Thursday, January 30, 2014

Restitution: Two Entities That Should Help Save The August Wilson Center

Can't say I didn't see the sad August Wilson Center Train wreck coming. Built on tax dollars and a few large (Including one from the RK Mellon Foundation) grants, just big enough to get it to the ribbon cutting ceremony and very little grass roots groundwork, in a city that has lost (forced out) most of its middle class black community, the Center seemed on shaky ground

See a brief grim synopsis here (Notice the flawed study by the same URA which thought tearing down The Hill was a great idea)

 I'm not usually one for bailouts, but in this case two entities, The Richard King Mellon Foundation & The Pittsburgh Penguins stand out as owing something to Pittsburgh's black community for the crimes committed against it.

From The Post Gazette- Look For The Name Richard King Mellon

 Mellon's heft allowed his deputies, Richards and Van Buskirk, to spread their fingers everywhere, creating a shadow Mellon government. In 1945, they lobbied the state to approve the Urban Redevelopment Authority, a powerful tool that allowed Pittsburgh to seize private properties through eminent domain.............yada yada 
 Lawrence eventually settled on the Lower Hill District, a popular neighborhood for Italians, Jews, Eastern Europeans and blacks. Politically, it was a better choice. "There was not a lot of opposition," Weber said, in an interview. "Was that easier? Absolutely."

It was a lively neighborhood, bulging with shops, nightclubs, restaurants and small businesses. But it had problems, too. There were more than 1,000 tuberculosis cases reported in 1933. A 1953 building's inspector's report, cited in Weber's book, rated 681 of the 901 homes as "substandard....

"The URA's demolition, which began in 1956, forced out 1,239 black families. About 800 relocated to the nearby Third, Fourth and Fifth wards -- predominantly black neighborhoods. And the relocation did not go well.

The federal government, at the time, did not provide displaced homeowners with relocation money, as it does today. Also, homeowners had no contact with the city until the acquisition had been made. They got a notice in the mail. "Chaos. It was absolute chaos," URA official Irving Rubinstein told an interviewer in 1974. "We didn't know what to do."

Mellon looms so large in the Hill district's fate, he plays a big part in August Wilson's play, Two Trains Running. ( $$$$ mysteriously critical entries about him are hard to find online)

Well.. anyway, he left a large foundation behind to help out the city. What better way than by supporting a potentally important cultural center for a community you "accidentally" damaged?

As for The Penguins who happily sit on the grave of that community and then helped themselves to another slice... pay up.

As for the city taxpayers, I don't believe in collective guilt. But, if you worked in any capacity or supported in any way the policies named here, please pay up.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

CMU Fires Curator of Miller Gallery, Shifts Program: My Mixed Feelings

Parts of Pittsburgh's art scene are buzzing with anger over the seemingly sudden firing of Astria Suparak, known for trendy, hip and often smart exhibits.
First thought is that CMU is just out to cut some costs, and my guess is that's a factor. A larger issue is that the students and faculty who drove dynamic concepts like Future Tenant, The Waffle Shop & Conflict Kitchen needed something beyond another passive college exhibit space. 

"In a prepared statement, College of Fine Arts Dean Dan Martin said the Miller Gallery will transform from a conventional gallery environment to a combined gallery. Plans include using the gallery for teaching and research space, with room for “installations, seminars, hands-on art-creating workshops, artist lectures and applied research in curatorial/exhibition practices.”

Programming, traditionally handled by the curator, will be determined by a faculty leadership committee representing all five CFA schools: art, architecture, design, music and drama. Associate dean for Interdisciplinary Initiatives Franco Sciannameo will chair the committee."
Sad, that Astria couldn't stick around town as a roving curator, putting together occasional shows @ The Warhol, Mattress Factory, The Miller Gallery and other venues. Pittsburgh lacks that kind of cross pollination.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

BoxHeart Inter/National 2014

BoxHeart Inter/National

Each year, BoxHeart curates an exhibit of a far-flung group of visual artists, and it's always a good. This year is no exception. Really, a very lovely exhibit, and very tightly curated. The exhibit this year features delicate, detailed works in sculpture, drypoint and mixed media.

Elisa Mearelli (detail)
Elisa Mearelli (detail)

Elisa Mearelli - Coleottero
Elisa Mearelli Coleottero
 The above is a detail of Elisa Mearelli's work, pictured on the left. Which is one very good reason that I think you have to see this exhibit. The work made me curious about the process, and I found an article on Wikipedia about it. The Inter/National features three of Mearelli's works, all of them created in drypoint and each delicate and detailed.

Ms Roberts-Holland's work, while still delicate, has an exuberant quality. The below is a detail, but you really get a feel for the layers and light play in the work.

NICOLE ROBERTS-HOILAND Personal Screen Blue and Gold
Nicole Roberts-Holland Personal Screen Blue and Gold
 Doerte Weber created a very contemplative piece using natural fibers. What really makes the piece interesting is it's subtle light interplay. I had mentioned that the works for the exhibit came from a far flung group of artists. Just a little FYI! Doerte Weber is from Germany, but the work's reference is Texas.

DOERTE WEBER Texas Brush Country
Doerte Weber Texas Brush Country
 I was really struck by Tamar Roded's painting. She has left the work untitled, but from her description, I found that her work is informed by the industrial town in which she lives:

Roded's attraction to urban and industrial subject matter is partly evoked by the environment she grew up in, a small town in the Judean desert. As she walked through the town's empty streets, surrounded by a wide open view of quiet beauty, it always felt like time passed very slowly.

More about Ms. Roded's vision, as well as the other artists in this exhibit, can be found on BoxHeart's website.

TAMAR RODED   Untitled
Tamar Roded Untitled
BoxHeart has recently changed its exhibition schedule, and the exhibits will be on display for a longer period. But don't procrastinate! March will (hopefully) be here before you know it!

The 13th Annual Art Inter/National Exhibition
January 14 - March 14, 2014
BoxHeart Gallery

Monday, January 13, 2014

Laurie Trock @ The Westmoreland

Laurie's new pop-up show @ The Westmoreland Museum's temporary space surprised me. Not entirely content to push her ethereal linear cuttings and installations, she moved towards painting.

Many works involve scanning hand made cutouts and tricking a laser cutter into shaving away layers of plywood to create inlays. The results are surprisingly sensitive and human.

But I am the Fire with Laurie Trok
Thursday January 02, 2014 - Sunday February 02, 2014
Westmoreland @rt 30
4764 State Route 30
Greensburg, PA 15601

Wednesday - Friday 12 PM - 7 PM
Saturdays & Sundays 10 AM - 5 PM 

The new space is a 30,000 former furniture store several miles out of town, and does not seem reasonably accessible without a car.

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Incredible, Rare Images of Fallingwater Frozen Solid

"The falls began icing over as soon as the temperature dropped on Sunday night, a phenomenon Waggoner said had only happened two or three times in her 30 years of work with Fallingwater.
As temperatures are expected to reach a balmy 50 degrees this weekend, the waterfall that captivated Wright will likely thaw.
“The ledge that creates the waterfall is a cantilever,” Waggoner said. “He saw that ledge and then created a series of cantilevers that reconnect the house to the site, so that was clearly the inspiration for the house.”"
Staff are watching the structure carefully for cracks or any signs of damage.