have been oversized, but not as large as a quarto volume would be.

Stephen Tuomala
Stephen Tuomala

As the name of the exhibit implies, the works are very gestural. The starkness of raw ink is counterbalanced by the texture of the printed word, lending subtle shadings to the deeper ink-covered areas and providing texture in the untouched areas. Mr. Tuomala shows a very expressive hand in these drawings, from the smallest to the largest. It was also intriguing to see the smaller works alongside their large-scale counterparts. Many of the smaller works looked like they could be studies, and gave a hint at the process of developing the figures for the larger works.

Stephen Tuomala
Stephen Tuomala

I think I'll leave this here. From the show description:

A Permanent Gesture is focused around Christian ideas of the Rapture. These large scale drawing installations depict juxtapose contemporary imagery as metaphors for the theoretical Rapture events.

From a thematic standpoint, I don't really think I can add anything to this succinct statement. There is a lot of implied violence in the works, and it supports the violence implicit in the biblical cycle of the Rapture.

The exhibit is up through March 3, and luckily the gallery has regular hours. If you really want a chance to find out more about Stephen Tuomala and the works in A Permanent Gesture, Fe is hosting a gallery talk on Thursday, February 21. There's a good chance I'll be there for the artist talk. I do have some questions.

Stephen Tuomala: A Permanent Gesture
February 1 - March 3, 2013
Artist Talk
Thursday, February 21
Fe Gallery | 4102 Butler Street, Pittsburgh PA 15201 |
Thursday – Friday: 4 – 8 pm Saturday: 12 – 6 pm Sunday: 12 – 4 pm

Monday, February 18, 2013

Insane Pittsburgh Asset: Tech Shop Opens in March

Holy Crap- What is all this stuff? Chances are you don't have all this in your garage or basement workshop.

See images I took here: (Had trouble embedding slideshow)
And here:

Wanna Weld?
Vacuum form Plastic?
Laser cut wood?
Laser cut plastic or steel?
Coat, paint or airbrush in a place with a super high tech ventilation system?
Use three-d printers?
Use other high tech printers?
Water cut thick steel or Marble?
Just use really great Power Saws and other tools?
Work in a place without worrying about blowing every fuse in your house?

There's more stuff I didn't mention I'm sure, like high power computer workstations and CAD programs.

Think, you can't use this stuff? Take a class and learn. (Use of many tools requires classes)

TechShop is a community based workshop and prototyping studio on a mission to democratize access to the tools of innovation. Our seventh and newest location, TechShop Pittsburgh will offer the Pittsburgh maker community more than 16,000 square feet of workshops equipped with world class tools and equipment, computers loaded with design software featuring the Autodesk Design Suite, hundreds of classes each month, and the support and camaraderie of a community of like-minded-makers
 While Tech Shop is rolling out across the country, Pittsburgh is currently one of only 7 open so far. (DC Location on the way)

Thursday, February 07, 2013


Laura McLauglin and Bob Ziller at Awesome Books
Laura McLauglin and Bob Ziller at Awesome Books

It's been around a year since Awesome Books popped up in their Liberty Ave location in downtown Pittsburgh. The space, originally raw and bare, has become populated with a well chosen array of books, housing a selection of independent press books, and playing host to a number of events.

Laura McLaughlin and Bob Ziller have made the storefront into a haven not only for independent bookstores, but for local cultural events as well. Back in November, Awesome Books hosted a reading of A Film About Billy by Daniel McCloskey. Great story, if you haven't had a chance to read it yet. More recently, this little gem of a bookstore also played host to Moon Calling, an exhibition of paintings by Richard Rappaport.

Awesome Books is also beginning to publish their own indepenedent imprint, Lascaux Editions, a very exciting development.

So, here's where you come in, dear reader. The fine proprietors are seeking support to keep their storefront functioning and to continue with publishing books with their imprint. Several weeks ago, they began an Indiegogp campaign, now in its last few days. Support, however, is not without its rewards. Premiums included everything from limited edition prints to signed first editions. But don't let that influence you, Awesome Books deserves your support for the contributions they have brought to out cultural landscape.

Awesome Books
Indiegogo campaign929 Liberty Ave.
Pittsburgh PA 15222

Wednesday, February 06, 2013


I admit, I didn't make it to every venue that was open this past First Friday. I usually try a little harder, and welcome the random wanderings that Penn Avenue presents in its warmer weather offerings. February is always a trial, so I just focused on a few spaces and beat a hasty retreat to my warm little house.

Most Wanted Fine Art (5015 Penn) … 6PM TO 11PM
“CONVERGENCE: New works by Donnie Toomer & Andrew Rabb
Month Long Exhibit

Donnie Toomer and Andrew Rabb at MWFA
Donnie Toomer (left) and Andrew Rabb (right) at MWFA

Oh, now, Donnie Toomer's work was fun to look at. Really, the exhibit of portraits is colorful and active; lots of energy packed into those little frames. It was nice to see some familiar faces on the walls, too. You know, this is the second portrait show I've seen recently. I'm hoping that the interest in portraiture continues to appeal. Human portrayal is very complex, and becomes even more so when you are also looking at the subtext of the artist in his portraits.

By contrast, Andrew Rabb's photography was more quiet and contemplative. The photographs were very clean and crisp, with a nice light quality to them. The image above was my favorite from his small presentation of several works. There are more examples of these ephemeral portraits on his website, which are every bit as good.

All in all, a very nice show at MWFA this month, even if the works are so divergent.

Get to know Andrew Rabb and Donnie Toomer a little bit better.

Modernformations Gallery and Performance Space (4919 Penn)
“Darkness and light: The Artwork of Richard Claraval”
Exhibit runs through Feb 22nd.
Richard Claraval at ModernFormations
Richard Claraval at ModernFormations

Richard Claraval's intentions are very clearly drawn in his exhibit Darkness and light. From the show statement -

The back room of the Gallery, with it’s hues of deep red and purple, will be filled with drawings that explore the destructive forces of the world: greed, nationalism, the great disparity between the haves and have-nots, religion; the “Dark”. While the white cube front room will contain images of the “Light” or positive forces: science, education, independent thinking, tolerance.

The works were larger-scale drawings, treated with a loose and expressive hand. Thematically separated, the works in the front room were more controlled while the ones in the back, designated as depicting darker forces, were treated more chaotically. The large scale of the drawings (about 36" x 36") gave them a lot of impact.

A few notes:
Stuff 'n Such Society, along with its nostalgic miscellania and original artworks, has also begun to carry chapbooks.
LAW OF OFFICE OF RICHARD J. WALTERS and THE DANCE EMPORIUM (5005 Penn Ave)has Tango music, beginning at 9:30PM every first Friday
Catapult Co-Working Space has a Show 'n Tell every First Friday, beginning at 5PM.
Awesome Books is Awesome! Also, show them some love.

Monday, February 04, 2013

Amazing, Must See Show @ Carnegie Museum: Inventing the Modern World: Decorative Arts at the World’s Fairs, 1851–1939

I knew this was almost certain to be a great show- although in many ways, it wasn't what I expected.

World's fairs and technology exhibitions are one of the biggest forming influences on the modern world-- and the even the design of cities like Pittsburgh. What I expected was an exhibit very heavy on text, photographs, historic documents, audio, video and displays telling this story.

Instead, the focus is on over 200 objects of furniture, jewelry, glass and design - most of which were actually shown at these fairs, unfolding in chronological order.

Fairs were almost the Olympics of their day, in which highly competitive craftsman and companies showed off both extreme craft, technique and the very latest technology. Even so, most of these works- but not all- transcend to become true works of high art. Many are actually mindblowing.

October 13, 2012–February 24, 2013
Heinz Galleries

for more info

I will try to return with another post about this show.