Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Great weekend for touring the galleries

It was a great weekend for touring the downtown galleries. The weather was warm, a respite from this long winter. Touring the galleries made me wish I had made it downtown for the last gallery crawl. There were some very strong shows, one of which closed this past weekend.

Terry Boyd and the echoes seemed to cry savagely
Terry Boyd and the echoes seemed to cry savagely
Terry Boyd's show at 709 Gallery was so serene. Intricate, detailed ink drawings that subtly incorporated thread and mylar fill the gallery. I particularly liked and the echoes seemed to cry savagely, which had this one tiny layer of mylar. The show reflected the season, in its starkness. Totally a subjective reaction on my part, and there is definitely more to the show than a simple homage to winter. It brought to my mind a sense of landscape, especially here in our region with its hills.

Unfortunately, this is the exhibit that closed last weekend. However, Terry Boyd has documented many of the works in neverlands on his website.

Masks at Shaw Galleries
Masks at Shaw Galleries

I stopped in Shaw Galleries while I was downtown. The gallery had its usual store of historic maps and small statuary. But installed above eye level was this great collection of masks. These are part of Kurt Shaw's collection that he has been amassing over the years, brought to Pittsburgh from South America, Northwest America and Africa.

Toby Atticus Fraley The Secret Life of Robots
Toby Atticus Fraley The Secret Life of Robots
You've probably seen Fraley's Robot Repair on Sixth Ave. Toby Atiicus Fraley has brought his robots to Space Gallery with the The Secret Life of Robots. The gallery is filled with several installations of robots in their everyday life.

At first blush, I expected to be amused by this exhibit. It does lend itself to kitsch, with its assemblage of thrift store objects and 50s style furnishing. Although the scenes reflect several stages in life, there were a few that spoke about the travails of the elderly, like the one above of a robot that is struggling to get to the phone after suffering a fall. The installations were illustrative, and seemed to hang on a Rockwellian view of common life experiences Even when the installation was more somber than is common in Norman Rockwell's work; maybe it was the details of the installation furnishings that brought this to mind.

Toby Fraley has documented many of the works on his site. The exhibit has just opened and will be on display at Space Gallery through April 27, 2014.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Studio visit - great way to spend a Sunday afternoon

I had the pleasure of visiting the shared studio space of two dear friends. I met Jean McClung when she was president of Group A, one of the artist support guilds here in Pittsburgh. We've shown together several times over the years, and through that long time we have become friends. John Morris was the director Digging Pitt Gallery, where I worked for a couple years. Since the gallery closed, we have maintained contact. They are both extraordinary artists.

I am sorry that it has taken me so long to post about this. The visit to my friends' studio actually took place on February 3, but with one thing and another, this post has just gotten away from me. And it was a lovely visit. It's always great to see friends, but it's an added bonus when you can see the germination of new work. This was a great time to see their shared space, too, since everything was arranged for a group studio visit.

It was my first visit, not only to their new studio but to the Mine Factory. Located on Braddock in Homewood, the building houses artists and other creatives as well as designers and other creative businesses.

Jean is continuing to produce both her illuminated works and her mixed works on paper. I was really taken with this piece.

Jean McClung
Jean McClung

Do you remember hologram cards? I know that they've been produced for Pokemon cards, and the printing technique is used for security on credit cards and even PA driver's licenses. This piece had that affect on my vision, with the surface emerging and receding depending on the angle of the light. It was startling.

Jean's work is a dance of elements. Each piece is intricate, layered in a variety of medias. Diffuse clouds host a frenetic mark making, with extreme values ripping down the page. These are compact, breathless works.

John Morris had installed a wall for the open studio tour. I had seen a similar installation last April. but this one was larger and denser.

John Morris
John Morris
Although he assured me that the penciled lines were a part of the last installation, they seemed more prominent in this one. The lines, although subtle, unified the work and reinforced a musical theme. These are small pieces, incorporated with real objects. Created from found bits of industrial detritus, the work sings a rough song.

John had a few containers of pieces that are new, and were larger and more opaque then the ones that are in this installation. I am looking forward to seeing how he will evolve his installation to include these new pieces.

It was a wonderful visit. And as this winter breaks it's grip on our city, I hope to get out more to the galleries, events and studios around town. I have been house bound for entirely too long this season. So, here's to warmer weather, and the fair art of our artists.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Field trip to Tech Shop!

Tech Shop Pittsburgh

It was an art-filled weekend, and I am just getting caught up with posting. Friday started off with a trip to the Carnegie International. I am still sorting out my thoughts about that, but on the way there, my friend and I made an impromptu trip to Tech Shop Pittsburgh, in East Liberty.

As an artist, there are always ideas that you have in the back of your mind. Sometimes they come to fruition, and sometimes you know you can't get there from here. You don't have the right equipment, or you don't have the know how to even approach what you want to do.

This is where a resource like Tech Shop comes in.

It seemed like whatever material you might want to work with, Tech Shop had the appropriate machines available. Plastic, vinyl, metal, wood and textiles all had dedicated workrooms with specialized equipment. Equipment that would never make an appearance in home workshops or studios. Like this machine that cuts material with high-pressure water.

Tech Shop

This wouldn't fit in any basement, right?

A lot of the equipment is directed with computer generated files. The shop also has a bank of computers with appropriate software already loaded. You can generate everything that you need right there, all you have to bring are your ideas.

The staff were really helpful. When we walked in, I honestly thought that we were just going to pick up some literature and get more information than they have on their website. A staff person gave us a guided tour, which really showed off the scope of what the facility offers.

Tech Shop offers classes on all of the equipment, including software. They have dedicated meeting space, worktables where you can assemble your projects, and a small break area where you can grab a snack or some coffee.

Tech Shop is joining forces with the Pittsburgh Glass Center for a fun project that could be a great introduction to both organizations. The workshop for making your own stamped glass coasters takes place over a two-day period. You'll leave with a nice little item for your home and the inspiration to come back with your own ideas.

Tech Shop is located in East Liberty in Bakers Square. If you haven't been, the complex houses offices, street-level shops and restaurants and a hotel. Very, very active place, even on a cold day at the end of January. The facility is also open from 9am-12am, so they can accommodate almost any schedule.