Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Meet Baxter, the Trainable Manufacturing Robot Today @ CMU: He Works Cheap

Great news is that rising manufacturing wages in China and cheap natural gas energy are helping push more plants back to the states. The bad news that manufacturing employment is not going up, partly due to robots like Baxter. He doesn't need health insurance.

From the time the first "Ludite" smashed a loom competing for his job, workers have feared job losses from automation.

Check out Baxter today @ CMU

When: Wednesday, July 31. Media preview is at 11 a.m.; laboratory open house is from noon to 2 p.m.

Where: The Veloso Lab is in room 3201 of the Gates and Hillman centers on the Carnegie Mellon campus. From the Gates and Hillman elevators, make a U-turn to the left and follow the hallway to its end. Parking is available in the Gates Center parking garage. Because of construction, the Gates garage can no longer be accessed via Roberts Drive. Access now is via South Neville Street; call Byron Spice, 412-268-9068 for detailed directions.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Images of the unique Baby Doll Dance on Rust Wire

For over 100 years the Italian Catholic community in Lowellville, Ohio near Youngstown has celebrated a unique tradition. 

A person casts out the demons and bad mojo from the past year and celebrates life by spinning around in a large paper mache figure loaded with burning fireworks. Dangerous? It's a little toned down now, and they no longer blow the figure's head off. Zambelli Fireworks even helps with the design.

Check out the post on Rust Wire.
A longer article in The Youngstown Vindicator

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Ben Oddi at ModernFormations

Ben Oddi at ModernFormations

I walked into ModernFormations for the opening on July's First Friday and was just stunned by Ben Oddi's work. It was not what I was anticipating, not at all. In this case, my expectations were exceeded.

It's interesting to see how an artist's vision can evolve. While there are consistencies in the underlying themes from this current body of work to what Mr. Oddi has shown in the past, the visual interpretion is a magnitude away. Another significant change is his move into encaustics from oils. I love looking at encaustic works; the media has always fascinated me. The layers of pigment and wax seem to float and there is a sense of fluidity to the surface. The works created with encaustics seem luminous.

The works created by Mr. Oddi in this exhibit explore the layering potential of the encaustic media. What I really found fascinating in his exploration was the pentimenti that could be glimpsed through the layers. The works are firm and bold, with a very expressive quality. The pentimenti visible through the layers seem at once deliberate and exploratory, like a recording of a journey encased in one holographic image.

The works are narrative, steeped in storytelling. But since this is a visual medium, the narrative is not linear and doesn't progress from piece to piece. Instead, each individual panel explores a moment in all of its fullness, implying all of the connections to a larger narrative in their layers.

The exhibit is in place through August 16 at ModernFormations. I have included a few images in the gallery. Enjoy!

Dear Universe: New Encaustic works by Benedict Oddi
Exhibit runs to August 16th 2013
4919 Penn Avenue. Pittsburgh PA 15224
Gallery hours: 1-4pm Sat, 7-9pm Thurs, or by appt.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Artica + Mostly Mod

Mostly Mod and Artica
Christine Bethea and Bernie Schilling - Mostly Mod and Artica

Last month, I was in absolute despair: Artica was closing its doors! I've been an occasional patron since Christine Bethea opened Artica several years ago, and it was always a favorite stop on First Fridays. I purchased a beautiful kilim runner there just this past December (well, I did say occasional patron). Full disclosure: I've known Christine FOREVER. We have collaborated on projects, and we've shared studio space. Christine is also the power machine behind the GA/GI festival.

I was pleasantly surprised to see Artica preparing for July's Unblurred event. It seems that Christine has partnered with Bernie Schilling of Mostly Mod to continue in the Penn Avenue space.

With this new partnership, the space has taken on an entirely new color - literally. The walls are decorated with broad strips in soft colors. Classic furniture, representing a span of several decades, is shown alongside DIY works, handicrafts and fine art. There was a beautiful rosewood chest-on-chest that was absolutely gorgeous. Nearby was an equally stunning set of chests from Herman Miller. Good, clean lines and stunning in an entirely different way.

Artica & Mostly Mod have regular hours, and will be open for the next First Friday with extended hours. So, if you haven't had a chance to acquaint yourself with Artica, or if you were having separation pangs like I was, you still have ample opportunity to get yourself there. Here's a gallery to pique your interest. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Pittsburgh's Fire Arts Festival, Pyrotopia returns in October with paid admission charge.

I had lots of hopes for this event, which is the brain child of CMU robotics geek, performance artist and musician Eric Singer. Eric himself told me, his goal was to create the largest east coast festival of all things fire and light related- ala- "Burning-Man."

The reality, I saw a few years ago at the Pump House grounds in Homestead was pretty amazing, but far short of that goal. Most contributors, Phat Man Dee, local fire dancers and CMU artists like Singer were local. The logistics of the free festival were daunting with traffic backed up and people walking a mile or more to the site. While the site was inspiring, large crowds, small spaces and fire breathing robots don't always mix well.

This time they are trying a different site and a fairly steep $25 admission charge. ($35 at the gate)

 The second annual PYROTOPIA Festival of Fire Arts will be held on Saturday, October 12 at Westfield Park in Munhall Borough. The one-day event includes children’s activities and artist demonstrations in the afternoon, and fire performances, art installations and other fire and light acts after dark.
 PYROTOPIA showcases the majesty of fire, light and electricity in the arts, bringing together such diverse practices as fire dancing, blacksmithing, glass art, and LED installations.
Over 4000 people attended the first festival in April 2012. This year, the event moves to a larger venue with bleacher seating near the Waterfront. “Westfield Park is a great space that will offer festival patrons an amazing experience,” said PYROTOPIA founder Eric Singer. “The large field offers plenty of room for a variety of acts and spectacles which attendees will be able to experience up close.”
 Festival installations will include Flaming Simon, a fire-driven version of the electronic game "Simon" created by Singer that was the hit of last year’s festival. Stage performers include local talents Apex (fire hooping) and Steel Town Fire (fire dancing). Phoenix Fire Productions from Indianapolis will also return.
The evening will be co-hosted by jazz chanteuse Phat Man Dee and performance artist Andrew the Impaled. DJ Zombo will play special sets of fire-themed music throughout the night.

On Saturday afternoon, free make-and-take activities for children will be led by Assemble, a community space for arts and technology based in Garfield’s Penn Avenue arts district.

I am very glad they are trying to continue with this difficult, ambitious festival.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Unblurred - July on the Avenue

Small Press Pop Up, Karen Lillis
Small Press Pop Up, Karen Lillis and Laura Zurowski

So, so much fun at this month's Unblurred.

I love this time of year on Penn. On top of the regular gallery venues, the are tons of street things happening. There were a couple buskers, and several artists had tables set up, or were just sitting on stoops, selling zines and sketches. There was a terrific one-man percussion performer near the corner of Penn and Winebiddle. A half block away was a guy with a ukelele. Hmm. Funny stuff, there.

I stopped by the Irma Freeman Center and saw the series of copper foil portraits by Irma Freeman (1950's - 70's). This was a really nice exhibit. I'm sorry to say that I got there late to the party; Friday was the closing reception. But the portraits were really wonderful. There's a great shot at the link, and also a good one in the below gallery.

Small Pres PittsburghJR Holtz had a table of his retro paintings on glass set up near Most Wanted Fine Art. Mr. Holtz has shown his work at several of the Penn Avenue venues, as well as points across the city. He can also be found most Saturdays in the Strip District. Window on Penn Ave

Small Press Pittsburgh had a pop-up near the Clay Penn.This is a new venture, I believe. The next one will be during the Cultural District Gallery Crawl, on Friday, July 12 at the Toonseum. It's a great opportunity to pick up some cool local lit and zines. I picked up a copy of Weave, which I am thoroughly enjoying. Karen Lillis was on hand, along with Laura Zurowski and Sarah LaPonte. So, these kinds of pop up events are also a good time to meet some of the artists involved in the Pittsburgh Lit scene.

Most Wanted Fine Art played host to Graham Shearing and Associated Artists of Pittsburgh for the exhibit Conversations: 5:10. It was a nice little show. I think this is the first time that AAP has had a venture on Penn Ave. One really fun piece was taking place in the back corner: Jo-Ann Bates' American - Straight, Wave and Weave. A hybrid of installation, performance and formal representational art, it struck me as witty and conversational.

Lots more happening, and I'll be putting up a couple more posts over the next few days. In the meantime, enjoy the slideshow!

Saturday, July 06, 2013

Zoetic Walls Project Invites Global Street Artists To Cleveland

Just came across this urban mural project on walls all over the Waterloo Arts district in East Cleveland's Collinwood neighborhood. Hopefully, I can there to see them sometime.

"The finest street artists from around the world are bringing the walls of the Waterloo District to life.

Zoetic Walls Cleveland is the first organized street art project to hit the walls of Cleveland. This public art mural project, co-curated by Waterloo Arts (Cleveland) and Pawn Works (Chicago), embraces the street art movement, which has been minimally represented in Cleveland.  This art form is sweeping like wild fire across other parts of the world and transforming cities into outdoor museums. Nick Marzullo and Seth Mooney (Pawn Works), both Cleveland natives, took notice of our emerging neighborhood and approached us to do a street art project, we welcomed them home and got to work. This wall project includes up to six murals and is a testament to the vibrant art scene of the Waterloo Arts and Entertainment District neighborhood that will be an ongoing display for many to enjoy. Imagine the walls, the alleyways, and all the nooks and crannies of the district as a canvas for the finest street artists around the world to create on. Giving artists the freedom to create work without the constraints of design committees, result in dynamic, inspired paintings that beautify the neighborhood and engage the community in thought and discussion."
The project seems to have been put together by two ex Clevelander's,  Nick Marzullo and Seth Mooney, who run a Chicago gallery called Pawn Works.
"Often, we fly in highly regarded artists from the international street-art scene to paint on Chicago’s buildings. We consider ourselves independent curators of public art in the true sense of the word."
The project got some grant sponsorship, but I can't help noticing the relative lack of local coverage from power players like The Cleveland Plain Dealer or even Freshwater Cleveland. My guess is that "street art" is still something the establishment doesn't like. 

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Doug Aitken's Art Train Tour to stop in Pittsburgh

Yet another grand spectacle put together by a famous "art star".
Still, the concept of a train of artists, musicians putting together a traveling multi media spectacular is also filled with too much promise to ignore. The project is also billed as a moving workspace.

Interestingly, some of the 10 nationwide stops are obscure stations.

September 6, 2013      New York, New York                                                                      
September 8, 2013      Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania           
September 12, 2013    Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota                               
September 14, 2013    Chicago, Illinois                                                       
September 16, 2013    Kansas City, Missouri                                              
September 20, 2013    Lamy/Santa Fe, New Mexico
September 22, 2013    Winslow, Arizona                                                             
September 24, 2013    Barstow, California                                                              
September 26, 2013    Los Angeles, California                                
September 28, 2013    Oakland/San Francisco, California

Pittsburgh Magazine's post